I am 36

I am 36. It went so quickly this time around, it almost feels like I just time traveled through a massive year.

There have been birthdays where I have thrown parties for thousands. Where I traveled, chasing the sun. Years where I could scarcely revel enough.

It’s been hard to feel celebratory this year. I’ve been trying. Mostly I feel an underlying unquenchable exhaustion, waves of a sort of survivor’s guilt, a visiting sense of numbness, of being fragile, the weight of realizing that it can be a shit world, even with all the miracles and beauty in it…there is inside me a familiar wondering about what I am here for, and if the gifts I have been given can make any impact on this place. Which conversations are worth having? What forgiveness must I cultivate? Can I reach far enough with my light?

My dreams this week have been amazing. Gentle textures, lots of slow flight – where I feel I am really learning to fly, really working my arms. And post moving dreams of organizing spaces, with visitations from loved ones, release, clarifying visions.

I want to share with you a self assessment, write myself into celebration. Heading into 36, I know these things about myself:

1. I am a grown woman. I can do whatever I want. Knowing what I want, with an awareness of the preciousness of time, is becoming a daily requirement.

2. I am a feeler, an empath. I have learned a lot about how to feel so much without being overwhelmed, but I don’t always remember the lessons. If I try to skip a feeling, it runs ahead of me and lays in wait until I appear ready. It never goes away unfelt. I spend a lot of time feeling, and sometimes have to remind myself that this too is a calling. This year included some feelings I wanted to numb at first sight. I always conclude that I wouldn’t give up any of these feelings, eventually it becomes clear that they are all variations on love.

3. I can be hard worker, but my value is not in what I can do for others – I tried that path, I was always tired and thirsty. My greatest gifts emerge from my own curiosity and desire, when I feel balanced, lit up inside, with compassionate boundaries, liberated time and grateful uncompromised yeses. Others benefit from my resourced state because, like most humans, when I am good to myself I become open, generous, clear and creative. But I actually can’t concern myself with what others want, or need, me to do. I cannot live in obligation, becoming an embodied resentment. I have to always start from that which brings me fulfillment, that which makes me work hard with a smile – that is where I am my best human experiment.

4. I am doula and a nomad. In combination. I show up with a smile for difficult and miraculous moments, moments of transition, bringing stories and songs with me, carrying the experiences forward. I used to call myself a trench runner, in a war metaphor, reporting the landscapes and strategies across front lines…but I am not a soldier. I’m a liberating spirit who loves the look of freedom in and on others. I get asked to be a companion at the precipice of life and, recently, death. I feel very comfortable there. I follow that edge across space and time, my home is this fragile planet and I find people I love everywhere I go. I am local within. I relax in transit. I slow down for the birth of a baby, an ancestor or an idea.

5. Every day, for as long as I can remember and as far as I can dream, I am a writer. I am a private person, but this calling is not a private pursuit. When I write, I have to tell you everything, being transparent is perhaps a compulsion. I think our next evolution depends on eradicating secrecy about our pain. I believe what we withhold of ourselves becomes our prison. It’s writing, it’s a sprint north, it’s an escape plan, it’s a blueprint, it’s words. I feel better already.

6. I am a healer and a magician, and I am just learning to hold the fire of my own and others’ energy in my fingers, let the life flow through my body. I am growing in this, healing and coaching more.

7. I am alive, and people that I love are not. I am determined not to let my survival be arbitrary. I will seek and embody light for as long as I have here.

8. I am healthier than I was this time last year – lighter, stronger, more fierce, more shameless, more disciplined, less rigid, more active, more aware, more in love with and in awe of my body. For my birthday I’m going to meditate, go for a long walk, engage my core in planks and pushups, be present with my family, receive the love of my partner, skype with the babies, revel in social media well wishes and feel no guilt.

9. I am beautiful. Not in the way I hoped to be when I was younger, not in a famous person way, but in the way that I am free from the idea of perfection. I love how my thighs move when I walk, I love how my skin tastes, I love how I can feel joy in my jaw, I love this body, this face. Sometimes I look at myself and all I see is life. No flaws, just vibrant outrageous survival and wisdom. Grief has made me realize that the most beautiful thing about people is the life flowing through them. I am so alive, and it is so beautiful.

10. I am a creator. From happy style to sugar shifts to emergent strategy, from love to poems to children’s books to photos to science fiction, most of my life is creating. I spent the last hours of 35 and first hours of 36 creating. This poem came:

The moon is getting heavy
The crickets constant, loud
The river steams up under us
Each space all clamoring crowd

The stars drizzle and they drop
Their light is time tricked out in black
When darkness tastes the sun
She becomes fire all arch and back

This is the sacred moment
The green earth on our tongues
Every day is full of our dying
And all the while we are young

I will not quake and shiver
This heartbeat my first delight
I’m full of nights worth dreaming
I choose to be the light

I will not hush and wander
This whisper bears no spite
I’m full of songs you haven’t heard
I choose to be the light

I will not hide or disappear
My spirit is the mountain’s height
I see the future hurtling home
I choose to be the light

I will not surrender
I know each of my rights
I’m taking all the joy that’s mine
I choose to be the light

The birthday gift I want this year is to be a working writer, to cover rent and food with income from my words. One way you can support that is by becoming a member of this blog. In addition to the things I normally post here, feelings and reflections and lessons gathered, I’ll be posting more original science fiction. I’m going to write whether I’m paid or not, and this will be available to you whether you pay or not, so it’s truly in the spirit of a gift. I’m working on telling the universe what I want, cause that’s what grown women do.

And, see point 1, that’s what I am. I just wrote myself into a celebratory space. Happy birthday to me! Off to meditate. Have a day worthy of the miracle of your life.