This was a unique birthday for me in that I spent it alone...by choice. Much of my life I have been a person that balances being social with also being alone. Some people are filled up in crowds of people. I am a person that gets filled up with quiet time. I recall a dear friend of mine once saying about herself "I enjoy my own company!" and I thought that was brilliant and brave and beautiful and so so secure. And I get it. I enjoy my own company too. I now know as a 40 year old woman (weeeee!) that allowing for alone time is crucial for my empathic, introverted self. What I realized as my birthday approached was that now that I have a child and a husband that works from home, I am rarely and I mean very rarely alone. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, all I could think about was sleeping in without interruption, long walks, sitting at a cafe with a book and window shopping...alone. Oh, and throw in getting my dreads tightly locked by my soul twin Stephanie for a few hours and I am GOLDEN.
I didn't take for granted one solitary moment. I woke up at 4am and while my boys slept, I sipped my warm yerba mate while getting ready for my airport taxi to arrive. I stepped out into the still dark sky and chilled morning, took a deep breath and I don't think I stopped smiling for two days. Of course I missed my boys and reached out to my family and my soul sisters. There were moments when I wondered if I should have planned a gathering or allowed others to plan one for me but then I always came back around to knowing I needed to feel filled up and rested and when I get together with my gals, sleep is never on my mind. I am learning...learning to take better care of myself and a sweet little gnome named Cedar has something to do with that. Okay, a lot to do with it.
Portland is a charming city. Simultaneously smooth and vibrant. Definitely one of my favorite places on earth and each time I have been there, have felt so at home. So many kindred spirits walking the streets.
When I landed and walked out of the airport to find a taxi, a kind looking man approached me. He had soft eyes. My heart told me to go with him in his taxi. On the way to the salon , he told me about how his family came from Ethiopia and how he loves Jesus. He even invited me to church with his family. It was the sweetest conversation and he was so open to my thoughts on religion and spirituality. We decided that he would be my driver from the hotel and back to the airport. It felt like a gift. Each time I saw him, I soaked in the stories about his country and the food. Oh the food. I must try it!
Being with Stephanie was like warm butter on freshly baked bread. Oh I have missed her and our spirits feel so twin that I find myself nodding as she somehow is able to express so much that I can't. This time for us was about big intensity but also big laughter. She is medicine. And man, nobody loves on my locks like her. I just let her do her groove thing and she works her magic.
She had to tame my wild head but I know it will unravel soon. We both agreed we are in love with cavewoman-esque hair. ; )
One of the first places I went after my dread appointment was me and my husband's favorite tea shop: Tea Chai Te with their cushy velvet chairs and couches, a variety of mates and chai's and a smell that I want to bottle and take home with me.
Sinking my body into the blue velvet chair, I felt so inspired. I felt so closer to the me that has so much to say and so many ways to express it creatively. I wish I had remembered to take my journal with me but instead, I just let myself feel it and move through me. The last time I was there was right before adopting Cedar. And there I was a tired, worn totally in love mama to a toddler aching to be alone for a day. I would have never imagined!
My husband set me up in the funkiest hotel a few blocks away from 23rd street (my favorite). The Inn @ Northrup Station. So fun and colorful. Especially their salt water taffy center pieces in the lounge area. ; )
Most of my time was spent drifting in and out of shops, people watching and taking deep breaths. As the night fell, I ordered a gluten free pizza and a chick flick. Mmmmmm. I found myself emotional about being away from Cedar in the night. We had a teary Skype. Boho Boy is so brilliant at diverting Cedar's sadness into laughter. I didn't expect to feel that deep pang of missing over just one night away especially when so many nights I ache for space to sleep uninterrupted and into the late morning. We are a co-sleeping family but it still surprised me that I slept better at home than in the hotel room alone. It was nourishing for me regardless but also so good to be reminded that I am also nourished by the closeness and connection I share with my boys.
40 was just awesome in so many ways. Especially awesome because I went into a Free People store for the first time and left with their ADORABLE cloth bags that held my new bday sweater. That store is just eye candy-liciousness. The owner of the store was giggling behind the counter at how I needed to touch everything and how I drooled over the design on the walls and the tree branches hung from the ceiling draped in ribbons, yarn and sparkly trinkets. I want to hang branches from my ceiling, yes!
Just walking down the street and seeing this adorable double decker bus filled with vintage yummies on the side of the road speaks volumes about Portland's groove...
I heart Portland.
And I heart my parents who will be pulling into our driveway this afternoon after taking their first roadtrip to Washington!