Well, what the dickens? It feels like I went to sleep and when I woke up, my birthday and Christmas had been, and gone! November and December were a joyous, whirlwind of many fabulous events. Most importantly, I can officially check off #10 on my list, do something special with Katie.
On November 18th in the exotic, wedding destination town of Ball Ground Georgia, Katie and Jake were wed. The bride and groom were gorgeous, the venue was lovely and we have wonderful memories of quite a night! There were small mishaps, like Kyle taking the keys to the van leaving Dennis stranded in Woodstock, or running out of wine and a gas station run had to be made. If anyone out there actually likes a REALLY sweet, salmon-colored, white Zinfandel wine, please let Katie know. She has two cases. Katie and Jake are also in possession of 250 beer coozies that say “Jake & Katie Cheers to Many Years & Cold Beers”. I don’t have enough time to explain how that happened! Anyways, anything that went wrong was just a minor, funny mishap, and love won the day! I couldn’t be happier for Jake and Katie. I feel truly privileged that Katie and Jake let me be involved in planning their special day (even if she didn’t let me do my extremely well choreographed, interpretive dance at the ceremony).
So one success down but as you have probably noticed, I am indeed 50 and only half way done my list! I guess I am just going to have to keep on going. Maybe my new blog title should be Slithering to Sixty, or perhaps Sailing to Sixty, no wait – how about Sagging to Sixty! (factual, but too depressing). Hmmmm, what about Scrubbing to Sixty? (kind of goes with the cripples drudge theme), Scooting? Scouring? no that’s not it… Wait, this is it… Sashaying! Yes, that’s it, it sounds vibrant, a little bit sexy, and a little bit sassy and definitely age-defying – old people do not sashay! The definition in the English Dictionary is, ‘Sashay: to walk confidently while moving your hips from side to side in a way that attracts attention‘. Woohooo! I shall frolic and sashay all the way through the rest of my list! So, if you see me walking down the street, and you become concerned, that I have maybe had a small stroke, am attempting to work out an uncomfortable wedgy, or maybe drunk (well I can’t rule out tipsy) NO!, I’m sashaying! Think of a hybrid of prancercise and frolicking. Oh, and if you don’t know the prancercise lady????!!! I sincerely doubt we are friends but here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-50GjySwew
How fun! I am going to be the sensation of Woodstock! So now we have re-established the parameters for this project, onward we go!
Since I have given myself, well, a decade to finish my list of tasks we can now let our hair down and have a good gossip before getting on to the business of getting my list done. The pop you just heard was the cork on a bottle of wine I received at Christmas time, I’ll wait while you go do the same,………………………………………………………… Okay, I sang the Canadian national anthem once, (I’m a little rusty on the French version). By now you must be settled and cozy with a beverage of your choice.
Kids, let’s talk about dreams. I remember a lot of my dreams, do you? If you do remember your dreams, pay attention to them! Our dreams weave patterns and themes from our murky subconscious and provide us with a window into a deeper level of ourselves. I kind of think of it as where the literal and spiritual worlds collide. Dreams have often put the pieces of those two puzzles together for me.
I’ve been pondering a reoccurring dream that I have been having since summer. It’s always the same thing, I am at my house and I have the sense something is wrong. I look at the calendar and I realize that I missed Christmas this year! Now, I love me some Christmas! I am what Urban Dictionary coined as a ‘Whovillian’. The second that Thanksgiving turkey is a carcass, it’s time to bring down the Christmas boxes! Large, Tupperware containers full of good cheer, ornaments, greenery, pictures, Christmas dinnerware, shiny wrapping paper, elf hats and loads, and loads, of glitter. Of course, the star of the show is a perfect ceramic baby Jesus, just waiting to be placed amidst fresh hay, in an old mandarin orange box, (pinterested into a rustic stable). The little babe is then surrounded with a plethora of ceramic animals, family (Joseph broke his little handoff last year, but Jesus told us not to say anything about it), and admirers. In my dreams, I am devastated and inconsolable that I have missed my favorite holiday. “I didn’t get to buy presents, or plan parties, go to the lovely Christmas Eve service at church, no cookies, no gingerbread house competition, no Christmas tree. Oh my God, I missed a year of wearing my Santa apron!! How did this happen!” After having this dream a few times, and waking up a sweaty mess, I was stumped as to its significance.
