Whoever said that birthdays go downhill after 21 clearly didn’t factor in life-changing events; for today has truly been one of the best birthdays ever.
In my case, post cancer diagnosis but pre-treatment, my birthday has proved to be a focal point for re-affirming friendships, showing support and for incredible generosity to make the soul sing and the spirit soar…which quite frankly I need at the moment.
I have also noticed that 'birthday-enhancement', as I shall term this phenomenon of experiencing these annual festivities on steroids, it also true of positive life events, as much as traumatic ones. I noticed that after the birth of both my children, my birthday was more poignant as a celebration of self, an opportunity to 'be me again' flying in the face of the selflessness and confusion of identity that comes with the arrival of highly dependent mini-humans.
(As an aside, I have always been somewhat irritated that babies do not arrive just a little more fully formed and developed. Puppies, foals, lambs and calves (be they bovine or elephantine) all feed, stand and walk within minutes of their birth. Babies take so much more investment of time and energy! Curse our ancestors for the evolutionary process that took us from four legs to two and narrowed our pelvises, thus necessitating earlier birth. Although on the upside, shorter gestation is not to be sniffed at, so I guess it swinging in roundabouts).
Back to the matter in hand, I feel I have been doubly lucky this year, as in pouring my heart and mind out through this new-fangled blogging malarkey, I have had the amazing fortune to have (unintentionally) seeded genuine and meaningful gift ideas to people. This is honestly not what I had planned, but a truly wonderful consequence of just being candid.
And so it is that following certain blog posts I have become the lucky recipient of a magnificent selection of totally appropriate, on-trend and esteem-boosting knitwear (see 'The baggier the better' ) that disguises my yucky but indispensible colostomy bag and means I can forget about it and feel (and act) more like myself. I have also had practically-edible, luxury toiletries (see 'Hot water has healing properties' blog) and some wonderful stationery for future musings (see 'Spangly stationery'.
Although well done to the clever clogs who pointed out my rapid contradictions of 'terms and conditions'. In the intro to my blog I promised no unicorns, or roses, then a mere 10 days on…wham bam...huge celebration over my unicorn pencil-case. I can only apologise. I will try and steer clear of such hypocrisy in future.
Beyond all of this, the words, letters and cards both today and in recent weeks, be they digital or physical have been truly tear-jerking at times. Which is good, as I love a good cathartic cry.
I grew up in a household where words and notes mattered. They still matter to me more than I can say. I have memories of returning from a boozy night-out to find a post-it note on the bread board along with a packet of crumpets and an air freshener saying ‘The oldies have turned into pumpkins and gone to bed. I hope Cinderella had a good night and didn’t lose her shoe!? Eat well and please spray your coat’ (This was back in the days where smoking indoors meant returning like a living distributor of eau-de-ash-tray). So, thanks to my parents, I too am a fan of little notes, a few words that show you care and that you’ve listened, can make the world of difference.
So today I feel immensely spoilt and blessed. Wealth both material and emotional has come my way in abundance. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
One final note of appreciation must go to the flowers. Oh my…the flowers!! If there was ever a physical item to make you smile inside, to bring memories of the sender, to lift your spirits with scent and aesthetic beauty…it would be flowers.
Nature is always calming to the human soul. As a prior student of English literature, I recall that the technical term for this is ‘pathetic fallacy,’ which really doesn't do justice to what it means. The bottom line is that in times of strife, and indeed, euphoria, we often seek out nature to mirror our own emotions. Sometimes the raging waves crashing on the seashore can do more to express and dissipate our anger and grief than anything else, just as the sunrises (which so many of you been generous enough to share via #sunrisesforKim) can sometimes do more to inspire hope than words alone.
Flowers are an integral part of that. Wonderful colours, shapes and smells that whilst unlikely to fulfil their original destiny as a means of reproducing (via pollination, etc) in my living room...or kitchen...or bedroom, their beauty and fragility does much to make me happy...which I hope is a fate that the flowers too (were they capable of emotions), would be content with.
And so, far from being yet-another birthday, seemingly unimportant as there is no great milestone ending in a -0 which I am reaching, 34 turns out to be a fantastic age to be. A wonderful line in the sand from which to reflect on the storm just passed, to glance ahead to the obstacles yet to be crossed before I reach 35…and most importantly to bask in the warmth of friendship and wallow in the pool of goodwill that I have received today.
Today I am grateful indeed for everything.