Tag Archives: goals

Turning Fifty

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It’s the eve of my 50th birthday. Fifty years ago back in 1967, my mom was nine months pregnant, ready to burst. Tonight she is in as assisted living facility, wishing to feel better. Her parents, my grandparents, have been gone for years. Her sister, her ex-husband and boyfriends, all gone. Fifty years ago, I was an innocent baby, waiting to begin my life in the crazy era of the Vietnam War. Now, I’m a middle aged, not so innocent, twice divorced, single mom of two, sitting at home alone, wondering how much longer I get to be here. Will I get another five, ten, or fifty years? What is my number? I’d like another fifty. That would be so great. I could see my sons grow older like I am now. God, I hope so.  I could help more teens graduate, write more books, go on more trips, experience more joy, maybe fall in love for real and have it last for the years I have left, learn and read more. There’s so much to do still. Will I get to do it?

Can I slow down the clock please?

The first fifty seemed to fly by.  Seems like yesterday I was pretending to be Wonder Woman in the front yard, spinning around then catching bad guys.  Now there’s an wwactual movie about her. Damn! (That sure took a long time.) Wasn’t it just a few years ago I was in love with my high school boyfriend, hoping we’d get married one day. No, it wasn’t. More like over thirty years ago, but who’s counting? I know it’s been years, but it doesn’t feel like it.  All those memories are alive in me. I can see myself in those moments, being me, living, doing my life. I see the same thing in my mom. She talks about the memories of her youth while she pushes her walker. Her body is old, but her being is not.

Getting older is good, considering the alternative, but it’s also weird and terrifying.

50All these moments of who you are bring you to this big day, your birthday, and take you farther from your youth and closer to the end, but it’s amazing to have another birthday. I’m so lucky. I know it. So many people aren’t having birthdays anymore. My best friend’s last birthday was her thirty-first. I miss her so. She and I would have done something special to celebrate the milestones, but she’s not here. I guess that’s the sad part of birthdays – missing those who aren’t here to celebrate with us. Not only missing those who passed, but those living who have left our lives.  People who we love but aren’t with anymore. Birthdays make me think a lot about those who are not in my world anymore. We are supposed to celebrate and be surrounded by people who love us, but the truth is that doesn’t happen for lots of us. Maybe that is the lingering sadness that haunts me. Or maybe it’s just exhaustion from all the stress that fifty years brings.  Or maybe it’s not being where I think I should be in life. I don’t know.

50pI remember when I was a kid, looking at my aunts and uncles and thinking they were old. They were in their twenties and thirties. To me they seemed old. Now I’m older than they were when I thought they were old. That’s weird. I’m in a new place. I’m the one who should know stuff. Old people should know stuff – have it figured out, right? That’s a lot of pressure. When you reach the other half of your life (you hope you still have half to go), there’s the pressure of reflection on what you’ve accomplished. Is this where the young version of me thought she’d be? I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t remember thinking this far ahead. Regardless, I am where I’m at. I can’t change how my life is when I wake up on my fiftieth. I’ve done my best. I wish somethings were different, but I think we all do.  Being dissatisfied helps motivate us, but it can also be damn depressing.501

I’m turning fifty tomorrow and well, I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t have all that I wanted to have by the time I was fifty.  That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s my truth. I could list all the things that are not the way I think they should be, but that would be ridiculous because everything is as it should be.  I live and work where I’m supposed to. I weigh and look like I’m supposed to. The relationships that I wanted to last didn’t, like they were supposed to and it’s okay. It all just has to be okay.  I’m turning fifty. Yay, I made it! Oh crap, I hope I still can do all I want to do. Time is ticking.

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My Cousin Gave To Me

Last night I looked back at my journal. Every year in December I write down what I wish to happen in the future. I believe if we put our dreams out into the universe, there’s more of a chance they’ll happen. They may not occcyn 1ur in our time frame or exactly as we picture them, but some of them will happen in some way. I don’t ask God to accomplish my dreams and goals. I just write what should happen like, Cousin gets published. Become Zumba instructor before birthday. Buy a house. Meet George Lucas. Three out of those four happened. Still waiting on George, but seeing my cousin, Cynthia Kremsner, realize her dream of becoming a published illustrator is way above meeting the creator of Star Wars. (I’ll write that one again this year…still dreaming I am.)

Of course, my little wishes didn’t make her dream come true, all of her hard work did. She put in the hours, the sweat, and the tears. She challenged herself in a mentor program, learned and practiced new techniques, presented at workshops, took criticism, read the rejections, blogged, submitted, and never never gave up. I cannot list all that she did, but Cynthia dedicated herself to her craft and it has been incredible to watch it start to pay off. Her accomplishments make me smile and inspire me.

