Throwing a Very Merry Un-Birthday
Call in the mad hatter: Last month under the full moon in Pisces (September 16th) marked my very merry un-birthday, the mid-point of the year on a quest towards my 32nd year.
Although I’ve been honored with parties and dinners hosted by loved ones and friends, I don’t expect others to make a big deal out of my birthday. I make it a big deal to myself. It’s a personal New Years complete with copious amounts of champagne, dancing, laughs and reminiscing. My parties have ranged from intimate backyard brunches, to raging affairs with many strangers buying me shots while I dance around in my latest very very pink dress (evidentiary support in photo above!). One year, I woke up to my high heels dangling from my dining room chandelier after a solid night of vivacious karaoke performances for a sea of my new nameless best friends. I’m pretty sure I covered every Tupac song in the Greatest Hits anthology that night. He would have been proud.
Peppered into the sweet celebration, I pause to reflect on the person I’ve been over the last twelve months, and ask myself what needs to go, and what should stay and expand in my life? Goal-oriented from birth, I usually set a few intentions by scratching them into a journal to make it feel a bit more real.
Ripping a half-empty page from a random work notebook, my list last March started with the lamest of all lame birthday goals: Lose ten pounds. Bah! Seriously, Amy Lynn? Look, getting a little more fit is always something I can get behind, but what the hell did that goal have to do with anything I really needed or wished to accomplish? That goal was a canary in a mineshaft of my life: I was digging in all the wrong directions, and desperately needing to reconsider my priorities.
Disappointed by my pitiful “list” of reflection, I decided to look ahead at my life with a little help. First, I signed up for a new volunteer opportunity. Next, I booked a reading with my soul sister, the famous shaman Andye Murphy (RockandRollShaman.com). Our friendship is a year old, and centuries deep; I adore this woman and she makes me laugh so hard and dream so big. Entering Andye’s office is like crawling into a little crack in the crust of the planet to discover a new world: warm, life giving, and of course, a bit strange. I often wish Jules Vern had teleported across time to Andye’s office nestled into a corporate building in Arvada, CO before he wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’m confident he would have changed the adventure to include this place — complete with sweet smelling incense, a smattering of carefully placed religious art and artifact, jumbo-sized singing bowls, and fairy dust. Magically bizarre.
I nestled into the leather chair across the table from my beautiful blue-haired buddy. She placed the deck in front of me. We will pull a card for each month and dig deeper if we need to. This is pretty common for a birthday reading…” she gently instructed (something I often ask her to do, so I can impart the knowledge to others once I learn from her).
The cards, splayed out in front of me held big, massive, scary change.
“Much of who you see yourself to be — and the life path you’re leading — is going to change dramatically,” she paused and checked in on my slightly terrified face. She looked back down at the cards and continued with a smile, “don’t worry, goddess… by August you will be prepared for it. It will feel like looking back in a rearview mirror with understanding, and it will seem impossible to carry on with the way things have been the last decade of your life. You’ve been preparing for this change, and hold all the skills and support you need.”
Of course, she shared more details — she’s the real deal — but you don’t get that info without a cocktail and “pretty please.”
Seriously, a whole decade’s worth of change? Out with the old and in with the new over the next twelve-months? I finally got the wall color right in the house I bought three years ago, and found a skincare regimen that works for me. Hadn’t I found the [fill-in-the-blank: relationships, social circles, geography, YOU NAME IT] that was supposed to be my life? I wondered at the time what would happen when the carefully curated life I tirelessly built was challenged? I’m six months into finding out that attachment is a nasty, snarling, untamed beast we all love to cuddle. “Come closer, let me pet you one last time!” Mother Change sits in the corner, wrapped in fur and smoking a hash cigarette, asking us why we love to try to domesticate wild things…
On my long morning walks these last several months I’ve been enjoying a plethora of podcasts. My acupuncturist friend (see my previous blog about her sweet ass — http://www.ubuntuwellness.net/) and I gush about Rob Bell, a Christian-based/interfaith hot cup of coco to help us all grapple with the cold realities of being human. True to my tarot reading, August rolled in, and out, and I woke up one morning with an epic emotional hangover from the “big change” revelations bestowed upon my mortal soul. That same morning the Robcast offered an episode on dealing with changes in the seasons of our lives, specifically what happens when we shift into a new way of being or season of our lives? Oftentimes we enter spaces of big change and our reality doesn’t match who we know ourselves to be. Sometimes, horror of horrors, our new reality doesn’t come in completely clear — it’s a fuzzy, static-filled tune we’re not sure if we can dance to yet. We end up in a liminal space, somewhere between the old and new, a space filled with fear and uncertainty.
