On Friday I’ll be fifty years old. Sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? I know. Show off. But – there it is. And you know what? I really can’t even think of anything interesting to say about it, other than that. I mean – I’m certainly feeling proud of myself for hitting it clean and sober. Oh and guess what – I quit smoking at the start of this month so I’m starting this new decade a non smoker. I haven’t been able to say that since I turned ten. And I figured out that I’ve lived a third of these fifty years within listening distance of the Pacific Ocean. That’s kind of cool. I have teenaged children now. That’s also cool and my favorite age so far by far. Favorite age to parent, not be. Anyhow – basically all’s well. I am moving from mother to crone with a smile.
So – what am I going to do to mark this milestone? On the social end, I’m going to have dinner with friends on my birthday and I’m taking a trip to Monterey with my family the weekend after. And I always make a big ass deal about my birthday so my poor co-workers have no choice but to take notice. But on a personal note, I’m going to get up early and run down to the beach and find a nice spot and just sit and connect with the universe – rain or shine. I’m also going to try and come up with some sort of list of reasonable goals. There’ll be some big stuff like buying a home and lots of little stuff like reading more and cleaning out my shoe closet. But mainly – I want to stay close to the people that matter most to me. If I have any regrets from maiden and motherhood, (and I mean real regrets, not little ones like forgetting to get out the St. Patrick’s day decorations that one year….) they are centered on people I miss. I let a lot of sweet, dear people fade out of my life for no reason other than being too self-centered. I’m feeling so much more able to love now. I’m not willing to let that happen so frequently anymore.
I’m definitely excited to see what the next fifty years are going to bring. And that alone is a happy thing. Meaning – I’m not looking forward with fear or frustration or ennui or dread or anything negative. I feel like I have choices, if not right this instant, then in the not too distant future. At least, I feel like I can go ahead and set goals for myself and dream up fun things to do. I think I’m going to like being a crone.
The other night, my daughter and I were discussing fake hair pieces which reminded us of the hair piece that came with her American Girl doll’s Irish ensemble. This was a “my twin” doll, who she named Siobahn. I said, “Gosh – has anyone seen Siobahn lately?” and we immediately thought of the song “Siobahn” by the Tossers. From this little exchange, my daughter came up with what might be a fabulous idea: outfits and sets for the American Girl dolls of teenagers who don’t want to get rid of them but have, of course, outgrown them. But these outfits will have a dark twist. For example: a groupie set, a drug and alcohol experimentation set, a pregnancy scare set. They could come with all sorts of fun accessories like tattoos, piercings, trashy outfits. And for the historical themes, maybe the Salem witch trials? The Manson family? I think it’s a smashing idea, and just like our little girls couldn’t really be historical heroines like their dolls were, maybe they’ll be satisfied living out these teenage fantasies on plastic replicas, too.
Speaking of hair, yesterday marked four years of sobriety for me. And you know what that means? Time for my annual haircut! Yes – once a year I actually get a haircut and use my sobriety date to mark it. I like that this special day comes right as the holidays begin in earnest. (The sobriety part – not the hair cut – although who doesn’t want pretty hair for the holidays?) There’s so much to look forward to as the year winds down and I am so ready for new opportunities and attitudes! I’m excited to end the year with celebrations and food and gifts and begin 2012 with a clean slate and healthy hair!
Monday was United Nations day. I really should write an informative little essay on the United Nations, its history and relevance today. But that, dear reader, wouldn’t be my style. How would I get my whiny complaints in if I just informed you about the United Nations? Impossible. So – happy United Nations day! Now, let’s move on.
I guess unity and connection would be remotely related to United Nations day. How are you at maintaining connections? I’m not exactly batting a thousand right now, but that’s given me an opportunity to focus on the people and things in my life which are really important to keep. Relationships, whether they be friendly, romantic, organized or professional, take work and consciousness. I am truly trying to be present for as many moments as possible during the day. The longer I’m sober, the more I find that if I really try and live in reality with all its emotions and chores, the better off I am. As I try to maintain some sort of balance, the useless weights become more apparent and I can lighten my load. In other words, “Focus, Mary Elizabeth!”
