On Monday I turned 44. A magical number, it seems. There’s just something about hearing the word “forty-four” that makes me feel like it’s going to be a brand new year filled with an array of opportunities, different from anything I’ve ever experienced or known. Upon this birthday, I reflected upon where I’ve been and where I hoped I’d be at this time in my life. You know, the norms we learned as young kids: go to college after high school, marry your college sweetheart, have two kids after you’re married, be amazing grandparents when the time comes, and live happily ever after. None of those events have happened to me, and none of them will. Sure, I can still be happy and there’s always the possibility that I’ll find the man of my dreams. In fact, maybe he will have kids and I can love them as my own. But the dreams I had at a young age have not come to fruition, causing me to wonder about life as I now know it.
Most of my friends do have all that I dreamed of. What’s different about me? I am an intelligent, beautiful, socially conscious, and caring person, full of strength and the ability to be independent. Perhaps, this throws men off their game. I am also looking for someone who is as nice as my dad, which is a pretty high expectation because my dad is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Most importantly, I have chosen not to settle. After two broken engagements, both a result of me realizing these were not healthy relationships for me, I sit here in my house without a significant other. Yet, Speckles, Morey and Bennie give me the world. They are the ones who provide me with the gifts of love and affection every day. Although I do want to find my true love, I couldn’t ask for anything more when I think abouot the support I have gotten from my three furry kids over the last six years.
So what do I have at the age of 44?
*I have parents who love me and will do pretty much anything to support me.
*I have a good roommate, for how long has yet to be determined.
*Sometimes, I have a lot of enthusiasm and am able to go more deeply into my thinking as I write. While at other times, I have no energy at all, which is what I discovered about halfway through writing this post. I just can’t keep my eyes open. That’s an effect of the dystonia and the drugs that go with it.
*I am investing in my spiritual and emotional growth as I attend “A Course in Miracles” class every Tuesday morning and church at White Bear Unitarian Universalist every Sunday morning.
*I have 3 furry kids, and the fact that I get to spend so much time with them during the day is incredibly fortunate and fulfilling. Can you imagine how incredible your relationship would be if you were able to spend that much quality time with your kids or animal companions during the day? I was just telling my cab driver today how sad it is that most teachers spend more time with their kids than their parents do.
*I have an incurable neurological movement disorder, which means I am limited in a variety of areas regarding what life experiences I’m able to have.
*I place my needs first, making it a priority to do something I enjoy every day. Whether it’s writing, cuddling next to my dog, having my cat place his paw gently on my face to let me know he’s there, listening to music…There are so many passions to choose from!
*I have a life based on uncertainty, which is okay.
*I am a writer. I continue to write this blog, and this will be the year I do something with the first book I’ve written called “Forever Dog”.
*I am a teacher of writing. This summer I spent time working with a high school student on his writing. In the last e-mail I got from his dad the day after my birthday, he asked me if his son had been writing down my words. I actually took that as a compliment because everything that his son did, he accomplished on his own. My role was to motivate him, brainstorm ideas with him, ask him questions, help him find his voice and express it, and discuss what he likes about examples of quality writing so that he can include those “likes” in his own writing. The dad wrote a note to the counselor at the high school his son attends and praised my ability to teach his son to write, in addition to inspiring him to want to write.
*I have new people in my life and continue to find support from the new friends that I’m making.
*I have old friends who have returned to my life or continued to be with me on my journey since we first met.
And so, while the age of 44 doesn’t contain all that I dreamt it would when I was a young child, new experiences are awaiting me. I have a rich life in so many ways; miracles continue to occur so that I know someone out there is connecting me with the people I’m supposed to have in my life. With the pain and uncertainty I endure every day, I also embrace the love and blessings I encounter every day. Isn’t that what growing older is all about? Counting all the blessings that appear and being okay with not knowing what my future holds. Although it’s a tough process, I’m getting better at it all the time.
HOPE: My greatest hope for myself is to be okay with the uncertainty that exists in my life every day. Acceptance of the unknown is the key for me. Not an easy task, one that definitely takes practice! My hope for others is to give thanks for everything they have. My friend who was diagnosed with cancer wrote me an e-mail today and said how happy she was that she got to actually taste her lunch before she went back for her second round of chemotherapy. We take advantage of the fact that we can enjoy the taste of our food all the time. But when you are undergoing chemo, the taste buds go awry. It’s these “simple” things in life we should be grateful for every day of our lives. And speaking of days, let’s just feel blessed every day. Who knows what magic and miracles can occur in the minute time period of just 24 hours? We can only find out when we wake up to a brand new day!