Happy birthday to my one and only

That would be Rob, he is my one and only, and today is his day.

I saw this recently, and it’s perfect:

How easy sleep comes
when some piece of me touches
any piece of you.        Tyler Knott Greyson

He’s been off on a road trip to visit family, and I’ve been on a little trip of my own. Today we’ll reconnect, and celebrate the beginning of his new year, and know it’s all good.

And tonight we’ll sleep, hearts touching, just as it should be.

Version 2

 

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Stephanie’s day

Happy birthday to Stephanie!

I’m a fortunate woman to know the joy of motherhood and the joy of adult children. And when I say “joy,” I mean just that.

It takes a while for the transition to occur…and I’ll speak for myself, and not the whole world of mothers here…for a long time I thought of myself in relation to my kids as “mom.” And of course that’s natural. That’s the beginning of the relationship, and for 18-plus years that was the defining role I experienced with them. And it continues, in the biological sense. Sometimes I slip into that mindset for a particular conversation or situation.

But mostly, now, I feel like we’re friends. And that’s a rich reservoir of emotion and experience.

And though I know that friendship between mother and children, mother and daughter, is not uncommon, it’s not a given. So I’m grateful it’s been given to me.

It’s an amazing thing to watch the flowering of adults, the only ones in the world that I’ve known so intimately since birth, and to be privileged to see their lives unfold, develop, mature…there’s an enduring bond that ties my heart to theirs.

Stephanie has been a gift to my life, the beginning of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, teaching me responsibility and forcing me to grow up in ways I couldn’t anticipate, until I found myself doing and stretching, learning because I was on the job and had to rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion might be.

She still teaches me, shares with me, makes me beam with pride.

She’s a daughter who is a mother, and a great one. She’s a daughter who is a friend, and a special one. She’s a daughter who is a woman, and an amazing one.

She’s my Stephanie, and a part of my heart that is walking around outside my body.

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone

Stephanie's Birthday card

Birthday joys

Today is my birthday, and I’ve already heard from so many of my family and friends. So fun to see the notes on Facebook or the texts on my phone, to have morning calls and birthday cards. All sweet!

I had an amazing pre-birthday last weekend, and that was sweet too. Spent a long weekend in Sonoma County and soaked up warmth, sun, delicious food, biking, and beautiful scenery. What a treat that was! Driving the winding country roads, seeing the grapes hanging ready for harvest, stopping to make a photo of a picturesque view or beautiful winery was the perfect way to end the summer. More about that later…that trip deserves much more than a passing mention in today’s post!

Looking across the valley

Looking across the valley outside Healdsburg, CA

DSC00788

Chateau Montelena, Calistoga, CA

Harvest time!

Harvest time!

And on Thursday this week, I accepted an offer on the house. This is from the same couple that looked at it before, so we’ve already gone through the nitty-gritty of inspection, appraisal, offer and counter. They came back with a better deal, so now closing looks set for October 10th.

Aaahhh.

I remind myself again..life works out. Not always as I thought, and certainly not always neat and tidy, or even as I’d like. The house is still selling at a loss. But it is selling, and I won’t have to live through a 2+ year street replacement project. (Apparently that doesn’t trouble these buyers.) If I thought this was a forever home, it would be worth it. But that’s not the case.

As to what’s next, that’s still up in the air. For now, completing some fall work commitments, a break for the holidays, spending time catching up with family, and taking time out to make a good decision is the plan. The things that will ship out will go to storage in Seattle, so that’s an easy solution for a while.

Aaahhh.

I’ll admit my anxiety level has been high. Nice to see some light peeking through the clouds, and to acknowledge: it’s important to step back, take a breath, await events. I learn again that solutions sometimes come, not at once, but at last. And there’s probably a reason for that.

I can’t see the reason at the moment. I certainly can’t make sense of the house selling at a loss, and I’m not suggesting that there’s divine meaning behind everything. Just that I find it helpful to evaluate…is there a lesson here? Some takeaway I should file for future reference? Sometimes I get it, and sometimes not. Or maybe I’m overthinking.

But regardless…today is a good day, and I’m thankful to be spending at least a part of it sorting and boxing, taking up that task again.

And I think about “next” and the options on the horizon. There’s a piece of my brain that wonders about all this. I’m 54 today. Shouldn’t I be snug and dug in?

Yes, that would make sense, so of course that’s out.

