Climbing The Proverbial Hill

Ahh…birthdays?

For me, birthdays are a time of reflection. I usually think about what has been, what is, and that which is yet to come.

VintageOne thing for sure, I no longer have to wonder about where I will be (physically or spiritually), who will be in my life, or what I will look like when I’m forty-eight, yes that’s right…48 years old young.

Really, considering the grand scheme of things, forty-eight is not necessiarily that old, is it?  Yet I have seen and experienced much in my life. Just to name a few…I:

  • gave birth to three terrific children
  • have been blessed with three grandchildren, with a fourth due in July
  • have experienced what marriage should be like and what it shouldn’t be like
  • have four siblings I adore and couldn’t imagine my life without them
  • lost my oldest brother (Rick) in 2004 to pancreatic cancer when he was only 42-years old (beyond devastating for our family)
  • told my mom “I love you” for the last time, ten years ago this month, when we laid her to rest
  • shared five wonderful years with the love of my life
  • was a co-owner/operator of a family restaurant
  • have seen cellphones evolve from a huge contraption into a small device that I continually misplace
  • now have one remote control that operates my television, DVD player, VCR player (yes, I still have one of those), and my cable box, when in my teen years we only had a 4-button clicker for our T.V.
  • uprooted my child and moved 1,000 miles north to be closer to and care for my dad
  • have had some amazing people enter and exit my life, some by choice, others…not

What is this “hill” anyway, and where is it?

Hill of Life

Proverbial Hill of Life

As we trek through this thing called life, some of us have a planned our path but have had to make adjustments, some just go with the flow while others merely exist with no true form, fashion, no hopes, and no desire.

When I was little I remember hearing that my mom “turned 40” and though “man, she’s old!” Ohh, what I now know. Times have significantly changed during my stint thus far on earth.  Sixty year old women look like they’re barely in their 40s (Lord, please let this be me when I hit sixty.)

Last July, when my brother “T” turned the big 5-0, I began to wonder if he reached the peak of the ‘proverbial hill;” thinking 50 is a good goal to have as the halfway mark.  Then after reading an article written by the Huffington Post which quoted the OECD on life expectancy rates in the U.S., It hit me that I may have already reached the peak of the hill and without realizing it I am now on the downward slope! YIKES!

U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it’s 81 for U.S. women. (At five years, this gap in life expectancy between men and women is smaller than the OECD average of six years).

Livin’ life and making the most of it!

In all honesty, I knew when entering my 40s that I was already halfway to my expiration date. However, if you know an Aquarian, you realize that we live life to the fullest and with optimism, we have a ton of friends (although only a few make our “short” list of “close” friends), we are outgoing and enjoy people in general. According to TLC’s Birthday Astrology Guide, those born on February 11th love challenges, are goal oriented, enjoy life, grow up early, are loyal, trusting, faithful, and honest (all these things I already knew.)  Here’s some more about those born on Feb. 11th.

  • February 11 people seem to feel that no one can have too many friends. They may have a colorful love life, even if it plays second fiddle to their professional goals during their twenties and thirties. Despite their reputation for enjoying the good life, they have a domestic side.
  • February 11 individuals grow up early. They have tremendous emotional resonance and often show a marked precocity in their childhood. They often put off starting a family until later in life because of career commitments. When they become parents, they’re more than equal to the task.
  • Men and women born on February 11 are highly competitive by nature. They’re determined to make it to the top of their profession and will go to great lengths and endure hardship to achieve their aims. They are adept at making money and even better at handling it.
  • February 11 people are among the most goal-oriented of the yearly cycle. They often begin to prepare for their chosen career while children. During the intervening years, they learn lessons about sacrifice and focus. Once they achieve career goals, they are likely to set greater goals. They are all about commitment and find it hard to walk away from a challenge.

Some well known individuals who also share my birthday are Eva Gabor (1919-1995); Jeb Bush, 61; Jennifer Aniston, 45; Cheryl Crow, 52; Burt Reynolds, 78; Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931); Sarah Palin, 50; Tina Louise, 80 (Ginger from Gilligan’s Island); and Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

Facing the future, planning for the retirement years.

As my dear cousin Steven reminded me this morning during his birthday wish, I only have two more years to wait until I will qualify for AARP (like I’m chomping at the bit to add that title to my repertoire of accomplishments.) Question: Can you be considered a “retired person” at the age of 50 if in the United States we have to work until we are at least 62.5 years  of age before we can consider retiring and collecting our earned benefits?  How exactly does that work?  It may be the onset of dementia, but I’m a bit discombobulated on how this works.