Time went on and as you know, muffins, I began this project as a way to soften my entry into my 50’s. I smugly thought, Ha, I was not going to be one of these people who got all sad and dreary when turning fifty. I had a project to bring me to a place of complete serenity with the milestone! It worked well, I have loved the tasks I have done, and have learned a lot from them, until December. Then my strategy collapsed. The tree went up and the tears came tumbling down. I was like a contestant on the bachelorette, crying about one thing or another. A shadow had cast upon my heart, during Christmas none the less! I was not Jingling all the Way, for the first time in my life I WAS A HALF-ASSED JINGLER! Oh, the shame! Dennis, gently, suggested perhaps, I was actually struggling with turning 50. Well, that got a thoughtful, and mature reaction from me, “Don’t be ridiculous!” I said, snot running down my face, “I’m an old soul looking forward to finally fitting into my own skin! I have a blog all about how well I am handling it, EVERYONE knows how mature I’m being. This has absolutely nothing to do with turning 50!” Sniff, sniff, snort, more tears. Christmas time sped into full gear (indeed I had not missed it), and as my birthday drew closer. and an utter sense of loss encompassed me. I found myself sitting on the floor (in my Santa apron), wrapping presents and crying. Not very jolly. I had become a middle-aged cliche.
Now a small side note, during this time, Dennis developed challenging new MS symptoms; both Dennis and I had wicked bad colds; there was a big snow storm; and we did lose power for 18 hours, leaving Dennis trapped like a turtle on his back. We had no power so I performed a shadow puppet show on the ceiling for him with a flashlight. The storm also caused the cancellation of my treasured girls Christmas Bunko at my friend Stephanie’s cabin. We needed to buy new tires and brakes and expensive batteries for Dennis’ ceiling lift. The lift must have been damaged in the power outage because it would only move Dennis 1/8 of an inch at a time (it took me 2 hours to get him in bed). So life crap was definitely flying, like shit in a wind tunnel, but the sadness I was feeling was deeper. I have felt this heavy feeling before, it is the weight of a melancholy soul. What made things even worse, was that I had been so dreadfully sure of myself that I wouldn’t go through this. Alas, pride does always come before the fall.
I am often up in the middle of the night, Dennis needs to be turned and sometimes I can’t go back to sleep. When my children were little and I was awake in the wee hours, my children were nestled in their beds, books fallen to the floor beside them, their little eyes too heavy to read on. That was a halcyon time for me. During those velvety, dark nights all was right with the world, my little lambs were asleep and accounted for and their problems were small, and easily fixed. Now when I’m up, and can’t sleep, it’s the sound of Dennis, doing barnyard animal imitations in the next room, that serenades my reading time. Hearing his reassuring snores, rumbling from our bedroom, I feel a similar sense of peace. It is impossible, however, due to circumstance, to not sometimes cast my mind forward, to a time when I may be all alone reading in the stillness of the night. That thought brings a sensation of something unbearably large pressing on my heart and I must remind myself to breathe.
During these late night moments, I often receive small epiphanies. About a week before my birthday at 2:00 am, it dawned on me that it was not missing Christmas that I was fearing. Indeed, I was fearing being missing…. as a human alive on earth. Mortality was troubling my heart. Or, mine and everyone else’s, as time inevitably brings loss to us all. People say 50 is just a number, and that’s true, but it also provides us with a marker to re-evaluate one’s life. Most likely, the longer side of the hill has passed for me and my time left on this earth is less rather than more. Amanda, always teases that she thinks I’m going to live forever. Me, an old, eccentric,
silver (make that blonde, I’m not going down without a fight) haired woman, happy-making crafts at “the home”, sticky with sequins and glue, wearing mismatched size 10 shoes and a bright floral hat. I would probably still be organizing parties and playing games like freeze dance with our hearing aides turned off, match the dentures to the appropriate resident, and musical walkers. However, I may not be lucky enough to be queened Hottest Centenarian at the Shady Acres Home for the aged and bewildered.
The numbers 50 are a reminder that the clock is ticking. Now I’m not an aggressive goal-oriented type. It’s not missing the things I could have done, or places I could have been that is keeping me up. What really grieves me is, do I have enough time to give whatever I was put here to offer the world? I’m still not even really sure what IT is. Also, looking back what HAVE I given to the world in the last 50 years, was it enough? What about the incredibly, foolish, mistakes I made. There is no doubt, I could have done so much better.
I had stumbled upon a dark night of the soul. If you don’t know what that is, you haven’t had one…. yet. I prayed for some peace and wisdom. Thankfully, my prayers were answered and I received two “Christmas gifts” to help ease my troubled mind (I suggested to God, a miniature pony, to ride to town on would help, but alas there was none under the tree). Sometimes, God is a real, spoilsport.
