You may be familiar with the inspiring and popular line from one of Mary Oliver’s poems: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I have a question for you that is a slight twist on that line. It’s this: “Tell me, how will you celebrate your one wild and precious YOU?”
In the rush and tumble of daily life it is easy to forget what a miracle it is that you are a living, breathing being whose heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, whose body remembers the feel of Grandma’s cushiony hug and whose mind can imagine the smell of pancakes cooking on the fire at that campsite some twenty years ago.
We are miraculous creatures who not only think of new ideas, but whose hands are able to bring those thoughts into tangible reality. We love people and we do, say or write things to let them know. We kiss. We sing. We turn flour and sugar into gingerbread cookies. We are passionate about ice-skating, reading fiction, curing cancer, solving equations, writing memoirs, raising children or jumping in puddles.
Sometimes when I’m walking to the mailbox, I like to remember that I am actually taking steps on the surface of a huge ball of rock, minerals and gasses which is about 25,000 miles in circumference and spinning in space.
Think about it: you, here, alive, full of human emotions and dreams and desires, with an expiration date of about one hundred years. (Give or take, hopefully!)
You are one of a kind, never to be repeated.
No arguing. You’re a miracle.
Aren’t you worth celebrating?
At this point it is likely that the Squawky Polly part of your mind which likes to keep you small, fearful and unhappy might whisper something like, “Nah. I’m not worth celebrating until I lose those ten pounds/make more money/find a husband/treat my children better/whatever-whatever-whatever.”
There is this part of our brains that simply likes to cause trouble. It doesn’t speak the truth.
So, if you’re hearing some nay-saying, I’m asking you to please ignore that voice and listen to ME instead.
Why? Because I spent the first 30 years of my life listening to that mean voice to the point where it escalated to the scariest place. To the point where it didn’t just say, “You don’t deserve any celebration.” It said, “You deserve to die.” It had me alone in the dark – iron walls closing in – until I started planning ways to get off this planet.
What saved me was one tiny moment of celebration: a breath I took during meditation in which I realized that I did not feel pain and what I did feel was the smallest measure of possibility. It was like a pinprick of light in the iron wall closing around me.
In that single breath, I got it: our lives happen in moments. And every moment is a chance to start again. That small moment of time gave me a reprieve from believing the mean voices and it changed everything.
From that moment on I started seeking out tiny moments of well-being and I learned how to create moments of celebration.
It saved my life.
And then it changed my life – completely.
Whatever time it is when you’re reading this, it is the exact time to live a new moment, to start again.
And every time we start again, I believe we must start with a celebration. And that celebration is this: each of us is a part of this miraculous world. Each is unique. And also, we’re all alike. We have broken dreams, we have lost loves, we have regrets, we have missteps. But we also have these big, beautiful, beating hearts (remember 100,000 beats a DAY!) that yearn to love and give.
We are not separate from life itself. We are life. So, if ole Squawky Polly says you aren’t worth celebrating, you know it is a lie. Because you are made of the same stuff as bonsai trees, magnolia flowers, pomelos and stars.
Will you trust me and follow along on this celebration journey right now?
Will you trust me when I say YOU ARE WORTH IT?
Take a deep breath and simply sit with what you’re just read. Really take it in. Please don’t just dial it in right now. This is key. You are made of the same stuff as stars and you are living on a ball that it is spinning in a galaxy and you can imagine things and bring them into material form using your hands. Please do not take this for granted – ever. Take another deep breath and really let yourself feel this miracle of who you are. Take one more deep breath and imagine you are inhaling everything beautiful, good and true that is life.
Get out your datebook, digital calendar, stone tablet or whatever you use to track appointments, phone calls and whatnot. Mark a time in the next few days (the sooner the better) that is at least 15 minutes long. During that time, I want you to set a timer for ten minutes and brainstorm everything good and true and wonderful and fun about yourself and write them down. I mean it. Do this. Even if you think it sounds stupid. Even if the voices in your head tell you that you won’t be able to do it or that you don’t want to do it. It is ten minutes; just do it. I call this a Love List Selfie. (Keep your Love List Selfie someplace where you can easily find it again!) We take oodles of photographic selfies; why not document our loving, kind, creative, kooky, analytical, bold inner self? (Note: if you’re feeling extra courageous, join me when I host a Love List Selfie Valentine’s Event. Check out the info in my bio below!)
Put another date on your calendar for one month out from whenever you make your Love List Selfie. Label it: “Celebrate ____” (Insert your name!). When that date comes around, pull out your Love List Selfie and read it to yourself three time – with gusto! If new appreciations/loves drop in while you’re reading this list, add them!
Rinse and repeat as needed. I’m serious. Loving yourself and celebrating yourself is not selfish. It is one way to fill up the well of love inside you so you have plenty to give to others. The joy you give others begins with the love and appreciation you give yourself. Celebration starts at home.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and practice celebration with me. I’m cheering you on!