If I would’ve had pom poms, I would’ve been cheering like the cheer team captain the day I was able to attend a book signing with Cynthia at Barnes and Noble in Roseville, Ca. I could barely contain myself. I already love going to bookstores, but walking in with a published illustrator for her book signing…are you kidding me? Her husband even brought a keyboard so we could singIMG_5512 along to the Twelve Days of Christmas tune of her book, What My Puppy Gave to Me by Cheryl Dannenbring. I never had so much fun in a bookstore.

We gathered around the table where her books were on display and everyone grabbed a copy to read along. Cynthia introduced herself and started us off, “On the first day of Christmas…” One child held the puppy puppet while her mom sang the words of the book. Seeing so many people enjoy her artwork was so right. I couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing my children and my cousin’s children sing along and participate in this huge event in our family made me appreciate my cousin’s hard work even more. I didn’t know that was possible.  cyn3

I appreciate that she never gives up and is still moving forward no matter what life throws at her. Life tried to stop her and knock her down, but she got up every time. Not everyone does. Not everyone has the courage to put themselves out there for criticism and rejection while dealing with the everyday challenges of life. Many times, just doing life is all people can do, but not Cynthia. She fights the good fight. She works fulltime, raises two kids with her husband, and illustrates books. Yes, illustrates books! After a full day of work, she sits herself down in front of her art desk and she not only creates beautiful pieces of art, but also creates pieces of hope. Her own ambition is contagious. Her drive and belief in her dreams help her reach new goals, but they also help others dare to reach.

Go Cynthia Go!  cyn2

Self – Promises

ImageI promised myself I would write tonight. So here I am. It’s late and I’m tired, but I promised. The list of promises I’ve made to myself is long and detailed. Part of the list is also unwritten…more promises to come. I have made a commitment to myself to experience as much as I can during this time I have on earth.

Being alive, having a life to live, is like having a day pass for Disneyland; I want to see and do as much as I can before the park closes. Sure, I will have to wait in line sometimes and just take in the scenery until the next adventure begins, but I at least I have a day pass, lots of people can’t get one anymore.

 

I clearly remember the day she entered our college dorm. Her long black hair ran all the way to the bottom of her back. She smiled at me with her mouth full of braces and stuck out her hand, “Hi. I’m Andrea.” A big click went off throughout the universe because the two best friends in the world had just met.Image

From that day on, we stuck together. From studying all night and crying over boys to family and girlfriend drama, we were buds. She invited me to meet her family and they welcomed me with open arms. We roomed together for four years and we even had silly nicknames. Andrea would imitate a television commercial of the time by saying to me, “You know what I mean, Vern?” Eventually we knew no other name than, “Vern.”

Unlike me, Andrea knew what she wanted in life and she had a plan. She was going to be a lawyer so she studied political science. A big picture of her future car, a bright red convertible Porsche hung above her desk. She wanted to get married, be a mother of four kids and she always wanted to live near her family. Not one ounce of doubt entered her mind about what she would accomplish.  Nothing would stop her.  IImage felt so lucky to have a friend like her. I knew we’d be pals forever. She gave me a birthday card once with two old women riding a roller coaster together and labeled it “The Verns”. Andrea wrote inside about our future adventures. She inspired me.  

Before we knew it, we began our fourth year of college. That year Vern would graduate. I still had another year to go, but we had a trip to Maui planned to celebrate her accomplishment. It was going to be a great year. Then, something strange happened.  She developed a rash, a butterfly rash, on her cheeks. A few weeks later she could barely lift herself from a sitting position. A few months later, everything changed.

Andrea’s long black hair started falling out in handfuls because she had to take steroids.  Her beautiful brown skin became pale because she could no longer be in the sun. She vomited everything she ate. She was told she could no longer go to law school and she should never drive a convertible or have children. The doctors told her she had Systemic Lupus.

Andrea did eventually graduate from law school, but she had to do it slowly. The year we turned thirty, I called her to wish her a happy birthday. I’ll never forget the conversation.

“Hey Vern, Happy Birthday. Can you believe it? We’re getting old,” I said.

“Well, I’m just glad I made it to thirty,” Andrea said.

Andrea died the next year at age 31 from complications due to Lupus.

            My number one self-promise is to never forget Vern and her passion for life. I know that she would literally kick my butt if she knew I wasted the time I had left on earth. If she were still here, she’d be living it like she was at Disneyland. She would ride as many rides as she could and she’d experience as much of life as possible. She’d be driving that bright red Porsche around with the top down (at least for a little while). I owe it to her and to myself to do something with the days I still have. I’m so lucky to be alive and so are you if you are reading this. What will you accomplish before the park closes? What are your self-promises? We should all have many. Ya know what I mean, Vern?

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