If the only prayer you ever said was “Thank You” that would be enough–Meister Eckhart

I woke this morning with a heart light and full of gratitude.

It hasn’t always been this way. There have been days–very dark and heavy days–when it was a struggle to rise. Days when I felt so sad or so beaten down or just so overwhelmed or riddled with fatigue or pain that I wondered if I’d ever know joy again. But rise I did. Because its the only thing to do. One foot in front of the other–one breath at a time.

I used to think that happiness was the result of accomplishment or tying things up neat and tidy, of accumulated pleasures or wealth or good health but now I know that happiness comes simply from walking the walk and opening up to all that we see along the way, the glorious and the ugly, the cozy and the uncomfortable. Happiness rises up slowly and glows from inside when I simply bear witness to life happening all around me. So simple really. I almost missed it.

This spring I was blessed enough to attend another birth. On the way to the hospital we had to drive through the Mall filled with tourists here to see cherry blossoms and monuments and museums. As we drove through the milling crowds I wanted to roll down my window and shout, “Hey–you–someone is being BORN over here and you don’t even know it!” There are miracles happening all the time–we just have to open our eyes and pay attention.

Life is a gift and I am so grateful that I have made it 44 times around this great sun. Its been nothing short of an adventure. Every great adventure has scary moments and times when you think that the hero(ine) won’t make it. Every adventure has cliff hangers and moments that are so breathtakingly beautiful or painful that your heart (my heart) breaks wide open. Every adventure has moments when the loss is so heavy and dark you think (I think) it’s over and then a tiny light glows somewhere and somehow its not so dark and then out of nowhere there is majesty and brilliance and something no one expected. I am so grateful for it all. It has brought me here. And I welcome what comes next, the good, the bad, the ugly, the sublime.

I’m closing my eyes on this night with a heart so overflowing with love and gratitude. Because I am living a life that I am creating, the life I always wanted. Because I work side by side with amazing extraordinary people and get to partner with them to profoundly change the world. Because in my work I get to nurture the potential in others. Because I have a child who is kind and happy. Because my entire life I have walked side by side with loving friends and family who have carried me, danced with me, cooked for me, dreamed with me, dried my tears. Because I the older I get the more convinced I am that gnomes really do live in the forest. Because seriously, life is nothing short of magical. Because it is all miracle. All miracle.

(Hey YOU! Yes YOU! Someone, something is being BORN over here! Don’t miss it!)

I am so blessed. So truly blessed. And so grateful for another day and a chance to start another year.

Thank you.

Several Times in the Last Week
Ever since Happiness heard your name
It has been running through the streets
Trying to find you.
And several times in the last week,
God Himself has even come to my door-
Asking me for your address!
Once I said,
‘God,
I thought You knew everything.
Why are You asking me
Where Your lovers live?’
And the Beloved replied,
Indeed, Hafiz, I do know Everything –
But it is fun playing dumb once in a while.
And I love intimate chat
And the warmth of your heart’s fire.
Maybe we should make this poem into a song-
I think it has potential!
How far does this refrain sound,
For I know it is a Truth:
Ever since Happiness heard your name,
It has been running through the streets
Trying to find you.
And several times in the last week,
God Himself has come to my door-
So sweetly asking for your address,
Wanting the beautiful warmth of your heart’s fire.
-Hafiz as translated by Daniel Ladinsky

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The morning you were born and I held you in my arms, I knew I was all in but I had no idea.

I suspected that part of my job was teach you not to be afraid. But I had no idea that you would teach me to let go of my fear too. You taught me to ride a loop rollercoaster & to throw my head back and let myself feel like I am flying. I never would have had the courage to do that if it wasn’t for you. Being your mom, I have become braver than I ever thought I’d could be, speaking out, standing up, trying new things–all for the sake of you.

I thought it would be part of my job to teach you to never give up. But its you who taught me. This summer you worked with me patiently until I learned to do a flip-turn, encouraging me to stay with it even when I struggled, even when I thought it was no use or not important. It was because of you that I haven’t given up–even when life has gotten impossibly hard. You taught me to just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You inspired me to push on to keep going–all for the sake of you.

I was sure it would be my job to teach you to work hard, buckle down and have discipline. But it is you that gets me out of the house early so you can hit the rink or the pool in the wee hours, putting in your hours, breaking down your shot and your stroke so you can meet every goal that you set in front of you. And truth be told, over the last 12 years I have worked harder than I ever imagined I ever could without even thinking twice. It’s for you really.

I had no idea that the tiny child I held in my arm 12 years ago today would have taught me so much, given me so much, challenged me so much. I had no idea when I held you that I was holding in my arms this amazing potential–that the person I was holding would grow up to be the kind of person who patiently helps younger children with their butterfly stroke and their starting dives, the kind of person who gives his own money to the hungry, the kind of person who stands at the end of his friends lane and cheers his head off to keep him going through 200 painful meters of fly at top speed. I had no idea that the baby I held was the kind of person who would get in the pool and swim 180 laps straight the week of Junior Olympics (when everyone else with any sense was resting) to raise money to build an elementary school in Honduras. I had no idea that the baby I held in my arms would call me out when I was being a hypocrite or challenge me to think of things in a new way. I knew only one thing. Love. And truth is that is all I know now. That is the only thing to know.

I love you so much Max. I am so grateful for the hours we spend reading together, watching Glee, in the car chatting or listening to music. I am grateful that you talk to me when you are upset–especially when you are upset with me. They say these years can be the most difficult as you push away and establish yourself as a young man. I really have no idea–but that’s ok. Because I had no idea how much I would love you and how much that love has pushed me forward, no matter what.

I have no idea what the next few years will bring, but whatever it does I am all in.

Happy 12th birthday.