I Didn’t Think I Would Live This Long – Jan Mabey Guest Blogger
Its here, the morning on my 60th birthday… at 1:24 pm the universal clock will strike… It has been an interesting journey the past few months as it has approached. After a heavy medical evaluation, it was suggested that I might not be around more than a couple of more years and certainly not to 60. That was 15 years ago… and here I am. Marching to my own drum seems to have served me a little in this case. in addition to not thinking I would live this long, my somewhat customary life has seen many changes over the passing months. Changes that have set my mind to wondering about what effect these changes might have and how my future might unfold. Not in a bad way… but in an “I feel significant change brewing” kind of way. And yes, there is mild trepidation at moments as I step into this void of change.
A few days ago someone asked me “how old do you feel?”. What an interesting question I found that to be…. the reflective look on my face summoned an explanation as to what they were asking. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the question, it was that I simply could not find a ready answer. “Feeling” in my experience is a moving target… someplace between a vulnerable two year old little girl that sometimes feels confused, a little afraid, unsure and curious to a feeling of being as timeless and ageless as the universe, able to smile at the beauty of our little worlds within worlds we individually and collectively create. As for today… reflective and joyful that I am so blessed to have wrapped myself in a cloak of broad experience of mind, body, emotion and spirit and a cast of characters that bill top ratings.
In others blogs, I have mentioned how important it is to look within and identify ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make us the individuals that we are… to be honest with ourselves and really do the work to identify those that serve us in an expansive growing way and those that keep us safe. I do strive to practice what I preach… and it is not always easy. Through my 60 years, I have never planned a celebration for myself. I am an introvert, I am not a self-promoter (Even writing these blogs came from a chain of recommendations until someone came to me and asked if I would consider it), and I lived my life as a working single parent of two and money has always been managed in a way that seldom included self-indulgence, Over the weeks, one day at a time, one step at a time, I faced a plethora of shadows, all connected to my choice to plan my own birthday celebration. The planning process pushed me to deal with my introversion, my shy little girl was being called to appear center stage, my internal financial planner was being told to take a back seat being in control for a 60 year pattern, my inner critic was let loose on both the “am I worth it level” as well as can i afford to pull off an event that would suit my “type A” personality. They all took the stage and at times simultaneously. What a show they performed within my own awareness. My monkey mind was at large, my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies were all in overdrive.
Once I made my way through the gates of hell and embraced the idea of a celebration, I began to look whom I wanted to share the moment. Maybe a small dinner with a dozen or so? hmmm, so I started a guest list. This alone was challenging, I am in Mexico and those that would fit the top 12 (plus a bunch more) were stateside and not able to join me, my children and grandchildren and some others dear to my heart. Within two short days, my guest list had become quite long and was only getting longer… I am one of those people who has always lived by the rule that there is always one more seat at my table and that pretty much the only people that are not my friends are those I have not yet met… this can cause a problem to the budget minded. There were many I wanted to include, people who have served me in some way over the years and become my extended family; waiters, office staff, gardeners a list too long to take on, but I wanted to. Still early in the season and many not yet returned to Mexico, and so much more stateside. It became clear that a small dinner was not going to work, nor would planning to every person I care for and appreciate. I fret over hurting feelings or leaving someone out. Once I made turned this corner and made the commitment, the planning began.. While a budget was needed I did not let it drive my choices completely. When I felt freaked out about self-promoting and bringing so much attention to myself I just acknowledge the shadow and continued forward one breath and one step at a time. It became for easier as I focused the celebration on gratitude and celebrating being alive and what it took for me to arrive at 60 and more so, the range of outstanding souls I have gathered into my life along the path.
Twelve days later, I am finally ready to complete this blog… I guess I needed time to open myself to process the experience fully (plus it can be challenging to find words that are meaningful and not just blah, blah, blah in your mind!). Let’s take a look from the perspective of the “Four Bodies of Being” (see past blog “Four Bodies of Being”), I would call it a great success!
