September 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Real Me


My sobriety date, my real birthday, is Sept. 23, 1987 — 29 years! 

Every year, it amazes me, and I remain in awe of my life. Me, the one who could have easily died a physical death because of all the automobile accidents I had or the many times I drank enough alcohol to kill myself.
Each year when another birthday rolls around, I celebrate this journey on many levels. First, I survived long enough to tell these stories. Second, I actually lived long enough to discover aspects, gifts and qualities about myself that are beyond my past imaginings.
Instead of singing, “Happy birthday to me,” I have changed the words to, “Happy birthday, real me.”
Happy birthday, real me
Happy birthday, real me
Happy birthday, real Temple
Happy birthday, real me
It’s a powerful moment and reflective of so many miracles that have happened and continue to happen in my life. I tell people that I am no different in character and in being than I was when I was a child; I have simply died a lot and been reborn a lot so that I could give myself permission to be the real me.
The real you is not a place you arrive at, a new credential or a new career. Being the real you means to know inside yourself that there is no holding back, that in every situation of your life you can feel fully expressed. Many people are walking around with unconscious straitjackets on that prevent them from being truly free. The civil rights movement took off not simply because Rosa Parks was tired of being abused and became brave. She changed the movement because in the way she responded, it was as if she was declaring, “This is my seat, and I am not moving!” Often, the real you and the real me are too quick to give up our seats. We are too quick to back down from what we really believe in. The world changed the day Parks declared she would not give up her seat.
How would the world change if you said, “My seat in life is to express how animals are wrongly treated” or “My seat in life is to show people how to be thriving and energetic” or “My seat in life is to show people how to have a successful marriage” or “My seat in life is to show people how to be healthy and happy”? Celebrating the tremendous freedom of the real you means being able to dance and feel and sing while claiming your “seat” in life and being unwilling to give it up.
I remember how surprised I was at my 50th birthday party to see more than 200 people singing “Happy Birthday” to me. It was such an overwhelming feeling. There was a huge photo of me as a baby about 9 months old, and there was also a photo of me in my 40s —what I had become. As I stood there, breathing in all of the energy from people from all walks of life, I was able to feel how much of the old me had died so that the real me was starting to come through. So many doubts and fears and so much distrust of allowing people to get close to me had to die so I could let people into my heart. A heart once guarded was now open to receive and let people in. It was truly a rebirthing experience.
Rebirthing is a strong part of our life experiences that most people have yet to make a connection with. We die often in this lifetime, and we are born again in this lifetime. Just as ocean waves move toward us and away from us with their ebb and flow, so it is with us in our human suits. We have areas in our lives that have died that we need to wake up, and we have areas in our lives that we need to truly bury and put behind us. To be thriving trees, we must honor the value of pruning ourselves from time to time.
The deepest realization of our covenant with our Creator is allowing the new layering of who we are to continue to emerge.
What is currently in your life that you need to prune? Is it time to let go of some relationships that are not changing and growing with you? Is it time to let go of another layer of self-criticism or of being too analytical? Perhaps it is time to prune spending too much time watching television or overindulging in negativity.
“Happy birthday, real you” gets you into the mindset of the values and promises you continue to make to yourself and others every year of this amazing journey we call life.

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