Posts Tagged With: birthday

Day 1495: Look!

Look!  I changed my WordPress avatar yesterday, in honor of my 64th birthday.


Look!  My son took that photo at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Look!  It’s me as a camel.  Look!  It matches the banner of this blog.

Look!  Everywhere I looked yesterday, it was my birthday.

















Look!  I got lots of great presents yesterday!

Look!  It’s a song co-written and performed by Doris Troy!

Look!  It’s almost time for me to go to cardiac rehab.

Look!  It’s me, your grateful blogger, thanking all who helped me create this post and thanking you — of course! — for taking a look, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Day 99: Importance and unimportance, continued

Three days ago, I wrote about the phrase

“We are neither as important or as unimportant as we fear.”

And I dedicated that post to my friend, Jeanette, because I THOUGHT it was her birthday that day.

And it wasn’t her birthday.

I had tried to be a detective, figure it out, and be sure about it. But I was a lousy detective.

Every year, I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday. I know it’s in April, and I know it’s a single digit, but I am vague about the actual date.

And because I’ve known her for so long, and she is so important to me, I always think that I SHOULD know her birthday.

I’m afraid that she might misunderstand my not remembering. I fear that she might translate that into misunderstanding her importance to me.

I have that fear about other people too, because I can forget things about them. I tend to forget details about people’s lives. And I worry about how they might interpret that.

By the way, I panicked momentarily after I posted the erroneous birthday greeting. It was my worst fear coming true. Not only did I get her birthday gone, but, boy, did I make that mistake public! I felt terrible, beat myself up about my carelessness, and imagined Jeanette having all sorts of negative reactions.

That’s what the mind is for, apparently: imagining people you care about having all sorts of negative reactions to you.

However, I am glad to report this: I let go of those negative thoughts and fears REALLY QUICKLY. I mean, I’m talking five minutes. Then, I got in touch with the more probable story — that Jeanette would be okay — that she wouldn’t equate my mistaken birthday wish with her importance to me.

And I quickly used the antidote of Reality Testing. I called her. And she was laughing about it. She expressed all sorts of POSITIVE feelings about the post, not negative ones.

Before I end this, I wanted to write about another side of this issue of memory and importance.

Confession time!

When people forget details about my life or forget what I’ve told them, I can have a negative reaction to that. Not always, but especially if I’m feeling vulnerable, or thinking negative thoughts about myself. Then, people forgetting my birthday or other details about me can cause this thought to crop up:

I am not important to other people. If I was, they would remember things about me.

I also feel some shame about wanting to be more important to people — so that they do remember details about me.

But here’s the way I’m telling the story today. Every connection is important. I matter to other people. People matter to me. We affect each other.

And trying to figure out importance, based on details remembered, does not help.

Proof of that last sentence: I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday, and she is very important to me.

However, I think, this might be the year — This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — that I finally get her birthday into my head.

It’s 4/9!!

Happy Birthday, Jeanette.

And thanks for reading.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 54: My son’s birthday

It’s February 23, and my son is turning 15 today.

I’m so grateful he came into my life 15 years ago.

One of my many vivid memories of that day, right after he was born, was re-seeing, re-experiencing and understanding the word “birthday,” in a whole new way.

To celebrate my son’s birthday, I would like to post here, for your entertainment,  a YouTube video he made, several years ago.

I think my son is very creative and funny. And I love showing this video to people because it makes me laugh, every time I watch it, and I think it captures how creative and funny he is — and has been, since he was really young.

I checked with him to see if it was okay if I posted this today and he said it was. (And I showed him this whole post before I published it, too.)

Here’s the YouTube video, called “The Misheard Lyrics of ‘Louie Louie.'”

As I am posting this, it has over 54,000 views on YouTube!

It makes a mother proud.

But not as proud as I am about my son, and the person he is.  And not just on his birthday — every day.

Happy Birthday, Aaron!


Your mother

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Day 46: Words to Live By

I haven’t written much about how my 60th birthday party went down, way back on Groundhog Day (a.k.a Day 33) (a.k.a. February 2).

