Archives for posts with tag: Birthdays

As I begin my 70th year, I’m feeling an urge to do things to get ready for the next decade. The first of these is to focus on the daily (hopefully) bright spots in life.

This idea was reinforced for me by a Facebook post by Shane Burcaw. He’s a young man in his ‘20’s who has spinal muscular atrophy, website www.laughingatmynightmare.com He posted a week of things that made him smile.

Here’s mine for my birthday week:

Birthday: Cards, calls, meals with friends, useful presents like a new pair of jeans and chocolates to share at bridge.

Day after: Call promising to visit in the summer. I like the celebrating to last a long time, but this may be a personal record if she visits in July!

Birthday plus 2: Luna’s nose led her and subsequently me to a missing bag of groceries. Unfortunately the frozen fish was no longer frozen and could be smelled three feet away so had to be pitched. But the nose knew! As they say at the Seeing Eye, “Trust your dog!”

Birthday plus 3: Meeting with my Methodist ladies book club, aged 69-90-plus reminded me of the truth of this quote:

“Cherish all your happy moments; they make a fine cushion for old age” Booth Tarkington

We laughed and grumbled about the weather and life in these times. We agreed to pray for missing members’ health situations, even though they didn’t want us to worry about them. We drank coffee and ate donut holes. We even talked about books (but not much).

Birthday plus 4: Someone I know is writing a Federal grant and asked me to be part of it if it gets funded. It’s due pretty soon, so I suggested to her that she send the text of it to me by my birthday as a present. She did and I received it as probably the oddest present I’ve ever gotten. Candy, beer, clothes,…and a grant proposal to review!

Birthday plus 5: It’s National Pets Day and Grilled Cheese Month, how much better could life be?

Birthday plus 6: Lecturing an eight AM business diversity class I got the following questions among others: Do you like to feel faces? Is it hard to start working with a new dog? And where can’t service dogs go? To this last I said I didn’t take the dog into the procedure room when I have a colonoscopy and then explained what that was. I think based on their gasps these young people may be okay with disabilities but getting old enough to have a colonoscopy not so much!

Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to do a week of jotting down what made you smile each day. I’d love to read it! Might even make me smile!

 

 

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What makes a perfect birthday for you? I think it depends partly on one’s age. Recently I hit one in the mid ‘60’s, not a milestone, just a day—but it turned out perfect. Perfect for me means lasts a long time and includes friends, fun and fecundity/productivity. (Hard to find that last “F” that meant what I wanted to say!

Tidbits of advice that jumped out at me from emails, Twitter and Facebook that day:

  • Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
  • Stay true to yourself and don’t be invisible after sixty!
  • Everyone dies, but not everyone really lives!
  • Being holy means being whole.
  • Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
  • “Only one page is left in the book of my life. His name fills that page, His everlasting kingdom.”—Rumi
  • “I encourage you to bear witness to Christ in your personal life and families: a witness of gratuitousness, solidarity, spirit of service.”—Pope Francis
  • “I wish faith wrapped you in a bubble, but it doesn’t, not for long.”—Anne Lamott
  • Recognize the good in your life.
  • Live every day as if it’s your last, embracing each experience as if it’s your first.

And a great question: “What is on your happiness list?”

The birthday started a couple weeks early with a lunch with a friend who was going on an extended vacation.  The actual day started at 3:15am when my trusty guide dog announced she needed to go out.  It was so still out at that time it was almost beautiful and it wasn’t precipitating.  Luckily we could both sleep in a bit. Work for the day included advocating for Freading to be made usable with Voiceover. The company had blown me off with “thanks for your idea”, so I got the library’s accessibility officer to contact them. I wonder if he’ll be blown off as quickly since it’s libraries that purchase Freading so their customers can download electronic books on demand.  Then I did some work on an upcoming talk for student members of the Society for Human Resource Management.  Many of them have heard my basic talk in a business diversity class, so I’ll call it Disability 2.0 and hit some of the same core points but do it differently.  Basic points:

  • Go out of your comfort zone.
  • Treat those of us with disabilities as equal to you but not the same.
  • Ask “how can I help?”
  • Enjoy figuring out what needs to be different like solving a puzzle, not like a chore.

Then lunch with a friend, a nap, two hours of reading (to get bills tended to, birthday cards read and inaccessible chores on the computer completed). I emailed the inaccessible sites about what they need to do to become more accessible (basically get rid of CAPTCHAS).  The day wrapped up with supper with friends and settling down to finish The Martian. I even got to start a book for next Tuesday’s book club: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Maybe it’ll inspire me to strive to be 100!

The birthday month will rock along with a few more meals with friends already on the schedule and other unknown blessings. Savor the joy when your birth day/month comes along!

As I get ready to celebrate a younger friend’s 65th birthday, I’m reflecting on some anniversaries. The We All Love Our Pets program I started turns eight this month. This blog turns two and Luna and I celebrate our second anniversary.

When I read an article in a women’s magazine about elders giving their Meals on Wheels to their pets because they couldn’t get out to get pet food, I was appalled and decided to start a We All Love our Pets program in Eau Claire. I modeled it on the national program, but use a volunteer team I’ve assembled under the auspices of the local Humane Association to do the delivery. We started with five customers and now have over thirty. We’ve experienced a 23% growth just in the last year.

To get on the program, people need to meet two out of three criteria: poor, elderly and disabled. Most meet all three criteria. Each month I call and see what they need and then later in the week shop and deliver. On the August delivery, my volunteer driver and I went 45 miles around the city to deliver cat, dog, fish and parakeet food and cat litter to twenty-one people. The day before another volunteer and I had shopped for the stuff and delivered to ten people living in a high-rise for elderly and disabled people.

In addition to meeting great humans and cute animals, I’ve learned a lot about living with grace and style in poverty. One gal cheerfully commented that after paying her bills she had $4 to spend during the month, but it would be okay because she could go to the food pantry and the soup kitchen. As Herman Melville said: “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” Their animals are such sources of joy to my pet food program customers. It reminds me not to take Luna for granted.

We shared our second anniversary by delivering pet food, going to Mass and my sharing a last bite of a wonderful piece of quiche a friend gave me with her. As I think back over our two years together, I’m struck by how subtle and intuitive she is. To tease me she tries to walk past church instead of turning in but does it in such a way that I know exactly when to turn. She lets little dogs win at tug of war so they’ll play with her. She sniffs my face and my backside when I’m sick to decide whether to let me sleep extra or not. After two years we’re reading each other’s signals well and I look forward to many more years working with her I hope.

In two years this blog has attracted 169 of you fine folks to follow my adventures in aging and reflections on disability issues and other weighty and mundane matters. “Kathie Comments” has not gone viral and is not among the top fifty humor blogs, but followers occasionally cheer me on and comment that they’ve learned something. It’s been a great way to motivate myself to reflect on daily events and dig a little deeper to find meaning in them. I’ve been in a blog carnival and on a blog tour and helped to start a blog for a group of Wisconsin blind writers. The haiku I wrote for my friend on turning sixty-five could serve as my haiku on two years of blogging:

I made it! I’m proud.

Work, books, people I’ve helped.

Forward to more fun.