Happy Birthday to Me . . .


Lori L. Robinett, author


Today is my birthday. I’m not ashamed of my age (47), but I am a bit surprised at it. It’s like I woke up one day several years ago, looked in the mirror and though, damn, when did I get old?

My face is fat, my skin doesn’t have that youthful glow, and my eyes are hooded.

But I have to say, I’m very happy in my skin these days. I’ve started working out (going to 9Round – “get fit, not hit”), drinking more water. I journal more often. Buddhism and mindfulness are part of my daily routine. And my writing is, very slowly, becoming more authentic. The older I get, the less I worry about what people will think.

At one time, I thought my birthday deserved a celebration. Then, 12 years ago, I spent my birthday at my best friend’s visitation after she lost her battle with cancer, so I didn’t even want to acknowledge my birthday. And now? Now, I feel good. I’m in a good place. And am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with pizza, beer and the 2 hour season premiere of The Following.

Finding my Zen: The Cause of Suffering

In Buddhism, the Second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering. Take a moment to look over the past year, and consider those times that you suffered. Before you can do anything to improve your situation, you have to identify the root cause.

As I look over 2014, there were some very difficult times. We had to have our yellow lab, Shelby, put down. It was difficult to make that trip, even though I knew she was suffering. Shortly thereafter, we had to make that same trip with our Miniature Schnauzer, Sasha. That nearly broke my heart, even though she was hurting so badly she bit me when I tried to hold her. Later in the year, my father-in-law passed away. Shortly thereafter, I suffered from a (mild, thank goodness) Lupus flare. Finally, we ended the year with my daughter in the hospital for an unexpected surgery – her shunt broke in her neck.

The research I’ve done about this Second Noble Truth talks about the attachment to desire being the root of suffering. Perhaps it is. I was very attached to my dogs (Sasha, in particular). Losing family members (pets included) is a physical attachment, an attachment to the physical form of the individual. I desired to hold them, keep them, have them with me. Health is the same way. Of course we want health. Once we see sickness, illness, etc. for what it is – a temporary situation – we can get past the suffering. When my mouth and throat hurt so bad in December from the ulcers that I was unable to eat or drink, I FELT like I was suffering. Honestly, though, I’ve been doing so much reading and thinking about awareness and mindfulness, I was able to recognize the temporary situation for what it was. It hurt AT THAT MOMENT, but I told myself it would get better. The same thing happened when my daughter had surgery. Of course, I was worried sick about her, but I was also able to recognize that her hospital stay, her pain, and the interruption of life was temporary. We could get through it. We WOULD get through it.

Oddly enough, I think that is what helped us get through her birth (she was born at 28 weeks, and has had many surgeries). My husband and I simply dealt with the things we had to deal with. We lived in the moment, and appreciated each small victory. We didn’t allow ourselves to wallow in misery. In hindsight, I think we saw those very bad times as temporary.

I’m not an expert on Buddhism, by any means, but I do find the philosophy interesting to study, and it has helped me deal with situations that, at times, I wondered if I could survive.

What do you think the Second Noble Truth means? What experiences have you suffered through, and what helps you get through those times?

And if you find yourself suffering through a down time, read a book. It helps distract the mind. Same goes for those you come in contact with who are suffering. Offer them something to distract them, and help them get through the temporary setback. Of course, I recommend Denim & Diamonds, because it’s a sweet, light read. 🙂