Planning that party did make an appearance in this blog,  on Day 16, when I was struggling with some self-judgment during that process.

My goal in planning that party was to create a day which was meaningful and fun, where people I appreciate and love could help me celebrate reaching  quite the birthday milestone.

One of my ideas was to put up on the wall giant post-it notes (these 25″ by 30″ beauties, right here), which people could write or draw on.  On some of those posters, I had written questions or topics that people could answer throughout the party. I  really liked that idea, because I thought that would help people engage and feel comfortable, soon after they entered the party, since the posters were hanging right where people first entered my place. Plus, in general, I LOVE asking people questions, so that made it more fun for ME.

Here were the questions I put up on the posters:

What is something in your life that you love?

What’s a really helpful lesson you’ve learned in your life?

Favorite movie?

Favorite song?

What makes a good party?

What’s something you haven’t done yet that you want to?

Words to live by?

If you could be any animal ….?

And during the party, it was fun for me to see my guests, engaging with each other around those questions. Plus, at the end of the party, I had — as a memento of the day — the answers to keep. All of the answers were anonymous, so that was fun, too — to guess who wrote what.

My idea for today’s blog was to pass on what people at my party wrote for “Words to Live By.”

This is what people wrote:

Disregard everything

Laugh a lot every day.

Laugh at lot at Ray every day. (This, I know, was written by my hilarious friend Janet, married to Ray.)

If not you, then who?

If not now, when?

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Show up, be gentle, and tell the truth 

Please and thank you.

No, you first.

Leap and the net will appear.

Why not??

Don’t sweat the “small stuff” — it’s all “small stuff.”


Live, love, laugh

Do one thing every day that scares you. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Life is emergent curriculum.

Those “Words to Live By” were just some of the many gifts I received at the party.

I’m pleased to re-gift them here, to you.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 33: Groundhog Day

It’s Groundhog Day!

I love Groundhog Day.

The groundhog saw his shadow today.  Which means, according to Punxsutawney Phil, that there will be an early spring.  Spring in four weeks, says the furry prognosticator!

Wait a minute.  That would mean spring will be here on March 2.  The groundhog is telling us that on March 2, it will be warm,  the flowers will be blooming, the birds will be singing like crazy, and all those things I LOVE to feel, see, smell, and hear after a cold, grey winter will be here.


Just won’t happen.  I don’t mean to be cynical and doubt my beloved groundhog.  But that’s impossible. At least where I live.

I’ve now seen 60 Groundhog Days and not ONCE has spring arrived on March 2.

That’s one of the interesting aspects of my lifelong experience with Groundhog Day.  It’s based on something that is completely and utterly incorrect. We might even get dramatic here, and say that Groundhog Day is based on a pack of lies!!!

That is shocking, isn’t it?  That the

King of the Groundhogs,
Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators,
Weather Prophet without Peer,

actually doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.

Of course, I suppose we could crankily say the same about our experiences with professional weathermen and weatherwomen.  (I still  usually call them weathermen and weatherwomen, although I understand that they prefer the term “meteorologist,” which does sound quite scientific and reassuring, although more like  people we’d call when a meteor is about to hit the earth.)

Where was I before the parentheses? Oh, yes. Meteorologists are often wrong, too. And I’ll tell you what drives me nuts about THEM.  (It’s Groundhog Day, so I’m allowed to rant.)  Not once, in my sixty Groundhog Days on this earth have I EVER seen ANY meteorologist acknowledge IN THE SLIGHTEST when the forecast has been completely and utterly wrong.

I’ve listened to these weather-people warn us, with concerned faces and dire voices, for HOURS (or DAYS!) about catastrophes looming on the horizon. And then when the terrible weather event just … doesn’t … happen ….  Nada!  They say nothing.  It’s as if those forecasts, which sounded so absolute and definite, never happened. The day after one of these Forecasting Faux Pas, these weather people betray not  a tinge of embarrassment and regret. Believe me, I’ve looked.

