It’s not just a month for holidays but birthdays as well. For most of my life I shared my birthday with my Dad. This was special and difficult in many ways. He got to pick the dinner, usually pork. I got to pick the dessert, usually chocolate cake. He wasn’t a fan of cake and I wasn’t a fan of pork. But we shared our special Sagittarius bond.
Now that he’s passed, birthdays carry memories both happy and sad. I guess that’s why I always look backwards and forwards, past to future. Growing up also means growing older which as we know on our side of the globe is not seen as a good thing.
I’ve written about aging and ageist thinking before. But I wanted to share what showed up this week.
Birthday advice from a superstar.
“My greatest asset is that I am constantly changing," says Sagittarian actress and activist Jane Fonda.
I’m not one to take advice from actresses, even a superstar like Jane. But I think she’s totally right. The best thing I feel I can do and have done in my life is change. Now I’m not saying I welcomed, liked or expected it at the time. In fact, I remember many times I was dragged into change kicking and screaming.
But looking back, I can see changing, rearranging myself and my life is the essence of true creativity. I actually can’t even imagine life without change.
“One part of wisdom is knowing what you don’t need anymore and letting it go.”
So true, Jane. Letting go is a life long task and it’s not an easy one. But you can’t move forward without letting go. School graduations, weddings, births, deaths, job changes, moving all require us to let go of the known in order to move into the unknown, until it becomes the known, of course.
I don’t always love the process, but I can look back and see it was worth it.
“It is never too late to master your weakness.”
Ah. Yes. So wise is yoda, Jane. And this is an even harder challenge, isn’t it? For me, it’s always easier to admit my weaknesses than it is to move onto mastering them.
This for me is a very important advice. The emphasis on mastering not wallowing.
“If you allow yourself, you can become stronger in the very places that you've been broken."
Jane, I really agree. Literally. I broke my wrist over 10 years ago and I was devastated. It was a painful recovery physically, emotionally and creatively.
But here I am throwing clay, with the hand that was broken. When I need to open a tough jar lid, it’s my ‘recovered’ hand that does the job. My other hand is now not as strong as the one that was once broken.
“The challenge is not to be perfect. It’s to be whole.”
Jane nails it again. And nails my biggest weakness: expecting perfection not just in myself but in the world around me. Of course this means I am constantly disappointed and not just with people in Washington.
I’m not sure what it means to be whole. But I do want to let go of perfection. I want to accept myself. I want to see and respect the world around me. I want to welcome change and brokenness and weakness that lives alongside strength, change and love.