“I’m So Glad You Were Born”

I tend to write that in birthday cards. Some think that’s weird. But I don’t look at birthdays as a mere placeholder for the passage of time, or a great excuse to eat cake and send subtly insulting cards. No. It’s a day to celebrate the fact that you came into this world. What a gift!

Most people view birth as a momentous occasion, of course, but do we all fully grasp just how momentous it is? Yes, you now have a new family member. Yes, your DNA has been passed on to the next generation. Yes, the kid is cute. Yes, you have dreams for their future. But there’s even more to it than that.

I can think of several people who have radically changed my life, mostly for the better. If they had not been born, I’d be an entirely different version of myself. Each life is like a stone that’s thrown into a universal pond. The ripple effects are infinite. Even total strangers can make a difference. They can pull you out of the path of a bus. They can pay for your Starbucks and cheer you up. They can vote a particular way, and/or they can storm the Capitol Building.

If Jonas Salk hadn’t been born, we might still be battling polio. If Malala Yousafzai hadn’t been born, girls the world over might be missing out on an education. If one of your ancestors hadn’t existed, you wouldn’t exist either. We’re all intertwined.

Today is my dear husband’s birthday. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him in it. If he hadn’t been born, my entire world would be altered. I’d probably be walking through life sensing that something was wrong, and not being able to put my finger on it, just as I did before I met him. I’d be living a tragedy that I wouldn’t even be cognizant of. Lucky for me he was born. (Happy birthday, love!)

We are all interconnected in such subtle, yet complex ways that we all have an impact beyond our comprehension. So, yes, I’m glad you were born, dear reader, for reasons that neither of us may even know!

I’ll leave you now with this link to one of my favorite comfort songs that explains it much better than I ever could. It’s a great song. Check it out here. I defy you to not feel better about life in general after hearing it. But if you are unwilling or unable to listen to it, at least read the lyrics.

“WE ARE” (By Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell)

For each child that’s born, a morning star rises,
And sings to the universe who we are.

We are our grandmother’s prayers.
We are our grandfather’s dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of god.

We are …
Mothers of courage,
Fathers of time,
Daughters of dust,
Sons of great visions.

We are …
Sisters of mercy
Brothers of love
Lovers of life and
The builders of nations.

We are seekers of truth
Keepers of faith
Makers of peace and
The wisdom of ages.

We are our grandmother’s prayers.
We are our grandfather’s dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of god.

WE ARE ONE.

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A Birthday Renewal

The older some of us get, the more our birthdays remind us of our mortality. And time seems to pass so much more quickly as we age, so the hits just keep on coming. Today I’m another year older but at least I’m not deeper in debt.

But, unlike other years, when that mortality sledgehammer has hit me right as (lucky me) I’m exhausted from being at the tail end of the holidays, this year I’m actually feeling really grateful. As I speed toward what is quite likely the last quarter of my life, I’m viewing every birthday as a precious gift. Approaching one more of these anniversaries is something to be savored.

There are many reasons for this mindset, not the least of which is that I feel, more and more, that I have something to live for and lots to look forward to. Moving to the right place and marrying the right person really helps in that regard. Also, my hard work and personal growth is paying off. (So if you’re young and frustrated, please do not give up. You can do this.)

Because I feel that way, I’m exercising regularly for the first time in my life. And I’m actually enjoying it. That is unexpected. But since I have so much to look forward to, I want to experience it in the most fighting fit form that I possibly can. I still have mountains that I want to climb. (Well, hills, probably. I mean, let’s be realistic.)

Another thing that has made me stop and reassess is that I recently realized that I’ve already lived longer than my oldest sister had a chance to do. Even at the time, I knew that 54 was way too young to die, but now that I’ve blown past that, I really, really know it. I’m relatively young. I have a lot that I still want to do. It’s horrific to think that it all could end so soon. I’d feel cheated.

But who knows? Maybe I will always feel that way, when the time comes. I lack that perspective still. (If I continue to blog into my 80’s, I’ll be sure to let you know.)

I’ve also learned the priceless lesson that life is very fragile and can be taken away with no notice, so every single day should be viewed as a gift. What will you do with your gift today? Being surrounded by a raging pandemic has only reinforced that mindset for me. I am so grateful for every day.

So I think that from now on, rather than viewing birthdays as one more year closer to the end, I’ll think of them as an extension of my expiration date. They are a renewal of the contract of life, as it were. Yay! Three cheers for another year! Woo hoo!

I can’t wait to find out what’s inside!

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Your Eighth Decade

More and more of my friends are in their 80’s now. The older I get, the more that will happen. I see them as precious gifts.

I have no idea what life must be like in one’s 8th decade. I hope to find out myself one day. But as it stands, I have a great deal of admiration for all of these people.

Making it to 80 is no small accomplishment. It means you are overflowing with life experience. You are a survivor. You have seen and done things that most of us can only dream of. You have lived and loved and laughed and cried and fought and struggled. And here you are. Did you imagine you’d reach this mountain top? What a triumph!

You have watched the world unfold, and have been an active part in its unfolding. You have been there and you have done that. You know what it’s like to live at a time that was less comfortable and convenient. But because of that, you know that it’s possible to live without a cell phone and a microwave and 257 TV channels. Does our dependency on such foibles make you inwardly laugh?

You have most likely not been appreciated nearly as much as you deserve to be. People think they’ve heard all your stories, but they’ve barely scratched the surface. They probably aren’t asking the right questions. Shame on them.

When I see these friends, I know I’m gazing into untapped depths, and I wonder what I’m missing. People in their 80’s are diamonds walking amongst us, and should be cherished as such. The rest of us can only hope to travel that many times around the sun, and do it with such style!

Diamond

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Happy Leap Day!

This is my very first leap day blog entry, and therefore I view it as an auspicious occasion indeed. And yet, what to say? It’s not like there’s a solid leap year tradition of any type in my family.

After doing a little lazy internet research on the subject, it apparently is a day when women can propose marriage to men. That kind of gets my feminist back up. If I feel like proposing, I shall bloody well do so any day of the year. But then, I can’t imagine feeling that urge, really, so only having to pass up the “opportunity” one day out of every four years suits me just fine.

I’ve also discovered that in the Chinese calendar, they get an entire leap month every three years, and it varies as to when it happens each time. That must get confusing.

When I was young, I used to feel sorry for people who had birthdays on a leap day. As someone whose birthday is close to Christmas, I know what it’s like to have your natal day overlooked or viewed as a massive inconvenience. But on the other hand, it makes for a great topic of conversation. You can’t have too many of those.

It’s kind of nice to be given the gift of a day. I hope you do something wonderful with it.

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For some, every day is leap day. [Image credit: telegraph.co.uk]