And I’m somebody who — so far in her life — has been SO different from these blithely bumbling meteorologists, when it comes to mistakes.  I’m hyper-aware of mistakes  — often painfully so — and  I am quick to name them to anybody I think might notice.

Well, mistakes are something that I am definitely working on for this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.  I am working on accepting and letting go of mistakes, and assuming less about other people’s reactions to mistakes.

And as a result, this may be the best Groundhog Day I’ve ever had.

Here’s to you, Punxsutawney Phil.

And to you, too, dear reader.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 32: February is the coolest month.

I tried different titles for this post.


February is the cruelest month. (It can be very icy, cold, and miserable, but T.S. Eliot already grabbed that honor for April.)

February is the shortest month. (Can’t argue with that.)

February is the worst-spelled month. (I mean, come on!  What IS the deal with that goofy silent “r”?)

But I settled on the title “February is the coolest month” for three reasons:

(1) It is quite cold, at least where I live.

(2)  It rhymes with “cruelest” (for a little literary echo).

(3)  For me, it meets the other definition of coolest, because … it’s my birthday month.

And, dear reader,  I DO think that February is the best month — the coolest of them all.  I guess that’s because I’ve managed to separate any negative feelings about aging from my experience of my birthday.

What I’ve done with my fears about aging is to strategically place them elsewhere.  On New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve is when I get all caught up with the passage of time, fears about my own mortality, and all that other fun stuff.  As a result, if I’m going to get moody and freaked out about getting older, I save it up for New Year’s Eve.  Who knows how I’ll feel on December 31 of This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally; in all the  judgmental years leading up to this one, I’ve really disliked it.

So while this strategy may be unfair to an innocent, end-of-year date, it allows me to continue to enjoy my birthday.  Freaking out about where the hell time is going?  New Year’s Eve.  Fun and excitement and the expectation of cake?  That would be my birthday.

I’m glad that  I’ve been able to maintain some consistency of joy each year so far, looking forward to my birthday.

And I’m glad the coolest month is here.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Day 27: This blog is good enough AND I can make it better.

I’m glad I’ve chosen this for the Topic Du Jour, because I think I’m going to find this helpful (and maybe even fun!) to write about.

For one thing, I like thinking about the generalized version of this subject heading, which I’ve been using lately as a remedy or antidote, when I start to lapse into self-judgment:

It’s good enough already AND I can make it better.

What I like about this handy-dandy, helpful phrase is that it allows me to feel acceptance of where I am (regarding my learning curve at work, relationships,  my abilities as a mother, where I live, a group I’m doing, etc.), despite my constant awareness of all the things I don’t know and could improve upon.

So that phrase definitely helps me.

It’s helping me right now!

Starting and writing this blog is a good example of how that phrase can help me hold (and honor) two things which may seem mutually exclusive:  (1) acceptance of where I am and (2) my inherently lively self-judgmental voice, which wants me to do better (but which, in its zealousness, can make me feel worse).

At this point, I’d like to fill you in on some details about The Birth of This Blog. In December,  after spending several months writing, more prolifically than I expected, chapters for a possible book (or two), I decided that it might be a good time to also start a blog.  I had never written a blog before, but I liked the idea of another outlet for writing — and a way of writing that would be much more interactive than writing a book on my own. I also saw starting a blog as a way to support a current quest of mine:   to let go of judgment (and to help others do the same).  And the title of the blog came to me: The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. I loved the idea of committing to that for the coming year, recognizing that Non-Judgment is a goal that I would never completely and consistently attain, but which striving toward could  be very helpful.  (I’m thinking about Calculus, which I actually hated in school, but which — if my memory serves me correctly  —  is all about approaching and getting closer to a point without actually ever reaching it.)

I wasn’t sure how often I would write in this blog, and I wasn’t sure when I would start it.  The two possibilities for starting were:  January 1, 2013, and February 2, 2013, which would be my 60th birthday.  So, in December, I started a quick and dirty research of How To Blog, using my usual learning technique of asking people what they knew and what they would advise. A couple of people suggested WordPress as the site.  And then I did a quick crash course, for myself, of how to get started blogging on WordPress.  I spent a few hours looking at possible formats (called “themes” here),  saw the “Adventure Journal” theme  and loved the idea of this coming year as an adventure. (I also looked at the suggested photographs for the Adventure Journal and LOVED the picture of that camel, looking at the pyramids — a place I’ve always wanted to go, and haven’t been to yet.)

