My birthday is coming up and I’ve yet to choose my age! My granddaughter recently shared that she liked how I choose my age, even if I don’t usually use numbers. She’s six. She suggested I turn 12 or maybe 20. She also tells me often this week how young I look. “If we’re not with mommy, then I bet people think you are my mommy.” Sweet. Not exactly true, but it is in her mind, so I’ll take that compliment.
(Little sidenote: Before you jump to conclusions on why I would choose my age, like maybe thinking it is vanity, please have a look at the previous post… it’s a good philosophy. )
At first I thought, “Twelve .. that was an easy year.. no horrific experiences.” But then I recalled two moves in that year; leaving my childhood home for a new job for my dad in a new city, just a couple of rough years after my Mom died, and a second move that same year to another city wayyyyyy up north (at least in a Vancouver girl’s eyes) for a better job. First day of school in that then wild northern town, all the girls threatened to kill me.
Kinda scary that at first I thought 12 was easy. I don’t know… does that tell you there’s been some tough years and in perspective 12 looked good?
But that’s just one view. Another view is that, although sadness hovered around our family and changes were hard, I knew ‘happy’. I woke up each morning when I was 12 feeling refreshed and renewed and with a big smile on my face as I said Hello to the sunshine. True story. This is memorable because perhaps even then I knew it wasn’t a usual thing to feel that good each morning, especially within a family struggling to re-find itself. I suppose it’s an entire story to be told. My brother if he reads this would suggest I expand. He’s read my novel (the one I finished. But I finished it and edited while on chemo. It seemed FOREVER to reach the period at the end of sentences, so I kept shortening it. And shortening it.) and he thinks that the little hint at this part of my life story didn’t quite work. But okay, this is a blog post. Expanding not wise. In fact, I wonder if I’ll even publish this at all..it’s already too long! This is Janet in a birthday inspired rambling reflection of the past year, but I haven’t even gotten to that part yet!!!!!!!!
Back to Happy, though. Was there a special little gift given to a little girl who had lost her mother? At age 10, I wrote letters to my mom, just with my finger on the pillow. I was certain she read them. Even at just 10 years old, in those ‘olden’ days, I knew I couldn’t tell anyone that. I knew all about mental institutions and didn’t want to go there. But still I wrote her letters. Regularly. For a long time. It was much later in life when I realized that it was my mom in those early years that helped me wake refreshed and happy each day.
And so, during my twelfth year, I got to experience the magic of ‘more than what we can see’.
As well, I got to know the feeling of happy. I searched for it when it wasn’t there because it helped me. I didn’t consciously search. I could not have put this into words. But looking back, that’s what I was doing. I didn’t know how to search for the magic.. I learned more about that in later years. (OH! That’s the novel I was talking about. Okay, it would be a good share. Get on it, Janet) It’s like a habit or good addiction, that connection the brain makes knowing a moment of feeling happy can soothe a little girl’s soul… and so it looks for more.
Then there is Twenty.. I was living in Iran, my Dad and I, with solo trips from there throughout Europe. Missing family, but loving loving loving the adventure. This was a life changer… allowing me to develop an awareness at a young age of what matters. I remember being in awe when I was invited in for tea at a young Iranian family’s home.. a grass hut of sorts way out in the bush near the Caspian Sea, with a mattress, a samovar for tea, a one burner camp style stove where they roasted seeds for me, and a deck of cards. These are the things I remember. We played cards, I couldn’t speak Farsi worth beans, they couldn’t speak English.. yet the parents, children and I had so much fun. This was not typical of the Iranian people’s lifestyle… and I suppose they were living there for lack of resources or other options. But have you ever met a person who emanates happiness? The kind that seems unencumbered by stressful thoughts tucked in the background? The kind that you know isn’t a temporary mask? Rare, I know. This family had it. And this event, along with others like it, really had me questioning all that we in western society think is important. At the time, I decided that we couldn’t get that same feeling in that same situation. We were trained to want more, learn more, be successful, grow, grow, grow.. we wouldn’t know how to live such a simple life. The yearning for more was too ingrained, even though that kind of ‘more’ wasn’t necessarily leading to happy. And so, besides a billion other reasons, age 20 was a life changer in making me curious, making me question, making me not necessarily accept the status quo, making me aware that no culture is better than another, making me less judgmental, making me less likely to believe what is touted to ‘give us happiness,’ making me more inclined to ask myself what happiness is for me; as well as making me braver, less shy (yes, I was shy) and learning there is a whole big world out there for the exploring!
So 12 and 20. Is my granddaughter intuitive? Knowing somehow that these reflections on those two ages are good for me right now?
But about this past year… that’s where I was really heading with these birthday reflections. Holy Moly. Here I am in a sweet tiny log cabin near the river, feeling pretty healthy and blessed, feeling like my brain is liking what I’m up to as I take all the ideas and work of the last few years and turn it into something cool and, I hope, helpful, to share. Still having moments of panic over my dwindling finances meant to support me as I rebuild, and some anxiety remains from the constant hard hits in the last years. Still catching my breath over all that had to happen last year: Selling my home. Selling my boat and really not feeling good about that. A couple surgeries. Ever trying to manage the side effects of medications.. including anxiety and oh, the mood swings. In amongst the chaos, consciously, regularly, sometimes forcefully asking… what can make you feel good today? How can this be funny? Which would lead to paying special attention to the moments that simply create happiness. Which would also lead to making sure I gave myself permission to do awesome stuff. Awesome stuff like gratefully living with my daughter and granddaughters for several months being fulltime Nana, with my daughter and I treating ourselves to comfort treats like far too many specialty coffees. Enjoying all three of my granddaughters immensely. Paddling, sketch-journalling, camping, hiking, painting, writing, being in a couple of art shows, hanging with, and grateful for, amazing friends, amazing family, slowly but surely fitting some coaching and courses in among the wild ride and adoring that. And of course, there was that whole training as a tall ship sailor and hanging out atop a mast furling sails and whispering to myself, “Nothing is impossible. Nothing.” That was cool. And true.
Ya, it was a wild ride this past year. But still, as I ponder all this stuff, I’ve been staying aware of the need to choose my age. You know how facebook has all those little quizzes? Like,”Who were you in a past life?”, and if you happened to pick ‘casual clothes’ as a preference, they happen to pick that you were a farmer? For me, the answers in the quizzes have suggested that I’m logical, left brained, don’t stray from traditional living or thinking. Shit like that. Really? Me? BUT then as I meandered away from writing this post, I did a quiz on “What constellation are you?” I’m all about constellations. And, I dunno, this one just hit home. And it’s the Phoenix…an everlasting powerful mythological bird, often with it’s origins attributed to the ancient Persian culture. Lot of synchronicity going on here, yes?
I think that I will turn 12-20 Phoenix, and take only the best and blessed of each of them. Curious that the Phoenix constellation is in the Southern Hemisphere… triggers a thought that I ought to go see it this year. Hmmm….
Having said all this, though, if you have other ideas for my age this year, please do let me know. Many of you have inspired my birthday age in the past. And, I can turn as many ages as I want.
Anyone else turning an unusual age this year? Oh, how I’d love to know what you pick!!!
And thanks for reading all the way to here, by the way. That was crazy of you. In a good way. ~smile~