STILL STRUTTIN’ FROM 17-73:)
Today is my birthday. Yup, it’s all about me today, and I do not apologize. If there’s one day a year that any of us can focus on ourselves, it should be our birthdays. On this day, as I turn 73, I count my blessings. My mother died at 73, and I have dear friends whom I’ve lost over the past few years. Every healthy day is a blessing. I’ve learned so much, but I know I have so much more to learn and share. I pray that I can remain healthy so I can be the “rainbow in someone’s cloud,” as Maya Angelou so eloquently suggests. Lord knows, I have had many clouds in my life—some self-inflicted, many uninvited. Every cloud had a silver lining, but it wasn’t the next day, the next month or even the next year that I recognized it. Sometimes it took a while to realize that it was, indeed, a silver lining, and it never meant that I didn’t suffer from whatever caused the cloud. I have learned, however, that being the rainbow in someone else’s cloud is a wonderful feeling, and my goal is to continue to search for ways to shine and light up others.
Don’t get me wrong. I have been selfish, and sometimes I still am. Sometimes, we need to be selfish to take care of ourselves. Sometimes selfish keeps us strong to help others. Sometimes selfish is shameful, but self-care is important, and I’ve learned that in order to be strong for others, I must take care of my own needs. Sometimes, too much giving can slap us right in the face. I have friends who give and give to the point of exhaustion. That’s admirable, but they pay a price.
As I reflect on past birthdays, I remember joyful family gatherings as well as lonely, tearful times when I just felt sorry for myself. Sometimes we build up special occasions in our minds to the extent that they cannot possibly be as wonderful as we imagine. Now when my birthday approaches, I ask myself what will make me feel most at peace and content. It’s usually being somewhere with my love in the sunshine or talking to my daughters on the phone. It’s not so much material gifts anymore (although they are always welcome:); it’s the gift of good health, love and friendship. I cherish the friends I’ve recently left, the daughters who live far away with my precious grandchildren and the loving man I married. I thank God for the strength and energy with which He has blessed me, and I pray that my legacy will be sunshine in someone’s day or a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
When your birthday rolls around, give yourself permission to revel in it. Celebrate yourself. Congratulate yourself on all the shit you’ve endured and how you’re still here struttin’ or kickin’ or whatever it is you do. Be a little selfish, especially if others will benefit, and think about in whose cloud you can be a rainbow.