The week of turning fifty

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For the first time in almost a decade, I have taken time off from work. I don’t really like to travel so I have never taken advantage of the vacation time I have at work, but this year is different.

This week is the week of my fiftieth birthday and I decided it was a significant enough occasion to release myself from the constraints of my job and take some much-needed time for myself. Although Sunday was spent as it always is, making crockpot meals for our local Food Bank, yesterday was spent lounging around the house in the morning and taking myself shopping in the afternoon in search of an outfit to wear for my birthday dinner on Thursday. I immediately remembered how much I disliked malls and shopping for clothes!

Today, although not yet my birthday, is the most anticipated day of my week off. Today is the day I will get my first, and most likely only, tattoo. The thought of a permanent picture on my body never crossed my mind because I could never come up with an image that meant enough to me to permanently etch it into my flesh. But the more I thought about doing something monumental for my fiftieth birthday, the more the idea of a tattoo kept invading my conscious thoughts. When the picture eventually presented itself, it was perfect.

(image credit)

Having lost both of my parents long before their time, this image is the perfect blend of the things that remind me the most of my mom and dad. My mom loved butterflies and my dad loved owls. From where I sit in my living room as I write this post, I can see the framed needlepoint monarch butterflies my mother created in the seventies and the carved wooden owls my dad hung in the living room of our childhood home. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate image to have as a permanent reminder of the two people I loved the most.

Turning fifty is not a burden, it’s a gift. It affords me the chance to look back on a half a century of love, laughter, friendship and memories. Turning fifty gives me the wisdom to prioritize the people and the things that are most important in my life. Turning fifty allows me to ignore the things I have learned from and have been able to leave in my past. And turning fifty makes me truly appreciate the fact I still feel like I am in my thirties.

I can’t imagine a better way to welcome fifty than to embrace the journey I have taken to get here, to hold close the people I value most and to look forward to what is yet to come.

Slaying the dragon

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Even if it is broken, it can’t always be fixed ~SN.

My mother always used to tell me that I like to find the ‘broken ducks’ and fix them…..and it’s true.   I seem to be magnetically drawn to people who I think I can “save” in some way, even though they may not be looking for salvation.  If I look at it honestly, with no rose-colored glasses, my childhood perpetuated this need to create a sane world in a universe of quiet insanity.  On the outside our life was perfect, but on the inside there were things that created the person I am today and ingrained the need to make life as perfect on the inside as it seemed on the outside.  But I chose to focus on others rather than focusing  on myself.  I felt the need to create a picture by painting by the numbers that belonged to other people instead of the numbers on my blank canvas.  I grew up as a child of two alcoholic parents and the need to fix my parents spun into a life of restoring a sense of normalcy in every life but my own.

No matter the size of sword you carry, sometimes the dragon is bigger than you anticipated and it cannot be conquered by steel alone.  Although I spent many years of my youth trying to slay that beast, it had far more power than I anticipated and my life became a battle far greater than a teenaged girl was prepared to face.  The need to vanquish that dragon spilled into my marriage and the cycle of alcoholism and redemption breathed new life.  The dragon was alive and well with a different face and a new attitude, but it was the same dragon I had been battling for years.

slaying the dragon

(Photo courtesy of Google)

Perhaps it was the wisdom that came with age, or perhaps the sword I had been wielding had gained strength over the years, but the dragon I was faced with in the days of being married didn’t seem to possess as much strength as the dragon of my youth and I was able to overcome its fiery existence and reclaim the life I was meant to have.  Maybe that dragon still lingers, awaiting its chance for revenge, but I have finally drawn the line.  My stance is rigid and I am ready for that battle.

If there is anything this blogging journey has taught me, it is to be honest.  Not only honest in my life, but honest in my writing as well.  And whether that honesty presents itself in traits of a character or a mere extension of myself in this forum, it is freeing.  I have shared parts of myself I never thought I would divulge and it has liberated a piece of myself long since buried.  I have fixed myself by escaping the confines of my past and breaking down the walls that caged my future and instead have trapped the dragon in that cage.

I don’t know if I’m writing this to remind myself of the strength that I need to hold close to my heart or if I am writing this to finally free the dragon that I may never slay.  Regardless, tears slowly slide down my cheek as I free this last bit of anguish and look ahead to what will be.  I cannot change the past, but I can certainly shape my future by letting that dragon rest as I move on to a new castle that is free of that beast.

My life is a blank canvas.  It awaits a new story board and a tale that is yet to be written.  And maybe the canvas is slightly damaged, but I will embrace those impurities because the vision of the artist still holds the potential for a beautiful new masterpiece that is waiting to be created.