It was my birthday recently. The idea that I’m 52 is somehow shocking to me. Such a big number. Like, my God! I’m a middle aged woman! What the actual f—!!
I recall childhood moments like they happened a month ago, so fresh in my brain with every detail and then sometimes last weekend feels like years ago and I can barely recall.
I have never bemoaned getting older. Some people hate saying how old they are like they have a grudge with aging. They act like time is a bad friend that wronged them. I think of the alternative to growing old and it’s a definite and solid no thank you to that idea. I want to grow old and I want to do it agreeably. Birthdays get me thinking about my life —shocking I know—and all that I have experienced or still have to do.
I thought this 52nd year could start with a list of things I am grateful for.
A list of gratitude:
1. I’m grateful I have a culture to attach to. I’m glad to be Greek, to have been born there. I’m glad for that start and that grounding. I’m glad that I have very specific traditions, customs, language, songs, experiences and recipes that are tightly tied to Greece, my Motherland, the place I started. It’s like a cultural playbook and I’m glad for it.
2. I am incredibly grateful that I ended up in Canada. I mean of all the places in the world this place is pretty outstanding for heaps of reasons. I could make a list of 52 reasons why Canada rocks. In fact I might.
3. With the first two items on this list I have become a bridge between two really beautiful places. Anyone who has immigrated or even just changed where they live—in love with both places has experienced this. I appreciate the twisting of these two places, with their histories, traditions, and cultures. I’ve come out on the other side of this cross cultural braid with a pretty sweet Greko-Canadian hybrid experience. Have you tried the Greek Poutine? Well maybe you should!!
4. I’m glad I struggled academically in high school. I gave it my honest effort. I worked hard. I tried. I truly did. But, I did not excel. I did, however, learn to work hard and try and try and try. Diploma aside this was my personal best lesson from high school.
5. I did not peak in high school. I was not the popular kid, the good looking kid, the sporty kid. I sure wasn’t the kid with the trendy fashion sense! Physically or intellectually I feel like I was behind my teen-mates. But that was okay because my peak came later. I had a chance to get to those experiences with an adult brain which I can only guess made the process and the outcome better. I had a more understanding, mature position of what I was going through. I joke that my peak might still be coming!
6. I’m glad that I failed. I had a whole blog post in Counios and Gane’s old blog about failure and all the things I failed at. Humbly, I appreciate failure because I learned to pick myself up over and over and over again. I learned that failing wasn’t the end of the world. It was just a point to pivot from in which to stretch and change direction. Trust me I have stretched the failure muscle into one bad ass downward dog!
7. I’m not lazy. But I know when to stop and lay in the hammock or on my back watching the stars or listening to the waves of the sea or the lake. I know when to sleep in and when to hide away to reboot. This came from overdoing it but I am happy I’ve found my pause button.
8. I can gear up and work very, very hard when it’s needed. I am not a time waster. I seem to make the most of the moments I am given and I use those moments on my terms.
9. My ego is not so big that I think I will get stuck in perfectionism. I make all sorts of ugly art. I write and give our sweet editor too much to correct. I blog and there are errors (sorry). What’s perfect anyhow? If I waited for perfection I would never start. So I just go for it with an authentic heart and let the thing be what it will be.
10. I’m a feminist. I believe that women have the right to do what ever they want. They want to stay home and raise babies—great! Go do that thing. They want to be a career person—great! Job’s waiting. They want to have pets instead of children—super. I believe that the sexes should be equal.
11. I’m also glad that I spent a lot of time alone. Some of those times were heartbreakingly lonely. In that silence I figured out what I wanted and who I was. In those spaces between relationships and between what I thought love was—(and wasn’t) I found answers.
12. I’m grateful I have fallen in love with to do lists and goal setting. They help me get things done. Big lists. Small lists. Long ones. Short ones. Daily lists. Someday lists. I love them all. I have discovered how goal oriented I am.
13. Finding boundaries in relationships was a lot like a Sisyphus experience for me, doing the same thing over and over—until I finally, one day, figured it out. I figured out where my relationship edges were. Amen.
14. Every single sunny day. Even with new freckles on my body I know that each freckle was a glorious day in the sun.
15. Although empathy can be a rough ride it’s one of the things that makes me a better human.
16. I am so appreciative of my body. It has never done me wrong in terms of health. I push it up mountains and into forests. It takes me dancing and walking and well, it’s not too shabby for 52. I’m more comfortable in a bikini now than I ever was in my 20’s.
17. I find joy in storytelling, in engaging people and in building experiences through words.
18. I equally find joy in listening to storytellers. In fact I notice that there is something inside those people who are great story tellers. They store up moments. They pay attention to details. They wait and when the right people arrive they share the story. It’s quite magical and in that a good storyteller pulls the listener in. I have always had an admiration for those people. I understand that everyone has a story to tell. Some are boisterous and some are quiet. Some are told with words and some are told through actions and the way life is lived. Everyone has an experience worth sharing.
