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November 9, 2012 at approximately the same time I am writing this post — I wasn’t sure I would see November 9, 2013.

This is the anniversary of the day I became disabled from a major exposure to a fragrance at work.

This is the anniversary of the day I could no longer push through the pain.

This is the anniversary of the day the decision of whether I would continue to be a teacher or not was taken out of my hands.

This  is the anniversary of the day my life did a one-eighty.

It would be a very long post indeed if I wrote about all the physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and spiritual changes I went through the last year.

In fact, when someone asks me how I am — my response often is — “It’s a matter of perspective.” I certainly miss having the security of a set income with insurance. But I don’t miss the government dictating that instead of opening up the minds of my students to the wonders that surround them and therefore embracing a quality of life — I am supposed to prepare them for a standardized test so that what they’ve done can be quantified.

I don’t miss that a break when I was teaching was to grab a yogurt, scarf it down, run to the ladies room, grab the mail out of my mailbox and maybe have 3 minutes to say hi to a colleague. Instead, a break now is turn on music and dance or grab my camera and go for a walk or have a leisurely cup of tea with a friend.

My real question that I am trying to answer is what is the purpose of an anniversary? Or Valentine’s Day? Or celebrating a birthday?

My best friend and I are notorious for missing the actual date of the other’s birthday. Not because we forgot but usually because we don’t know today’s date. This never bothers either of us. The reason — because we celebrate our friendship throughout the year, so the actual day we came bloody and screaming into this world holds little significance.

I’d be curious to know what these days of celebration or contemplation mean to you?

A few friends threw me a surprise 50th birthday party. A few of us at the party were born in the same month so it wasn’t until I saw the cake with only my name on it did I realize that the party was just for me.

The same year a group of friends and colleagues found out it was my fiftieth that year and were bugging me to have a big bash to celebrate. I have to admit it struck me as a little odd that I should be the one holding the party. As it turned out — I’m glad I didn’t arrange this celebration. On my birthday there was an impromptu barbecue for lunch — I was not invited. The person grilling the hotdogs didn’t know this was the actual day of my birth and that’s the point. Would it have mattered if they had known — would I have then been invited? As it stood, a few people there did know it was my birthday and deliberately excluded me. The bizarre thing is if I had thrown a huge bash with like 50 or a hundred people with music and cake and alcohol — these people would probably have attended — so the question remains — is it the celebration that matters? Or the person?

If a day is important to me should it HAVE to be important to anyone else? Only one person from a job I held for close to two decades acknowledged my birthday this year (and no it wasn’t anyone at the above mentioned barbecue).

If anyone from work remembered it was the Friday before Veteran’s Day Weekend that I was driven home in the middle of the day to spend the next few months literally fighting for my survival — no one acknowledged this to me either.

The last part of that line is the most important. One of the above mentioned people who chose not to celebrate my 50th with me — some times acknowledges my birthday and sometimes not. This year was a not year. I know without a doubt this person did not forget the actual day. So this year was their 50th. I don’t work there anymore and I don’t see this person anymore. I went through all the things I could do: send a card or an email, put a big Happy Birthday banner outside their window, ignore it? In the end I celebrated it. I made a card. I went out to lunch. I sent loving thoughts. They are not aware I did any of these things. To me this was practice in unconditional love.

In truth, what I have learned from my disability from MCS — it doesn’t matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do — only how I conduct myself. So what does this anniversary mean to me? It gives me a date to pause and reflect. Am I a nicer kinder person than a year ago? Last year at this time I was very consumed with being right.

I was right to expect people to stand up for me.

I was right to expect people to stop wearing chemicals that were hurting me.

I was right to expect people to be able to be loving to me when they didn’t know how to be loving to themselves.

Now — today — I can say that I am more concerned with being kind than I am concerned with being right.

And so I put this question out there — would we have a more abundant life if we celebrated unbirthdays and unanniversaries and unValentine Days — and then we would have something to celebrate everyday of the year?

This morning I noticed my Christmas cactus was in bloom. I tried to get the perfect shot.

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But I didn’t like it so I moved the plant. In my need for perfection…

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I broke off one of the flowers. This need for control and perfection broke off this flower but more importantly broke off some of my relationships. I almost didn’t take the picture at all because I’ve never repotted the cactus in the pretty pot it deserves.

And now is where I admit — I had to forgive myself — not my friend — for excluding me on my own birthday. As I look at the year before — I spent most of it telling this person how they could be a kinder more giving person. And so what I thought of as one of my worst birthdays EVER — turned out to be one of the best — through the pain of isolation — I had to take a hard look at myself to see what was pushing people away. The isolation from my MCS disability has brought this fact home in the biggest way. (But this is a post in itself).

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I actually went looking for a rainbow two days ago when I took this photo. And there was none. I sat down to work a few hours later. Into my head popped the name Sarah. I actually shouted it out loud as I grabbed my camera. If you’ve read my previous posts — you’ll know Sarah is a fellow blogger from Ireland — who between the two of us seem to attracting a lot of rainbows lately. I was sitting next to my window but I didn’t look out. I ran — without my coat or shoes — into the rain on a 40 degree day (that’s F not C scale). I knew it would be there because I stopped seeking it out and let it manifest at the perfect time.

There was a car with three people who slowed down to laugh at me — a person standing in the rain in socks taking pictures. And then one person turned her head and looked where I was looking. The driver slammed on the brakes and we all marveled at the beauty before us.

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I have read that you can’t actually ever see the end of a rainbow and if you can find it there will be a pot of gold. Well the rainbow began across the street from my house and ended a block up the street. And yes I got my pot of gold. For so long I have not been happy. I’ve buried the joyful child I once was under so much protective armor — I didn’t think joy would burst forth from me again.

I stood at the end of the rainbow and I laughed with joy.

As I reread this post — I find it to be long-winded — imperfect — and convoluted — just like me — and since it’s time for a break — I think I shall dance.

Have a Happy ________ Day!

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