Thursday, July 5, 2012

Earning Forty Three

One side effect of cancer?

I will never take another birthday for granted again.

Yesterday I turned 43.  I've never been one to make a big deal about getting older. Birthdays don't bother me as far as the whole "don't tell anyone how old you are" thing. I wear my age like a badge of honor.  I've earned forty-three, and all the wisdom, scars and lessons that come with age.

Now birthdays feel like the gift they should have felt like all along, I suppose.  Now I get to turn forty-three.

It was an incredible day, full of fun, sun and family.  We are out at our beach cottage (it's totally off the grid, no electricity, only solar power and a generator and propane to run the appliances) so the kids aren't plugged into anything.  We play games, lounge on the beach, have frivolous and soulful conversations.  The kids can run freely outside with no worry of abductors or getting lost.  It's as close to what I remember childhood feeling like as we can get (barring the fact that I have wi-fi from a hotspot on my phone and can plug a computer into the generator to blog.  Cause a girl's gotta blog).

The cousins came out to celebrate, and watching them run wild through the wide open space fills my heart with happiness.

I spent a lot of time doing this:

And this:

At the end of the day, we had cake and ice cream.  And my throat is well enough now that I could eat them both. So I had three helpings:

And saw the most beautiful sunset - a big ball of fire sinking below the horizon:

Before dinner, there was a brief rainstorm, so we even had a rainbow (the only thing missing in these pictures is a unicorn, it was that unbelievably gorgeous):

There was this awesome card from Greta, too: 

"Thank you so much for doing all the nice things you do to us. Like make us dinner and mabe [sic] get 
us a pet goat?  You made it through all.   Love, Greta"

My favorite line? "You made it through all".

I did. And it would be easy to write about what a tough year it has been, how I deserved and wanted a terrific birthday.  But these days I try not to look back too much. I try not to look too far forward, either, wonder about forty-four, or think thoughts like "If I had known when I turned 42 what this year would be like...", but of course I sometimes do. 

Mostly, though, I try to lean into the moment.  And when I say "try", I really mean "try".  It's hard. I have a lot of work to do.

The self-care I'm focusing on is helping.  I'm still meditating, going to group counseling for cancer survivors, taking a yoga class for cancer patients/survivors, talking to safe people who understand. The anxiety is still there, peeking around the corner, waiting.  Instead of running from it or trying to pretend it's not there, I give it a little wave (hello, anxiety) and try to honor it as part of me. As much as joy, gratitude and hope are part of me, too.

The gratitude is coming back, and days like yesterday help a lot.  I am a lucky woman indeed.


  1. What about the pet goat? Huh Mom? Huh?


    1. Sometimes denial comes in handy. I'm doing my best to forget I ever saw that.... :)

  2. Happy birthday! And earned it, indeed. Many more for you to come. :)

  3. Here's hoping your year continues to be filled with a whole lot of happy! All the best to you, Ellie.

  4. Happy happy birthday friend!!!! So glad you are here and healthy and celebrating.

  5. Happy birthday Ellie! I turned 50 a few weeks ago and whenever anyone asked me how I felt about it I told them it was a privilege because not everyone gets to turn 50.

  6. Happy birthday! Also-- you look fantastic in the photos. Vacation looks good on you!

  7. Happy, Happy Birthday, Ellie!
    Wishing you heaps of blessings for a wonderful year!

  8. Happy Birthday! And Many More! (perspective certainly makes that phrase more meaningful)

  9. Happy Birthday! You're looking awesome and yes, you definitely earned your 43!

  10. Birthdays have always been a private thing for me - the gaudy balloons at people's work stations (put there by those that think calling attention to someone is fun) are not for me. But I celebrate them nonetheless. The "ones" have typically been hard for me: not 30, 40, or 50, but 31, 41, and 51. The older I get, though, the more each year feels like a gift, like a fresh, smooth, unblemished scribbler page in my life. Even more so since reading about your experiences this past year. You've reminded me not to take even one day for granted, much less a year. And that a LOT can happen in a year.

    Many more birthdays - and unbirthdays - to you.

  11. Love your posts, Happy Birthday:) You look hOT by the way!

  12. Happy birthday!! You’re looking fantastic in those photographs. Yes – cheers to earning another year. :) Too bad we can't celebrate birthdays more often.

  13. I loved this post. You look so calm and at peace. The way it should be. Happy Birthday my friend!!!

  14. Happy Birthday! The pics are great. You look wonderful! :)

  15. It's wonderful to see you smiling and looking so happy. You've been through so much and I so admire your strength.
    Happy birthday to you.

  16. Happy, Happy Borthday,Ellie! I'm so glad you are here, and letting yourself enjoy it all.


    PS. We are two days apart! Well, two days and eight years...

  17. You look great Ellie!!!! Happy 43rd and I'm so happy you're in a wonderful place near the water to truly celebrate your accomplishments the past year - and they are accomplishments.

    Hugs, love and healing prayers.