23.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m being stalked by the number 23. It started about 3 years ago, when I started seeing it everywhere. When I’d pull up behind a car and the license plate would have “23” in it. When I’d happen to be walking by someone in conversation and they’d randomly say “23” at the very moment I passed within ear shot. When I’d be about to pay for something, and the bill would be $23. Some days (like today), it’s around much more than others, and those days are usually the ones also happen to be filled with contemplative thoughts about my life – where I am, how I got here, where I’m going,  and how to be better. Those days, I seem to be practically slapped in the face with it. And being that 3 years ago was when I really began the crusade to live responsibly, it makes sense that it started appearing then.

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my stalker.

Let me say that I believe in the Universe; that when you want something, it does in fact conspire in helping you achieve it; and that we are all a part of something bigger than us, I figured it had to be some kind of message. So, I started doing some research (and by research, I mean I googled “23”).  Some of the results included a movie called “23”, another movie called “The Number 23”,  Michael Jordan’s Jersey, and something called the “23 Enigma” which claimed that everything relates to the number 23.  That last one was the only that seemed like it could have something to do with why I was seeing the number everywhere (although I did have a short-lived dream of playing professional basketball when I was a kid), but even that seemed a bit far-fetched and it really had nothing I could relate to or apply to my own life. So those were out.

not gonna happen.

not gonna happen.

Then one afternoon after coming off of a very 23-heavy morning,  I stopped into a gas station at the last minute, even though I had no time and enough gas to get home. For some reason, I just decided I needed to get gas at that very moment. As I sat there waiting for the tank to fill, a truck pulled up to the stop light, and stopped right in front of my face. It was solid white, with nothing but one long line of black writing on the side, spanning the full length of the trailer, from left to right.  It said:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. “ ~ Psalm 23

Now let me just say that I’m not a very religious person. Like I mentioned, I believe in the Universe – a higher power that connects us all to one another – but this was clearly what the number meant; what the Universe had been trying to tell me all along.

Everything I need to make my life better I already have.

Sometimes it’s a hard thing to remember, what with social media, mass media, and pretty much any kind of media constantly throwing all these images and ads at you full of things that you absolutely must have in order to be “happy” and live a better life: a nicer car, a bigger house, the newest iPhone, this hot new diet, the latest album, and so on and so on and so on….

I’m not immune to these media blasts by any means. I look at social media and (more often then I’d like to admit) think about all the things I don’t have, and subsequently start to believe I immediately need to get all those things and then I’ll be as happy as everyone else, as the people in all the pictures. Then depression starts to set in, and the downward spiral into the “have-nots” and “why-nots” begins. .But without fail, before I’ve spun completely out of control, it appears, like a lighthouse guiding a lost ship through the darkness back home.

23…. 23…. 23….

You have everything you need. Remember that. And be thankful for it.

The lighthouse at Assateague. Taken on my vacation this past summer, enjoying everything I have.

The lighthouse at Assateague, taken while on vacation this past summer, enjoying the wonderful things I’m lucky to have in my life.

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Living, Loving, and Giving Thanks.

Like many others, I was thinking tonight about all I am thankful for. There is much – very very much. More than ever before, I reckon. There are a number of reasons why this is so, from being more aware, to being more open, to giving more of myself – to name a few of the biggies. However, when I think about what I’m most thankful for, one thing comes to mind – and it may come as a surprise to many people. But if it were not for this, I would not be who I am today.

I am thankful for having my heart broken.

Since this fateful event a year and 8 months ago, I believe I have learned more about myself than I had in the 35 years leading up to that day. I learned that being alone is not the same as being lonely. In fact, the opposite is true – it took being thrust unexpectedly into being alone to finally free me of feeling lonely. It allowed me to let people in – really let them in – which was something I could never do before. Sure, I had lots of friends, and some of them I even considered close – but I often felt that they never really knew me. Thanks to my broken heart, I finally was able to share the “real” me with others. And it has made all the difference.

I made a conscious decision to never let my heart close again – to keep sharing, and growing, giving (and forgiving), learning, and most importantly, loving.

I’m thankful everyday for the pure joy of being alive; and for all the friends and loved ones I have the honor of sharing this with. You’re all in my life for a reason, and for that I’m eternally grateful and unquestionably lucky.

And even though in my old age I’ve become more of a Buddhist than a Catholic, I would like close this post with my favorite quote from the Bible – something that’s gotten me through many tough days, and maybe will do the same for some of you – good old Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. My world is a better place because of you. 🙂