Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Still crazy after all these years

I am going to be 50 tomorrow ... 50!!!  Man, I thought that was so ancient, at best middle aged, nah ancient when I was younger.  I mean 50 - wasn't that the time you retired and started to eat at like 430 or something?  Broke out the white shoes with the thick soles?  How wrong our perceptions of age are when we are younger - or maybe we keep busting those perceptions as we refuse to let the number dictate to us and we chose to write our own stories of aging.

The insanity of youth is that anything slightly older than it seems outdated, to be put out to pasture.   Yet as my friends and I, mostly my  high school classmate friends, started this year with a foot in the last year of our 40s and a weary eye at a cake with many candle, somehow 50 didn't seem old anymore.

We tell each other it is the new 40.  In the scheme of how much longer people live that isn't quite wrong, and at some point 40 was something those who are young did and do still think of as over the hill.  It is middle age no matter how you cut it.  So what ??  It means you still have a half or more to keep doing what you want.

Yet 50 - wow.  I am not one to be defined by milestone birthdays but this one, well this one has been quite different for me.  I have found out that it is for many, especially women.

My reflection on this birthday started about 2 years ago - what do I want to do, to be, to want, to get when I am 50.  I do not want to be "normal" or go without being slightly insane.  I want to be the woman who makes others wonder "what's she up to now?".

I am more confident than when I was younger, I made peace with my imperfect body though we still have an adversarial relationship, I also started to really think about my goals.  So many of my goals, like many women, up to now were tied to outcomes expected by others.   Goals always included what was good for others too.  As I approach this milestone I started to really focus on what do I want, what do I want to accomplish, what do I deserve.  I learned from a therapist friend that to have real goals you have to visualize details in them, the colors, the smells, see yourself in them - so am starting with that as I build mine. I also came to realize that therapy is also necessary in the process for most of us, it just takes getting over the scared to be fabulous to start it.

How often do we really ask ourselves what do I deserve and not put any caveats on that?  Not be afraid to think it, want it, say it?  For me this is still a learning process.

So what have I learned in these 50 years - that love is meant to be celebrated, taken when you can, given freely even if it means you may get hurt.  I learned that passion and desire is not shameful but a driver and in itself a way to make life brighter, better, whether it is for a person or for idea.   I have traveled and appreciated different places and I am starting to wonder where I want to live beyond just where I am.  I have read a tremendous amount of wonderful books.  There has been art I have seen and art I have made that added to the memories that make me smile.

There is music, so much music, I cannot imagine not having it in my life throughout the years or going forward.

There are friends, some who stayed in my life, some who taught me that not all people are sincere and most who added a pebble to my soul to make it fuller.

I have not always had easy times, there were too many bad choices but luckily there were many more good ones and learnings from the ones that weren't.   I have lost people along the journey, they are all still part of who I am today in memories and things I learned with them.

Fifty is looking pretty damn fabulous from where I sit.  I see it in those who are turning 50 this year with me and in those that already celebrated it in years past.

It is not just a number because that would mean in some way it is not significant, for me it is significant.  I finished my book, which I swore I would do before 50.  I switched from exploring what's next in my career to what is my next career going to look like as I get closer to retirement.  Will it be full of creative endeavors or do I want to put my passions into other areas?  Not sure the world is full of possibilities.

As I turn 50 I also reflect on the wonder of human accomplishment, from kindness that pours over borders and in person when truly awful things happen, to scientific advancements, technology, architecture that has happened in my lifetime.  I was born in a world where nothing is impossible it just needs to be looked at from different angles and determined how it could be possible.

So happy birthday to me .... and thank you to you all who read this ... let the 2nd half of my century, cause yeah there is a chance I could live to a 100 (but only if I could be as cool as Betty White), begin.  I am ready to have people on this journey that appreciate who I am, who I appreciate and gently let go of "just what might have been".

Bring it 50 .... this girl is still not ready for you!!!!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Love it or leave it

In my many years of living in the States, choosing to be a citizen of this country, defending the US even when I disagreed with the politicians I never was told to leave here as much as I have been since the current president's run for office and even more so since he got into office.

