Happy Life Day to Me…

It’s my birthday!  Oh yeah baby!  I am proud to be the owner of a 46 year old body, the enthusiastic spirit of a 5 year old, a few creaky bones and one helluva grateful, happy attitude because I’m alive!  I have lived another year (sorry Wiseguy, better luck next year).  Auld lang syne and remembering old friends…nah!  I’m more the “let’s-keep-the-reliable-friends-but-add-new-ones-to-the-club” kind of gal.  My birthday.  My wishes.  My new perspective.

First of all, I still find it amusing that some people would prefer not to reveal their age.  Why?  Even as a child I recall my mother never wanting to reveal the double digits of her lifeline.  Why?  Growing up in a European village was even better.  You were usually born at home…or a field while shepherding goats and/or sheep and/or cows.  Your official birthday was based on when someone finally found the time to trek into the city to have the birth recorded.  It could be months until that happened.  How confusing for a child.  I guess the silver lining was that at least your birth was acknowledged.

I consider myself to be at the ideal age.  Mid-life?  Maybe.  I don’t see myself living into centennial years.  Not even into the 70s (you’re welcome Wiseguy).  But again, not my game, not my decision.  Yes, I do believe that life is a game.  There are some things that I can control and the OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) person in me LOVES that part of life.  It’s organized.  There is a beginning and an end.  It’s either right or wrong.  No gray area.  But, it is my birthday and according to the horoscope, I am a Gemini.  Welcome to my fascinating double life world.

I do not take kindly to being deemed two-faced.  I do not have dual personalities.  I am unique, but there are many traits and learned behaviours that make me who I am.  The older…ahem…wiser I become, the more I love me, myself, and I.

I am more forgiving of myself in the error of my ways.  I am more tolerant in the behavior of others.  I am more forgiving in the situations that confront me.  I am learning patience.  I am learning to be nonjudgemental. So far, I think I have grown emotionally and mentally.  Old age hasn’t hindered me yet.  Yet…what a word.  It’s a three-letter cliff hanger but it does explain how I feel.

So, back to my original happy thought…”Happy Birthday to me!”  I am happy because I come from a large family full of happy aunts and uncles and cousins.  I love my happy, enthusiastic, intriguing family.   We are all unique and we children actually do get along.

Happy Life Day to me!  I am alive and well.  I am very grateful for that.  Although I do not feel my age (except in my arthritic ankle), I do have my health and that makes my life better.  Thank you.

And now, I have my birthday cake and my candles ready to go.  It’s time for the big wish.  No, I am not wishing for world peace.  I wish that you could feel as happy and joyful as I do today.  I wish that you would smile knowing you do have a good life.  May you look at the sky and find the puffy cloud or even the dark cloud and find the silver lining.  Happy Life Day!  You are here.  You are alive.  Life really is great.

P.S. I blew out the candles on my cake.  Luckily the fire department did not have to be called in.  Or is that unlucky?

P.P.S.  If you are having a great day and you’re smiling…ahem…birthday wishes do come true.

Us

Us seems to be a very short title, but I believe that sometimes less words are more integral in describing a thought than a run on sentence  full of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs…and nothingness. This two letter word is so full of meaning and definition. It is a concept and way of life that I am finally beginning to fully understand.

We begin our lives as wonderful, dependent, little bundles of cuteness. Some babies are born into loving families. Others are born into dysfunctional families. In the end, there is a beginning. We emerge and grow and learn. Some lessons are taught to us and others we discover on our own. Life lessons. The world is our educator. In most cases we are taught to find our perfect soul mate so that we can live happily ever after.

Poor girls, we try so hard to find Prince Charming everywhere we look.  We can overlook the flaws in order to have someone to hold us and take care of us. Right? Heck no. Nowadays we want the handsome Prince, but he had better know how to wash dishes and do laundry and make  dinner. We are very busy women folk. Not to mention adding child  bearing and raising that child. Who’s going to do all that?

Fast forward in life…career woman,  make dinner, make lunches, attend meetings, get stuck in traffic, driving children to and from school and after school?  Dance or karate or baseball or soccer.  Grocery shopping, clothes shopping.  Hang out with significant other. Who? Oh yeah,  I remember you.

I remember when we used to jump into the two door sedan and just go driving. (Can’t do that now because gas prices are so crazy and we  have a mini van not a cool sporty vehicle). Remember when we would go out for dinner and just talk about nothing. (Dinner out now means going out when we get a coupon in the mail and then talking about bill payments or house renovations). Remember when it was just the two of us? Us.

