Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turning 44, and one of the things I've learned

On the same day as the shooting in Orlando, I turned 44.  My husband, kids and I were hiking on a mountain top to an abandoned fire lookout, kayaking on a magical lake, and feeling lots of love and joy.

A day later, when I found out about the tragedy, I started feeling guilty about all the bliss I felt on my birthday.  The guilt lasted exactly 10 seconds, because I realized that the kinds of feelings I experienced on my birthday are exactly what the world needs in the face of insanity, fear, hatred and death.  We need love, joy, community, family.

I am so heartbroken about what happened.  And as always in the face of unspeakable grief I am holding my loved ones close, trying to teach them inclusivity, that we humans are so much more alike than not and thus should treat each other like brothers and sisters.  

Anyway.  I am now 44, rapidly heading towards the half century mark.  I think this would freak me out more if I didn't feel so healthy and strong.  Honestly, I feel more vibrant than I ever have.  

My hair is turning grayer, my wrinkles are deepening, my hands are looking like the appendages of a woman 20 years older than me (I don't wear gloves when gardening or washing dishes), but I feel wiser, deeper, and more seasoned. 

I think ageing has a lot do do with our mindset.  Our culture tells us that we will get aches and pains, that we will get sick, tired and ugly.  Well, I have an issue with that paradigm.  There's nothing that says we can't get healthier and more alive as we age, right?  I jump on that band wagon!  Jump with me!

The hike up the fire lookout was gorgeous.  Wildflowers, sweeping vistas, ferns, gnarled trees...

Don't worry, she didn't kill it. This butterfly was dead, and she was sad and insisted on a proper burial.
On the way down, I lagged behind.  Steve, who knows I like my space, took the kids with their chattering and noisy enthusiasm and led them down the mountain, while I quietly walked alone, blissed out.  The afternoon light was so soft and pretty, bathing everything in golden light.

The backlit flowers seemed to call out to me to stop and admire them.  I reflected on how much I've learned from flowers.  Mostly it's about how to be fully present, to exist in a grounded way and letting their light and beauty shine unapologetically.

What I love about flowers (and everything in nature, really) is that they just ARE.  They live fully in the moment without judging.  Lupins don't look at a daisies and say "Gosh, I wish they weren't so different from me!".  A rose doesn't lament that one of her petals is a different size than another one of her petals, wishing she looked different.  She just keeps on blooming her butt off, spreading her gorgeous fragrance.  One flower doesn't judge another: "Look at that bitch!  Who does she think she is for showing off like that with her vibrant colours?  I wish she kept it down a little."

I totally wanna live like that.

That night, we slept in our friend's tiny cabin and went bicycling (me) and eating cinnamon rolls (the rest of my family), and then headed to Pearrygin Lake to kayak.  Steve gave me a kayak for my birthday (!!!), so we naturally had to test it.  The lake's surface was like glass and took my breath away with its beauty.

My son Luke must have rolled his eyes at me because I kept exclaiming how gorgeous it was.  By the way, you know what the kids' present was for me?  They cleaned out the fridge after I hinted how much this would mean to me.  Have I told you how much I love these kids?  

What are you holding near and dear these days?

PS: I am giving away a spot in my self-paced, start-and-end-whenever-you-like fermentation course at the Woolly Moss Roots blog.  Head on over there and leave a comment to win it.  Even if you don't win, you can claim 10 percent off.  Get the coupon code at Woolly Moss Roots.


  1. Beautiful pictures! I like your thoughts about being less judgemental/competitive. The world would be a better place, I think, with less pressure to compete. Happy birthday! 44 is a good age (I should know).

  2. I think you are living like the flowers!

    About the ageing thing. I was like you for years. The picture of health and had the same mindset and then... pow! I got Valley Fever (which is a fungal pneumonia for which there is NO cure for me because of the severity of my case) and everything changed. I lost 16 pounds in 16 days and almost died (I think I've told you about this before). It really aged me and it's taken me a long, long time to get back to "normal" but I think I would be a lot more "normal" if that hadn't happened. Some things you can't do anything about. (I know you know what I'm talking about) Other things you can. I think you are doing the best you can with your healthy lifestyle and loving attitude. And I hope nothing ever happens. For every blessing we have (even as ordinary as waking up every morning) I think gratitude is in order. That way maybe we will choose to live life like a flower bursting with color.

    So Happy Belated Birthday you spring chicken! I remember when I was 44. I think middle age is the best. You're over the silliness of youth but still have the vigor of youth.

    1. Oh yes, I know what you are talking about. Some things just happen, and you can't do anything about them. Yet even when our son almost died when he got Kawasaki disease, both my husband and I never went to the victim stance of "Oh no, why is this happening to us?!", but we aligned with the goodness of the universe and pictured him healthy and strong, even in the face of his severe disease.

  3. Beautifully written Corina. And Happy Birthday!!

  4. Days of grieving since Sunday were broken upon reading "One flower doesn't judge another: "Look at that bitch! Who does she think she is for showing off like that with her vibrant colours? I wish she kept it down a little."

    Thank you. We all need more of that humor and understanding.

    1. Ohhh, sweetheart, I'm sorry for your grieving. I'm sending you a huge hug from across the river, knowing that there is grieving going on here, too. I'm glad to hear that some of your pain got relieved just a little bit by reading my little flower impersonation. Love you!

  5. Springchicken indeed!!
    I am one of those who has done his ageing before his years, both mentally and physically. In my mind and in my bones I am older, but my appearance actually does not show my true age, since I never are given the actual number of winters I have seen.
    Sometimes I too look at my hands and see the hands of an old man.
    How do they say? It is not the age, but the milage? Yet the bodywork seems to be doing alright still. Not much rust there, even though the chassis creaks and groans regularly and the gastank has trouble staying filled up.

    All this and seeing my kids grow up, bringing home graduations and girlfriends, spotting strands of pure white in my beard... it is showing me that the summer of my life is slowly coming to an end.

    1. Ron, this trips me out most: seeing my kids grow up. I can't believe that my oldest son will be 14 this winter.
      When you say "It's not the age but the mileage" I think of all the years I worked my body too hard. I was always proud of outworking guys when doing physical labor, but this damaged parts of my body. As I have learned to actually listen and heed my body's warning signals, I haven't had any injuries any more. :)

    2. So do I, but there is some permanent damage done in the years before "wisdom", but I learned how to deal with that..... sort of. There is this small part of my brain, called stubbornness that messes things up occasionally. ;)

  6. It's so wonderful that you spent your birthday focusing on the beauty around you and the joy you give and receive with your family. I turn 40 this fall and normally I'm not a big fan of birthdays, but this year I've found myself accepting my grays, the lines in my face and I'm actually taking pride in the fact that I'm starting to see my mother's hands when I look at my own...because I know how much my mother has accomplished in her 67 years and how much I have learned from those hands. I hope one day that my own children will look at their hands the same way and think of me.


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