Although I bid farewell to the close of my 48th year of life last night I do not foresee many changes for my future.  I am who I am and that’s who I am.  I guess I should get serious about retirement and how all that stuff works but that’s another topic.

I will create my new chapter entitled “My 49th Year” doing what I’ve always done. Perhaps, I’ll add a sprinkle of new adventures, skills, and accomplishments.  There are some goals I’ve been working on, so maybe one or two of them will come to fruition this year.  Regardless of what my new year holds for me…I AM READY and say “Let the adventures continue!

I will close with an email I received from my dear friend John.  He said:

  • Happy birthday, you’re not getting older you’re just a little closer to death.
  • Birthdays are like boogers, the more you have the harder it is to breathe.
  • Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest!
  • Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
  • Better to be over the hill than buried under it.
  • So many candles… so little cake.
  • We know we’re getting old when the only thing we want for our birthday is not to be reminded of it.
  • Happy birthday on your very special day, I hope that you don’t die before you eat your cake.
  • and last but not least; Happy birthday to a person who is smart, good looking, and funny and reminds me a lot of myself.

happy-birthday-to-me2

Shouldn’t I be older to be called “Grandma” by 4?

Early Christmas Present

Yesterday, December 18, 2013 I was presented with news that I would once again become a Nona to another precious grandchild.  Don’t get me wrong, I love each grand-baby beyond words and couldn’t imagine how my life would be without them (probably very empty!)

Waiting…waiting…waiting

With each coming grandchild I keep waiting and waiting for it to hit.  “It“, you ask?  It being…feeling, acting, and looking like a granny to 4.  I’ll admit, I’m not a spring chicken, not that I know any spring chickens who can lay claim to 4 grandchildren. I’m not quite fifty (said with a shutter).  I do have a few gray hairs which I keep in check by a visit to my hair stylist.  I have some wrinkles (I think they’re called crows feet.)  And, I could stand to lose a few pounds (who couldn’t?)

Christmas in the 1960s

Christmas in the 1960s

I guess I’m stuck in the olden days when I think about being a grandma, I have visions of my great-grandma Lucas.  Grandmas wore dresses with aprons, their knee stockings were usually rolled down to their ankles and their shoes choices were most often black with laces, and most days we would see them with rollers in their hair.

I can remember my great-grandma/grandmas to be modest, nurturing (just look at all those great-grand-babies in the picture with grandma Lucas), loving, kind, and always at home ironing, cleaning, or cooking.

Hanging on to the past

Even though I do not look or act like a granny to 4, I will however hold on to the values and morals mine passed on to me.  I will play with, nurture, love and teach my grandchildren so that one day, perhaps they’ll look back on the happy and joy-filled times we shared and cherish the loving memories, just as I have of my grandmothers.

In the end, I guess it really doesn’t matter how I look or feel when being called Nona, all that really matters is that I am NONA!  I am so so blessed!

With age comes wisdom…

…or so we hope.  In our, ahem…“maturing” process of gaining wisdom, sooner or later we will come to appreciate that some of life’s lessons can only be learned by walking, living, and experiencing our individual and personal journey in life.

During a recent time of reflection a particular lesson came to mind, one that has had a profound impact on my life and through the changes in me, has influenced the lives of those closest to me.

This lesson has a connection with the “Serenity Prayer,” which in its best-known form is:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

About ten years ago during a period of personal challenge (divorce), this prayer proved to be more than a lesson; it was a source of strength, guidance, and there is a high probability it aided in my ability to retain some sense of sanity in a world that, at times was a blur.

When starting each day, I made an effort to view everything from a positive viewpoint.  I took control of those things that affected my life, and understood I may encounter situations beyond my control.  I found the wisdom gained from this lesson to be liberating; a rebirth of sorts and a feeling of newfound freedom.

Some of the personal philosophies I adopted and have helped me remain positive in what can sometimes be a negative world are:

1)     Don’t cry over spilled milk, wipe it up and pour yourself another cup.

2)     Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and really…in the grand scheme of things…it is all petty.

3)     Live for today while planning for the future.

4)     Make sure the ones you love…know it!

5)     When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to laugh.

6)     Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.

Go ahead and adopt a few for yourself.  I am happy to share!

You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind