Life Notes: Happy Birthday to Me
Looking forward to another year

I’m a December baby. My late mother loved to tell her dramatic tale of barely making it to the hospital in Philadelphia because of the pre-Christmas traffic. She was whisked to the delivery room and in 10 minutes, there I was.

I sometimes wonder whether that particular circumstance led to how I always seem to be a little dazed in the world. I try to fathom how I got to be the age I am. Why weeks whiz by, months vanish and now, even years glide off while my back is turned.

I’m using my birthday month to take stock of who I am and who I want to be. Let others make their resolutions in January. I rush the season.

One thing’s for sure. This is the year I want to experience serenity. The deep, real kind that frees your mind from every to-do list.

I want to wake up like a cat, slowly, languorously stretching, instead of waking up in a panic about the phone calls that must be made, deadlines that must be met and yes, the returns that are overdue at various stores. Returns, in my life, remind me of follies, lapses in judgment and impulse buying, to which I plead guilty. And then there’s the real zinger: I can never, ever find the receipts I need. It’s humiliating and exasperating.

OK, on to the bigger stuff.

I want to be a better wife to a man who has put up with my worst self. I want to be on time because that’s important to him – and I seldom am. I want to make him chocolate pudding the old-fashioned way, not because it’s his birthday, but because it’s not.

I want to tell my daughters I love them more than I can describe.

I want to work on ditching my insecurities, the ones that I’ve carried from my pre-teen years right through the autumn of my life. It’s a common ailment in women. I was too short. I hated my hair and yes, my toes. I blush to admit that I still do.

So let this be the year when I celebrate a body that’s healthy, if imperfect. And let me remember to tell younger women not to stress out over sags and a little weight gain.

When did I start surrendering to the terrible words “I can’t dance.” Everybody can dance in some way. But I’ve let myself drift into the “can’t” stance because I’m not very good anymore at dance floor maneuvers. I want to work on that this year.

I want to have the courage to dance, however badly, just because it’s fun.

This birthday year, I want to surrender some of my need for predictability. Sameness gets to be comfortable, like an old bathrobe. And believe me, I know about old bathrobes.

I want to do something unexpected that will make my daughters say, “Wow! Good for you!”

I want to spend at least one uninterrupted weekend with each of my seven grandchildren – just the two of us. I want to know them better before they really go off into their grown-up lives. I won’t try to change or teach or mold them. I’ll just try to really learn them.

And yes, I want to continue to write about ordinary life, because it’s my way of talking to you, and to myself. I don’t want to write the great American novel. I just want to keep writing about what it means to be human, flawed, vulnerable and with all of that, also brave and strong. Yes, so much indeed to cram into one birthday year. Wish me luck!

December 2015
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