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Cathy: Double Whammy

Original art by SBM

Original art by SBM

Everyone is thinking resolutions, new beginnings, new projects, etc at this time of year. On news programs and morning shows, they obsess about it for weeks leading to and long after the big ball drop in Times Square. Everywhere you turn, a neighbor, the grocery clerk, your mechanic, discusses options and fall offs for this and all prior New Year’s. I have the extra special honor of having my birthday in the same week, so I get a double whammy.

I’m putting all this resolution stuff to bed. This weekend I heard an interesting take on viewing birthdays as a new beginning and a turning point for putting hope into action, optimism into more than just dreams. Rather than just the pointing out: yes I survived another one. Oh boy, yep! I reached 43 big ones! With a new baby here, still can’t believe how I pulled that one off, but I have another still gestating — my manuscript.

I admit, in this past crazy holiday time, including up to two weeks prior, with all in the house sick in various states, myself included, I mostly mulled the manuscript in the back – or fore — of my mind. Not much writing got done while coughing, snuffling, caring for coughing and snuffling, prepping for all three holidays, guests, travelling, and so on. Nevermind the two solid weeks of Winter Break! In my own schooling or in my years working in public schools have I ever had a two solid weeks’ worth of vacation. Finally I’m beginning to feel like life might settle back down.

Honey baked the cake. Yum!

Honey baked the cake. Yum!

And then rolls up my birthday, like a big old tail finned red Cadillac. That’s right, my birthday is an American model. I don’t think we have many of my particular vintage Japanese models floating around here. I’m certainly not a compact model anymore, either, though I was often noted for being so until recently.

Anyway, I felt really creaky and crummy yesterday, and my dear dh who is a bit of a grumbler himself, managed to take something I said personally, though that wasn’t where I was going. We have this particular communication defect pretty often, it goes both ways. Well, this time, as crummy as I felt, I said, after I wrote an inflammatory note, blew up, cried, and bemoaned, that I do not want to live this way anymore. I will not try to be the solitary cheerleader in the family of grumblers. I will do my best not to grumble myself. And if anyone around here grumbles, I’m throwing a sock at their head.

My main really good Life Philosophy is that while it may be hard, it may be challenging, at some times more so than others, the bottom line on Life is that it is Good. Life is an Adventure. Life is Beautiful, Everywhere, All Around Us, Everyday. This year in particular, after a couple of rough crabby ones, with some pretty incredible joys, I am going to return to living mine as such — especially in writing. But I’m also going to buy that camping equipment before summer, and get these kids out into the world and Mother Nature. Get out and stare up at the stars while the campfire burns, smoke and pollen in our eyes, up our noses, and bugs, too.

Isn’t that, right there, whether you’re a writer, artist, or accountant, what life is all about? No computers, no TV, no handheld video games. It’s you, your family, the night and stars, and by day fishing, even if you catch a dagblasted empty hook, or just walking along a beachy, or woodsy trail. Then I’m going off-path. Not that I was ever one much for staying on it. Especially looking back at all the above mixed metaphors and winding tangents just since the first paragraph here.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love your tail-finned cadillac metaphor. We’ve been watching a whole lot of the movie Cars around here lately and I’m always impressed by how particular models of cars suit each character so well. Then I wonder what model I’d be…

    On another note, I am the cheerleader around here, too, and also the one that inspires action. Neither Tom nor I ever really sits on our laurels, but I am almost always the catalyst for change around here, the one saying “What if…,” and the one who makes agressive decisions based on the things I anticipate happening down the road.

    Tom and I are like stock characters in a novel. I say, “Let’s do X!” And he lists every possible roadblock and financial setback he can think of, to which I say “Oh, how bad can it be…” And then we find out. 😛

    Even a bad adventure is better than no adventure at all, and bugs up the nose make one heck of a story…

    January 8, 2009
  2. E-J #

    Fantastic message – you are motivational, Cathy! The world needs more socks thrown at heads (though not lovingly hand-knitted socks, of course, only shop-bought ones) – and, for that matter, more winding tangents.

    January 8, 2009
  3. Jen #

    Amen to the adventure and all its winding tangents! Many happy returns to you. Thanks for this wonderful post! Be well and say hi to Mother Nature for me when you get there…. I have a similar goal for the coming year, now that we’ve proven we can survive a bit of camping with the kids.

    January 8, 2009
  4. cathy #

    brittany, we we should get together with our guys and babies sometime. i think we’ve a lot of similar dynamics! up for some camping? lol! i’m feeling a bit like a 73 pinto today – minus the recall.

    thank you e-j! i’ve thrown a few already since writing this. although, i shall recommend not doing so at the dinner table! but it gets the recipient to laugh and consider what they just sounded like so much better than mocking them.

