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Year 48: Touching Grass

The morning of my birthday, my uncle called and greeted me with, “Happy Birthday, Old Lady!”

I laughed and responded, “Half of me feels old and wants to stay in bed for the rest of the day. The other half feels quite young and wants to go ride my bike!” I don’t think he expected such a response. One full of life and vibrancy.

By the end of my birthday weekend, I realized I don’t feel old at all. I’m simply tired. Exhausted. The last two years have been spent working far too much and way too hard far out of reach of anything touching my comfort zone. I haven’t focused on joy or spent time enjoying myself at all. My only pleasure has been occasional visits to Lake Michigan to sit, reflect, meditate and take pictures. No walks. No bike rides. No friend time or conversations. Very little writing and journaling.

My birthday present to myself this year was to only do things I enjoyed doing. By birth day, I mean the month of August.

Enjoying Lake Michigan from Milan to Chicago

The month began with planning a weekend trip to New York City. I really wanted to visit my former home. Take pictures, fly my drone, walk through the City, ride through Central Park take in a Broadway show or two. Eat at a few of my favorite restaurants. Oh, how I miss NYC food! 😋 Anyway the cost of such a weekend, even as budget conscious as I am now, would have been what I need for a drywall order to finish walling the second floor of my rehab.

Then I remembered InvestFest is happening the same week in Atlanta. So, I pivoted my plans to ATL. About the same cost. And the only food I’m interested in is Dinosaur beef ribs, which my stomach can’t really process. I was willing to talk myself into the expense. I needed to get out. I need to network. I need to continue learning about investing. A work trip with some good food and possible opportunities looked and sounded good.

I got as far as comparing flights. Trying to figure out arrival and departure times stumped me. InvestFest was less than three weeks out and there was no agenda posted anywhere. I reached out via social media asking for an agenda and speaker schedule. Anything I could plan around to justify spending money needed for my biggest investment, my first gut-rehab, on a trip.

As I type, InvestFest starts in three days and there is still no agenda. No schedule. Just a glob of names on a post.

Having worked at a very senior level with executives for whom I planned many townhalls, conferences, and events, nothing happens without an agenda. When you want people to show up, they need to know what, when and who they are showing up for. And speakers are not signing on without locking in the time they are expected to speak. They could’ve shared the speaking time of each daily headliner. I could’ve worked with that.

Needless to say, I didn’t book the flights. As cash strapped as I am, my time is still too valuable to be sitting in someone’s convention hall hoping to hear a speaker I want to see, then having to leave right before they start.

I’m okay waiting for the YouTube uploads.

So that’s how the month started, wanting to get away from my current daily life to enjoy moments that have no connection to me.

The way the month is going is much preferred. I love the coupons and rewards retailers and venues send email and app subscribers. I structure my shopping, eating and entertainment accordingly. A whole month sprinkled with happy moments and good food.

A few years ago, I decided the day of my birthday would be for me only. It started off as a no travel day. Wherever I was, there I would be content with whatever the day brought. Celebrations with people were for before and after.

Bitmoji joy

This year, my sister unexpectedly joined me. She was fresh out of the hospital and trying to speak to her on the phone was beyond aggravating. I was headed out for food and asked if she wanted to join me. She did. She showed up. She talked and opened up more than ever before. She shared some truths she’s never spoken on before. I was happy for the opportunity to have a whole conversation with her.

Shortly after dropping my sister off, I headed to Milwaukee Harbor to enjoy twilight. I took some very unsatisfying blurry selfies in the shadowy darkness. Sensing a challenge going night of photography, I drove around to a boat launch park for a view of the Hoan Bridge that I was standing behind while at the Harbor.

Twilight at Milwaukee Harbor

On the drive around the river bend, fireworks started blasting over the water. I must say, this was the second time in memory my birthday ended with fireworks. It’s quite the special feeling in mid-August. 🥰

I tried to get my drone up for aerial shots of the lit bridge with fireworks overhead, but the battery was nearly dead. My phone was on its last bars too, but I managed something to remember the day for.

Fireworks over the Hoan Bridge, Milwaukee, WI, August 17, 2023

All told, my forty-eighth birthday was deeply pleasing, satisfying, and full of love. I saw my sister and had a meaningful, lucid conversation with her. I spoke with an old friend. I enjoyed a favorite pastime at a favorite location. I shared plans for a future I hadn’t been able to plan for until last week.

So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat and drink and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 8:15
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Poem: 63 Today

63 Today 
Uncle Ed called to say his Big Sis would 
be 63 today. Oh! How alive 
that number sounds! I said I stopped counting 
at 60 for you and 45 for 
me. I’m still living in 2020, 
it seems. It was a good year, I think…. or 
maybe 60 and 45 were good 
numbers for me.  
It’s impossible to 
not remember, you’re always in my 
thoughts, but I worked today. Current job has  
kept me discombobulated. Life is 
emotionally taxing, financial- 
ly insecure, physically exhaust- 
ing. I’m guessing, life was the same, but more 
so, for you. I know you struggled, but you 
were so caring and grace-filled, it didn’t 
show negatively. How did you manage 
life with no focused care? No time to heal 
from one abusive phase to another? 
Were you ever at ease? Were you ever 
able to reflect and release? Did you 
experience joy? What did you hope for? 
How did you do it? Did you ever heal? 
Had you been allowed to age, would life have  
grown gentle and kind? Were gentleness and 
kindness something you understood enough 
to yearn for? 
Your presence was joy to me. 
What was joy to you? Was any portion  
of your earth time enjoyable? Better  
than bearable? Worthy of thanksgiving? 
63 today. Each year since you left 
I think I know you better than ever 
and not at all. Who were you, Terry Ann?  
What did you want for your life? Did you leave 
unfulfilled, aching? Did you give in, just  
let go of whatever kept you grounded?  
Wherever you are in life after earth, 
I pray you are imbued with joy, light and 
all good things. I pray no memories or 
shadows of your earthly sorrows travel 
with you. Should our spirits meet again, I 
ask only to embrace you with love and
gratitude. May the Creator of All
convey my prayer, my Beloved Mother.  

LaShawnda Jones, May 24., 2023