Tuesday, July 1, 2014

As I age - thoughts when approaching a birthday.

In a few days I turn 53.
I know it's not popular to divulge one's age when it passes that multiple decades mark. But here I am, letting the world know.

Mostly in my life I have not worried about age, I was too busy getting on with it; school, marriage, 3 kids, work, moving numerous times, the wonderful and amazing world of connection and wonder I got to be a part of; after all, the internet was invented in my lifetime! Riding my bike around Paris 30 years ago, I dreamed of living in France, becoming a famous architect, working on an archeological dig, writing books, having a beautiful home with lovely, happy children, my husband and I settling into a life of creativity, travel, hard work and abundance. Some of those things have happened, some haven't. 

I will be honest and say it's been way, WAY harder than I imagined. I developed chronic illness late in my 20's, it took a huge toll, but went undiagnosed for about 15 more years. Now I know about Celiac disease, and how it has compromised my body. It's been a hard road of discovery, and one of continuing struggle, some days I am in pain and feel 80 years old, other days, it goes fine, and I can ask my body to do what I want, yoga, walking, cleaning, hiking, etc.

And here I am with many of my life dreams come true - I did become an architect, I did travel quite a bit, I did raise three amazing children and my husband and I did live in numerous places. We worked hard and dreamed big.
and there was suffering.
Agony and very real trauma and great loss in our lives. and many great joys, as well.

I just now woke up from a dream of riding my bike around Paris as a twenty-something. In the dream, I had the mindset I had thirty years ago, I woke up remembering so deeply that sense of invincibility, that notion that the world was mine for the taking, that I could do whatever I dreamed of. The way my body was so strong and powerful was quite vivid, it was hard not to feel the loss of that when I woke up.

Three months ago, I did a series of pages in my journal to re-evaluate my life, mostly my work life which had been floundering since we moved here to Colorado 5 years ago. "I want to use my art and writing skills to write a children's book," was one of the intentions I found. So I did! I worked on it, and it's done. It's over there at Amazon, if you want to check it out. http://goo.gl/QWvFPA and it feels like a nice milestone for me. I am happy with the accomplishment, and find it amusing that it took this long to find work that would be so well received by the world . . . but there it is.

I don't think I will ever ride my bike around Paris like that again, and I KNOW I will never have that huge sense of power and owning the whole world that I had in my twenties.

But I do have this - I can think of a project, dream it big, manifest it. and I can tell the world about it here. That's a really huge accomplishment, and one I never dreamed of thirty years ago. (I was still writing with my electric typewriter, and didn't dream then I could possibly ever be an artist, being an architect seemed much more plausable.)

All this, my life, my kids, my work, my house, my dog, my garden, my studio, I am so very grateful for this life. Am I grateful for the illness? the suffering? the trauma?   In truth, no, but would I be able to dream up a book that feels like one of my biggest life accomplishments, and then make it within a few months?

No.  I could not.

I could not have learned that without the troubles I have had. The struggles of our lives make us who we are, and they make the accomplishments all the sweeter.

I now know that at age -almost- 53.

I said: what about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road. I said: what about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning. I said: what about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it? I said: pain and sorrow. . .
He said: . .  stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. --Rumi


  1. Your post is glorious! Your artwork is amazing. So happy that I visited your blog today!!!

  2. Thank you so much, Ophelia, I appreciate your encouragement.

  3. Dear Emily, happy birthday (yesterday? today? tomorrow? However I wish you the very best)
    Thanks a lot for your post. It touched me, perhaps a bit more because I am 53 as well. An additional "Thank you" for your openess. Mostly I read in blogs only the happy sides (sometimes its depressing because ALL are always happy and I am the only woman who has sorrows, hard times etc.) You are a great woman! And the Rumi words are very beautiful.

  4. Thanks for those kind words, Pinks, I try hard to be authentic in what I say, and I hear you! I love looking at art journaling blogs, but many of them have cookie cutter ideas of how to make pages, and don't really try to probe deeply. For me, the act of journaling is finding my hidden thoughts, the ones that the act of doing art can mine out of my sub conscious. I guess it's not a process for the meek minded.