Perspective through the physical body; I became ill almost as soon as I made the choice. beginning with a sore throat, then head and chest congestion (80 degrees and 80% humidity to that, i felt pretty crappy!). Stress can do that, and the cumulative resistance my “four bodies of being” were experiencing I really wasn’t surprised. The planning in general as well as my hearts desire to include as many as I could, reflect my personality in the process, and most of all show my love and gratitude to my guests. Deciding my budget was important since i don’t have a party budget! Creating invitations that reflected my feelings and thoughts, deciding location (beach or… beach), decorations (understated but enough), food and drink selections (vegetarians to carnivores, full bar or partial bar), and cake!? Wait what!! Cake!! AND a dress!! These last two took me over the top in “are you kidding me!? What was I thinking!??? Why was I feeling so threatened over the mention of a dress and a cake? Of course…those two things bring attention to myself and the whole cake thing was gonna put me total centerstage, I was having a downpour of “YIKES”!!! For now we are talking about the physical cake… When asked by the young beautiful Katie at Oasis what color, flavor, size… my response was pretty much “Are you kidding me? the only thing important is I would rather a bit of a “to die for” cake than pieces left half eaten. Other than that, you choose”. Yay! one more thing off my list and on to someone else’s!! now I could forget about cakes and singing and…well you know all that being the focus of attention stuff… for a few days anyway. Once I made the commitment to honor my life and those in it, settling for less was not an option. I kept my budget in mind while still having every sweet and savoring bite be a gift from the gods.
That takes a lot of thinking and a lot of planning and a lot of support! Which I had in an abundance. While I was sick and up against the whole turning 60 thing, people where appearing out of no where showing their love and support in ways I could not have imagined. The day came and for 24 hours I was well, balanced in my soul and able to greet and care for and honor them, which was my hearts goal. it was a beautiful evening, a couple minor glitches (when reflected upon became part of it all). I could not have asked for anything more. I was delighted. For the first 10 days that followed I became ill with lower GI and a UTI! How perfect is that! leading up to the day i can hardly breath or function. Louise Hay would suggest difficulty breathing in life fully and mental confusion. Pretty well reflects the process going in. The after ills, intuitively, I felt it was the completion process of my mental, emotional and spiritual healing that took place being mindful of “”something big is in the works”, my body purging out what remained of the old beliefs, attitudes, fears and other shadows.
Perspective through the Mental Body; The mind is the partial dwelling place of Maya, the epithet for a goddess and one of the manifestations of the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and love. Maya literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom… yet in teachings connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they appear to be”. Believe me when I share that my mind has been busy. Maya was at every beautiful turn, questioning me, questioning my ego, questioning the beliefs that That were driving my thoughts and behaviors. It was the closest thing to slaying a dragon that I might recall from a former life. The sword drawn, cutting away as my mind faced thoughts, beliefs, stories, memories, and fears of a life of 60 years. First was my worthiness around any of this type of spending and celebration focused on me. Then the idea of a new dress, an expression of me, and what aspects of me I wanted to take forward (a deep internal search as well as external took the suit. and did I mentioned I’m not a shopper? yup, I was up against it!). Nothing was just about the physical aspect of the celebration. Everything, when asking myself “why” took on deeper and deeper aspects. Aspects that would take me deeper into the shadows. I wanted it to represent everyone there, not just from a dietary standpoint but one of honoring their uniqueness and place in my world. 60 years of memories of all types. I was in awe of the abundant beauty of my co-created life, all of it… the joys and the sorrows. I have nothing to want for… I am blessed beyond word or measure. It is Maya who knocks at my door if I ever think less.
Perspective through the spiritual body; During this period I was reminded in a big way of my lessons on the Ashram and in my Tibetan Buddhist practice. We are all a vibrational strand in the weaving of the universal Om. One of the goddess that I strongly resonate to and the channel is Kali, also known as Kalika. She is one of the ten aspects of the divine goddess. Her energy is that of creation and destruction; liberation from ignorance and fear, destroyer of evil or the ego, protector, and offerer of blessings and manages time and space as we know it… timeless. I know that we never are without each other, I am in her and she within me. My personality, my beliefs, and style all reflect her energy. During this time she knocked loudly on my door. So loudly I could not ignore her. At 60, it was time for me to look into my illusions even deeper and step in to the refiners fire, to be reminded of and acknowledge and embrace all of the aspects of Kali and how they manifest through me… making sense of what that means to me, my life, my way of moving into the future. Women talk about becoming the wise “Old Crone”… She is a manifestation of the grandmother goddess that we are. She has a million faces, all beautiful. One of them is yours and one of them is mine.
Perspective through the emotional body; short and sweet as we remember the bottom line, while each “body of being” is individually defined, they overlap and spin together at any given time and the lines begin to blur. I was resistant, unsure, reluctant, embarrassed, fearful and overwhelmed on many levels. Once I made the conscious choice and I jumped off the cliff into the transformational abyss, more illusion, more of my self-limiting story, more ego, more Maya was burned away. and as I rose from the ash entered yet a bigger space of love and gratitude for this journey. Lessons learned and being learned, the tears of Joy and sorrows, the people that make my life. I actually feel younger today then I did a month ago, a decade ago and so on… thank you, Kali, for helping me understand time and age differently.
And thanks to you all… I am because you are…