My heart filled again and again in the week before Christmas, this year. It all began with Occupy Christmas. For a time, I didn't think it was going to be possible to pull off our annual Christmas party, but with the creative thinking of four people, the event was more than I hoped for. My heart was so full with the sound of family after the party that I had trouble going to sleep. What I didn't know was how much that party set the stage for the rest of the week as each day found me doing and experiencing things I never thought possible.
On Monday, Clare and Mary Autumn spent the afternoon with us. Four-year-old Clare is a delightful chatterbox, but my heart melted in conversation with Mary Autumn. As Clare hung out chatting with Cindy, Mary Autumn and I colored and talked-- truly talked. Eight-year-olds aren't usually interested in how their grandmothers spend their days, but Mary Autumn's curiosity was deeply sincere when she said, "What did you do before we came over today?" Her mature inquiry was matched with careful listening and questions about my broken car which I'd taken for repairs and the chores I'd performed. What a joy to find a sympathetic ear in this young granddaughter.
On Tuesday evening, I joined a powerful clan of women for dinner. Each woman had served as Faculty Senate President at the local college, and the group meets three times a year to discuss the challenges of leadership and celebrate successes. After retiring from the college, I stopped attending these gatherings, but one of the gals reminded me that I am always welcome and encouraged me to join the party this year. A surge of energy pulsed in my heart in the presence of all this glowing feminine power. Wit, intelligence, and camaraderie were abundant at the table. I'd misplaced this measure of commanding influence and was thrilled to partake again.
On Wednesday, I enjoyed two heart boosters. At Masters swim practice, I didn't think it was possible to swim six 100s faster than my base time, but nestled in the middle of four lane mates, I gave the task my all and surprised myself with the speed I needed. Later I met with Write-on Women, my writers group. Despite icy roads and December demands, eight creative women made this meeting a priority. Being in the company of others--be it writers or swimmers-- injects my heart with a can-do spirit when most of me is screaming "I don't want to!."
Friday night, my dharma buddies had an end-of-the-world-party. The instructions were to wear something we never get to wear and bring a gift to recycle. We also each brought specialty foods for an elegant potluck dinner served on china with crystal glasses and silver flatware. Twelve gorgeous women dressed to the hilt, enjoyed a stellar meal from an amazing table and engaged in several hours of noble conversation. We were prepared to go out on a superior moment! My heart was buoyant with promise and no need to know what would come next.
Saturday was a heart-opening yoga workshop, in which the instructor Rocky Heron had no doubt that students could do things they previously did not think possible. And so with his help, I did my first handstand at age 64. I was overwhelmed, grinning and crying at the same time. My heart was wide open as I headed home to find dear Cindy sweetening the house with her presence, her love of the holidays, and her boundless energy on behalf of our family. Hers is a love that always lifts me higher!
It's risky to step out in the world with my heart wide open, but this week, open-heartedness allowed all manner of joy and love to flow in.