It is 3:46 on Tuesday January 23rd...and I am deeply, intensly, naturally filled with gratitude. The suite is illuminated by the TV that Chris forgot to turn off, and he is sleeping soundly next to me with our puppies curled up at his knees.
I tried to sleep. As I held Chris while he breathed slowly and hotly, I felt this intense sense of gratitude from deep within my heart, like a warm burning ball of light. In fact, I can still feel it in my chest as I type this. Then, as I closed my eyes and said the most authentic "thank you," that I have felt in a long time, the lights in the room changed, and I looked up to see the picture of a humming bird on the screen.
The humming bird is my chosen communication with God. Early in my more religious (but not so spiritual) days, I didn't think I had any right to actually ask God to speak to me. I guess I thought that a fatherly voice from Heaven wasn't realistic, so I made do with small coincedences and feelings spoken to me through my own inner dialogue. Now I know that God is a part of me, and part of the reason I am even here; and to ask God to show me signs and give me guidance is not unrealistic.
About a year ago I chose the humming bird as my sign. When I wasn't sure if I was on the right path, or was doubting myself, or felt confused, I would try to get to the root of what I needed. After I had clarified what was bothering me, and what question I wanted to ask, I would request that God show me a humming bird to give me the answer.
Now this wasn't like "God, should I be saving more money? Yes or no?" No, things like that didn't feel genuine. I don't want God to be my fortune teller; I want God to just show up here and there and let me know that what I am doing is the most truthful and loving path for my time here. I posed the question last summer: "Should I quit this job that I am having a REALLY hard time with? This career that is currently draining me? Should I quit early and bartend and nanny until I leave for Puerto Rico?"
I never saw a humming bird. So I stuck it out. I had faith that there was a reason I wasn't seeing them...and even though things have been unpredictable and challenging at times, I truly believe I quit my job at exactly the right time, and things worked out the way they should have. I have zero regrets with how things have unfolded. I think quitting would have been impulsive and pre-mature.
On the flip side, when I remembered I loved writing, the pragmatic part of me wasn't sure I could do something like that for a living. In return, I asked to be shown a humming bird if I should chase this more creative endeavor. The next day on a scooter ride through town, we took a road we had never been on before, and as I casually looked to my left, we drove by a mural of two enormous humming birds. I smiled all the way home.
You see, it's not like seeing them gives me any tangible advice in terms of HOW to get somewhere or WHO to talk to; but it lets me know that I am on the right path and that I should keep trying.
I have been seeing humming birds almost every week since we have been here. I haven't been asking specific questions, so I don't think they mean a whole lot, but it's nice to be reminded of God when I see them.
Like a couple of days ago: Chris and I were just chatting with a friend at his new restaurant he is opening, and Chris said "Yuri! A humming bird!" Sure enough there was a real humming bird flitting around a potted plant right next to us. Our friend then went on to tell us about what a large part the bird has in Mexican and Mayan tradition. That is probably why I see them everywhere here. One could view that as a loss of romanticism, or a large gain of romanticism. I think you know how I choose to see it!
However, I digress. As it stands now, I am in bed with my family, a bed overflowing with love; and at the moment I say "thank you," from deep within my being, a humming bird appears on our screen. I watch it until it changes to the next picture. Then I feel like writing. So I go to the other side of the bed, grab my laptop, and start typing this:
I am grateful; for the amazing man lying next to me, the warm and obvlivious sleeping puppies at my feet, and the things I have learned while we have been in Mexico. I could easily be grateful for the experiences, the friends we have met, the money and situations that were given to us to allow us to have this time in our lives; a time where we don't work all day, but wake up and just enjoy each other and the island. Not many people have the opportunity to do this, and I am painfully aware of this fact. Those are all really easy and obvious things to be grateful for.
My deep sense of gratitude comes from things no one else will ever understand: the shifts I can feel taking place deep within my pysche and my soul; the change in perspective in how I view my time on this earth; the sense of purpose I can finally start to wrap my fingers around.
I am willing to work a less glamorous job if it means I can send my family money, and save up for a house in the country; but I will also never forget the passion that I have rediscovered here. I will keep writing - even if it has to be on nights and weekends. Brunches and parties are great, and I will make time for those again, but they are much lower on my list of priorites now.
I will work with a purpose, make time to write, and keep building ACE one small step at a time. I will write the book that is only scribbled notes in my journal as of today. When it comes to buying something for myself or buying something for a loved one, I will choose the loved one. I will use my hard earned money wisely. I will live within my means. I will show up for people when they need me, and do what I say. I will save my money so we can buy a house in the country, I will work my ass off so I can have a career that will allow me to work in that house in the country. I will have children with the man sleeping next to me.
I understand that wearing nice clothes and buying a new car is great, but it is not as important as sending my friend a gift, or paying my debts. I understand that I could very easily cancel plans with my mother and have her lovingly understand, but it would mean the world to her if I didn't. I understand that I have not been a present sister, and have the opportunity to be there in the future. I understand that I get to choose my friends as much as they get to choose me.
I have learned that I would rather listen than speak, and I would rather watch than always participate. I have realized how much more I love myself when I read. I have learned that I chose this life at some point in eternity, so I do not HAVE to do something, I WANT to do it.
Most of all, I have learned that I am ready to give myself to others in a way I could never tap into before, because I wasn't ready. I was selfish in a non-productive manner. You see, we can be selfish in a way that helps us grow, or we can be selfish in a way that hides us from our challenges. I was hiding. I will still probably hide at times.
I know that these changes only really take hold when I start implementing them; but that is another thing I have learned: these things are possible one step at a time.
ACE will grow one article at a time. My relationship with my family will improve one phone call and visit at a time. My financial savvy will improve one smart decision at a time. The trust my friends have in me will grow one gift, one phone call, one commitment carried out at a time.
I finally understand what it means to cultivate my character; who I am on the inside. I have heard beauty starts from within a million times, but it hasn't clicked with me until the end of this trip. I want to be proud of who I am on the inside, and I have a clear vision of the things I need to do in order to create this healthy pride.
I guess that's the beauty and the vulnerability of this creative outlet. My blog, IG, Facebook, musings...all of it is a clear window into my one step forward, two step back struggle. It's like watching someone put together a puzzle - every few months I just flip over the table in frustration and all the pieces scramble together on the floor. But it feels good to toss those pieces, because every time I pick the them back up, I have a better understanding of where to put the familiar ones. Then I get to focus more on the new ones, until I get frustrated and flip the table, and then put it back together a little quicker...and so the cycle will continue until it's complete.