Another Birthday, and A Year in Review

This time last year, it was a hell of a rough week. My birthday popped up as they tend to do, but both kids were sick. We all felt a bit off our game and kind of run down. My husband sent me off for some alone time, to, you know, get my nails done or do some birthday shopping. With one of our cars broken, and a slow month work wise, I ended up having to use that time to myself to sell something with great sentimental value to cover some of our needs. It was also tough because I had two sick kids who I was worried about. I came home a ball of stress, the antithesis of my husband’s best laid plans, and chalked it up to just a no good, very bad day. Then, because some people are often inherently pieces of shit, the family member who stalks me as her second job decided to get mouthy and start up the usual nonsense. (She’ll be reading this in no time, trust. Stalker is as stalker does.) It was an exhausting couple of days, to say the least.

This year started off pretty hairy with each kid getting either the flu or the nasty stomach virus going around. Being the primary caretaker and hug giver, I contracted BOTH so far this year. Have you ever had to barf and have the runs violently at the EXACT SAME TIME? Because I have, and it feels like your soul is getting vacuumed out of your body at that very moment. We started off the year with that horror show, and transitioned into the little getting her braces, while the older child is gearing up to become a teenager. There is ANGST in the house, y’all. Hormones and sore teeth, means I have kids that ultimately want mom to hug them or get away quickly depending on the second. With school, my massive coat drive, kid friends, gymnastics, events, feeding everyone, looking after pets, the worst medium experience ever, the odd excursion to visit my dad or somewhere interesting, I have been BUSY. Plus it’s been cold and dreary so many days that I have a love affair going….with my bed. Ah, bed. I love it. I love it even more so this time of year. A choice between going out to anywhere that needs real clothes, or curling up in bed with netflix, a book, or even just my phone is an uneven choice, because bed will WIN. Pj’s, a snack, and bed? Perfection.

Well, the other day, the ol’ birthday rolled around. I got the little up for school, and then crawled back into bed while my husband took her to school. He arrived home with breakfast sandwiches and hot coffee, which was DELIGHTFUL because I got to enjoy them in bed. I headed off to get my nails done and get a pedicure, and enjoyed a nice shoulder massage. Heavenly. We then hopped a train into NYC. (If you call it “THE NYC” you’re a simpleton and a douche, just saying). We went in with almost no plans except to eat ALL THE CALORIES. Heading to New York City with no real plans is kind of odd feeling, but also very freeing. We walked everywhere, and only took a cab the very last few minutes to try to make a train that we ended up missing anyway.

First stop, Tea and Sympathy. It’s a tiny tea shop that has all British food. Every time I go to the city, I stop there now, just for rhubarb crumble with hot custard on it. It reminds me of all things childhood and feels like a hug from my mama. SO good. We then wandered, popping into a few stores, checking out window displays, and watching the people. NY is an amazing place to people watch. Millions of people, all living in close quarters, all getting on with life. Celebrities walk by seemingly unnoticed and unbothered (we saw John Turturro pass by). Every type of person….gay, straight, bi, black, white, hispanic, asian, homeless and mega rich, old, young, every viewpoint, every experience, and every single description in between, all living in close quarters without much issue. New York is a melting pot where everyone seems to fit right in. We people watched, pointed out cool buildings or displays, and chatted about the old NY vs the new modernized trend. You have older stores filled with wares, and new, modern stores that seem to have not much to sell, but a lot of space. It seems extremely odd in a place known for rents that will make your eyes water. As someone who doesn’t like crowds, I had to leave a few stores because they were just so busy. New Yorkers seem perfectly comfortable in crowds and navigate quickly and efficiently through them.

I watched my step count on my watch and saw the miles add up. At this rate, I thought, I’d probably drop 3 sizes by the time I got home! Sadly, not the case, but I racked up nearly 10 miles of walking there. Sadly, after a sandwich, rhubarb crumble, a latte, and some tea, we had not finished with ALL THE CALORIES, and proceeded to finish out our day with dinner. Dinner consisted of King Crab legs at The Boil. King crab with garlic butter? Yes please! Dinner was awesome, despite a large table behind us that was ridiculously loud. They were so loud, we couldn’t hear each other. Aside from that, it was awesome.

We stepped back out into the cool air, and began walking again. I had wanted to go to Barnes and Noble before we left. I don’t read nearly as many books as I used to, which is a shame. That being said, I have a deep love for book stores. Sometimes, on a bad day, I will head over to one of the few book stores still around near me, grab a coffee, and stroll the aisles. Billions of words, knowledge, stories, and perspectives all at one’s fingertips. Book stores are calming places, and there is typically something for everyone contained within those walls.