So – I’ve taken some time off from personal blogging because I got sick of the sound of my own voice. But – it’s not bothering me so much today, so I thought I’d reel one out on the beloved subject of gratitude. I know, I know – super boring. Lately, I’ve tried to boil it down, though. For what, exactly, am I grateful? I mean, some of the things I try and list to the universe on a daily basis really belong on a “I wish I felt more grateful for:” list. Like, seriously, who’s truly grateful for your boyfriend every day?How about your job? You get the point. Knowing the things for which we ought to be grateful is a far cry from being grateful. So – I’ve decided to list five things for which I am TRULY GRATEFUL.
my children’s’ health, intellect and good looks
the CD player in my car
For those of you wondering. I left cigarettes off the list not because I don’t love them more than anything else in the world and have found them to be the only reliable constant in my life time and time again, but because I’m actually aware that they’ll eventually kill me. So – off the list. Then, of course, there’s home facial wax without which I couldn’t live either, but it’s expensive and messy and endless. Off the list! Those things listed are the ones I can feel grateful for all the time without any catches. So, I’m curious. In the words of my friends at Café Gratitude, “What are you grateful for?”
We are just twenty days away from the summer solstice. The days are getting really long and the weather should be getting nicer. The kids will be out of school making mornings peaceful again. But lately I’ve been feeling kind of restless. There’s absolutely nothing going on in my life that warrants complaining, but I sure feel like doing it. I want a more glamorous job. I want my boyfriend to worship me. I want to turn my kids back into babies so all they want from me is milk and a smile. I want to lose twenty pounds but I don’t want to exercise or cut down on sweets. I hate all my clothes. I can’t get comfortable. Do I have to be everywhere I go?
I don’t know why some periods in life are comfortable and some aren’t. That’s just the way it goes, I guess. There’s probably some huge unresolved issue in my life that I need to face. Gross. But – while I’m waiting for it to surface, I’m going to try to welcome summer with an open heart. I’m going to ponder sweet summer memories from my childhood and try to create some for my kids. I’m going to try to remember to be grateful. And – I’m going to start exercising.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and it made me mindful of all that “motherhood” means. There are so many varieties – from the Greek tragedy kind to the Blessed Mother herself. One is always fitting in to some archetype or another. Even when we feel we’re falling into one of the less Rockwellian types, there’s undoubtedly an historical example of worse back there somewhere. We need to be compassionate with ourselves if we aren’t fitting into our own expectations of what motherhood is, or anything else for that matter. Inner standards are the stuff of which pain is made.
Recently, I noticed one of the search terms that led to my blog was “things hurt”. Well good golly, ain’t that the truth, but I worry that my writing just sounds like one long keen of pain. Probably does. But seriously, as much pain as I may be in at any given moment is nothing compared to all the fabulously wonderful stuff in my life. I really am a glass-half-full kind of girl and do you know why? The glass is always at least half full. Always. Things do hurt, but that’s okay. It’s just life. Accepting life on life’s terms, learning to stop trying to live up to idealistic expectations and hanging on tight to those silver linings is the way to move from pain to healing.
Do you know what I hate? When you watch a really scary movie and then in the end the whole thing turns out to be someone’s psychotic episode. It just bugs me. I want the weird freaky stuff to be real. I want everything to be real, actually – magic, ghosts, talking dogs – all of it. And not just in movies. I want my wishes granted and my mistakes to be the fault of sinister occultish forces. I don’t want to be responsible for my own reality.
They say when the student is ready the teacher appears, which is annoying because it turns everyone you ever dealt with into teachers with difficult lessons you were finally ready to learn. Yuck. Just once, I’d like to be the teacher and actually know it at the time and teach some people some lessons! Just kidding – plenty of my teachers have taught me humility and, paradoxically, that you can’t really teach anybody anything. Except yourself. That’s just how life is – one long last five minutes of The Wizard of Oz, where you learn that the power was really yours all along. And then you wake up.