The funny thing is I don’t see myself as the adventure loving type, not really. I’ve stumbled into some interesting choices, but I’ll be honest to say that’s been more a result of following the leader, rather than my own instincts.

But I’m curiously excited by the chance to mix it all up again, to live in anticipation, to wonder where the next birthday will be. And today, it’s enough that I can dream as I sort, letting my imagination roam at will, thinking about the constants in my life that keep me sane, regardless of the mailing address.

Faith. Family. Friends. That’s security, and that’s continuity.

The rest is just temporary anyway, and I know that more surely today than on any of my previous birthdays. It’s a good thing to understand, a good place to land.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Well, I’m breaking one of my blogging rules. I like to spend some time catching up, reading favorite blogs, answering comments, posting a few of my own, before I launch a new post. But with a week of little ones and work to fill my time, blogging has been on the back burner. I’m still recovering from having an 18 month old running around my house, and a four-year old that has a million questions and opinions. It was a joy, every minute of it, but not conducive to writing.

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, and I’ve done the standard things. I wished her happy birthday by phone, and with a Facebook post, and sent a gift, and we’re planning a girls’ night out in August when we’ll have a little visit in Seattle. But I wanted to do it one more way, marking the moment here, putting it in writing because I’m not there to say it in person.

It’s not a momentous birthday, 74, although really they all are, whether it’s a decade milestone or just a somewhere-in-the-middle number. We are 20 years apart, she and I, my big day lagging a few months behind hers.

Marking the moment

Marking the moment

This photo was made a few birthdays ago when she was up for a visit. She’s a traveler, that being part of her life’s work as a Christian missionary, along with my dad, to many locations, most in Asia. So a little trip to Ketchikan is just opportunity to see another part of the world. And when she’s visited, we’ve seen bears, and eagles, and done a little cooking and a little sampling of the local fare. She’s sat in my living room and seen the float planes and the cruise ships that dock just beneath my windows.

But mostly, visits are about connecting, whether in Alaska or her home in Mississippi.

My mom is one of a kind, an amazing woman in so many ways. This was my tribute to her a couple of years ago, and it sums up perfectly the mom I know, who has been dear to so many, and made a difference with her life.

Happy Birthday to my mom, the one and only Betty.

~ Sheila

She’s thirty

Stephanie & Jack

Stephanie & Jack

Friday, November 1st, and we’re heading to Seattle for a long weekend. We’re going down to celebrate, and mark the moment, and wonder where the time has gone. Stephanie turns thirty – 30! – tomorrow. I’ve joked that I’m not sure who is more traumatized between us. I think it’s me. She’s actually excited to be leaving the 20s behind, and feel that she’s fully a member of the adult world.

I’m excited for her. She’s a wife, and a mom, and a teacher, a home-owner, a tax payer. She sees this milestone as a cap to a decade of growth and achievement. A Type-A first-born, she powers through to her goals.

I’m nostalgic. I vaguely remember my mom turning thirty. I clearly remember myself turning thirty. I’m utterly astonished that my daughter could be hitting this marker. Decade birthdays cause reflection, my daughter’s no less than my own. I look at her and have flashbacks to earlier years. Photos and videos tell her story, interwoven with lives of family, friends, and now, her husband and little ones.

I’m proud. She’s funny and smart and pretty, and she’s kind. She follows her faith. She’s organized and creative. She remembers birthdays, calls her grandparents. She’s a better mom than I think I was…firmer, and more disciplined. She’s a strong woman.

I’m humbled. Motherhood will do that. From birth to now, I’ve watched her grow, with awe. She is unique, as all individuals are; yet watching her develop has taught me that from mother to child, the generations repeat the rhythms of life. I hear her talk about Riley and Jack, about her life and her epiphanies, and I identify. Yes, I remember feeling that. I learned that lesson too. I’ve experienced the same emotions as she does. I’m just a few years further along the path. And with the vision of my 53 year-old eyes, I see that my mom, and my grandmothers before, did the same things, said the same things. We are linked by blood, but maybe more importantly, by common experience. With all the changes in the world, we are much the same at heart. Technology and fashions change. Love doesn’t.

One of my favorite quotes of motherhood says that once you have a child, your heart is forever walking around outside your body. That’s more true today than the day she was born. The love for the newborn grows and matures, just like the person. And now, thirty years rich with experience and memory, that love is a deep current that flows between us, mother and daughter. Not often spoken, but always there.

