1. When you wake and feel the sadness flood you, take a moment to honor your broken heart. She is wise and powerful. She is never anything but exactly what is needed. She will break and break and break again, and still choose love. You know this. Do not pretend otherwise. Cynicism is not for you, nor lack of hope. What has been reborn now will refuse to die. Nurture it and let it live. Even unmet hope is a blessing. Want teaches, if we let it.
2. Go back to bed for a while. Let her hold you. She is here and present and knows the truth of the pain and the comfort of human arms. Trust in what is offered out of friendship and without expectation. Know that you can take comfort in each other and have that be enough. Nestled bodies, mirrored pain. It is good to be seen and held in this space. Let it be good. We are human and we crave touch. There is no shame in this. Find sleep again for a brief time. Give yourself over to it because you need it badly, more than you need to work right now.
3. Shower. Let the water wash you clean. Instead of frustration at the continued lack of hot water in this apartment, trust that the coolness is purposeful today. It is not heat that you need. Not the steam rise but the grounding down. Let the cool water bring you down from the rush and the height. Let your feet feel their connection to the earth. Resist the temptation to float above yourself now. You need to go deep inside of this. Feel the shiver rise along your skin. Hug your arms tight around your naked body. Allow yourself to feel exactly what you are feeling. Alone. Cold. Grieving. Fiercely alive. Raise your face to the spray. Raise your heart to the truth. Raise your entire being to the day that lies ahead.
4. Get dressed. Choose the tight blue pencil skirt that hugs every inch from knee to lower ribs. Add a cropped white lace shirt. It stops a fraction of an inch above the skirt and shows bare skin through it’s weave and the truth inked on your ribs when you move. Your heart will show today anyway, this sliver of raw skin seems only honest. Gold jewelry. Pile it on. Carefully. Take time with the clasp of the bracelet, with the slide of ring over knuckle. Feel the necklace around your neck. The stamped words, a purposeful reminder today. Choice within Grace. Grace within Choice. Feel your adornment as purposeful. Blow-dry your hair into a sleek, straight submission. Find the hard edge within the soft fall. Be careful with your makeup. Glossy red lips and black-rimmed eyes, for certain. Spanish Amber on wrists and collarbone and behind the ears, the scent of your own seduction. Slip on high heels. Let the line of your leg from calf to hip to waist make them want. This is your right.
5. Go to the coffee shop. The one that always holds space for your best words. Sit on the faux leather couch because there is absolutely nowhere else to be. Look around. See the brick walls, the old door propped inexplicably against the wall. The concrete floor. The exposed beams and ductwork. See the people. Really see them. Allow yourself that luxury. Catalogue them one by one. Know that they live and grieve and love and bleed. Know that they have woken up sad, just like you. They are whole. They have been broken. Someone in this room is walking dead. Someone is full of resilient hope. What lives behind the façade? Nobody really knows. They do not know when they see you either. Can you show them? Can you make the naked pain visible on your face? Will this bring more humanity to this day? Yes? Then do it. Let tears fall right there when a song comes on that brings memory to surface, or when kindness from a love takes you off guard. There is no shame in deep feeling. Stop believing this is so. It is a story that does not serve.
6. Do the work. The work that is your purpose on earth. Make manifest the story in your heart and let the words flow onto the screen. Live raw and wide and vulnerable inside of those words, as if there were no other choice. There is no other choice. You know that. You make a life out of art and art out of your life. You are blessed, you are blessed, you are blessed. Feel that through your sadness. Know that beyond the edges of your grief. It is luxury and gift, hard won and fiercely claimed. Let nobody diminish this for you. Do not relinquish your right to this life. The words? They are why you are here. Do not ignore them today; let them guide you exactly where you need to go.
7. When he brings you gluten free muffins and a homemade card, stop your work and be grateful for the solidity of friendship. When she stays with you almost all day, not because she has to but because she can, feel the gift of her presence. When lunch is bought for you, healing vegetable soup, be thankful for generosity. When a flattering text comes in out of the blue from someone in the next room, accept it as deserved, and smile and blush and feel how lovely it is to be admired. When you pick them up at school and they greet you with joy and homemade cards, be aware of the gift and the grounding and purpose of motherhood.
8. Look at your daughters. Look at them, whole and flawed and goofy and amazing and wild and knowing and resilient. Know that life will bring them pain, and one day someone will break their gentle hearts. And that one day they will likely be the one to bring someone else’s gentle heart it’s own shatter. Know also that those hearts will beat as stubborn and true as yours does, because this is all they will have ever seen. Their entire lives. Wide open love. Giving fullness. Living from center. Compromise and trust and faith and a commitment to kindness and the perfect knowing of their own wild souls. Let that be your truest gift to the universe.