19. The seasons. Yes. Even winter. Each one offers something gorgeous for my eyes and my soul.
20. I am grateful for having lasting friendships. Some I have had the entirety of my life. Some have gone and come back. Some have appeared and left completely but the ones that are in for the long haul are very important to me.
21. My visual brain never lets me down. I can picture almost anything. It’s like free television. No wonder I don’t like television, it just can’t keep up with what’s in my head.
22. My big ass laugh.
23. Feeling things deeply. Empathy sometimes is scary and sometimes it’s awesome. But every time it’s a reminder of how what being alive means.
24. My need to help, even when it is misguided.
26. My siblings. Baz Luhrmann said to keep them close as they will be the only family you have when your parents are gone. Mine have been part of my team and I love them. They’ve helped me many times in many ways. Once, when I was moving from my ex’s and needed help my dear brother offered. He sent a message that said “friends help friends move. Good friends help friends move bodies—should I bring a shovel?” My sister has done her best to make her family my family, to have me over for dinners, visits, children’s celebrations, pet visits, vegetables from her garden and backyard hangouts. I. Am. Lucky. Because, well, you can’t pick your family.
27. My house. I proved to myself that I could create a house and a home from scratch— All. By. Myself.
28. Growing up in the core in the early 70’s when we first immigrated to Regina was rough and interesting. I had friends of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Living in a lower socio-economic neighborhood, I got to see all sorts of people and how they lived. It was not a sheltered experience and sometimes it was scary but it was real.
29. I’m grateful for my wanderlust and curiosity for the world. I’ve been to some pretty amazing places, climbed mountains, hot air ballooned, snorkeled, explored cities. Mother Nature wins though. She’s really the best architect of this place.
30. Engaging with people. I’ve had chats, casual fun silly ones with folks with clout and I’ve sat curb side with gypsies who told me their woes.
31. I’m not a picky eater. It doesn’t work if you like to travel.
32. I can sleep almost anywhere—also a useful tool for travel.
33. I am grateful for writing and being published and winning awards, here and internationally. Having my friends tell me I’m good is great but it’s a whole other thing when the industry recognizes you.
34. I’m grateful for Dave, my writing partner—even when he makes me crazy, because, hell, the man can have a shit ton of enthusiasm and he’s always onto the next thing and he really keeps me on my toes. He’s taught me a lot about writing, process, programs, publishing. He is my first source for brainstorming when building a story.
35. Camping and reminding myself where my first metaphorical home is. By putting myself in nature, sleeping on the ground, cooking on a fire, walking through the woods, separating myself from what is man made settles me, grounds me.
36. I’m grateful for the good man I have beside me. He’s level, kind, helpful, funny, non-judgmental and not a picky eater! He lets me be and he’s got a very level moral compass.
37. I’ve honed in on the skill of keeping my fear in check. It helps when I’m camping and hiking and moving forward in endeavors but it also helps when the inner voice decides to be an asshole and tries to keep me from my desires. That asshole is just fear that I have learned to put a cap on.
38. I’m grateful for my post secondary education. I’m not sure how I got into university. I had a very unimpressive high school average but by some miracle I got in. I earned two degrees. I guess I was learning to learn. Education is the key to a lot of things: freedom, experience, knowledge, curiosity. It showed me how little I actually knew and that made me want it more.
39. The career of teaching…has taught me ALOT.
40. Not being shy anymore. I believe that people don’t really change. Unless they do a ton of work or go through something life changing people generally stay the same. It’s just too much work. However, I scaled that mountain of shyness. I have changed. And I’m glad I did.
41. I am grateful for being an artist.
42. I have had the privilege of watching babies be born and helped Mamas through it. It’s one of the most powerful things I have witnessed.
43. I understand that what people say, their opinions of me, are none of my business. After all, they are just opinions. If I do sit with something someone said, it’s from a thoughtful impartial place.
45. I take a lot of photos. They record changes and similarities from day to day and they have, over all, shown me what a sweet little life I have made, as well as how I look at the world and what I notice.
46. My belief that as I reach for more I can have it.
47. Letting go when I need to.
48. I am grateful for aging.
49. All the good people who have given to me unconditionally, with nothing to gain, who gave me literal and metaphorical space, held me emotionally and in their arms, were generous in time and money. I’m so lucky.
50. I am grateful to have been baptized. It was a perfect point of reference for my spiritual journey.
51. The delicious magic that comes out of the kitchen, the pleasures of the senses in cooking and my ability to dish up a yummy meal from scratch.
52. Journaling: One day I’ll go back and read them all and laugh or shake my head. Maybe toss them into a big ol’ bon fire while I drink champagne straight out of the bottle!
There I go. 52 things I am grateful for.
Happy birthday to me.
*Balloons were created lovingly by a special teen I know through Balloon Bar YQR