I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Old and new beginnings

Seventy-Seven today
I woke this morning after a wonderful sleep, tucked into my down comforter while the temperature fell outside to below freezing. And today I am older, according to the calendar, anyway. I feel the same as I did yesterday, but nobody can say that old lady is anything but, well... old!

Yesterday when I ordered my coffee at Avellino's, I received a surprise: it was paid for and this lovely carrot cake muffin as well. Although it wasn't yet my birthday, a dear blogging friend had sent a letter to Avellino's, with instructions to surprise me with this, with a $10 tucked inside, too. Far Side of Fifty outdid herself this year with this surprise. They were supposed to do it today, but yesterday was Carrie's last day, so they went ahead and sang to me, and I burst into tears when I saw the card. I cannot tell her enough how touched I am by her kindness, a woman I will probably never meet but feel like is family. Over the years I have received her unique wood carvings and homemade cards, and they have all touched me, but not quite like this.

I took a blogging break from my other blog on Thanksgiving Day, because I'm feeling the need for some changes in my life. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for many years I have written a post on DJan-ity, my other blog, and I just didn't feel much like it, so I did what I've seen other bloggers do: take a break. Nobody but me set up the schedule, and although I do appreciate routine, it had become a burden. I don't feel the same about this one, because it's quite a different animal. Once a week on Sunday morning, I sit down and pour out my feelings and concerns about life right here. Sometimes it's hard to find a topic, but by the time I've finished, I always feel like I've figured things out a bit. Roaming around inside my head, looking for words and thoughts of consequence always helps me start my Sunday with a more focused outlook. Today is the same, but it's also my birthday. Time to take stock and consider where I'm going from here.

I started writing here almost exactly ten years ago. Here's a link to the first post on December 6, 2009. I have written 1,825 posts since then, always on a Sunday morning, whether in Florida or Istanbul or here in Bellingham, my adopted home. The third picture in the masthead is now more than ten years old, but I'm not actually able to change the heading unless I start over, since the software I used to create it is long gone. The world has moved on, too. A decade more of life under my belt, which is fortunately still the same circumference as it was then. That has been a struggle, but trying to stay healthy and relatively fit is an important goal, one that will not change for as long as I can continue to walk, hike, do yoga and work out at the gym.
Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you're aboard, there's nothing you can do. —Golda Meir
Have you ever been on a plane during a storm? I have, many times, and I know that the only way to keep myself from panic is to clutch the armrests and take deep breaths. That's sort of the way I feel about life these days. Every day takes every one of us closer to the end, but that's the genius of life itself: we need to clear off the dance floor so others can have room to dance. When I was born, there were fewer than 3 billion people on the earth; today, it's 7.7 billion. No wonder the world seems so much more crowded now, it actually is. There's no reason to try and move to a less densely populated place, because all the good places are overrun with people already. I will probably see more changes in the world before I die, but the world will continue to attempt to deal with the enormous difficulty of exponential population growth. One day I will not be here to worry about it, and there will be a bit more room on the dance floor.

I am feeling the need to change some of my restrictive behaviors, but I don't feel any need to sweep everything away in one fell swoop. When I first began to experience the need for change, that's what I wanted to do, but the simple act of removing one of my self-imposed limits on myself changed the dynamic. Now I can look at my life and take positive steps to find more happiness in each day. My relationship with my family is changing, too. Ever since my brother-in-law Pete died in February 2011, I've spent several hours a month talking with my sister Norma Jean on FaceTime, and I think we are both finding the routine a bit of an unnecessary restriction. I'm not sure exactly how to change that dynamic, but when we talk next, we'll figure out a solution, I'm sure. It feels good to allow myself to move ahead and not drag past routine along behind me.

Of course, I am a person who loves to have an ordered life, a way to differentiate the days now that I'm no longer working. And blogging has not only served to fill my need to write on a schedule, publish my pictures on a platform easily accessed by others, but also to continue the incredible connection I've formed with so many fellow bloggers. My friend Rita in North Dakota sent me a lovely handmade birthday card, and I've already told you about Far Side's gift, and I know I will receive more good wishes generated by this post from my dear friends. Through blogging, I know of the trials, tribulations, joys and celebrations that we all share with one another. Ten years ago, when I started this blog, I decided not to court followers, so every one of you has come to me because you wanted to. That carries a great deal of significance to this humble and dedicated blogger. We come to Blogaritaville together to share our lives fully with one another. When I stumble, somebody comes up with an idea to help me along, and I hope I've done that for others, too.

And with these final words, my post for this special Sunday morning comes to a close. My dear partner sleeps contentedly next to me, the coffee shop will open soon and I'll join my friends there, before heading off to the movies this afternoon with my friend Judy. I will spend some time this evening talking and laughing with SG before the day ends. But right now, I am feeling like one of the luckiest people in the world, to have started my day with you. Be well until we meet again next week, dear friends.


gigi-hawaii said...

I am sorry about your break from your other blog. But, this Sunday gig is wonderful and you should keep it. Happy birthday and more to come!

Linda Reeder said...

Well, Happy Birthday, old friend! Of course I mean our friendship is old, not you!:-)
It sounds like your Sunday will be pretty typical, no wild celebrations. I am very impressed, and touched, by Far Side's effort to to make your birthday special. You are a person who is loved.
While you are not blogging, I hope you will check in with those of us who still are. My posting has always been irregular, based on when I have something to share. Looking at my memories on Facebook, I see that most of it falls into annual patterns. From year to year not much is new, and yet each year is a renewal. Yours will be too.
Happy Birthday!

