One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them. -Virginia Woolf
On January 16th, I will be celebrating another trip around the sun.
I never dreamed I would pass over onto the other side of forty. I thought I would be dead at twenty-seven, a brilliant star that extinguished young. I could not imagine myself with wrinkles, gray hair or sagging thighs. I wanted to remain young; I tried hard to appear youthful.
Like all things in life, you never know how things will turn out until you experience said thing. I did not know how my life would be, and I certainly never saw myself where I am now.
Every day presents challenges and choices. Every year on our birthdays we usually reflect on the previous 364 days and take stock. This year is no different for me; I am taking stock. What transpired in the last year is confounding.
In one shot (it felt like that anyway) cancer arrived, along with worry, tears, and trauma. Then dementia showed up, along with concern, sadness, and more tears.
My mental health took a nose dive. While free falling I picked up a few new diagnosis and new meds.
Rehab, inpatient hospital stays, chaos and confusion all rode shotgun. A glorious cluster of WTF? that kept on giving.
I had to be strong, yet I felt weak.
I had to have patience.
I just wanted to run.
The dark side of 2016 was an absolute shit show, for the ones that I love and for me.
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style. -Maya Angelou
The bright side of 2016 was brilliant. It was a whiteout, a gentle snow that collected all around me, muffling my cries and lifting me up with its grace.
Kindness saved the day; she walked in with compassion. Compassion called upon her friend the volunteer and they all showed me where my courage was hidden.
Unprovoked messages of love reached me via text and email. People who have never met me in the flesh picked up the phone and offered support. Those that I thought could never in a million years know what “it” is like, showed me how to cope with the unthinkable.
The words and deeds of many picked me up and dusted me off. Because of their empathy, I was emboldened to carry on and finish what was started.
In my wildest dreams never could I envision myself accomplishing certain tasks that have recently been set before me. I have learned that we should never put a boundary on our minds. We can learn what we need to know, by being tenacious and jumping right in. “Just Do It” is my motto now.
The fall of 2016 saw a changing of the guard, incredible new writers joining in and other exciting new opportunities for Feminine Collective and all of the people that give the publication life. We also had the privilege of publishing two books: Monochrome by H.M.Jones and The Year of Living Miraculously by Michele Landers.
Blessings continued in the fall when I was gifted the honor of writing the forward for two divine books: The Gift of Inspiration For Women by Connie Gorrell and Black Sheep Rising by C.Streetlights. To say that I was speechless when asked is an understatement. I have never had much faith that my written thoughts would be of use to others. I wear the honor like a crown. When I am in the middle of a dark spell, I close my eyes and see that crown sparkle with love and hope.
Mama always said: Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.- Forrest Gump
Isn’t that the truth?
Personally, I have a long road ahead of me. Illness still lingers. Trauma still rears its ugly head and heartbreak is just around the corner. Of course, there will also be moments of ecstasy and pride. Days filled with laughter and love. I am fortunate to have family and friends that extend their arms to hold me tight.
The year that passed taught me many things. The pendulum of life swings on its own accord. We have to be flexible, ready to catch each moment before it passes us by.
I will always remember the individuals near and far that shared their precious time with me. They listened, they helped, they volunteered their skills. They told me that they believed in me. They inspired me to keep pushing forward, no matter what.
During my darkest hours, my guardian angels stood by my side. I do not know if they know it or not, but each one of them put the hidden broken pieces of me back together again.
I call that the chewy bit in the middle. The sweet spot of life.
On this birthday, like all birthdays the question presented is;
“What would you like for your birthday Momma?”
My answer has always been;
“I want you to be happy.”
This year my birthday wish is for you:
I wish you faith and friendship.
I wish your troubles are few.
I wish the load that you carry is light and manageable.
I wish you health and happiness.
I wish that you know the kindness of strangers and accept help when offered.
I wish that all of your dreams come true.
I wish you love.
You deserve that, and more.
Now come and help me blow out these candles before the house catches on fire!
Photo of Julie Anderson 2016 © Dana Patrick All Rights Reserved