Here’s a cliche: I woke up alone today.
The last time I woke up with neither my husband nor my children, it was the morning I got married in July 2009. But I was not alone on the morning of my wedding, I was in bed with my sister.
The last time I woke up alone? A business trip I took to Peru in January 2009.
I am an introvert. I recharge alone. I am also committed to my family who needs me and wants me with boundless intensity and emotion. My love for them is also boundless, and so we meet in that space, which is messy and exhausting and aching with beauty.
I slept well last night. The bed at the retreat center is soft and the blankets are heavy. I can hear birdsong. Through my window, there’s a copse of trees. I can actually see the air vibrating.
Today is one day out of 365 that my culture reserves for me. This is my anniversary of 32 trips around the sun. I am alone right now, and I want to make the most of this time, I want to get everything I can out of this day. I want to journal and hike the surrounding hills and practice yoga and eat all the food, and of course do what I came here to do, which is change some of my beliefs.
I am sitting in the California countryside, a wide open place that I loved as a girl, with its rolling hills and prairie grass and rather predictable sunshine. This morning, the sky shines gray behind the trees. And I know that doing all the things is not going to bring the peace I crave.
I cannot “achieve” a purposeful birthday. I don’t need to unroll my yoga mat or walk 10,000 steps or write anything interesting before my workshop starts at 9:30. It’s enough that I am here, alive in this ever-changing body for 32 years and counting.
What I want in my 33rd year does not need to be achieved or found because I already carry it within me: Peace.
Peace in my mind and heart and body. Peace in my family. Peace in my home. Peace in my city, and my planet. Outer-peace starts with inner-peace. World peace starts in the microcosm. We are each responsible for our own vessel.
I am redefining success. For me, success is no longer writing more or doing more or being more.
Waking up alone on my birthday is auspicious. It’s both a departure from my norm and exactly where I want to be, in a place of stillness and peace, surrounded by nature, arcing towards growth.
After I wrote this and set the intention for peace, I came upon this sign, double entendre included.