Marie Smith said...

Happy birthday, dear Jan. Wanting to make changes is a good sign. You continue to be engaged in life enough to be creative with your experience of it. Well done. It bodes well for this coming year.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Birthday!! I hope you have a special day!! So glad you appreciated the surprise! Thank you for being you!! Sending you a hug today on your 77th Birthday!

ApacheDug said...

Happy Birthday, DJan! What an honest, thoughtful post. I realize we don't know one another (I've only commented on last week's post) but I spent some time reading your earlier ones, and have very much enjoyed what you've had to say over many Sunday mornings. (I am very impressed with your discipline for writing, let alone your adventuresome life on your other blog!) Anyway, sounds like your birthday is off to a happy start & I hope the rest of your day is a super special one.

Rian said...

Happy 77th Birthday DJan! How wonderful to have a good night’s sleep and your partner and good friends to start your day! Enjoy your coffee and your movie... and sending a virtual birthday

Bonnie said...

Happy Birthday my dear friend! I know I don't comment often but I've read and enjoyed both of your blogs for several years. I consider you a special person in my life and you help me in ways you will never know. Thank you for being there and thank you for being you!

Elephant's Child said...

A very, very happy birthday dear DJan. With many more happy days to come. Happy bloganniversary for this blog too. I do love your musings, they often speak loudly to me.
And yes, the friends I have made here in the blogosphere (you included of course) have become very, very dear to me.

Glenda Beall said...

This is indeed a special day. I am so glad I found your blog and you have become my friend. My recent birthday, Oct. 22, made me realize I needed to make some changes and I have. Some things I gave up and I miss, but others will make my life simpler and easier.
Have a great day and celebrate you all month!

Arkansas Patti said...

Happy Birthday dear blog buddy. Remember to me,age wise, you are still a puppy:)) What an amazingly thoughtful gift from Far Side of Fifty. Also happy blogaversary. You speak in a voice that many of us can relate to. We have been at this about the same amount of time.
So glad you are keeping Sunday's open for us to visit. Have a wonderful day and year.

Gigi said...

Happy birthday my dear, dear friend! I can understand your feeling to change things up. Routine and order are old standbys but then sometimes we fall into a rut and need to shake things up a little.

Sending hugs and wishes for a wonderful week!

marlu said...

Happy Birthday from flat, but lovely in its own way, Kansas. I enjoy your blogs and the news and scenery from the Great North West! My dear cousin lived in Shelton, WA. I loved visiting her and seeing all the beauty there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

William Kendall said...

Happy Birthday!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

A very happy birthday this Sunday to you. Yes I am a lucky fellow big friend of yours from the beginning but I have had to cut back because my eyes are struggling.you are right we are wise to adjust our ways over time to move into new phases along life’s journey. I just wrote about my 50th anniversary. And while it was amazing to reach it , it was also full of serious challenges with hubby the past years. Buddy is what has been my rock. Once again he looks forward to the Christmas season and Santas.
As you enjoy this extra special Sunday hugs to you.

Red said...

A very happy birthday DJan. It's only the number that changes. The girl is still the same. The girls is also doing the right thing to have a very good quality of life. If we're going to live it should be enjoyable.

The Furry Gnome said...

My best wishes for your Happy Birthday!

Rita said...

Happy Birthday! I did have the right date after all--LOL! Connie sure thought of the perfect surprise for you--OMG!! I guess it's time to create another routine. I know I've had to alter mine many times over the years but I, also, do like some type of a routine.

I never tried to collect followers, either, but I do have my smattering of loyal folks whom I have grown to care so much about over the years. You are certainly one of them and I would truly miss your wonderful, contemplative Sunday posts if you ever quit these! And I would worry and wonder how you were doing. Our blog families become a part of our lives...a precious part. Happy birthday, Jan!! :) :)

Galen Pearl said...

Happy Birthday! You have another blog??!! I'm going right over to take a look! My goodness, how do you keep up with two???

Trish MacGregor said...

Happy birthday to a beautiful Sadge! Please keep blogging. We love your posts.

Linda Myers said...

Happy birthday to you, DJan, fellow former Vashonista!

Barbara Torris said...

Yes, Golda Meir was right, "old age is like a plane you cannot get off." You seem so young to me Jan that I cannot imagine restricting your life in anyway. I suppose the hardest thing for any of us to let go of are those fences that we build with routine. You have it figured out I think. Blogging should be fun and even, dare I say, spontaneous. Inspiration does not usually run on a schedule.

I hope you have had a wonderful week and Happy Birthday.

new blog domain address: http://www.retireinstyleblogtoo.com

Jackie said...

You are an incredibly genuine and warm-hearted human being. I say that with much love and admiration to someone I have never met.
Yes. I found your blog years ago and began reading and then began commenting. You didn’t seek me out. I found you and found you to be sincere. I respect that quality in someone. I don’t comment often, and I don’t blog as much as I used to, but there are those bloggers who I know are there, who will be there, and who I can count on to feel the truth and the love when I visit them. That is you, Jan.
Happy birthday!
May our Lord continue to bless you and those you love.

crnelius said...

(that was odd... I thought I posted... I guess I didn't)
However, I Loved your post. It's rare for me to Ever say anything online, but your post was Amazing.
You're Awesome, I Love you, Happy Birthday!