I turned 47 today, or as I prefer to say it, 30-17. Every year on my birthday I do a mini life evaluation, to look at where I’ve been, and where I want to go next. I am often surprised by how far I have come and, sometimes, fallen back.
I always thought that by now I would own my own home…. While I do, in a way, I walked away from it when I got divorced. My ex-husband still lives there, and although mine is the name on the deed because we bought it on my 30th birthday, I left it 4 years later. I have lived in some nice places, and some very not nice places, since then, but I do keep moving. As it so happens, I have been moving, on average, at least once a year. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s just how life has been going for me.
For many years, I thought would be married again by now and I made some mistakes in that general direction. Six years ago, I decided that marrying again is not what I want after all and life is much more peaceful since then. Not that I wouldn’t like to date now and then, but I generally avoid it as I’m not good at casual dating.
I have a degree in practical nursing. I loved being a nurse, and I thought I would do it for the rest of my life but my body said “no.” When I was young I wanted to be a mom, a nurse, a teacher, a writer, and an actress. I am a mom (a grandmother even), and was a nurse for many years as well as a nurse educator, and now I’m a writer. Writing all of those out, now, I’m impressed with those numbers. How many people are lucky enough to live so many dreams in one lifetime?
While I didn’t think I would be a grandmother so young, I did become a mother myself, at nineteen so it’s not all that surprising. My grandchildren are the joy of my heart. I never expected to leave South Dakota once I moved back, but here I am in the plains to live next door to my son and his family. No regrets there, I love being so close to them.
As I get older, I find I’m more comfortable with myself. My preferences in furniture, art, music, and clothing have become more eclectic. Things I have are more about what I think looks good and what I want, more than what I think I should have. I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible, and while I still find myself in emotional upheaval from time to time, it’s much easier to find my way out.
I’ve learned that not everyone will like me and it’s impossible to force them to, but the only thing that matters is if I like me. And generally, I do. I see things that can be improved upon, but mostly I’m doing well.
Each year on my birthday, I decide to make this the best year ever. And for 36 years, every year has been. I won’t say that bad things won’t happen or haven’t happened, because they do and they will. Friends are lost, relationships dissolve, people move away or die. Careers end, we move to new locations, cars get wrecked, homes get broken into or disappear into ash and smoke. Sometimes, the damage is “invisible,” whether emotionally or internally. But the other thing I’ve learned is that life, for the most part, doesn’t change. Our perceptions of it however, do.
The world I see has good things that happen in it every day, just as often as the bad things. The crabapple tree outside of my kitchen window is in bloom, my 3-year-old granddaughter told me it has popcorn growing on it, that’s something beautiful that I will arry away from the same week a stranger without insurance and false identification crashed into my car.
I may be getting older. My hair has some gray, there are wrinkles now where there were none. But at the end of the day, I still look like me – just more comfortable, lived-in. It’s all about perspective. Over 300 people wished me happy birthday and if that doesn’t bless a day, nothing will.