Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Year in Review -- Gratitude

As of this morning at around 5:23 am, I am 39 years old. Thus begins my fortieth year on the planet. In the interest of honesty, this is me -- the first time I have posted my face on the web.

A shaman Kira and I consulted once (when I was still 34) said that my life would begin to come into focus during my 35th year and beyond. To a certain extent, that has been true. That year I began to truly study integral theory rather than just read the next Ken Wilber book that came out. I also began to write again for the first time in about four years. And I returned to Buddhism after some time away from practice.

When I was 37, I changed careers, finally settling into being an agent for help and change rather than a pawn in the corporate machine. Some might say that I still am part of the corporate world since I work for BallyTotal Fitness as a personal trainer. I can't argue against that, except to say that I don't push Bally services and products the way they want me to. I do what's best for my clients.

I also began blogging when I was 37, an act that has profoundly changed my life. I began blogging as a way to record some ideas, never really intending that anyone would read them. Then it got more political, so I started a fitness and health blog for my clients. Nearly a year ago (in June) I started this blog to give my life some balance. I was happy then to post a couple times each week.

I spent much of the last year in therapy, another life-changing decision. I wasn't "messed up" or "dysfunctional." I simply wanted to be more ME than I was. Maude's combination of Buddhist philosophy (she'd never call it that) and wisdom about how the psyche functions was the perfect antidote to my rational need to control everything, especially myself. I still have a lot of work to do, and likely more of it with her, but she made a huge difference in my life.

Kira and I had a tough year, some of which is documented on this site. We went through some intense growing pains. The combination of my work in therapy and her ongoing efforts at personal growth unbalanced our relationship, revealing the bonding patterns that held us in a stagnant place. Once we realized what was happening, we have been able to work through it and are stronger for having gone through the challenge.

One never knows what life will bring. The goal for me is to bring more of myself to each day, and to face whatever life brings me with an open and tender heart. I am grateful for what Buddhism has taught me in this area, and for what I learn each day from fellow bloggers, clients, and complete strangers.

I have been working on gratitude for nearly two months now. I feel the shift in my life. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with gratitude -- flooded with a sense of being blessed. It brings tears to my eyes to write about it. And the fact that I can say that honestly, even if somewhat anonymously, is also huge. Yes, men can cry, and be tender, and share their feelings and still squat 450 pounds. That's been an invaluable lesson for me in the last year.

So today I begin my fortieth year. For the first time in my life, I am happy with who I am. I am still committed to being a better partner, a better trainer, a better Buddhist, a better friend, and a better human being, but I am grateful for my life as it is right now.

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