Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On 50

Happiness and State of Mind

This weekend, my family is having a birthday dinner for me.  It got me thinking about the decades (now 5 of them) of my life, and moving forward.
Like, what if they want me to say something at the dinner???

Then, as often happens, an appropriate blog post entered my inbox.  See, now there’s a sentence that would have made no sense 10 years ago.  Before I got kicked off Facebook for using it for commercial purposes…I digress.

I truly believe that happiness is a decision we make each and every morning when our feet hit the floor next to the bed.  Apparently Christopher Penn feels the same way, as he about writes in his blog post TurningTrouble into Opportunity.

I had a great childhood in a wonderful neighbourhood with inspired parents.  It was fun, safe, evolving; there were endless kids around, we could leave our bikes on the lawn forever and the only worry was rust, and we headed out at 8 am and weren’t expected back until Mum blew her whistle at 5 pm for supper.  School, scholastically, was a cakewalk – there were bully problems and women named Liz still make me nervous, but we walked quite a distance from the city bus stop to the school and our parents didn’t keep us wrapped in cotton wool.  The teachers let us figure things out, and rapped knuckles when required.

Maybe that childhood is what created my expectation of happiness.  Things weren’t perfect in our house; my Dad worked hard to keep it all together for 4 kids, and Mum worked tirelessly in and out of the home, and we didn’t get everything we wanted every time we opened our mouths.  But man, we were happy kids.

When things go awry, and they will and do, I choose to see the opportunity and upside, like Chris Penn.

At 27, with a two year old, I had to take my husband to the Nova Scotia Hospital and have him committed for treatment.  We divorced and I raised my daughter largely by myself.  My parents were endlessly supportive, in every way.  The company I worked for faced bankruptcy when I was in my early 30s and with a six year old in tow, I started over again.  And it never occurred to me to be unhappy.  Jobs ended, relationships ended, and new ones began.  I remember a coworker complaining bitterly about how uncomfortable her pregnancy was – really???  I was quite sick for some of my pregnancy, and still loved every minute of it; an incredible adventure that I never experienced again.

2011 was my annis horribilis as the Queen said about 1992.  And it did steal a bit of my joy; I cannot deny it.  People I had put faith in betrayed me.  And in the end, I am better, stronger and more perceptive than I was before.  So for that, I am happy.  I discovered friends and support from places and people I hadn’t expected, and have met some amazing new people who have inspired me; for that I am happy.

At 50, I figure I’m nearing middle age.  My long term goal in life is to live to 2067; I’ll be 105.  I want to make it to see Canada’s Bicentennial, since I remember the Centennial.  I come from decent genes and take care of myself – it could happen.  I could also get hit by a bus, or die of a spider bite during a vacation.  We don’t know what’s coming but we do have control over how we rise to meet whatever comes.

Did I mention my family is having a party for me?  See, that makes me very happy.  I love my family.  We’re a sit around the campfire and sing James Taylor songs family, and that makes me happy.  I have incredible friends and great new coworkers.  That makes me happy.  There are opportunities for me and others all around me, and I am happy for that too.  I am grateful for everything I have and all the challenges that I've met.  Mostly though, I'm simply happy.

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - 
that a whole new life has opened before you. 
~ Agatha Christie