Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Turning 50

This past weekend, with cherished friends and loved ones around, I celebrated a milestone birthday of turning fifty.  Even saying the phrase “I’m fifty” makes me shake my head in disbelief.  Where did this fifty come from?  I don’t feel fifty and I’d like to humbly (but proudly) believe I don’t look it.  Back when I was the tender age of ten, fifty seemed like an eternity away.  Well, it appears that eternity, in all of its matured glory, has finally arrived. 
Amidst all of the jokes of now being old enough to be an official member of AARP and my friends believing I need to start wearing Depends diapers, I’m actually quite proud to have reached this turning point in my life.  “Over the hill” is a comedic expression that is synonymous with reaching this milestone.  Let me assure you, I am anything but over the hill.  I stand firmly at the center of not just the hill, but the mountain top, stoic and resilient and have a full awareness and appreciation of all that is around me.  I certainly don’t anticipate treading down the slope anytime too soon.  Granted I am now officially closer to death than birth, but I still have an ambitious list of accomplishments yet to be consummated.
I had recently been reflecting back to when I turned forty.  It was the eve before my birthday and I was sitting on the edge of my bed watching the clock round to midnight.  The second the clock struck twelve, an overwhelming excitement washed over me.  I, me, LoriAnn was now FORTY.  It was a rite of passage, if you will.  I was now part of this special forty and over club.  I felt I had finally come into my own.  But, all too soon, my excitement turned to fear.  I had been divorced barely a year and was still healing from the pain and effects that such a life event brings.  I had fear of how I was going to raise my son, then only 7 years old; with as little collateral damage and need for therapy as possible.  Fear of how I was going to make ends meet.  Fear of how I was going to navigate the shark infested uncharted waters before me. And, sadly, but most certainly, fear of being alone. 
If I could go back today and sit with that girl I would take her by the shoulders, look her squarely in the eyes and tell her that she’s going to be just fine.  She’s going to be fine because unbeknownst to her she’s got a lot of fight in her.  A strength and courageousness she will exude repeatedly over the next ten years for the many unforeseen challenges she will face.  She will slay one dragon after the other and emerge stronger with each win.  She will lose some battles as well but the lessons learned and wounds incurred will be invaluable and key in continuing to build her fortitude and character.   

More importantly, she will be fine because of the many wonderful people she will have in her life who will share in her journey.  They will celebrate her wins and successes and comfort in the losses and painful moments.  They will laugh hard together and cry hard together.  They will call her on her missteps because they value the friendship and that’s how she will learn to be a better person.  They will carry her at times and she will need to let them (still a tough one for her but she’s getting there).  They will love deeply, beautifully and unconditionally and she will evolve in an insurmountable magnitude for having them by her side.   
As I now embark on my fifties I do so with unfettered passion.  The fear I had in my forties has long since dissipated. The beauty of being older is that I’m also wiser.  Wise enough to know that everything to this point was the ramp up to what my true potential, gifts and accomplishments that are yet to be.  I have bigger mountains I want to climb.  I may smell like Ben Gay when I reach the top of them, but reach them I will. This momentous birthday is my threshold to new opportunities and a stronger fulfillment in life. 
I look to the well-trod path behind me and all the love, joy, pain and experiences I was blessed to have along the way and whisper a prayer of thanks for each encounter.  I now point my compass to the road ahead and take my first steps on this new direction of my journey.  An adventure of both continued friendships and new companions, untold possibilities and undiscovered horizons that await.  I’m of the belief that the best is yet to come and that fifty is, and will be, truly fabulous!

Monday, April 06, 2015

A Tale of Two Missions

A few weekends back I set out on a mission to my local furniture store to procure a new couch and side chair for my living room.  After several years of my former couch being nothing more than a glorified doggie bed, smells and dog slobber included, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy and new set.  Armed with my chai tea latte, I landed upon said furniture store determined to find not only the perfect couch and chair but also attempt to do so at a bargain price. 
It’s always comical to walk into a furniture store and watch the sales sharks circle you like your chum.  Cue the theme from “Jaws”.  Within ten minutes I was approached by no less than six associates all jockeying for my business and a commission.  I then noticed this demure and polite associate and determined he would be the salesman who would earn my business.  His name was Manny.  Manny spent over two hours roaming the floor with me, tolerating my indecisiveness, changing my order twice (I’m really not that girl, really I’m not) and got me three cups of tea.  Of course, that meant at least three trips to the ladies room which only delayed the process, but I digress.  Once I FINALLY decided on the set I wanted to purchase, cue the “Hallelujah Chorus”, Manny had to wait for his manager to write up the invoice.  During this time Manny and I sat on one of the couches and talked like two old friends who’d met up for coffee. 

I had shared with Manny details of the latest film my son is working on and that I work for a VMS company.  He shared with me how excited he was about going to a family reunion the following weekend.  He then proceeded to tell me that this was the first time several of his family members were getting together since the death of this wife.  She had died twelve years prior from bone cancer.  I was becoming endeared to Manny and felt a pang when he told me about losing his wife.  He then asked if I would permit him to show me a picture of her and his grandchildren.  I was only too happy to oblige.  She and they were beautiful.  What struck me was how tenderly he spoke of his wife.  His face lit up as he showed me one picture after another.  You could clearly tell she was the love of his life and that his heart was still broken by the loss.  I found myself becoming envious that she could have such a wonderfully beautiful effect on him after so many years of having passed.  I sat with Manny and let him regale stories of him and his wife and found my own heart fulfilled and joyous.  I was touched and happy for this couple whom I’d never met, yet clearly had such a tender, loving relationship.  It gave me hope that perhaps one day, I too would have the same.  To be loved so deeply and admirably.  It was truly a beautiful thing to witness. 

When I left, Manny shook my hand and thanked me for letting him share his stories.  I was only too happy to have let him do so.  He exuded a sweet spirit and genuineness that resonated with me.  As I walked out of the store I realized that my initial mission was to buy a couch but in the end it was simply to be a friend and listening ear to a widower whose heart still beats for the love of his life. 

I’m a firm believer that no one crosses our paths by accident and Manny was no exception.  He danced on my soul for a brief moment.  My need for a couch and his need for a friendly customer were all meant to be.  I feel blessed and honored to have had the opportunity.