Today, 16 February, is my birthday. Being born in the dead of winter meant that normal childhood birthday parties were usually pre-empted by mountains of snow brought forth by what is known as a Lake Effect storm in the suburb of Buffalo where I grew up. More often than not my brothers’ hockey, a priority in our family, meant my ‘day’ was altogether ignored; c’est la vie. As I got older, coming at the heels of Valentine’s Day as it does, if I was in a relationship I might receive a bouquet which would serve both holidays – it sucked. In short order I don’t really like my birthday because nothing ever erases the disappointment of our youth in not being made to feel special if only for one day a year.
I sit here, in the early evening of a very nearly perfect 24 hours of my birthday listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “So Far” album; I am eternally grateful to have retained the idealism I possessed when I first heard this in 1977 sitting in the basement of my best friend Eden’s house on Fernwood Drive on Grand Island.
My day started with communications shared at 3AM between Split Croatia, Munich Germany, Seattle Washington (USA) and my phone on my nightstand in Rochester NY – never have I felt so blessed. At 11PM CET tonight the public comment period ended around drilling in the Adriatic, and what we were discussing in these early morning (for me) hours related to what we could do to create a final hours push to encourage more people to rally around keeping the Adriatic devoid of petrochemicals – forever. We are far from done, and the role I step into is the most beautiful gift anyone could hope to possess – a chance to leverage a lifetime of professional skills, personal commitment and passion, to leave one tiny piece of the world better (and in adhering to the principles of my daily mantra to “leave the room lighter than it was when I came into it”).
Last night one of my two best friends took me out to a lovely, over the top dinner complete with Red Velvet Lava Cake (part of which served as breakfast this morning), laughter and bearing witness to the passage of time, and the promise of the future were also on the menu. This morning my other best friend spontaneously called to invite me out for a cup of tea – which, because she flipped off my landlord (it’s a CRAZY STORY) meant that we got to spend more hours together than anticipated. A snow-filled, bitterly cold, bright blue sky day unfolded complete with hauling water in her car to take care of her horses and feeding them carrot-cicles, the further expression of laughter, a synopsis of my 88 days in Croatia and our mutual lofty goals for this year. In each instance celebrating with them and seeing them not as I usually do (at a soul level) but being absolutely with the humanness of my friends. Both of them. Such a blessing.
From predawn to dusk my Twitter feed and Facebook wall have offered up trees (real and those artistic), various memes and emoticons, multi-coloured ballons being released, video of Arctic light, bits of poetry, and wishes from people I know really well both virtually and in real life, as well as those that I have never met in person but who somehow love me as if I have lived next door to them all of our lives. There was not a single ‘conventional’ present in sight (my girlfriend Sue gave me a gallon of milk!). Which might seem like I am complaining but, no, I am not – as always I have all that I need. Today I have experienced a kind of abundance that feels so right – a quiet, authentic, exquisite abundance of all the things that really matter in life and I am so grateful.
I did one thing for myself today to celebrate. Late this afternoon I spent a couple of hours in quietude. While sitting in an empty restaurant enjoying a split of Champagne and a bowl of French onion soup, I reflected on who I am, where I have been and where I am going, and attempted to choke back happy tears – I failed. I failed because as I sat there in a sunbeam, an 80 year old etched crystal Champagne glass sparkling with fragmented light, golden bubbles and everything there is to celebrate about life contained within I received a text message. A man I have loved, from whom I willfully disconnected, sent a simple “HB”. So much of the next years of my life will be because of his being a messenger, his prompting and his being a protective energy for me, and for that there will never be enough Champagne or gratitude.
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