I had a birthday this week. And I liked it.

Not that it’s probably been obvious to anyone reading this blog, but I’ve been experiencing a major shift inside for the past few months. A positive one. I’ve pondered many times how to explain it, but just can’t ever seem to put it into words. I can only say that a few months ago, I seemed to reach a sort of crossroads. Things that previously might have made me feel bitter and angry … well, they no longer dig so deep. Like I said, I can’t really explain it yet. I can only say that for the longest time, I felt like I was who I was and that I could never change. And my faith, while always important to me, had grown so very stagnant. Until something shifted inside, and suddenly … maybe not suddenly … more like gradually, but steadily, there began this whole new outlook. An entirely new sense of peace and belief and positivity began to seep in that wasn’t there before. And the more I feel it, the more I want to feed it.

Like I said, not that you might have realized it just from reading this blog. I’ve mostly tried to keep things upbeat around here. And if I was writing in a positive manner, I was truly feeling it. But if I was feeling a little dark inside, well I usually wasn’t writing it. But believe me, I felt it at times, that darkness. In my entire life, there’s been a side of me that’s been steadily bitter, sarcastic or disbelieving at certain times. Things were what they were. And maybe it’s only the things I told myself …  Some things will never change. This is as good as it gets. Don’t get me wrong. I knew that my good as it gets was pretty damn good. Still, it was this feeling that there could be nothing more. That I had no power to do or be or have the things I thought were out of my reach. But there came a point where I heard from deep down inside myself, But what if there is more? And what if so much of it is just up to me?

Anyway, that’s about as much as I can do to explain it. The whole point of all that is to say today, that this change made my having a birthday this week an entirely new and great experience.

I feel pretty fortunate to have reached this age, (closer to fifty than not,) and feel as good as I do. But as I’ve grown older, I have so much preferred to celebrate birthdays quietly. I removed my birthday from my Faceb00k profile before last year’s big day, to try to keep it under wraps. It didn’t work. Someone inevitably posts a birthday wish on my timeline and my other Faceb00k friends can’t help but notice. Soon the birthday greetings are pouring in from all over. Which is great except that I’ve always felt slightly undeserving for some reason of so much affection. I’ve never been comfortable being the center of attention. Someone forgot to tell my husband. He’s thrown me two surprise birthday parties over the years!

As my birthday approached on Wednesday, I knew my coworkers would make it known. I’ve been a party to many a stealth cubicle decorating. I’ve made birthday treats for the person of honor and helped announce to the entire office that someone was turning another year older. I knew I would have to take my turn. And when I woke up Wednesday morning, I made a mental decision to embrace it all instead of shy away from it.

When I arrived at work, my suspicions were confirmed. My birthday was being celebrated. You can’t quite tell from the photos, but no one was going to miss the fact that I was having a birthday.

There was nothing so different about my birthday this year as compared to previous ones. But somehow it felt bigger. It felt as if everyone who walked by my festively decorated cubicle at work poked their head in to wish me a sincerely happy day. There were treats – cupcakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls, caramel brownies and candy. One coworker, Diane always sings the Casey Jones Happy Birthday song to anyone celebrating their big day. In the past, I’d shy away from being sung to in the middle of the office. This time, I stood before her and proudly accepted her gift of the birthday song.

It was hard to get anything done at work that day. And it was a busy week with several deadlines! I was frantically trying to put together an important presentation for Monday morning. And yet somehow I managed to finish it by Friday afternoon.

My kids worked together (… let me repeat … my kids worked together!) to secretly order birthday flowers to be delivered to my office. This was no small feat. I work for the affiliate of the main company, in a branch location which relocated almost two years ago. Apparently the interwebs haven’t been updated very well with the new physical address, making it all that much more impressive that my birthday flowers found their way to me.

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After work, Mark and I went out to dinner and celebrated quietly. My food wasn’t that great, but he enjoyed his and shared with me. And our waiter was very attentive and personable. And Mark and I talked and found things to laugh about. And it was just nice.  I’d received cards in the mail, and a birthday call from my dad. My sister left a gift bag hanging on my front door while I was out to dinner. All day long, I was made aware of how many great people I have in my life and how fortunate I am to have them.

A coworker  whose birthday is coming up next month insisted she wanted no acknowledgement of her birthday when it came time. I don’t want any more birthdays, she insisted. I know she didn’t mean it so literally, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. If we truly wish to not see another birthday, aren’t we wishing to quit living?

And I guess I’ve decided that I’m not ready to quit living. I’m tired of thinking that I’m at where I’m at and all that’s left is to ride out the remaining years as is. And I’m tired of letting negativity work its way inside of me and bring me down. I know there will be times when it will be harder to fight off than others. But I think I sometimes have a choice in this. Of course it’s so much easier for me to see today than it was thirty years ago, but life here on this earth is short. I want to be making the most of whatever time I have here. I have opportunities to keep growing and learning and being a better person than I was yesterday. I don’t have to remain stuck in the same place day after day, year after year.

The birthday goodies and celebration stretched out clear through Friday! It was fun to have visitors stop by my cubicle periodically to keep chipping away at all the sugar that had been contributed in honor of me turning another year older. People were still wishing me a happy birthday yesterday. Several times, I was asked if I did anything fun on my birthday. My response was that I’d been having fun all week-long. And it was entirely true.

Seventy-One

We celebrated my mom’s birthday here yesterday. I’m happy to say that it was a very nice party with a complete lack of family drama. (Okay, maybe one twelve-year old nephew now considers me Mean Old Auntie Terri because I wouldn’t let him catapult off my love seat, torment the dog or eat his dinner in front of a Rob Schneider movie instead of at the table with the rest of the family. But other than that, it was a great party!)

My youngest brother smoked a huge beef roast in his smoker. I made the potatoes and gravy and put together a veggie platter. My sister made glazed carrots and dinner rolls. It was all delicious!

My sister also proved to be an artist in the birthday cake department.

It's a bouquet of flowers! It's a cake! It's the best of both worlds!

And there was picture-taking for posterity’s sake.

Mom and her "baby" and some of the grandkids too

Mom and her favorite (and only) daughters

It was such a successful party, I’m tempted to do it again! But maybe I’ll wait another year! ;-)

Celebrating

While other parts of the country were battling extreme weather today, things were quiet here. It was cold, but considering the alternative, I wasn’t complaining.

We did have cause for celebration in the office today though.

No, I’m not talking about Groundhog Day. Quite honestly, I totally forgot about Punxatawney Phil for most of the day, but I did hear he’s predicting an early spring, so, thanks for that, Phil. Can spring begin next week, maybe?

Actually, we celebrated Sally’s birthday today. Birthdays are serious business around our office and if you’re the guest of honor, you can plan on being honored all day long. Diane is the designated party planner and she’s always got a hand-made card designed with the guest of honor in mind. In the weeks before a birthday, the card is passed around and everyone signs it, offering sincere good wishes for a very happy birthday. There are party decorations and everyone makes sure you feel special the whole day through.

Since Sally is Diane’s sister, Diane wanted to make her day extra special. She brought in mini cupcakes and brownies with pink and white frosting and sprinkles. But treats and goodies aren’t all that unusual when there’s a birthday to celebrate. What made today’s celebration unique is that Diane brought in a little something for every person in the office so that we could pretty up our lips and give Sally the biggest smiles possible for her birthday.

Botox, anyone?

Diane’s surprise was a big hit and there was lots of laughter!

What do you think? Good look for me? …… Nah!