So, late in December, I decided upon the theme and felt like I knew enough to Take The Plunge. And I began writing this blog on January 1, 2013.

Now,  I am 27 days into this journey, and have actually posted each day. I have also had a chance to look at other WordPress blogs.

So, right on schedule, I am having thoughts that fit into the Cognitive Distortion of ….


Here is the definition of Comparisons,  from a hand-out I use at work on Cognitive Distortions/Unhelpful Thoughts:


We compare ourselves to others, with ourselves coming out short. For example, “I’m not as smart (or good, competent, good-looking, lovable, etc.) as that other person.”   Or, we compare ourselves to how we think we should be, or how we’ve been before.  We might think that comparisons help motivate us, but they usually make us feel worse.

So, yes, I am now reading other blog posts here, where I really enjoy the cleanness and simplicity of the posting themes. And lately, I have been comparing, to my disadvantage, the way my blog looks. My blog has an appearance chosen by a newbie, overwhelmed by all the choices here, who fell in love with the words “Adventure Journal” and a picture of an inscrutable camel staring at the pyramids.

Okay, if you’re interested in more details about the negative  thoughts  have come up for me lately about this blog — thoughts also heavily laden with the previously blogged-upon cognitive distortions of Mind-Reading and Should’s– feel free to dive into this italicized Pool of Judgment:

I don’t like the sans-serif type font that my blog theme uses.  And I can’t seem to change it!   When I used to work in marketing and advertising, I was a fanatic about using serif fonts in every piece of marketing literature I helped create –since studies showed that serif fonts were easier to read.  Why did I choose this theme without more care about the type font that was available?  People are probably having trouble reading this with that lousy type font.  They’re also probably getting annoyed with the “gimmicks” of my posts! It’s bad enough I’ve chosen my own gimmicks — using the term “dear reader” and my tendency to Capitalize Important Concepts (which drives my son crazy) — but at least THOSE I CAN CHANGE IF I CHOOSE. What about those gimmicks I can’t control because it’s part of the Adventure Journal Theme ? Those ripped slips of paper that serve as my replies to comments, and so on!  I bet those gimmicks are driving people crazy, and maybe even preventing some people from reading this blog!  What was I thinking, choosing such a busy theme?  Why didn’t I take more time to look at other people’s blogs, which look so modern, so clean, so easy to read?

Phew.  I don’t know how that was to read, but — as always — it helps me to write  down those dang judgmental thoughts — getting them out of my head.

I repeat, Phew!

I’m also noticing the focus on appearance — how this blog looks — in that pool of judgment. So  I’m remembering, right now,  times I’ve made other judgmental comparisons about appearances. That is, I’m remembering some painful times where I’ve compared how I look to a more popular ideal.

Hmmmm. That’s interesting.

So what I would like to do right now is to make some choices.  I’m reaffirming my acceptance of appearances (mine and my blog)  and hoping that people can get past any flaws –that I might see or fear  — to the beauty they may be able to find for themselves.

Wow!  I actually didn’t know this post was going to go THERE, dear reader.

Before I end this surprising post, I want to say a few more things:  There are some important lessons for me learn about being a blogger, including how to refer to other posts I’ve written, in a way that meets Blog Etiquette. (I have googled that concept of Blog Etiquette, but I’m still confused and relatively clueless about rules and execution of same.)  I would also like to learn how to list, on each blog post, the other blogs I’m following here, in order to share the wealth I’m experiencing as a reader.

But I’m reminding myself, right now, that I have time to learn what I need to, and I am happy — in the moment, now that I’ve written this post — with exactly where I am on the blogging journey.  Because it’s good enough AND I can make it better.

Thanks for participating on this day of this adventure with me, dear reader.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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