‘Twas yesterday. My birthday. 31 on the 31st. My golden birthday, gone in a flash. Shared another birthday with Harry Potter (and his creator JK Rowling), and now an anniversary with Chelsea Clinton, apparently. Went swimming in the sea, had a lovely Italian breakfast with my mother at Rustico Basel, a leisurely soy ice coffee with my sister at Loveat, and had a little wine and cheese night up on the roof garden with dear friends and family (some of the best Camembert on record!). Besides the detour of picking up party supplies, cleaning house, and baking my own cake, it was very relaxing.
I am absolutely thrilled that I had a wonderful birthday – and that it was like almost any other good day. What I mean by that is for the first time in my life, I didn’t put my birthday up on a pedestal. I didn’t stress out. I didn’t have high hopes or low hopes. I didn’t have hopes. And it was marvelous. Not too different than other marvelous days, but just a little more special. I am looking forward to future birthdays just like this. Fun, but without grandiose expectations.
Birthdays are always a good chance to take stock. In recent years I feel like I haven’t accomplished much. When you’re young, in school, working your first jobs, achieving demonstrable things is what’s expected. School plays, good grades, choir concerts, varsity letters, diplomas, certificates of honor, promotions, etc, etc. Now, it’s not so noticeable; life seems to grind on. A lot. And it’s not so clear what you or the world would consider an accomplishment. So, without further ado, an attempt at listing this years’ (potential) accomplishments, in no particular order:
- Forging a new career as a freelance virtual assistant , writing/blogging consultant, and editor.
- A trip to Provence with good friends for good food, good wine, good culture, good Scrabble, and good conversation.
- Lots of organic veg, lots of cooking and eating, and lots of blogging about it.
- Wine work – huge expos, weekend wine tastings, a couple trips to wineries, and my first actual (I guess, professional, ee gad!) presentation.
- Yoga! Lots and lots of Yoga. Every Thursday. Come rain or shine.
- Sommelier course – or the closest you can get to it in Israel. So much fun, for so many reasons.
- Got into grad school (MA in Creative Writing). Starting in 2 weeks. We’ll see how that goes…
- Buddhist meditation – life-changing practice. It’s saved me, for so many reasons.
- Vipassana retreat – silence and meditation 24/7 for 7
- Leadership, again – helped form a Sangha (meditation community), 10th college reunion committee recruitment chair (12 new members in less than 2 weeks!), and potentially volunteering to organize an alumni event for the U of C Israel Alumni Club.
- Reality TV show – my sister and I (and our lovely apartment) starred in a house hunting show.
- Almost a month in the States – spent quality time with old friends and family by way of an east coast whistle-stop tour, a mid-west road trip blasting Hemingway on the speakers, and an Iowa wedding. The best of times.
- Read some good books, made a couple good friends, drank some good wine, and at brief moments, felt good and knew it.
Not a bad year if you look at it empirically. I know that I diminish my accomplishments and experiences because the negative and what I perceive as missing, overshadow the good. Namely, the never-ending battle to achieve work-life balance, and the never-ending battle to get out of dodge (aka single-dom). Luckily, I’m much less paranoid about both.
My hope is that I (and all of us) will continue to become grounded, perceive the here-and-now as much as possible, be in a position to recognize moments of happiness when they come, explore our world, explore the paradox, create beauty, and take some risks. Some good big risks. Onward and upward!