    January 8, 2009
  5. cathy #

    ah, jen, so you’ve made it a step farther than i!

    the boys and i have been planning a big x-country trip for years, latest time goal is summer 2011, so k can share driving and c will be out of diapers, i hope. then it slowly occurred to me that i’ve never taken them camping, though they’ve enjoyed campfires in both MA and ME since they were babies. we want to hit the biggies: mt rushmore, badlands, yellowstone, grand canyon, etc. of course we need to hit the pacific. shooting for doing so in san diego, and include legoland, which they still claim they want to see, and will when they’re 16 and 12-13.

    after latest reports i need to find a way to squeeze in glacier national park before no glaciers, too.

    January 8, 2009
  6. hurray for the cheerleaders and the ones who make it all happen. sounds like we all share that same dynamic. i play that role in my house as well, and it does get at tiring times, though i have to admit it’s pretty easy to get five-year-old girls excited about stuff…unless it involves cleaning up their messes.

    i agree that LIFE is GOOD. i’ve always been blessed with a fairly sunny disposition (if not downright kooky at times), and i’m glad for that. my dh coined the phrase “life is far too important to be taken too seriously” and we try to live by that.

    enjoy your adventures, cath, and the tangents are the best part. i highly recommend traveling without a set itinerary! and i highly recommended glacier. dh and i did a three week trip throughout the northwest about ten years ago (when we ran the alaska marathon) and spent time in glacier. it was by far my favorite stop on the trip. and go in june/july! it doesn’t get dark until nearly midnight! 🙂 our alaska marathon was actually on the summer solstice and we sat outside and had a beer in beautiful sunlit skies, at 2am in the morning. yet another tangent…

    January 8, 2009
  7. cathy #

    lol! kelly, tho it sounds wonderful, alaska is not on our agenda this trip. we’re sticking to the lower 48. glacier national in montana is currently loosing all glaciers. very sad.

    January 8, 2009
  8. Kristine #

    Beautiful post, Cathy. I think everyone can benefit from some time outside watching the stars and focusing on what really matters.

    And of course…Happy Birthday!!! 🙂

    January 8, 2009
  9. cathy #

    thank you, kristine!

    January 8, 2009
  10. Liz #

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Cathy!

    Darin & I were thinking about taking the kids camping this year, too. We’ll have to compare notes this summer!

    January 8, 2009
  11. Thanks for the fun read, Cathy.

    As someone who went camping with her mother every summer while growing up (some of you saw the evidence of Camping with Cats that I posted a few months back), I say go for it! Although I have to confess that I did not grow into a camp-loving adult. Nature, great. Having to was dishes at a campsite and pee in the woods, not so much. Afraid I’ve turned into one of these: “We’re going camping? You mean, we’re staying at the Holiday Inn??”

    January 8, 2009
  12. Amen!

    And I thought that we were the only family with a grumbling problem, which, at times, makes me want to throw something a little less innocuous than a sock. :0

    I also love camping, and you are inspiring me to take a trip this spring. It’s been ages since we’ve gone, and I know our kids would love it. An open fire, a good hiking path, and a mountaintop, preferably with wild blueberries, always helps one gain perspective.

    And, Happy belated Birthday! (I wonder if you have the same one as my girl, Liv…? She’s the 6th).

    January 8, 2009
  13. cathy #

    that’s great! all us writer moms invading the countryside this summer! meet you on the trail, liz and mary.

    and yes, your daughter and i share birthdays! and socks work very effectively, tho, i’ll repeat my recommedation to not necessarily launch at the table.

    too bad, miranda, isn’t this your eldest’s last chance summer before college? you must make him suffer by spending qt with you and all those little sibs outside with no electronics!

    January 8, 2009
  14. happy birthday!
    great post …
    the first time i went camping as a family, my youngest was three months old … it was a grand adventure for sure …. roasted marshmallows are surely the stickiest substance on the planet ….
    the key to a grand life is living it … not waiting for the right time to do something …. do it now …

    January 8, 2009
  15. I LOVE that, Elizabeth – your comment about the grand life, that is. I think that has to be my 2009 mantra…

    January 9, 2009
  16. cathy #

    thanks, elizabeth! i knew you’d have an enthused response!

    mary, it usually is my mantra, but sometimes i forget. and sometimes life throws curveballs that make living grandly difficult, like bedrest pregancies and recoveries. i wanted to live fully, but then i couldn’t walk, so grand became babystepping thru recovery. but, baby, i’m back! almost…

    January 9, 2009

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