One of my favorite things about now is the ability to talk. We talk daily. Sometimes multiple times a day, usually short exchanges that keep us connected and rooted in the other’s life. The minute-to-minute events of childhood or traffic or a new haircut are the stuff of our conversations. Mostly. Sometimes we wander into deeper stuff, baring our hearts for a few minutes. But largely, through the magic of technology, we have a running dialog of the day-to-day.

Tomorrow we’ll treat her, and ourselves. We’ll open gifts and have dinner out, topped off with cheesecake. We’ll do photos and drink a toast to the day. Rob has a sentimental gift for her. I went with the more practical approach. I’m giving her a new camera for the coming decade. I expect lots of sweet shots to add to my digital collection.

Happy birthday to my daughter, my first born, my one and only Stephanie. You have been a joy and a delight! May you have many more to come, and may you be rich with love, opportunities to serve, and satisfaction from life well done. My deepest wish for you is that you experience the reward of relationships. Nothing is better than a life well lived, and full of love. But you already know that. You’re thirty now!

Riley is two

Riley turns two today. We’ve already had this little joy in our lives for two years!

She’s been in the toddler stage for a while. She runs, she climbs, she’s a big girl. Tall for her age, she looks more like a three year old. But there are still some traces of babyhood, when she’s sleepy, or tired. She says a lot of words and phrases, but doesn’t quite pronounce all the consonants yet, so you have to do a little interpretive work to follow her conversation. Still, it’s obvious that she has the family gift of gab.

She’s a bit of a foodie, fascinated at her young age with life in the kitchen. She loves to explore in the pantry, and she knows where her favorite foods live in the fridge. And she likes to stir things.

She’s a modern child, she knows how to push buttons to get things…at least some things…that she wants. She watches babies and cartoon characters on You Tube. She likes to play little games on her parents’ Kindle Fire.

She knows the word “no.” She sometimes says, “No, Riley,” as if practicing on herself. She drops the “l” in Riley (one of those consonant things), but she gets the tone jussst right.

She rides a little trike, a “Dora the Explorer” trike that has lights, turn signals, and plays music. She has a few books. Just a few! The child has her own mini library, but I like that. Always a reader myself, I love to see that potential for children.

She has a bit of a temper. She’s explored the terrible twos, wandered in and out a bit already. But she’s a happy child most of the time, and is a cheerful little companion, singing in her car seat while out and about, chattering in her Riley-speak about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

She has nicknames…”Little,” or sometimes, “the Little,” and “Poo.” She knows them too. She hears them often enough, at least from me and Stephanie. I’m not sure if anyone else uses these. But they are names of affection and play. I am “Gram” to her, although I haven’t heard her say that yet. But she knows Rob’s name, “PB,” and she says it frequently, putting the emphasis on the “P,” “PeeeBe,” she says, calling him to come and see something, or identifying him in a photo.

This little girl has made a place in my heart, effortlessly climbing in and making herself at home. The child of my child is reminding me of the joys of discovery, the value of intangibles, and the strength of ties that bind. Happy birthday, Riley girl! Happy birthday, Little!

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Today is my daughter’s 28th birthday. She’s juggling a lot at the moment, being a single parent for a stretch while her husband has moved ahead of her to take a new job; teaching full time; packing to move in December. She’s reaching for her strength and finding it in new ways. She’s rising to the challenge. I’m proud of the strong woman who has emerged to take her place among the women of the world.

This will be a memorable year for her in many ways. This is not a decade milestone or other significant marker, as a birthday number. But as a life marker, it is important. Major moves always shape and rechannel life.

I’m honored to be part of my daughter’s story, to see her joy, feel her struggles, rejoice in her triumphs. I’m honored to be a link in the life chain that binds us together.

Birthday wishes

Today was my birthday, and I had a plethora of good wishes on my Facebook page, in my mail, via text, and even a few old fashioned phone calls to mark the occasion. I’m happy to say I did NOT jump out of an airplane (that was Rob’s birthday event this year, which I participated in because I couldn’t ask him to take a leap that I wouldn’t do myself). It was exciting to do the dive, but I think once in a lifetime will be enough of that activity for me, thanks very much.

Most of my wishes revolve around luxuries that I get to enjoy on a limited basis: massage, or shopping for a special item, or sometimes a vacation to a beach that has my name on it. But when someone asks me what I want for my birthday, I usually draw a blank. At that moment, I can’t think of a thing.