The weekend rolled around and my daughter approached me Friday night to see if I could take her to a horseback riding lesson. The farm we go to is very laid back, which fits me perfectly. I simply call the morning of, and if they have a slot, she puts us in. I’m pretty sure she would reserve a time if we so requested on a regular basis, but with the weather being iffy and January/February being months where every illness spreads like wildfire, I’m content to call day of. I was a bit sad my morning to sleep in clearly wasn’t meant to be, but I told her I would try to get up early and call the farm. Saturday morning appeared and I decided on a whim to schedule a trail ride….for both of us. Now here’s the thing. I come from a horsey family. Many of my relatives ride, and some even do it on a professional level. Me? Not so much. I haven’t ridden a horse in YEARS. One time I did on vacation, and the beautiful ride on the beach took a scary turn when the horse decided to try and drown itself by charging at full gallop into the ocean. I love horses, I’m just not confident on them. I’m also afraid of heights. That would make riding a double no.

Except my daughter had asked me to do it with her. Begged in fact. And, she took it really well when I explained my fear and hesitation. There’s also the fact that she’s really nervous about an upcoming surgery, and I wanted to show again that facing fear head on is an important lesson. Lastly, she has been doing well in school, I got reports of her doing really kind acts for others, so I figured it would be good to hoist my big ass on a horse if it made her happy. The kid had earned it. Off we headed, and yes, I got on the horse.

The instructor was really pleased with both of us, saying we were doing things right. My horse, however, got pretty hungry from hauling me around and decided to head for a snack. It stopped, bowed it’s head and wasn’t moving. I was laughing and while the instructor told me to pull up, the horse was adamant it needed a few moments. I told the instructor I wasn’t surprised the poor horse had an appetite hauling me around. Finally we got going again, and a short while later, the horse tripped and I almost fell off. That being said, I held on tight, and despite an initial moment of panic when I felt the horse trip, I was pleased to see that I didn’t fall off. The little one was beaming from ear to ear afterwards and said she really enjoyed it. We headed to Starbucks to caffeinate me and get her a snack. Mother/daughter day success!

This past year was a doozy. It started off rough, but there were so many happy moments. Our family trip to England was a highlight. Both kids announced they want to live there someday. It made me so happy they got to spend time there at an age when they will remember it, and I’m going to start working to take them back again soon. We had a sad end of school year last year, I was on the PTA for a hot minute, but I used that time productively to raise money for kids that needed it. In some ways, I softened. In others, I hardened up a bit, and not in a bad way. It felt like my eyes were opened in new ways. Starting off a new age year, I feel content but antsy. Antsy for new adventures, but also quite content to skip a night out and curl up in my bed with a book. I’m trying to learn balance more. Getting older is an interesting experience. Everything shifts, including your mindset. I feel a bit like a pair of favorite jeans. They show signs of wear and tear, but they fit just as they should and are comfortable.

I’ve had people ask me how I feel to be getting older. It’s something we all complain about sometimes. While I look in the mirror and see some of the fine lines and “wisdom glitter” in my hair, I also see someone who is so very fortunate to see another day, to get another hug from my family, and to create a new experience. Some folks won’t have that today, so I try to always be mindful of that. My friend who died doesn’t have those opportunities, and that is something that never quite leaves me. Getting older can be a pain, but it sure is better than the alternative.

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Little old lady (me) and the flu (them).

A former coworker/friend of mine declared that she considers her birthday her actual “New Year”.  She said that every year on her birthday she takes stock of her life, sets some goals, and makes some changes.  She also takes some time for self care and to celebrate another year.  I wondered why she did this on her birthday as opposed to the standard January 1st, but I surmise it’s because in a sense, a birthday is a bit more of a personal day.  The more I thought about her practice of her birthday New Year, the more I liked the positive atmosphere that surrounded it.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  My 44th birthday to be precise.  And it’s such a weird damned birthday.

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For starters, I have two kids currently suffering from the flu and I feel like we are just trying to make it through each day this week. That flu is no joke.  It’s spreading like wildfire and I had been hopeful we’d make it through unscathed, but I was wrong.  It’s been a rough few weeks.  The brakes went on our car, and the check engine light was on.  We got all that fixed, just to then get a screw in the tire and the check engine light came back on.  Car taxes are due, car emissions is due (can’t get it done with the check engine light on!) and of course money is extra tight because we both missed work after my surgery.  Add to that issues with an  bpd stalker, and other nonsense, and it’s all…well, exhausting.  Oh yes, and my house is a wreck, but that’s par for the course.

