Making Wishes

I can tell you with total honesty that almost every wish that I ever made never came true.  I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I planned did not go the way I hoped or anticipated.  I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I thought would happen for me, or to me, didn’t.

TWO wishes (or plans or hopes, whatever you like to call them) did; when I found out I was going to have to become a mother, I wished, desperately, for a girl, and later, when I signed up for my very first college classes after her first birthday, I wished to do better in every class than everybody else.  Those are the only two things that “worked out” for me.  Nearly 50 years of making wishes and only two actually came to be.  This is not a woe-is-me pity-party blog, this is simply a recognition that life can be rather splendid even when nothing really ever goes your way, because I can tell you with total honesty that hardly anything ever went my way, and still, I am really happy.

I have many memories of making wishes as I blew out my candles on birthday cakes year after year.  I never stopped wishing, I never stopped dreaming, and I never stopped thinking “always on the bright side.”  I never stopped making “plenty of deposits in my karmic bank.”  I just simply felt, believed maybe, that life is a whole lot better when you remain optimistic.  EVERY day doing your best to find a silver lining, because, well, why not?  There will always be clouds so you might as well look for the silver linings.  Which brings me to the paragraphs about silver linings…

Here is a photo of me on my 20th birthday as my baby tries to blow out my candles.

Here is a photo of me on my 40th birthday as her baby tries to blow out my candles.

I can tell you with total honesty that somehow, although hardly a thing went the way I hoped it would go, and hardly a thing happened the way I wished it would happen, here I am, just weeks before my 50th birthday, silver lining seeker that I am, completely overwhelmed with one simple fact that has followed me for all the years of my life on this earth; I have loved, and been loved, more than I ever could have possibly wished for.  On even my darkest days the silver lining of my life is that I always had somebody to love, and knew that somebody loved me.  While it’s true many people judge their success or failure in life by what they have amassed or achieved or attained, if we choose instead to judge success by how much love we have given, and have been given, I feel like I could be a winner.

During the summer I was in line at the market at the beach where I work and a lady in front of me was buying lots of “goodies,” muffins, cookies, chocolate milk…and I said to her, “that is a fun bag of groceries you have there.”  She said how excited she was, that she was going to see her grandchildren that day, and that she had not seen them in over a year.  She was wearing a diamond ring on her finger that was as big as a dime.  She had a handbag on her shoulder that cost more than I earn in a month.  She had on Tory Burch flip-flops that cost 10 times what I paid for my Havaianas, and she had not seen her grandchildren in over a year…you want to talk about feeling rich??!!  I said to her that I hoped she had a great visit and that I live next door to mine.  “You live next door to your grandchildren?” she asked, and then she said, “I would give anything to have that.”  A lady who left the market and got into a car that cost more than I make in three years of work, with her fancy purse, and her big fat engagement ring, in her $198 flip-flops would probably really love it if she saw her grandchildren more than once a year…I felt like I could be a winner…

We all value the elements of being alive, the experiences of life if you will, differently, and while I am sure many people would rather be rich than loved, since I am far from rich, and I have no idea what it would feel like anyway, to have plenty of money and to not worry, month after month about it, so clearly I can’t  compare them, but I do know what it feels like to be loved, and it feels really, really good.

When I am around my wonderful parents, I sometimes think, if you are lucky enough to have parents like mine, then, you’re lucky enough!  When my handsome affectionate drummer boyfriend smiles at me or kisses me, and my toes curl and my spine tingles and my belly gets those butterflies, I think to myself, I am crazy in love with this man and oh how I wish we met when we were young, because I could have been feeling like this for the last 33 years!  When my daughter texts me a photo of her radio screen while she’s in her car, showing a song that she used to love, and bringing up my memory of her singing her heart out to it beside me in the car when she was little, I feel loved. When my granddaughters lean into me for hugs as their school bus pulls up to the driveway, or thank me for some kindness, or text me out of the blue, I feel loved.   It might have a value of ZERO to many, to have those feelings, and that is okay for them, but it turns out for me, it’s a bit of a big deal.