I remember the early dating days. Money? We were lucky if we had 40.00 between the two of us. We would talk for hours. We would write little notes and letters to each other. There was no texting or e-mails.  It was pen to paper and it was beautiful and thoughtful.  Little things were monumental. A cup of coffee, ready-made, and nice and hot when I woke up. Sitting around on the balcony of our rented apartment and just enjoying the view.  Beautiful.  Calm. Quiet. Some music playing softly in the background.  Bliss.  Us.

Us then became extended us. Children and elder family. Family obligations. Us went from having no furniture to an apartment overflowing with stuff. Suddenly Us took a back seat. Everyone and everything else was more important. Keeping children happy was number one. There were bills to pay and items to purchase. There were future houses and mortgages. New / used cars to be purchased as old ones fell apart.  Schooling and weddings and grandchildren. Work became the most  important thing because money is needed to pay for everything. We were ships in the night….literally…since we ended up working different times of the day. What happened to Us? We talked about date night and once a year, for our anniversary, we could count on that, but otherwise, Us became a non-existent thing…until tonight.

Tonight was special. Tonight you created magic. You decided to cook up a beautiful meal. I came home and did not have to prep anything.  We sat around and talked. Not about bills. Not about renovations.  Not about anything that adults would deem important. We talked about the sky and the perfect weather. We talked about your shopping spree at the grocery store and how meticulous you were in picking what you thought I would enjoy most for dinner. I was your primary concern and nothing else mattered. I want you to know how much I appreciated that and love you for it. My meal was excellent. The flavours were invigorating and the company was my favourite part. We sat outside. Just Us. The two of Us.  I realized more than ever tonight that in the end, we are in the “Us” part of our lives. The children are grown and living their own lives.  Taking care of elders is no longer part of our responsibility. All we are left with is Us.  You and me, as was before, but newly modified.  Husband and wife, grandparents, friends and lovers.  Another new exciting stage of our lives.

I love you, my other half of “Us”. Thank you for making tonight a special time and a special memory for me. I enjoy being able to date you again. The serenity and peacefulness. The non-drudgery of everyday life.  The laughter (including piggy snorts…my specialty).  You refocused my perspective and helped me don my rose-coloured glasses that I had misplaced.  Living in the pink is a pretty nice place to be.

Spring is here and the flowers are blooming…

After the longest winter ever (which is the exact same thing I thought after the winter before this winter), the snow is gone, the windows are open and our pale bodies are getting solar shock waves.  Yes, spring is here!  Spring, poetically, a time of new beginnings.  After many months of dormancy, we creep out from under the dark skies to see bright sunlight, blue skies filled with puffy clouds, blossoming buds on trees, green grass, and…most naturally…weeds.  Oh yes…the wonderful crab grass, “creeping Charlie”, and most wonderful of all…the enormous fields of dandelions.  Those yellow-headed tormenters of every human pining for that perfect, blue-green grass yard.  Dandelions (apparently from the French for “dente de lion” (translation:  lion’s teeth).  Those ugly, pesky, weeds with those teeth-like leaves, milky sticky stems.  They sway in the wind, laughing at us as we take to spade and shovel…digging up their roots…hours on end.  Those awful…wait a minute.  I just had a change of heart.  Don’t those yellow, sunshiney weeds…ahem…flowers, make the most beautiful bouquet?

After looking at my yellow-punctuated lawn, I decided that I was too tired to deal with weed pulling.  I could do it tomorrow right?  (Dandelions, like rabbits, multiply at an incredible speed.)  What was one more day?  Once done cleaning out my lawn, I am sure the seeds from neighbouring lawns will immigrate over to my place.  Why not? Grass is always greener on the other side…especially if you’ve dug out your weeds.  I entered my home and saw a glass sitting on the counter.  It was full of dandelions.  Oh yes.  The outdoor came  indoor just to taunt me.  Little Kennie came running out of her room, “Look at the beautiful flowers I picked for mommy!”  she exclaimed proudly.  Suddenly, those weeds became a bouquet of roses.  If I could somehow copy the view of a child and transform it into glasses for adults, I believe I could achieve world peace.

That exuberant comment from a five-year old brought me back to when I was a youngin’ (a few years ago).  I recalled how my brother and I went picking EVERY dandelion in our yard.  Knowing what I know now, I’m sure my mother was initially fuming as all the roots were still in the ground meaning she would have to go out another day, after they rebloomed, to dig out the roots of those weeds.  But on that day, a miracle happened.  My mother gave us both big huge hugs and thanked us for the beautiful flowers.  We were ecstatic at her happiness and we were thrilled that we had thought of something so wonderful to make her happy.  (I know it sounds weird that we found a beautiful vase to put them in… an old stubby beer bottle… but if you grew up European, it wouldn’t really surprise you.)

