Gifts from the Birthday Fairy

Well it is that time of year again, my BIRTHDAY!  One more kick-ass journey around the sun!  I have always been a big fan of birthdays.  They were a highly celebrated event in my folks' house and still are as far as my momma is concerned.  She is the kind of hostess that if you go to a birthday dinner with her, EVERYONE gets a present.  All of them wrapped so lovely and sitting up on the plates when you go sit down at the table.  The only birthday I can safely say just sucked was my 30th.  It was one of "those" years.  The ones where we, as women, assess every little detail that we utterly hate about our lives.  I was wallowing in the "I've met none of my life goals" misery and sat in my kitchen crying, drinking bourbon, and letting a friend slap some hair color on some gray hair.  Not a good time.  Luckily I managed to get my big girl panties on and move forward.  That a damn good bottle of champagne can fix just about anything.

We have a tradition in our family on birthdays.  Before you get to eat your cake or open your presents, you have to answer two questions.  One is "What have you learned this year?" and the other is "What is your favorite memory of the last year?"   I can't remember how long ago they started or why.  You can rest assured it was my momma's idea.  She loves that stuff and though we all grumble, we secretly love it too.  It really is good to take an assessment along the way.  She has a saying that I often quote to my kiddos I teach, "Life is marked by events".  It is an important thing to do, I think.  It is just too easy to just keep plugging through everyday life.  It is so good for the soul to create special moments and I think there is an acquired art to that.  One that I continue to try and refine frequently.   

It has been a big year in the lesson department for me (as usual).  My biggest lesson learned, I believe, is that staying the course has some truly profound rewards.  Rewards that may not be obvious at first, but reveal themselves both in really subtle and a-ha moment ways.  This lesson has been driven home everywhere; in my personal relationships, in my gardening, in my culinary adventures, in my job.  The universe (God) has this super cool way of being just in time and I am always so glad I didn't quit or give up along the way when I wasn't seeing the instant results I thought I should.   Patience is indeed a virtue, as the proverb goes.   

I think I have a basket full of favorite memories.  They begin with Steven moving here from Atlanta this past January, memories of watching the garden come to life, reconnecting with old friends, cooking beautiful food, being at the cove on the lake, long dinners with good wine and laughter and conversation with great friends and family, memories of watching students learn about who they really are and helping them create peace out of chaos, watching my niece and nephews grow into more beautiful, complex little people everyday, silent, wooded walks with the dog, being on the quarry with great girlfriends, late night laughter with the man I love, Chicago with my momma and sis, coffee on Sunday mornings, hay rides on autumn evenings.  So many beautiful snapshots of the last year.  Those are the real gifts.  Those are the presents that shine and sparkle, the blessings that give me joy and define what the celebration is really about.  So I am a humbled and grateful birthday girl, which, in my annual life assessment, is exactly where I am supposed to be I believe.  Thank you, Birthday Fairy.

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