Today is what I consider my personal New Year’s Day, otherwise considered my birthday. Apparently I entered the world in the middle of the day, about 2 PM, if I recall correctly, which my Kenyan friends thought was very appropropriate for my personality. “Born in Sunlight!” they said in delight. There is a name for that… and if Christian names weren’t the new norm, that would’ve been my name had I been born in Wundanyi, Kenya.
But I was not. I was the first of my kin to be born in Sturgeon Bay, WI. My two older brothers seemed to love me as if I were their own, and I was in a way. They might not realize how much they raised me. My brothers taught me to face bullies, be tough, stand up for myself, and sing whenever the opportunity presented itself. I somehow was born with, or they taught me, the ability to laugh and laugh hard. I learned how to take an intense fall and bounce right back up on my feet. I learned how to ride a small dirt bike and the thrill of scaring whoever sat behind me by aiming for trees and then swooping around them. I learned to respect dogs and that they can save your life.
My Dad taught me that I can help others care for their horses instead of owning one myself. He also figured out early on that I would talk to anyone. At a very young age I would weave stories for any audience. It wasn’t unusual for him to scoop me up and take me to join him on weekend “rounds” so I could tell stories to patients who honestly looked like they didn’t have long to live. I don’t remember if they did live long after my visits, but I do remember that warmth that took over my entire chest when they would smile, especially with their eyes. When tired pale eyes start to shimmer and lift into happy gratitude, it doesn’t go unnoticed. To say it’s uplifting is watering it down into a bad over-shared meme.
I learned so much from my little sister it will have to be it’s own blog post.
I learned that each day had little rhythm. I didn’t know what any day would bring. I could feel extreme pain or excruciating joy. I could feel loved or abandoned. I could feel like I had purpose or that I was a mistake and a curse. It all depended on who was or was not home. And I didn’t know when I could get that healing time with my brothers, that refuge, that adventure retreat, that ideal escape from reality. I wasn’t certain when I could cling to the statuesque rock solid quiet with my father, silently filled (I now know) with love and pride.
I think that’s why I learned to daydream. I also learned to collect people like some people collect rocks or knick knacks. I collected people that I hoped I could find joy with. People who were kind and smart and fun. People who provided safety and wisdom along with adventure.
Most of the time these people were friends I could count on, or so I hoped. Part of my growing up this past year was realizing that I had a knack for collecting quite a wide range of awesome to awful. Now I’m in a particularly sensitive time in my life where I have little space or tolerance for the toxic people I collected along the way. It hurt to discover some posed as caring who were actually manipulative snakes. I can now hear the slithery gaslighting and block it. Now I understand why pathological liars don’t fit in my new life, and how to set boundaries. Drama addicts have to be cut out completely, which of course, when that happens, they turn a calm conversation into a catastrophe. Meanwhile I feel the immediate relief. Immediate! Like a huge stinky hairy gorilla jumping off my back. Oof! I can forgive, someday in the future, those who are hurting and hurt others/me.
Hurt people hurt people.
I don’t want to be that person.
I want to be like the awesome people I’ve collected and continue to collect. I want to be the safe zone friend, the healing salve for those who need a good friend. I want my heart that overflows with love, to love and be loved in return, not taken for granted. I want balance and beauty in life. I want encouragement instead of shame. I want exploration and exclamations! I want bravery, courage, and gorgeous audacity in ruthless honesty. I want to sing again! That feels good. That feels … for lack of a better word, right. My new life. My intentional life. My birthright.
On my personal New Years Day, I make the following resolutions to Live In Sunlight:
- To share gratitude in the written word every day. You might get a letter or a card from me, or a simple text telling you how grateful I am for you and why. Maybe I’ll devote some blog posts just to gratitude. Consider this a fair warning.
- To let go of the people who cause more harm than good. I have now felt the extreme relief of having done that and it feels too good to ignore. It takes a lot of strength to stay firm, calm, one-with-my-breath, and practice wu wei (action through inaction). I honor myself in not reacting or defending. I practice (have not mastered) compassion.
- To live mindfully as myself, not some version of me that my shoulder goblin says I am. I am not fearful of “success” or the juicy life I dream of. I am a writer. I am an adventurer. And as much as this stings to type out, I will embrace what people close to me say I am. I am awesome! I am rare. I am one of a kind. I may not understand how or why but the people who say this are not flinging it out there to make me feel good about myself. These words come from careful consideration of the heart and who am I to diss that?
I choose joy. I choose whole-body laughter and breathtakingly beautiful pauses. I choose dancing. I choose singing out loud without modesty. I choose running out into the open world with wide spread arms and a smile stretched so wide for so long it aches. I choose savoring all the yumminess of love and wild new journeys. And wow would it feel great to surround myself with more people who do the same.
If you would like to receive a note of gratitude or positivity in some flavor from me, I invite you to send me your address. Some day your mailbox or inbox could surprise you with a little message, and selfishly, it will feel wonderful to me to send.
If there is any other way to celebrate this New Year, all suggestions will be considered carefully.
Thank you for reading. Shine On!
Wa’am Laura Paisley Beck