Well, this is a post-it note to myself for next year. This is what I really want.

~ I want to begin writing professionally. Not sure I’m good enough for that, but I want to look for ways to grow and stretch; I want to use the tools I have and the tools I can acquire to change the way I earn my living, and ultimately, the way I live.

~ I want to do a coast-to-coast road trip and play games along the way…eat in funky little places, stay in romantic old inns, visit the out-of-the-way parks and sites, and avoid the major attractions. I want just enough structure to give a general direction, and enough serendipity about the trip to be surprised by detours and finds along the way.

~ I want to learn another language. I took years of French and never really used it, and of course long ago lost what I knew. If you don’t use it you lose it…maybe this time I’ll try Italian? (This is about challenge and fun, I don’t expect to be posting in Italian a year from now!)

~ I’ve had quite a year in the past twelve months. I want to build on the things I’ve learned, the changes I’ve already made, to add more adventure, curiosity, margin, and creativity to my life.

I have a lot of wishes for other people, ones that I’ll be working on fulfilling. I’m better at knowing what I want to do for others than what I need for myself. So today I thought about it, and this is my very own to-do list for the coming year.

Here’s to birthdays, to days that make us think, and to the good stuff life has to offer. My birthday challenge to myself, and to anyone who cares to take me up on it for their own list: next year on this day, I’ll review this and see what I’ve been able to accomplish. I have a whole year…think there’s time for a little ice cream to celebrate! But I’ll have to get started soon. It may take a while to get an Italian accent down with my southern/mid-west/Colorado/Alaskan background.

Birthdays

Happy Birthday!

We recently celebrated Riley’s first birthday. On June 1, Rob will turn 50, and my grandmother will turn 90. I think about the span of these years, almost a hundred years between Riley and her great-great grandmother. Rob is right in the middle. Funny how at the early ages, each year is so eagerly anticipated, and at our point in life, the number becomes something to be joked about, maybe secretly feared, but as much dreaded as celebrated.

Well, I’m all done with that. I can’t turn the clock back, and I don’t even want to. Oh, I wouldn’t mind a discreet nip and tuck in a couple of places, but other than being in need of a bit of cosmetic touch up, I’m beginning to appreciate this stage of life in ways I never anticipated.

I know my skills, my strengths, my good points, my faults. I accept myself, although I am still (as always) seeking to improve. Acceptance doesn’t equal indifference. It just means that I try, fail, try again, and keep smiling.

But perhaps more important, I accept others. Acceptance doesn’t equal approval. But my role in life is not to go about approving of others. My job is to become my best self, and to meet others where they are. My job is to lighten the load where I can, to be salt and light where I can. To bring comfort where I can.

Each of us has a circle of influence and a circle of people we impact. In the sea of humanity, my circle is quite small. My place in life is small. But I can choose to be of value to those in my life. And that’s my goal. I’m excited to have the freedom and flexibility in my life to give, to share, to nurture, to extend myself. At 50, that’s what I celebrate.

At one time, I thought my heart was breaking. But now I find it was breaking open. And that’s a good thing to know, at the ripe old age of 50.

Happy birthday to the lucky ones that have birthdays on the horizon. I’ll never dread another one. That’s a promise I’m making to myself this very day. And if I’m fortunate enough to have my grandmother’s longevity, I’ll count my wrinkles and my days with joy.

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Today is my daughter’s 27th birthday. This has been an exciting year for her. She finished her master’s degree, became a full-fledged teacher, she and her husband bought their first house, and, most importantly, she became a mom to Riley. Some years just seem to hold more than others, to be more meaningful than others. And now she is marking her first birthday since these events occurred…all grown up and part of the adult world now! No doubt about it!

This year I’m not doing my ususal lament…where does the time go? How could she be 27? I’m just happy that she is well, productive, and experiencing the joys of her own little family. What more could I ask for her? And the fact that we are able to talk frequently, to share our lives, is icing on the cake.

We’ll be together at Thanksgiving and at Christmas…good opportunities to catch up on baby time! But also, I’m excited to continue to have a part in Stephanie’s life. The little person that came into my life has blossomed into a beautiful, capable and humorous woman. I don’t want to miss the unfolding story before me as I watch in awe the child/woman I gave birth to, now continuing the cycle with her own daughter, and still teaching me about life through this new chapter.