Thursday, December 29, 2011

Birthday girl

Well, that's me. On my original birthday. It's been awhile since I looked like that. Soon after this photo was taken I developed a wicked red rash and all photos for the next few months (and there were plenty; I was the first child) show the homeliest infant you can imagine, though I did exude a lot of personality. I was not an easy baby: a screamer with stamina. In one of my favourite baby photos, I'm standing stiff-legged in the palm of my dad's hand, probably about six months old. Strong and determined. And grinning ear-to-ear.

I haven't had the chance to blog over the holidays, which is a good indication of an excellent holiday, and a busy one. The photos posted yesterday equal the sum total of decent photos I took this Christmas season. (With the exception of some adorable captures of my beautiful nephew, but I didn't want to confuse you by including him in my wordless album post--Hey, Carrie's got an extra kid, when did that happen?) I didn't take many photos, truth to be told. This year, I felt pulled to participate in the moments rather than record them.

My birthday falls at the perfect time for annual summations and dreaming ahead. On the night before my birthday, for the past number of years, I've stayed awake until midnight, and written something in my journal about the year past and my hopes for the one to come. Since I rarely write anything by hand anymore (and thank heavens for that--my printing is virtually illegible, even to me), the journal contains a series of snapshots, which I re-read every December 28th with a mixture of sadness and appreciation. It gives me a sense of movement and change. I catch glimpses of the groundwork being laid that allowed for major life shifts in attitude. Change is slow. And you never know what will actually change when you choose to do something different, or try something new, or leave something behind. Change is rarely predictable. We go where we're going, not necessarily where we point ourselves.

But it's helpful to point ourselves too--beyond helpful, actually. It's critical to be alert and reflective and not to avoid recognizing the things that hurt. I would never speak against plotting and planning and organizing and trying your best. Just leave plenty of room for free-form leaps in your carefully laid plains. Leave space for rest and enjoyment. Be kind--to yourself and to everyone around you. That's perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned over the years. And the best advice of all is To thy own self be true.

4 comments:

  1. Happy birthday!

    (That third picture made me tear up! It's something I struggle with so much, wanting to be a good role model for my children but know that I fail so often. You're doing it right!)

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  2. Yes, I was weepy over that too. (Even though my inner editor was thinking: role model needs to help you with your grammar and spelling, sweet child! I bit my tongue).

    Maybe it's weird, but I thought it was important to tell her, too, that she would be just like herself when she grew up--as amazing and wonderful as she is right now. I'm on the fence about role models--good to have them, but also good to be true to yourself and not try to live up to someone else's standards and expectations.

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  3. That's interesting what you said about role models. I have never thought that the role model would place expectations or standards on anyone, but I can see now how that might not necessarily be the case.

    I'm going to think about this for a bit. Hmm...

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  4. I think it may be more the case if the role model is a figure close to one--like a mother, or a grandmother, or a brother. Not that the role model would even know that the other was experiencing pressure to be like him/her--not consiously applied pressure in any way. But i think it can be hard to break out of the shadow of a larger than life personality (not that I'm at all saying that's me; but it is something I've thought about). So important that our role models inspire us to be our better/best selves, not make us anxious that we're falling short.

    I'm probably way over-thinking this. I just want my kids to find their own paths to happiness and success and contentment and joy, and I know each path will be unique to each child.

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