9. Make a date with yourself and keep it. Heed the call for the burn of needle that comes at times like these. Follow the voice that tells you to mark this day of (re)birth with ink on bone. Know which words are right. Take yourself there alone. There are things one does with others and paths that must be walked without company. For you, this is a solitary space. Make the plan. You will bare your skin. Lie still. Find your breath. Find your breath. Find your breath. Let the pain guide you to your center. Allow it to travel to your edges. Typewriter font on ribs this time. A proclamation of uncompromising selfhood. A commitment ceremony to spirt and soul and purpose. I am this, body and soul. Burn me, drown me, tell me lies, I will still be who I am.
10. And then, when the plan does not work. When the schedule runs behind and you show up late and the artist has gone home and the ATM does not work and your credit cards won’t release an advance and you start to realize that it will not happen, let your shoulders fall and allow yourself the disappointment. There are some things we want that are not ours to be have. Some weeks will not provide you with what was wanted, regardless of how deep your desire runs. Do not deny yourself this simple heartache. All of grief demands it’s own expression in it’s own time. Suppression is only a delay of the inevitable.
11. Take yourself home. See the prayer candle burning on your patio. Kneel before it. A most holy death. Reverence. Endings before beginnings. Beginnings hidden inside of the end of things. The resilient flame, almost 24 hours old. A letting go that stays steady. This is sometimes the way of things. We can say goodbye and still hold true to what is true. We can release love to be what it will be and yet still love in wholeness and fullness. The flame calls you to honesty. The light illuminates the pathway home. Sometimes to die is the only way to find continued life. A song plays in the background at random. Be Still. Be Still. Be Still. Yes, maybe now you can be still.
12. Fill your home with candle flame. Light every one in the house until the glow fills every corner. Sit by yourself. Alone by choice this night. Because there are nights when alone is the only true thing we can possibly be. When company and laughter and talking would be more false that we can bear. Avoid the music that holds the core of this story. Avoid it fully and completely, until you can avoid it no more. And then let it play. Turn it up. Fill yourself with it until the tears come. And then let them come. Let them fall. Let them shake your shoulders and pound your heart and twist your body. This life, it is not as you imagined it. Full of blessings upon blessings, oh holy yes. And holding grief upon grief intermingled with the good. There is room for both. For holy gratitude and the depths of sadness that runs like groundwater beneath it all. Embrace the complexity. Own the paradox. Right in the center of this space is the core of all that there is.
13. Sit down to write. In the dark. Let your fingers fly across the keyboard in a way they have not in months. Feel the freedom of truth spill. See what can be released with the tears. It is always interesting to learn what lies on the other side. Grief fully unleashed is it’s own wild muse. Just you and the candlelight and the words. With all of your unmet dreams and all the hope that refuses to die. With the visions and the knowing and the disappointment and the grief and the blessings and the want and the quiet and the spaciousness and the light and the darkness and the music and the yearning and the truth and the love and the love and the love.
14. Know, in the end, it is only the love that will ever matter. Know this in your bones. Know it as the only truth. Know it as purpose and meaning and light. Know it as you know yourself. Deep and solid and whole. This is your 38th birthday. It is only one day in a long line of many days you have been granted. Only one of many you will hopefully be given. Give thanks, even for this sadness. It is proof that you are alive. And this, in the end, is the one holy gift for which we must always be grateful.
15. When fatigue finally comes do not fear the dark. Let your body feel the honest weariness in your bones. Let it take you over. Blow out the candles one by one, except the prayer candle outside that lights the way home. Remove your adornments as carefully as your placed them on your body. Hang up your clothing and tidy your space. Dismantling what was created in love can be as much of an offering as the building, if you let it. Turn off the ringer on your phone. Let the quiet be our gift to yourself. Slow your breath. Feel it steady and sure. Hear your own heart beating as clear and true as ever. Sink into the cool white sheets. Feel the air of the fan on your naked skin. Surround yourself with pillows. Curl onto your side. Let the quiet of this night be its own gift. But do not go to sleep without blessing it all.
Blessed be this worthy sadness. Blessed be this knowing love. Blessed be the finding home. Blessed be the kitchen slow dance. Blessed be the magical sunset. Blessed be the strong arms. Blessed be the true north. Blessed be the unmet hope. Blessed be the unwavering light. Blessed be the hard goodbye. Blessed be this holy life.
Blessed be. Blessed be. Blessed be.