What have I decided to do in this liminal space to make it a little less tragic and scary? Well, throw a very merry un-birthday party, of course. It’s complete with:
Family: Nothing like being reminded of the time you shit your pants on an airplane as a kid to encourage you to take yourself less seriously. Eh? Family, despite how frustrating the individuals can be, is a mirror of your past — the path you’ve walked, who you’ve been, and the people that helped make you better or worse. I spent a week with my fam for my sister Kelly’s wedding in September for one hell of of a celebration. Truth is, they make me feel crazy, which makes me feel a little less crazy, because I know that chaos and crazy is blissfully in the bloodline. Fucked up… but comforting.
Spending time with family can also help you see how deep love can run, and this is helpful in times of change. A great example: because it actually seemed like the logical thing to do, my sister Katie carried my sister Kelly’s 90lbs dog down the wedding aisle because he was dying and couldn’t make it to see his mama to congratulate her. Katie didn’t want Kelly to look up and wonder why Char wasn’t there with her and her new hubby. The photos went viral — seriously, super viral. Google “dying dog and bride.” THIS is what deep love and support looks like. Surround yourself with it.
Talismans, Trinkets, Baubles: My liminal space is decorated with stones, necklaces, incense, art, and beads. I busted out a tapestry I haggled for in the Armenian market in Jerusalem years ago. Someone said it was really tacky several times, so I put it in storage. Not any more! Bust out all the special and strange things that can travel and move, break or be lost, for they are externalized reminders of pivotal times in my life, and people you love(d). Relishing the memories of small earthly items is a good way to remember why that moment was memorable or transformative — and perhaps you should consider incorporating that feeling into your next season of life.
Trust & Grace: A very merry un-birthday in a liminal space isn’t compete without both concepts filling the room. Things in my life are starting to become a little clearer, but some of the ideas I’m toying with sound really radical. I’ve had a few close friends say “Hell yes!” to my ideas, and other offer sage advice and encouragement to think it through a bit more. No matter what, trusting myself to take care of myself (just as I have for years and years) has to be something I remind myself of every single day. In a world of abundant resources, but oftentimes skewed distribution, it can be difficult to trust that abundance will flow freely in your life, no matter what. It can and it will if you trust. Further, when I think about grace, I think about being gentle on oneself, and honest with others about your limitations in a liminal space. You might break few glasses at this party, and that’s ok. Forgive yourself and move forward.
Finally, when the word grace comes to mind, I think about it a little mantra a friend gave me to recite during times of change. Place your hand on your heart and say over and over: I love you, I forgive you, you are enough and I trust you. I know, a real rager of a party over here, Amy Lynn! I moved your ass to tears, didn’t I? But seriously, it’s your party and you can cry if you want to.
Labor day weekend is now a distant memory as we settle deeply into October’s harvest. However, I still recall the blissful feeling of being stretched out on my stomach in Andye’s yard, eating end-of-the-season palisade peaches and freshly cut mangos. We sipped cider, and with exquisite detail, admired the tree providing shade. We shared a goofy, wistful, and hopeful conversation I couldn’t fathom having six months ago… and I still have no idea where I’m headed.
A wise person once said to me, it’s not a revolution if we know exactly what the outcome is. Just show up, bring on the change, and join the party (she says with a wink and awkward side smile). Cheers!
Onward and Upward, Strange One…