The first “gift”, came through a book, as it so often does for me. It was 3am and I was sleepless. I was reading a marvelous book called Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (2017). It’s written in letter form, from the perspective of several characters living through World War One. This section of the book stopped me cold, “If you lie awake at night, know that you are not alone. Hundreds-thousands-of restless minds fill those dark hours. It is the worst time. The silence. The space to think” (p.333). Yes, Yes! I thought I totally get it, that’s where I am right now. Lady in London during WWI, you understand me! It continued, “I wake often at night, my bed rocked by the pounding of distant shells and I wonder: Whose lives did that one take? What agony did they know in their final moments? What agony will their loved ones know for the rest of their days when the telegram boy knocks at the door and delivers that fateful news?” Dang…….. humbled again! Just when I was whipping myself up into a big, fat existential crisis. True, my life does have its stresses, but, I have never known anything remotely close to that kind of fear and anxiety. Here I am worried about getting a turkey neck, back fat, and where can I find a more supportive brassiere!
I felt I had received my first Christmas gift. A dramatic, much needed shift in my perspective. Although my problems are real and important, it can be, and has been so very, much worse, for many others. In fact, it really should even be considered a privilege, to get to the age where such trivial worries come along. Yes, I’m saying a turkey neck is a privilege! (But don’t judge if someday I get that taken care of, gobble gobble)! I closed my book, turned off the Christmas tree and went straight to bed. I curled up in my warm bed, beside my strong husband, and with Daisy’s toasty, furry, body wedged in between us. I felt more content than I had in weeks. Bliss.
The second “gift”, came via a friend, Sarah Lenz. A lot of people seemed to think me starting this blog was a, not so subtle, cry for a 50th birthday party. Not even close. I love giving parties and going to parties, but I do not want to be the centerpiece of one. Sarah, the manager of our local watering hole, is a party planning machine. She approached Dennis with the idea of a surprise party and, like he was strictly instructed to, said “NO”. Sarah, being the kind individual that she is, decided on a different way to help me celebrate my milestone. Sarah told us to come by IPPS for a drink (like we weren’t anyway?), before going out for dinner, she came out from the back and she had this…
Birthday cards and letters from all sorts of people I love. Sarah had organized a group on Facebook and had people mail cards for me to her, she then put them into this adorable box for me! My friends, you know very well that words of affirmation are totally my “love language”. This was the absolute perfect gift for me. The next night, I poured myself a glass of wine, sat beside the Christmas tree and I read them all! Beside the twinkling white lights of my favorite season, I savored each delicious word of encouragement and kindness. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. Well, I feasted on my present, and my heartfelt utterly full.
I have not done everything with my life I should have, or could have. I have been too lazy, jealous, insecure and just scardey cat sometimes. However, I have a box that proved to me that I have loved. I have loved hard, often, long and even when it wasn’t deserved. Even better, I am loved. Little old me, the cripple’s drudge of Woodstock, Georgia. Truly known (filters are for making coffee) by many, and yet, still loved despite my flaws. The year started with me writing “love letters” to all the important people in my life, and it came around full circle. Wow, I could not have orchestrated this better myself.
So, now it is a shiny new year and I must pick up where I left off on my list. My path on this project has taken me on detours and roadblocks of all kinds. Most of them have been beneficial to my goals of increasing my compassion, connection, and growth. Such as in attempting to do task #5: Make a friend 40 years younger than myself, I have come to the shocking conclusion that kids who are forty years younger than me, would rather suffer from nomophobia (the fear of losing cell-phone coverage) than hang out with a middle-aged woman. So, I found myself a Millennial to chat with. I realized that the generation behind me is actually what I really am most curious about. We are going to have to understand this generation better since they will be helping us in our senior years, pureeing our peas, and God love us, helping us with technology that seems to be traveling like a runaway train. YES, the much maligned, blamed and cursed Millennials. These kids are our future, and I admit that at times, I am perplexed by their behavior. I did quite a bit of research on these selfie-loving, tech-savvy, self-expressive young people, and was quite surprised by what I learned. Of course, I have given birth to my own millennials, but sometimes, too much familiarity is not a good thing when endeavoring to find a new perspective. I am looking forward to sharing my experience in a future post regarding what I learned with my millennial. And now drum roll, please… I would like to introduce my very own super, duper, awesome, cuter than boots on a ladybug, Millenial, Hailey Hannigan!
Ha, bet my male follower count just went up!
Wishing you peace, love, and joy in the new year and don’t forget Dibbuns…
Leana (Mummy, Auntie Lee-Lee, Dharma, Goose or whatever you want to call me!)