On Monday, I turned 55. There are days when I feel it, and days when I don’t. Most days I don’t feel my age—I don’t think about it at all, and I essentially exist out of time. And though I will always answer truthfully when asked my age (or round up — I know, it’s backwards), I usually feel somewhere in my late 30s. Birthdays and mirrors can therefore be a bit of a shock.
This year was an unusual birthday celebration, since I am back in South Carolina for at least another week, and therefore away from my sweetheart. I woke up to a birthday card he’d sent along with me (and another from my aunt, who came to offer respite care for me so I could get home last week for my own medical treatment). I woke up to a text from one of my best friends, and another from my daughter who is overseas in the Peace Corps. My husband sang “happy birthday” to me on the phone, and did a marvelous job in each of the four keys he chose for his rendition. My parents wished me a happy birthday with a card and a gift. I spoke by phone with my other daughter, heard by text from my brother , and got email photos of the best hand-made birthday card from my nieces and nephews. And there were scores of messages on FB and other social media.
All in all, it was a good day. And I realize I have posted about several good—even great—days lately. And I got to thinking that all this good news doesn’t give you a true idea of things.
Because, in fact, yesterday might have been okay, but it was not actually a great day.
I am, at heart, a homebody, and I have been away from home too long. I would be ever so much more chill about that if Morris was here with me, but of course he is home with our cat, teaching tai chi and qigong classes and largely fending for himself (though I did manage to cook three dishes for him while I was home for a couple days last week, so he’d have home-cooked food). I’ve been here in South Carolina for five weeks (so far), with only 2-1/2 days at home. Plus I was away from home for two weeks in late January/early February to visit other family in North Carolina. It’s been wearing. It’s been frustrating. It’s been lonely, even.
And I share this in hopes that you will realize that all the “wins” you’ve been seeing are not the whole of my story. Those wins are real, and are—in the case of having my cards and art in Cape May—quite literally a dream come true.
But there’s a lot that isn’t going well just now. I feel untethered. I miss my husband and my house and my cat. I miss my studio and my art supplies. I miss the ability to play music or watch what I want on TV, if that’s what I want to do. I miss cooking dinner. I miss my light-colored walls, miss being able to burn incense if I want, miss setting my own schedule each day. I mean, I set a schedule here, but it’s very much dictated by the demands of my father’s feeding tube.
So, yes, I’m excited to have artwork on display in the Monroe Township Public Library in Williamstown, NJ. That’s a big win! What I didn’t tell you is that I’ve had two recent instances where my work wasn’t accepted, one with a private entity and one with a state organization. And yes, I’m thrilled about having my work listed on Fine Art America, and represented in The Grand Galleria in Williamstown, and at Mystic Ginger Collective in Blackwood. But so far, I don’t believe anything of mine has sold at those locations. And yes yes yes, I am over the moon at having my greeting cards and artwork in Olde Pear Primitives in Cape May, but of course the store hasn’t opened yet, and also that niggling voice of “what if” keeps coming to whisper in my ear. I do the best I can to ignore it, of course, but still . . .tl; dr
All of which is to say—and if you are still here and reading this, thank you—that I appreciate you being here, and want you to know that my life is just as messy as anyone else’s. Yes I’ve had wins, which have been on display, but there are a bunch of other losses along the way, both business-wise and on a personal level. So please know that if you are struggling, I see you. If you have been reading my public-facing stuff and thinking “wow, she’s got it so good”, this post is to remind you that public-facing stuff isn’t the full extent of any life. And that life is inherently messy. I know I’ve sometimes read posts by other people and felt a bit envious that they are succeeding, especially if it’s during a time when I feel like I’m . . . not.
But here’s the thing: I believe that we can all succeed. Yes, at the same time. I believe that life isn’t a competition. That we all deserve to feel safe and accepted and loved. That we all deserve to take whatever actions are necessary for us to achieve that. That your success does not mean that I have failed in some way, or am less-than (and that my successes don’t take away from or diminish yours in any way). I believe that we all deserve to be happy, and that we can choose happiness for ourselves, and then choose it yet again.
If you are a long-time reader here, you know I believe that we can choose to be happy. And you also know that I understand that we all have what I call fallow periods, where we aren’t necessarily getting a ton accomplished. In fact, I wrote a post about fallow times, and about how important self-care is during those time periods, and it was just what I needed to remind myself of today. And please know that part of what I’ve been doing (and you’ve been seeing) is me celebrating my wins, whether they are large or small. Because celebration goes with gratitude, and all of that raises your vibe or your energy and can lead to a happier life. Here’s my post from last year on “Six ways to celebrate the little things.” It’s me choosing abundance, something I strongly encourage you to do, even though (as I wrote here) an abundant life doesn’t mean things are always easy.
So this is me, raising my glass to you. Here’s to another trip around the sun, and to choosing happiness, self-care, celebration, and abundance.