I’m tired, y’all.  I’m just tired of it all.

Yet I know that this too shall pass.  Well, except the messy house part, because let’s be real honest….it hasn’t had much improvement since I started this blog.  I have two kids, two pets, work full time and I work opposite hours from my spouse.  This is how it’s gonna be if I’m honest.  The kids asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  “Well, I’d like to get a massage or something relaxing, come home to a tidy house, and eat cake with you guys”.  Their response? “we’re going to apologize right now.  cake and a massage may happen but you’re out of luck on the house bit.”

It’s funny.  I don’t feel 44.  Not even a bit.  Well, at least not mentally.  The husband and I were talking tonight and we agreed neither of us feel this old.  We talked about how things were when we were 34, and how did 10 years slip by so darned quickly?  My theory was that we had kids, we had the lives of parents of 2 kids, and life moves FAST.  Maybe we were too busy to see those 10 years fly by us. We see other people at 44 and we don’t feel we quite look that old yet.  Vain assholes, aren’t we? For real, though.  How many of you have seen someone you thought was way older than you and you find out they are in fact younger than you?  Happens to me quite a bit.  Sometimes I wonder if I look far older than the person I see in the mirror.  Perhaps my increasingly poor eyesite is fooling me into thinking I look half decent, only to live as a swamp beast in the real world. Well, I comfort myself with “at least I can’t see what a travesty I may look like”. As a friend put it today, “I still feel like a 15 year old.  A 15 year old that gets beat up everyday, but a 15 year old nonetheless.”

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Of course with all the crappo stuff going on, it doesn’t feel very birthday-y.  In fact, it feels a bit like I want to skip the day altogether.  The extra layer of suck that’s lingering over my head is that honestly, I miss my mom.  She’s been gone almost 12 years and I still miss her daily.  I think she was almost more excited about my birthdays that I was.  After all, it was also her day too in a sense.  She always went big for birthdays.  Any birthday was a big deal to celebrate in her eyes.  Birthdays=life=worth some cake and some fun!  With her gone, somehow things sparkle a little less.

By the same token, I am happy to have this birthday.  Happy for another day.  Many people won’t get that tomorrow.  One of my best friends, who was my age, didn’t get to see 43, and he won’t see 44 either.  It does make you appreciate a birthday when you look at it that way.

So tomorrow is the first day of another age for me.  How will I spend it? Working, at least for part of it.  My husband is sending me out for some “me” time, whether it be a massage or a pedicure, or going to see a movie.  Then tomorrow evening it’s back to hang out with my favorite sickies for some cake and laughs.  I haven’t had much thought towards goals for this year.  Perhaps tomorrow when I have some quiet time I’ll give it some thought.  All I know for now is it’s time to take stock of what is working and what isn’t, and move accordingly.  Right now, I’m in a swing of bad luck, but in the grand scheme of things, life’s really quite awesome.  I have always found that life is a series of elevators.  What goes up, must come down, and even when things are down, they typically go right back up again.  Life is always moving. Sometimes people are on the ride with you, and sometimes not.

I may be a little old lady at 44.  I love my early nights, my heating pad, and yes, I wish people would sometimes get off my lawn.   Sure, we may be in a sea of humidifiers, vicks, tylenol, essential oils, tamiflu, car problems, money issues, and other stuff, but we’ll find out way through. I’m determined to get us all through what life throws at us.  That being said, I guess I am looking forward to another year.  Things have been pretty fabulous so far.

Happiness is gratefulness, and not giving a f*{k.

I’ll warn everyone right off the bat that there will be some foul language in this post. Moreso than others, so if you’re easily offended, this might be one for you to skip.

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I cannot believe it has been a year since I write my “turning 40” post, the year seems to have flown by, and I am left thinking “wasn’t that just yesterday?”. Alas, the time is flying by me, and I’m left wondering how time seemed to CRAWL when I was waiting to turn 16 but flies by at the blink of an eye now.

I recently upgraded my phone and when I did, I took a little while to scroll through the endless pictures I seemed to have taken with it the past year. I didn’t realize just how many I had taken. I also had forgotten so many of the magical little moments, the ones that you don’t write books or scrapbook about so much, but they make life worth living, There were pictures of the kids and I, mostly making “crazy faces” and then the aftermath of us laughing hysterically at each other’s crazy poses, There were random shots I took of my husband, the kids on the soccer field, and friends having a drink and enjoying themselves. There was the close up picture of my new nose ring, acquired on my 40th birthday trip to NYC, which I was nervous to get because I was always raised wjth the “what will people think?” mentality. There is one of the large tattoo I got at the end of 40′ when I cared a whole lot less what people thought.