It’s certainly no way to  keep up with the Joneses, as you really can’t compare your cars or your vacations to a text I received with heart emojis from a little kid…you simply can’t compare material things to love things.  In these many years on this planet, at least that I’ve  learned.  While it’s true that all my years of making wishes on birthday cake candles did nothing really, in the big scheme of things, here I am  loving and being loved in ways that some might only dream of.  So funny really, for me, this is what ‘came true,’ and it was nothing I ever even wished for…

 

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I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been…

I am soon having a birthday, three weeks actually.  I am told it’s a “big” birthday, but I love my birthday any year, every year, so to me they are all pretty big, but I get it, this is quite the thought, to have been alive for a half of a century to celebrate the “big 5-0!”  I will not be at home for this birthday, and I will not be with my mom and dad for this day and I will not be with my daughter, or her daughters, for this day.  I will be with the man who makes my heart sing, in Mexico, at a resort, on a beach, probably drinking a very non-whole30-compliant cocktail, maybe for breakfast actually.  A trip we saved up for, for years, and while we have watched many, all really, of our friends and families take vacations, and wished them a good time and safe travels, we were always wishing for when it would be ‘our time,’ and here it is, our time to have an adventure together!  I am planning to be beside some sort of Mayan ruin in Tulum on the day my parents celebrate the day they first became parents, and I suspect I will be thinking about where I have been, and where I have yet to get, and how infinitesimally small I am in the big picture, in the big scheme of things, in our big galaxy, in our big universe on my “big day.”

I have been many things in these years on this earth; I have been a much wanted baby daughter, I have been a much confused teenage girl, I have been a not very well cared for wife, I have been a read a book every night I tuck you into bed mother, I have been a cheated on girlfriend, I have been a top of her class college graduate, I have been a hard worker, I have been a prosecutor’s office volunteer report writer, I have been a pack a day smoker, I have been a person who quit smoking, I have been a read a book before I tuck you into bed Nana, I have been a design your own house with your mom and build your own house with your dad woman, and I have been a so lazy on a Sunday all I did was go from my bed to my sofa and crochet and watch Pride and Prejudice in front of the fire kind of person…

I have been many things to many people, and I have been many things to myself…I have been so blissfully happy and I have been so breathtakingly devastated.  I have been so proud and I have been so disappointed.  I have been so fearless and I have been so scared.  I have been so confident and I have been so embarrassed.  I have been so strong and I have been so weak…I have been a shoulder for a friend to cry upon and I have needed a friend to cry to…

If I have learned anything as I begin my 51st trip around the sun, it’s that I can be and have been, whatever or whoever I need to be, when I need to be her.  I have loved so much that I thought I might explode, and I have hated so much that I thought I might actually be capable of violence…it is amazing when you think about different moments of the life you have lived and realize how so very far you have come and what you have experienced, and yet, how there is so very much you still want to do…

I saw a photo a few weeks ago that said “Wonder Woman is a state of mind” and I have been thinking about those words since I saw it.  I have become the person I needed to become for every situation I have lived through thus far.  I’ve also had a lot of thoughts these last few weeks about the life I still have to live ahead of me, and what ought I do with the lessons and experiences that were my “before.”  Like most women, I guess perhaps men too, I am not at ALL where I thought I would “be” by the time I turned 50, and I never achieved the success I worked to reach, or the financial comfort I worked to secure, or the world travel I hoped to enjoy, but I did learn a lot in these years on this big blue ball…of ALL the things I have learned I suppose the most important is that I can get through anything, as  I found out, sometimes really by accident, and sometimes in the most painful and horrid ways, and I am MUCH stronger than I thought.

I found out that I can take a lot of upset and still come out smiling and hopeful, and full of optimism for another day.  I found out that I can handle so much more than I expected I could.  I found out that even when you think you can not take one more breath because things are just not going your way, you inhale again and things somehow sort themselves out…not necessarily how you wanted them to sort out, or maybe the resulting outcome you were expecting did not materialize, but you wake up the next day and the sun is coming up and you survived hours that you thought might finally be the hours that do you in…

These are all the BIG thoughts I am thinking as I near this BIG day.  As I write this morning, this day is the 1st anniversary of my daughter’s new marriage, and the speech I wrote for her that day started with, “as a parent, you can’t wish for much more for your child than for her to be happy and loved” and as I think about those words, I think maybe as a person, you can’t wish for much more than this for yourself, than to be happy and to be loved…and here I am, both.