As if caring for a country, disagreeing with the government, not supporting the person in the office because of his policies and lack of acumen (or his crass and morally repulsive behavior) and blindly bowing down is more patriotic. It is not it is nationalistic, the stuff of fascism, bolshevism, and yes nazism.  Patriotism is loving a place enough to see it's problems and looking at how you as one person can make a difference for the better.  Nationalism is seeing the flaws, blaming everyone but yourself and then following blindly anyone who only agrees with you.

People have forgotten they too are not from here, at some point even if they were born here, because the people who have told me if I do not like it 1) do not have Native American names 2) have said it based on my last name or when I mentioned I am immigrant 3) ironically seem to have immigrants in their family tree too.

As if people who came here didn't come here from places that didn't allow dissent, asked for blind following and total submission to the thought that government and one particular head of state is always right.  As if others didn't come here for financial opportunities.  Interestingly the people who were brought here against their will,  because no Dr Carson they did not emigrate immigrate here the only "grate" they saw were the ones that were on the windows of the floating prison barges that brought them here, do not say this to me ever.

People also seem to have really short memories - apparently some think this president is under more "attack".  Makes one wonder if they had their tvs, radios off since the 70s .  You don't have to go back that far you can go back say 8 years to see our former president's likeness lynched, burned, called crazy names, for some reason some crackpot started a bizarre birther theory, his daughters assailed, his wife called vile names.  Here is the beauty, wait for it, it still is all available for many years prior on this fancy doodad called the internet.

I am grateful for all that I have accomplished in this country.  What is happening  disturbs me because I grew up and lived with what happens without a free press, without the ability to dissent, without hope to change anything because you were supposed to smile and say thank you even when they kicked you.  It is because I believe in the concept of America - not a perfect place but a place perfected by those who come here.

I fulfill my part as an immigrant, I add to the fabric of society as much as I can, I contribute to the tax system, I vote and I had children here who I am raising to continue to add to the quilt that makes up the US.

Every day the dignity we once associated with the office,  even through scandals, has been diminished by a man who was never fit to sit in the chair to begin with.

I see his rallies, who has rally after rally right after they are elected ?  oh yeah dictators with their fragile egos who need to keep whipping their supporters into a frenzy, and there he is even less coherent but yet more applauded.  His supporters cannot seem to accept any chinks in his teflon armor.  They fiercely defend him if someone points out his audacious lies and believe that he is in their corner.  They need to believe because he still sells them on the idea that he believes in them.

As we celebrate the birth of this nation all of us chose at some time to cross oceans to get to, or for those that did not choose to come here they still have given their lives to try and make it a better place, that I want to remember that the founding fathers of this land were not men who were flawless.  Nor where they ideals of mankind.  They were men, who made poor choices but whose character was not shaped by those poor judgements but rather they were shaped by their belief in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  We can emulate that spirit and do better with those things they did not, like equal rights for men and women, like treating people the same regardless of their race, like making those pursuits available to all.

I believe that those who still support him believe that he will make it better for them,  isn't that what both left and right want though?  To make it better for all - what his message is most flawed in is that it seems as if the pie is finite when America is built on the idea that nothing is impossible.  The world will NEVER go back to what it was, who wants it to ?  We need to figure out how we can make it go forward with us at the helm, not standing there talking about the remember whens.

Happy Fourth of July - I leave you with words from Bono, a man who like me chooses to live in the States not because we see it as without need to make it better but because we love it enough to want to do so

"Anyway, it’s not a right/left issue. It’s a right/wrong issue, and America has constantly been on the side of what’s right. Because when it comes down to it, this is about keeping faith with the idea of America. Because America’s an idea, isn’t it? I mean, Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country, it’s not an idea. That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history, right up there with the Renaissance, right up there with crop rotations and the Beatles’ White album. The idea, the American idea—it’s an idea—the idea is that you and me are created equal, and will ensure that an economic recession need not become an equality rescission. The idea that life is not meant to be endured but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice then leave it to us, and we’ll do the rest. This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper. And God love you for it, because these aren’t just American ideas anymore. There’s no copyright on them. You brought them into the world. It’s a wide world now. I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them, and you do, the family tree has lots of branches. But the thing is, the world has a built of America in it, too. These truths, your truths, they’re self-evident in us.”