It’s funny, but I remember that day so clearly.  We didn’t have money to buy nice stuff for mom.  We took time, we picked carefully, we displayed them lovingly, and that hug was incredibly memorable because there are lots of memory gaps about my childhood (probably a good thing).  Having Kennie beam about her beautiful bouquet,  brought me back to my memories of trying to please my mother and those dandelions actually did the trick.  That also got me thinking…who deemed them weeds?

Nowadays, you hear about dandelion salads.  So, the lion’s teeth are actually good for you.  Wine is made from dandelions as well.  So, it must be a good thing right?

My other funny thought as I write this, is my nephew reading an article about angels reporting to God about people killing his beautiful flowers and trying to have strips of green grass.  Funniest part was how they fertilize their lawn and then complain about how they have to cut the grass all the time.  Yeah…that’s crazy.  God asks what’s wrong with his flowers?  “They are weeds,” say the angels.  Well, LOL…I think it’s an amusing story. It kind of makes me want to find out what company decided that green grass was better than beautiful golden flowers.  Not only are those flowers bright and happy, they transform into toys as well.  Once the dandelion is done being a happy royal yellow, they dry out and become little puffy white clouds that, as children, we loved blowing off the stem to see how far they would fly…like bubbles.  Again I ask myself…why do we hate dandelions?

For the record, I find the thoughts and views of children very refreshing, invigorating, and absolutely honest.  I love asking children questions and I love challenging their ideas to see what new idea they will come up with.  They are smart, creative, naïve, brilliant.  I lost my rose coloured glasses awhile ago.  Growing up and dealing with belittlement, sarcasm, sabotage, and many other wonderful adult traits, I keep myself fresh and young and happy by listening to those who know the way the world really works.  Youth, who have not yet been tainted by overbearing adults, have wisdom that we adults do not have.  Don’t get me wrong.  Children need rules and guidelines, but creativity should be encouraged.  We adults forget that we need time for fun.  Work is there to pay bills.  Don’t live for work.  Work to live.

I, the regular adult me, is writing my “To Do” list for tomorrow.  It includes, grocery shopping, vacuuming, cleaning, dusting, paying some bills…you know..regular adult stuff.  After my Big Girl chores are done, I believe Kennie and La-la and I will wander around the yard and pick a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow flowers for mommy.  Flowers mean love.  Beautiful, golden, hand picked flowers are the most wonderful gift a mother can receive.  Roses, though beautiful in a vase, cannot replace happily, hand-picked, chosen, golden yellow dandelions in a glass.  That is true love.

Today’s Innocence Wish:  May you look at your golf green lawn and appreciate the uniqueness, hardiness, and beauty of the hearty dandelion.  It will NEVER leave you.  It will always gleam happily yellow daily and once it’s done its daily duty, you can kick it happily and watch the grey wispy puffs float high and joyously into the sky.  Hmmmm, kind of like life.  When you’re young, you are loud and proud…bright and yellow and glowing with life.  As you age, you weaken.  The brightness  fades.  You begin to soften.  Those who appreciate you see that you still have the wisdom and wings to fly.  A light blow of encouragement.  You leave your regular residency and move to a new adventure, unknown as you blow away in the wind.  Child’s game?  Wisdom of youth?  Freedom of age?

Yes, deep thoughts about a simple scourge on society or am I being very dramatic about something so simple.  Hmmm, drama makes life interesting and being a grandma of four, life is definitely going to be interesting.  Not only interesting, but educational.  Oh yes.  I believe strongly in education.   Those youngin’s are going to teach ME a lot about weeds and flowers and, I am sure, many other things.  I will teach them, and/or challenge them, but I will also include lots of hugs and kisses because that’s what grandma’s do.   (As they get older, it becomes kryptonite so use it often in their younger years).

I will sign off with this piece of advice:  None.  One thing I learned; never offer advice to parents.  I will only say this:  Remember where you came from.

P.S. (oh…by the way…Kennie has a younger sister and her nickname is La-la thanks to her same age cousin…another new cast member a.k.a. St. Luke)

P.P.S.  Woo hoo!  As I finish this article, I would like to introduce yet another contributor.  He is a little young, two day’s old, but I know he will become as prominent as the others.  Welcome newbie GTH.