Anyone who knows me (and pretty much everyone who reads this blog knows me), knows I am very into my birthday. I blame my semi-only child upbringing and two great parents. Parents who celebrated everything. Every. Single. Thing. Let’s put it this way. We went out to dinner to celebrate my cross over the threshold of womanhood. My Mom grew up poor and liked to celebrate and reward good behavior, good grades, milestones, awards. My father was proud as a peacock to have a daughter who did anything well and was never really known for his modesty. “That’s my girl!” he would say. I lost my Dad in 2009. And I think it’s at my birthday when I really, really miss him.
So the product of all this: me. A big girl with a desperate, little girl trapped inside who wants me, me, me and more me. (You do know that’s why I have a blog, don’t you?). God help my poor husband at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas and, of course, the only day that is about me all day long: my birthday.
So yesterday I turned 33 and have to say I was very lucky to be so spoiled by my husband and children. Mike took me away for a night and it was Just What the Doctor Ordered. Couple time, me time, quiet time and relaxing time. Much needed and much appreciated. Nine years with me, Michael has learned my affinity for my birthday. And although he doesn’t go all out every year (to keep me guessing, I suppose), he really made this year top-notch.
While we were away, I played the “question game” with Mike. A chance for us to talk about things we never get to talk about. With questions like, what have you learned most about marriage? and what have you learned most about yourself as a parent?, we ended up talking about things we never get to talk about—how we are both feeling about this whole “marriage and family” thing that we have been a part of. A time for genuine reflection and analysis.
It made me think of a list I started in July. I was doing a writing prompt activity with a local author who I follow on Facebook. She challenged everyone to complete one writing prompt a day for August. In this prompt, she asked you to write down things you’ve learned over the years. As I wrote, it kind of took the shape of advice I would give my children, but more evidently my daughter. Once I started the list, I could not stop. Here are some of my favorites.
- Forgive and forgive often.
- When you have a negative thought, don’t feel compelled to share it.
- “Knowing who you are” is not always an accomplishment. Keep finding out more about yourself. Never be content. Keep changing.
- Don’t mistake your husband as a best girlfriend. He can be your best friend but only a girlfriend can be a girlfriend.
- Say thank you. For everything.
- Be careful with your words.
- Listen. Don’t just hear what you want to hear.
- Apologize for your moments of weakness in life. Recognize them.
- Pay close attention to regret. It’s a powerful feeling. It tells you when to be more kind, more gentle, more adventurous, most dutiful, more direct, more loving, more loyal. It’s those regrets that help program your future behaviors.
- Be available. Even when you are busy, don’t tell everyone how busy you are. People who are too busy all the time end up very, very lonely.
- Your sibling is the only person in the world you have shared your parents with. Value this relationship and its ebb and flow. It’s a rich and powerful one.
- Take care of your money. No one else will.
- Always drive slow in your own neighborhood.
- In the tough times, take a 15 walk or a 15 minute shower and see how things look afterwards.
- Travel. At every age. Not just when you are young.
- A friend is not someone you want to be like. They are someone you like because of how they bring out the things you like in yourself.
- Trust your gut- always.
- Bake cookies from scratch. It’s what your Nana would want you to do.
As I write these down, I can pinpoint which ones came from my mother, my father, my friends, my own unique experiences and even my own children. Even at 33, I feel young. I have learned a lot, seen a little but know that the best is still yet to come. So, I thank my Mom and Dad for instilling a sense of excitement and need for celebration for silly things like birthdays. Because, without them, there might not be a chance to reflect upon how far you have come and how much further you have yet to go.
At last year’s birthday, I never would have thought I would start a blog that would be my primary artistic outlet and recreation. At Shortcut Girl’s inception, I was skeptical, even of myself and wasn’t sure it I would keep it up. But here I am, about to publish post # 87, and feeling really, really excited to have a new frame for my life. I always wanted to be a writer. And look at that. Here I am. “That’s my girl!”