Birthdays! How do you feel about them? A client of mine had a birthday this June and I was giving her some attention for it. She said, “I’m not really focusing on them anymore.”
I get it! I’m at that age where I have to do the math to remember which one of those upper numbers I’m running into on June 21st.
I don’t think that’s the way it is with thirty-two-year-olds like my daughter, Caitlin. That’s her, above, toasting to “32” back on January 4th.
I remember angst moments about birthdays in those earlier decades. I had a lot of expectations about where I should be, what I should be doing, and who I should be doing it with up until I reached 40.
Life didn’t automatically get easier at 40 but I dropped a lot of those self-inflicted expectations.
Now I spend less energy trying to make things happen and focus more energy on accepting life as it is. I think there’s a peace in that acceptance that I wouldn’t have known about before 40.
I was looking for a quote today that I’d written down. I couldn’t find it, but found this one instead. It’s from the movie This Is Where I Leave You (2014) with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, and more. A family has gotten together to sit shiva for their father/husband back in the house where they grew up. Jason Bateman plays Judd, one of the adult kids, and Rose Byrne plays Penny, a high school sweetheart he reconnects with when he returns to the family home.
Judd and Penny have been hanging out when Judd says, “I’ve never taken any chances. I’ve spent my entire life playing it safe, just to avoid being exactly where I am right now.”
Penny says, “Cut yourself some slack, Judd. Anything can happen. Anything happens all the time.”
By the time we’re in our sixties, we’ve probably begun to realize how true that is. Anything can happen. It might not be what we wished for, wanted, planned for, or thought would happen in a million years.
Of course, unexpected death to loved ones comes to mind because that’s what happened to me in this last year. Two family members won’t be there this weekend when I go back to the lake in Minnesota to be with my family. We’re short two beloved people.
Anything can happen, and it did.
I just had my birthday and Facebook reminded me of that fact just in case I had forgotten. I got lots of birthday greetings. I don’t know if when they were sending those greetings they realized how poignant it would be for me to have good wishes coming my way as I leave the hardest year behind and head into the unknown. It made me feel like I was standing in the middle of the yard and I was looking up at beautiful butterflies that were fluttering their wings all around me. (Thank you Facebook friends and snail mail friends, too!)
One friend, Amy Rosevere, wrote: “May your birthday sparkle, just like you do.”
Funny thing is, I had put this little tiny tiara on my head in the morning, one a friend had given me last year on my birthday, and wore it as I puttered around in my closet most of the day.
I wasn’t in a party mood on my birthday. I was missing the woman who decades ago huffed and puffed to birth me and my twin brother on the longest day of the year.
Closet meditation helped
Russ would check on me from time to time. “Doing okay?” he’d ask. “Yup, just fine!” I said.
Russ wanted to take me out but I just wasn’t feeling it. We had dinner plans with the kids later. I’d make my appearance then.
Instead, I putzed around. Sorting, culling, and caring for clothes is meditation for me. Luckily he understands that.
Russ saw a busy bee every time he checked in. I would be in varying degrees of being clothed or not as I was tackling a few projects at once.
I was making final edits of any remaining winter clothes still hanging in my closet–coats, jackets, heavier blazers, heavier pants and some dresses. I love thinning out the closet. I packed those items away (how many cashmere sweaters does one need in July?).
I finished unpacking the last of the summer things that hadn’t come out in April–too chilly back then.
In my review, I decided whether or not some of those summer items had past their expiration dates. I actually repurposed some clothes that had been downgraded to bathing suit coverups. They got pressed and hung in the closet with a new status upgrade.
I’m old school. I had to pull out the ironing board and plug in the steam iron. Hearing the s-s-s-s of the steam, I had memories of being a kid pulling clothes out of the ironing basket and ironing for the family when we lived on the farm, near Hastings.
Planning a Minnesota/North Dakota trip wardrobe
I needed to plan my trip wardrobe so I got that done on Sunday, too.
I picked out an outfit to wear to the graveside services on Saturday for my mother and brother, Todd, at the Spring Creek Lutheran Church Cemetery in Hastings, North Dakota where we grew up. I picked out an outfit to wear to church on Sunday in Hastings, the last day services will every be held there. That beautiful little church where my parents were married and where we kids went to Sunday School is closing down after putting in 116 years of service. It’s pretty much the last place standing in that town of 75 people. There will be lots of relatives coming for the family and church reunion.
I put together an outfit to wear to the tea party I’m planning later in the week for Mom’s church lady friends from Dent, Minnesota who have been so very kind to me and my family. I crave sitting with them around the table talking about Mom.
Mostly I’ll be with Dad who wants help figuring out what his next steps will be. I’ll get some walks in and sit in the glider overlooking Dead Lake, sipping Stumbeano’s coffee and writing my morning pages. Lake life is different than city life and I actually have to work harder at putting that wardrobe together. Send me to a conference, and I’m set. Send me to the lake and I’m floundering!
What to wear for my birthday
There was one more outfit to put together during my closet meditation on June 21st and that was my birthday outfit–what I’d wear to celebrate with my twin brother, Brent, Russ, the kids, and Mike, Erin’s boyfriend. It’s turning into a tradition to have our birthday dinner at Central Market in Petaluma. I knew one thing: the tiara was going to be the focal point of the outfit. I’d worn it all day and didn’t want to take it off. I know it’s tiny, but it’s sparkly and mighty!
I decided to support it with more sparkle. I could hear Amy’s voice in my head: More sparkles, Brenda, more!
(You can read Amy’s blog Jewelry Fashion Tips and she’ll probably start talking in your ear, too!)
I wore white jeans, a Vince oatmeal colored long, lightweight t-shirt and my gold pretend tweed Chanel jacket (actually, Talbots). Then I layered two sparkly necklaces together and added a mix of bangles at both wrists for more sparkle. I wore beige suede Prada platform sandals and carried a lady-like tan purse with a handle.
But really, it was the tiara that was the hit. Caitlin and Trevor met us outside the restaurant and it was the first thing they spotted. It made them smile, and me too.
It’s pretty hard not to grin the whole time you’re wearing a tiara, especially this baby-sized one. I’m thinking there’s a tiara-size-to-birthday-decade ratio or formula. Since those first few decades of birthdays carry so much weight with them, the tiara needs to be bigger to match. Now that I’m in the taking-life-as-life-is phase of things, birthdays are lovely but less weighty. I think the size of the tiara I’m wearing is perfect for right now when I’m just happy to be here.
I miss those who are no longer here, sometimes desperately, but sparkles help.
I’ll take the sparkles into each new day where anything can happen, both good and bad.