I don’t know how much more blessed or lucky I could hope to be as this birthday nears…I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been, and my heart keeps on beating and loving and growing, and I keep dreaming and imagining and planning…I never stop believing that the things I think are important, do matter, and I never stop believing that every day I can make some difference in some way to some body, and that being positive is good for my mind and my body and for the people around me…I have far to go but I have come so very far and I am, after all, the author of the rest of my story…

Cross Words

I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a person can have so much hate in his heart, and for himself, that he would plan to kill dozens of people who just wanted to have fun at a concert listening to live music, outside, in a city.  I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a person can have so much disregard, anger, derangement, I don’t know WHAT to call it, that would make a person want to kill people he did not know and who did not do him wrong, in a mass shooting.  I have been trying these last few days to wrap my head around how a man can order equipment to modify guns that he already owns so that the only purpose of the modification is to kill a large number of people in the shortest number of minutes.  I guess what I can’t understand is what words must have been going around his head during all of this planning…

I understand ‘crimes of passion’ like when you walk in on your husband making out with his secretary, or find your wife in the backseat of your car with your gardener…I get that.  I get it, that that kind of fury could make a person pull a gun and kill the person who is causing the pain.  I do not “get” what must be in a person’s brain to bust out windows in a hotel suite and take the weapons that he modified to randomly shoot people who he did not know, so my mind has been heavy with thoughts about what words we let linger in our brains.  An unthinkable attack, by a man who obviously thought a lot about what he wanted to do and was going to do.

The words that we let sit or swirl or rot in between our ears becomes our hour after hour narrative.  I feel like a mentally ill person who has access to weapons probably has a very different internal narrative than a man or woman who enjoys venison or elk and has guns for hunting, or a husband and wife who like to shoot clay pigeons for fun on weekends in the fall.  I think that there is nothing wrong with having a gun for hunting or sport or if you are one of those fearful folks who “needs protection” then fine, even to have a gun to feel you can better protect your family and your home, okay, I get that…but none of those things are related to a mentally unstable person and his choice to murder numbers of strangers. The narrative that would make a person purchase many more guns than a “normal” or “reasonable” person would ever need for any thing, and modify some of them to be nothing more than killing machines I imagine, is not at all the same narrative as that of a man who goes to Cabela’s for a new gun for deer season.

I think about the words that must have been going through that man’s brain, and wonder what happened to him in his life that would make him think whatever he was thinking, to want to hurt so many people.  How much hate for others and hate for himself must have been living in his brain?  How many cross words must he have been thinking, over and over and over, to do what he did?  It makes me terribly sad.  The words that we, the collective WE, let live inside of us, I believe become us…think happy thoughts, just like Peter Pan told us to, really matters to me…happy brain, happy everything.

“Do good work.  Be Kind.”  I say these words every single day at 7:06 am and again at 8:07, first to a seventh grader with brown hair and brown eyes, and lastly to a fourth grader with blonde hair and green eyes.  My Nana duties include getting each of my granddaughters on the bus every day as their mother gets ready for her work day as a school teacher.  I decided on the first day of school  that I would say these words every morning to each child.  I decided that life is hard, no matter who you are or where you are or how old you are, and that it is possible that my words each day are the ones that would linger longest in their little growing brains each morning, and that it matters, very much what those words might be and how the words might make these children feel.  I feel so sad for these families of the 58 victims of the shooting in Las Vegas.  I feel so sad for mothers who lost their daughters and fathers who lost their sons and brothers who now have no sister and girls who now have no boyfriend and so on and so on…I feel terribly sad for all of these people who lost somebody and I feel terribly sad for the killer…I feel angry of course, and wronged as a civil law-abiding human, BUT I do feel sad that somebody could have so much suffering awfulness in his head for so long.  Cross words linger and rot and poison and I think if we could all just try a little bit harder to say kind words, to express love, to comfort and care, it could, however infinitesimally, make the world a better place…