All posts by Jean

On Turning 59

“Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”- Unknown

When my birthday rolls around I have always been eager to celebrate and I have always been happy to know that a new year is before me. Birthdays are a time for me to look back on what has been, and plan for what is to come. Since I turned 50, I have chosen to look upon the entire month of May as a period for celebration. Pure joy is usually my primary emotion as my personal calendar turns another page.

I don’t need a lot of presents but I love reflecting on how blessed I am with the people in my life and the life I get to live each day. I try to be grateful every day, but during the month of May, I am truly overcome with the realization of how lucky I am. Every day of my life I get to do something that I love; I am surrounded by children who love me and grandchildren who amuse me to no end; I have friends in my life who are always there for me, whether I need support or a good belly laugh; I even have a cat who adores me as much as a cat can and entirely on her terms.

I turned 59 this week. For the first time in memory, things have been occurring that have completely diverted my attention away from the fact that I had a birthday coming up. The story of what’s been going on is not my story to tell, but it’s a story that has shaken me to my core. I have been so caught up in what has been going on around me that I actually forgot about my birthday until one of my daughters reminded me the night before.

Almost everyone I know is well aware that they should count their blessings. We’re all grateful and we all try to appreciate what we have. But, no matter how grateful you are, or how aware you are of your blessings, there are events that occur in every life that knock you on your butt and make you aware of how quickly your life can change. As I look out my window at yet another rainy day of rain, I can’t help but reflect on the quote “into each life some rain must fall.”  

You make your plans, follow your path and you expect that A will always follow B. We all think we can put off the things that are important to us. “When I retire,” When the kids graduate,” “After I achieve this goal,” are all classic statements made to justify waiting to reward yourself. How many people have put off doing things that would’ve made their hearts sing, only to reach the end of their lives and find that they never got around to doing any of them? Just like a storm can brew up out of nowhere, so can life altering events.

When sad things happen in life, we naturally go into mourning as we deal with our grief. That is how humans process the events of our lives. Returning to your new normal feels almost disrespectful of the enormity of that shift. “I can’t laugh and have fun when such and such just happened.” But as I grow older I realize more and more that it is so much more respectful of the life we’ve been given to live louder after these events.

We have been taught that success in life is achieved by staying on the treadmill of conventional thinking and hard work. Keep your head down and focus on the end goal and you will have lived a successful life. I am officially calling bullshit on that philosophy. Don’t live your life just working hard and being grateful for what is; cherish your life. Take that vacation; run that race; take that leap; use the good china to eat your daily meals on; LIVE.

I sincerely hope and pray that in a year, this current dark cloud will be nothing more than a bleak memory. This time next year, I hope to be writing about turning 60. I will celebrate that birthday with as much joy as I can muster. In the meantime, I plan on living my life with gusto.

We need rain to have the rainbows, and we have to save for a rainy day, but instead of huddling inside when it rains, I hope I have the wisdom to go splash in a few mud puddles even as the rain is beating down.