Tomorrow (which will occur in 5 minutes) I will have arrived at the day upon which I turn 47 years old. I am sufficiently in touch with my child-self to be frankly astounded by the size of that number. I am quite amazed, however, by how little I find myself to be entering my dotage, and in fact, am living a life in which I feel renewed energy, drive, love, and purpose, for all of which I feel deep gratitude.
Seven years ago, on my 40th birthday, I went to a pottery painting place and made a platter celebrating what I had in my life: a partner, a house, a child on the way, friends, etc. I am going to the same place tomorrow, after my family birthday brunch. This time, my purpose is to paint cell-phone trays. I did something similar before when I made little jewelry cups, one for most rooms of the house so that when I take earrings or rings or necklaces off I have somewhere to put them where I’ll be able to find them later. This has worked quite well, and saved me quite a bit of stress over the years. What I intend relative to the cell-phone trays is a bit different, however.
I find myself addicted to my phone. I’ve written about this before, but the degree to which it is so has come into sharp relief for me in recent months. I feel good about my solution. I will decorate these trays and place them in at least three rooms of the house, and then, after I’ve checked my schedule for the day & done whatever communication I need to for the morning, I will place my phone in the tray and not pick it up until such time as I’ve decided is appropriate, ie, when my kids are down for their nap, or at the end of the day, etc. And I’m going to turn off notifications so my phone is not constantly mooing at me (as it does when the volume is turned off but the phone is still able to vibrate).
The only possible exception is for picture-taking: but upon the recording of whatever moment I’m wanting to capture photographically for posterity, back the phone needs to go.
I am only able to take this step because as I’ve let go of the debilitating shame I’ve had for much of my life, I find myself better able to take actions in support of whatever the highest option is.
This evening as I soaked in the tubs at a local spa and considered tattoos (something I have done over the past decade or so), here are the words that came to mind: compassion, honesty, presence, ferocity, love. These are qualities which I celebrate as my gifts, and also honor as my challenges, qualities to cultivate and to which I aspire. And the animal which to me embodies them is the elephant, which is fierce in defense of its family, loving in life and upon death, powerfully strong, and, in my perception, thoughtful and present.
I don’t know if I will ever get a tattoo, but in the last couple of years I have finally (to the delight of my oldest child) decided on my favorite color, blue, and now I have recognized that the elephant is what I consider to be my totem animal. I think I am claiming and celebrating myself, who I am and who I want to be.
And that is a big gift in this, the beginning of my 48th year of life.