Then there are the scrapbook moments. Pictures of my family of 4 with my dad, making me see how grateful I am for those in my life, and how lucky I am that he survived his bout of cancer.. There are ones with where my stepmother is joining us in the photos, and I am happy that we have a relationship now, and a little embarrassed by how closed I once was to the idea, I am pleased that I grew up a little and realized that she would never replace my mom, and it was ok to accept a new situation, There are pictures of my daughter and I in the lake. The idea of swimming in a lake terrified me, but I did it for her, There is the picture of my husband and I before a date night. Damn, we clean up nice. The trip to see the Steelers play that we took with my brother and sister in law, who I look at like a brother and sister to me. That was one of the best weekend vacations of my life, and we had a blast! There are birthdays, and holidays, and Halloween….God we love Halloween.

There is a picture of my friend who passed away, it’s the only picture I have of the two of us, after 20 plus years of friendship, and I am grateful to have it. That was a loss that hit me really hard, and it changed my mindset quite a bit. it’s most certainly a wake up call to one’s own mortality when a friend passes away who is the same age as you. I am more grateful now to wake up each day. I have so much to do, and to live for.

The fact is, that I have learned two very important lessons over the past year. The first is that gratitude is most certainly a key to happiness. Once I stopped to regularly take stock of all the things I was grateful for, I found I needed less. The more I focused on how lucky I felt, the less I worried about what I might not have. It was so simple. On days when things don’t go my way, I try to take a few minutes and list some people or things to myself that I feel lucky to have in my life. It helps me to see the simple things, and it makes tougher times seem not so bad.

Secondly, as I mentioned, I grew up in a “what would other people say/think?” environment. It’s ingrained in me to worry what people will say, or think. This was the year where, quite frankly, I worked on not giving a fuck. Well, let me rephrase. I make a conscious effort to be a bit more selective about the fucks that I give. It was hard at first, because, wow…I gave a lot of fucks! I cared about what everyone thought, how they would judge me, and whether they would like me. It stressed me out. Somehow though, I got fed up, and started to change my mindset. Someone might not like my nose ring or tattoo? I don’t give a fuck. Don’t like me? Oh well. Zero fucks. Got something negative to say about my looks or how I dress? I can probably top it and be funnier about it. Whatever it is, if it’s someone unloading negative shit, they can take it elsewhere, for I am barren of fucks to give about it.

I had an interesting conversation with someone today and they told me there was a poll of women that went something like this: would you rather A. Get ten thousand dollars, or B, lose ten lbs and keep it off forever? The person told me most women would choose the 10 lbs. Me? I’ve spent my who,e life wishing I was thinner. Even when I was thin, it wasn’t thin enough. Now that I am a softer, rounder size 12, I gave this question some thought. My response? I’d take the money. My thinking process actually took all of two seconds. I said I’d take the cash and take the family on a vacation, make some memories, and have a story to tell. “remember that time my stomach was perfectly flat?” has nothing on “remember that crazy week we spent in Disney and how we had the time of our lives?”. My kids don’t give a rats ass how much I weight, and my husband thinks I’m a sexy bitch just as I am. Sure, not everything fits me perfectly, and I’d like to lose a couple of lbs, but clearly not enough to forgo steak, lobster and ice cream. Life is too short!

When my friend passed away this year, it brought home that nothing is promised. I have to work, and pay bills. I have to go to the grocery store and do other mundane tasks. What I don’t have to do is let life pass me by. I can love fiercely, laugh heartily, and feel intensely. I can say yes to new things, say no when I don’t feel like it, and let loose a little. I’m still learning to loosen up. I’m still learning not to care what people think. It’s a work in process, but I’m already a hell of a lot better at it than I used to be. I used to worry constantly about being judged by other people. Now I realize that if they are busy judging me, they are missing something valuable in their own lives. Another year, another chance to say yes to new experiences. I have surrounded myself with amazing people who make me laugh, feel loved, and make me feel included. I have friends that have known me since I was a crazy, stupid teenager, and I have new friends as well. I am blessed, grateful, and humble. I’m excited for the year ahead, and all it will bring. If it isn’t perfect? Oh well. I don’t give a fuck.