"A diplomat is a man who remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age."
I thought I could be under the radar on my 53rd Birthday but such was not the case. Yes, I’m an April baby and born at the most important time in Christianity – Easter. Talk about pressure! Yet, it is important for me to reflect upon any wisdom gathered along my way to release the negative to allow me to make way for new goals, new horizons. Allow me to share my poignant lessons I’ve learned thus far:
1) Age is just a number: Far too many age before their time or act inappropriately for our age. My mother, Marie, is the greatest inspiration in this lesson. When my father passed away 3 years ago, she set about to do the things she always wanted to do. Namely, to dance. She took private lessons before joining a singles club that wasn’t about finding a partner, but doing things that one loved. She took golf lessons so that she would be able to golf. She swims practically daily and is more active than most women half her age. She is very humble because she didn’t get beyond Grade 8 because she was required to help out on the homestead farm in Saskatchewan, but she is the most well read, well informed person I know. She looks her best at all times. I’ve never seen her in sweats hanging out at the house all day on the couch. She is always ready to be called out, play a game of bridge or welcome friends for coffee.
2) Love your family: They say that “if you treated your friends like you do your family, you wouldn’t have any friends”. I appreciate that my siblings, two brothers, Greg and Cary, and my sister, Diana, were always each other’s best friends. We had to rely on each other while we moved around the world as our father, Norman, was with the Canadian Armed Forces. I love now how my daughters, Chantal and Kelsey, are each other’s best friends. I often tell them how lucky they are to have each other and should always be there for each other. My stepdaughter, Desiree has become a lovely lady, who became a better person after being infolded into the family dynamics when her father, Rob, and I married 7.5 years ago. She chose us. It was her decision to join our family at 15 and started calling Kyle, Chantal and Kelsey her brother and sisters, soon after we started dating and our first obligatory children introduction via a Bowling night. She hid out in her room for the first day, while the others sat on the couch whispering at how they could get her to come out and join them, slipping notes under her door. She is always the first to come to family gatherings, set the table, and never take family for granted.
3) Love deeply: Allow your partner, friends, family to love others more deeply: When Rob and I were first dating, long before we got married, I was frustrated by how he put his daughter first. It was my sister, Diana, who wisely told me that a man who would put his daughter first, before a relationship was a keeper. She was right. We gave Desiree a family and home, steered on back on course, and now I have the rest of our lives to enjoy that beautiful quality. He is a cool pal for my son, Kyle to look up to and relate to, joke with about opposing hockey teams, football competitions, and gaming together. An example to Kyle on what a good and strong man represents. Kyle has also learned that his true value does not depending upon a life partner, as much as it is to have those to love for a lifetime. When you love deeply, you learn profoundly.
4) Dance often: I was 17 in 1978 when Abba’s ground breaking song “Dancing Queen” was popular and it is my swan song. Don’t worry if anyone is watching because if you love dancing, the music will pour your soul and make you feel good no matter how bad you feel. When the kids were little, with or without their cousins, Friday night was the night that they did their dance performances. They’d rehearse and then come in with astoundingly great choreographed performances. The girls walked in the door today, and I was doing my hair, not completely dressed and Kelsey was “oh brother Mother” and I tried my best Shakira impression which could never do her justice, but the fun and laughter was the most rewarding part.
5) Embrace failure: If you never fail, you will never understand completely how rewarding success can be. Dig deep to reflect on what you have learned, what you could have done better, WILL do better the next time and then RELEASE it into the wind. The greatest leaders and inspirations failed greatly or graciously … it was how they recovered, is what makes them icons and idols (i.e. Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Terry Fox)
6) Appreciate friends: I am very fortunate to have a group of friends that I’ve known for years – Kathy, whom we started college together, stood up for each other for our first marriages, held each up when they failed, empathized through life’s challenges, and held us accountable to remember life’s joys. Friends are the ones you have that you can be vulnerable with, show your weaknesses to and love you despite it all. They champion your success and encourage you when you face failure. They rejoice in your stages in life, circling around family, love first and career, title, accomplishments less. We both started out the same, both have experienced tremendous success, and have faltered unwillingly, yet relied on each other often. It is by reason of having those to share with, has Celebrate Success not been given its own bullet. That is because without acknowledging those relationships that could have failed either during success or failure, there is no difference, they stand by you no matter what.
7) Recognize loyalty: We have people who float in and out of our lives. There are people who gravitate towards you when you are on your high and head for the hills when you are down. The best you can surround yourself with are those who recognize qualities that you may sometimes not be in the mindset to be aware of. They stay in touch and are just as important today, as they were you first met. They associate with only those that champion goodness and aspire greatness.
8) Be spiritual: Never fear recrimination for having faith, no matter how it is shaped. Spirituality is your relationship with a more powerful being, whether it is God, Jesus, Budha or Mohammed. It will hold you up when you feel life has let you down, give you spirit to fight back and be a better human being, help others. It is not a financial reward or through financial giving, it is by being.
9) Love life: Find ways to enjoy each day. Some days, you really have to dig deep to do that. Go outside, experience nature, through the Frisbee for your dog who will love you faithfully, enjoy beauty in other’s talented expression through writing, art, creativity or photography. Avoid those that bring you down. Misery loves company, but it is something you distance yourself from and chose not to participate in. Laugh often, laugh so hard you cry.
10) Know your health: understand your body, it’s needs. If you are restless, exercise. Eat vegetables and fruit and not the quick fix of junk food, candy. Give permission to enjoy chocolate, if that is your vice. Don’t deprive yourself of food for nourishment and wellbeing, but monitor the toxins you are allowing into your body and make up for that in other ways.
11) Be kind: Steer clear of expressing anger, hurting others. You should give more than you get. It will be a major contributor to your overall wellbeing. You will find peace in knowing you have given when you felt you had less to give. Look beyond the poverty and filth to see the glimmer of hope in eyes full of sorrow. Smile and don’t turn your head or avoid their eyes. Allow your shared humanity to bond you.
12) Avoid ego and pride: Don’t beat yourself up, avoid doing things that you have to work hard at to being better, and don’t allow ego and pride prevent you from being humble, admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness and say thank you more often than and whenever the opportunity presents itself as a gift.
13) Take risks: No matter what disappointments, frustrations, losses, or hurt you’ve experienced, you will only heal if you stretch beyond what you think you are capable of. Be willing to look less than perfect, acknowledge where you have a need to learn, appreciate when you’ve accomplished your best by yourself and most importantly, share it with others. There is no great person that has ever lived who went it alone. Be inspired by greatness. Read about people who overcome great odds, ignore the misbelievers, pay special attention to the geeks or freaks who will teach you wisdom. Know the difference between whom you can trust and who will bring you down to their level. Dare to follow in love despite the fear of hurt you face.
Thank you for sharing my birthday with me. Allow me to celebrate that 13 points are lucky numbers to have to learn about life from. We shall avoid the belief that 53 is old, when we see such wisdom and so many in front of us that we're lucky to learn from. Let us to continue to recognize all the wonderful things this world has to offer us. ~JM
"Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator."