Saturday, December 29, 2007

Today is My Unbirthday!

It's like my own personal New Year's Eve, when I am on the brink of a new year. I have been toying with the very novel idea of not letting my birthday go unannounced, pass quietly, slip through the floor boards. And I have been thinking of ways to say (in my shy, unassuming voice): "I am a year older and I like cake. I am a year older and I think we should do my favorite things." I rarely ever do anything like this... make a to-do over Me. And I was going to launch into a long, sad story about how unfortunate the timing of my birthday is (which I sort of am doing, but only briefly), because it falls between two more popular and interesting events, namely Christmas and New Year's Eve... but I am not going to do that. Today is my unbirthday and tomorrow I will be 41 years old.

Someone has inspired me to think about how I see myself and how I represent myself to the world... to consider the stories I tell, or simply repeat in my head, and how those stories and beliefs may or may not be true. Remember: Do Not Believe Everything You Think. I have some tired, worn-out, sad, pitiful, long in the tooth, short on interest stories that I keep fostering and nurturing and protecting and publishing... you get the idea.

I was reading my friend's post and thinking how brilliant she is and then I got to the part where she wrote, "And when you tell yourself the same story for years, it's kind of uncomfortable to give it up." That part made me cringe, and get flustered and sweat just a little, because sometimes the truth is hard to take. I am really, really comfortable with my stories. They guide me, and shelter me from improving myself, from changing my views, from growing and moving forward. My stories provide the rationales and excuses I need to pardon me from other truths, from new perspectives, and different possibilities.

I don't know if this means I will deny that I hate renting or that my parent's 1971 divorce still sends shock waves through my life... those things are true... but, maybe the idea is to open up new chapters and take a new position on old topics. Renting sucks, but thank God we aren't stuck holding a sub-prime mortgage. Divorce sucks too, but I cannot imagine what my life might have been if they'd stuck it out... it's good they let go. So if I can cut-back on the old stories and start reflecting on the events and ideas that are meaningful right now, the inspiration and dreams that could motivate and facilitate new and better directions, well, that would be a very good thing.

You realize this means more talk about chickens, don't you? Chickens, and hardwood floors, and the built-in shelves I want in the home I hope we'll someday have. Chickens, and more road trips, sewing, gardening, creating, making my visions realities, even the silly ones. I really want to stop suppressing my hopes and the interests I have. I want to be less apologetic and more insistent. I want to accept myself and also kick myself, because I know I can be better. I really must dare to be as good as I want to believe I can be... which is a rather pedantic statement for self-esteem, but it is a start.

Today is my unbirthday, and I like Janice's carrot cake, the Octopus Car Wash in Madison, Wisconsin, Disneyland, digging in dirt, taking photographs, the smell of Mexíco, cowboy music, being in the same room with all of my children and husband, the new ringtone on my cell phone, farms and barns and small, rural towns. I like getting mail, planning trips, gazing out the window of the car, giving directions, listening to Maria talk to herself, and the sound of a dog drinking water. I wish my children could be home with me even more than they already are, because their company delights me to the core.

I am working on some plans, some new ways of going about living... like asking someone to please take pictures of me too, and reclaiming my health, so I don't feel disgusted so I can feel comfortable and strong. And more, and other stuff. I'm distracted now... I am going to play with Maria. She got a hammer and nails from Santa and we love hammering together.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-Mariane Williamson, "A Return to Love"


Jennifer said...

Are you going to believe me, or is this just getting too weird -- this MORNING I was thinking, "hmmm, I wonder when Natalie's birthday is, because I would so like to send her something" and then, well, here we are. I loved what you wrote about those stories we carry of ourselves, and of how hard it is to give them up even when we think that's what we want to do. Probably a good topic for some emails rather than right here.

I want to show you this other blogger's amazing post about birthdays and about speaking up to have the birthday YOU want to have -- check out the 11/12 entry at
if you aren't already familiar with this blog, I think you're going to like it.

OK -- so your birthday present is going to be late. Happy, happy birthday, Natalie. Speak up, have the birthday you want to have, celebrate you, and do not even imagine being somehow lost in the holiday squeeze -- instead, let's think that all the fireworks are for YOU!

Missy said...

Hammer in the mornin'
hammer in the evenin'
hammer at suppertime

What a wonderful, insightful post Natalie. I loved the "don't believe everything you think." I've noticed this when comparing stories with my different all our perspectives are.

Happy Birthday, I hope it's everything you love.

Anna Banana said...

Are you supposed to give gifts to others on your un-birthday? Because you did. Thanks for your beautiful post. I am all misty now. Great way to begin the day.

Lesley said...

Oh happy, happy birthday, Natalie! I remember 41 ... and it was long ago in the last century!
One of my closest, oldest friends has a birthday on Dec 27, so I know what you're feeling about its disappearing between two important holidays.
So do stand up for yourself and make a few statements. It's y-o-u-r day, after all! And you deserve the best.

Joan said...

Natalie--a very Happy Birthday to you! I come from a family full of December birthdays--my daughter's is Dec.22. So have lots of cake and lots of fun and if you get to the middle of February and you need a reason to have more fun, you can just say you need more birthday celebrating! Because, after all, your birthday could hardly have enough time for everything!
I love the octopus car wash, that is too funny--

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

Hi, I wandered in from Diane's blog, she left a comment on mine so I followed the link to hers. Have you read Carol Tuttle's book REMEMBERING WHOLENESS? You are ready for it. It is one fabulous book, helping us to be the best possible, to have all that God intended for us. Check it out on Amazon.

I really enjoyed reading your blog. I loved the list of things you liked. I laughed when I read "the sound of a dog drinking water." The other night something woke me up. I got out of bed and went to the window and listened. It was the dog next door, drinking water at 2:00 am. I'm suprised his water wasn't frozen solid. (We sleep with the window open, that's why I could hear him.) And I laughed when I read, "giving directions." What woman can resist? We know the best way to get places...why doesn't everyone else realize that?

What does Mexico smell like?

Mama Spark said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I am so glad you decided to share this information!! My son's birthday is the day after Christmas. So he may have some similar feelings to you. You need to send me your address (snail mail) so I can send you a wonderful present!! haha,really, send it to me. Have you ever visited Fig Tree Quilts website ? You remind me so much of Joanna, the designer there. I am so happy that we are blog friends and I hope you send me your info so I can send you at least a card!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY FRIEND!!

tea time and roses said...

Happy Happy Happy Birthday Natalie!! I just know you and the family had a wonderful Christmas Day! Wishing you a prosperous and beautiful New Year!



Oiyi said...

Lovely pics of the quilts! Happy Birthday!!! My sister's birthday is on Dec 29th so she knows how you feel. I hope you have a spectacular birthday!

calamitykim said...

Happy Happy Birthday....I won't forget it, for the day already has great meaning for me. Now I have something good and positive instead of sad to remember. That's what life is- Perspective. Go see PS, I LOve You. Take kleenex and be prepared. It's sad, but full of joy and hope and an affirmation of LIFE. Be Glad in what you do have. I struggled for so many decades with my parents divorce, being abandoned- or rejected, being divorced myself twice. Having my son Mark die. It takes courage and faith and hope to survive life with out becoming bitter and jaded and broken. What till you hit 40 and then 45 and you get a clearer understanding of everything. The heart wrenching pain of your children moving out & away- that's gonna hurt- but then, you will learn to reinvent yourself and find more time for just you and Geoff, and then you will ask yourself who you are a thousand times, because that will change, too. I hope you had some cake. I hope someone blew up balloons for you and picked you flowers and made a fuss. You take care of them all the time- they should treat you like a queen everyday- but especially on your birthday. Then again, it's just another day, unless you celebrate yourself. Last year I decided to just do my birthday every 5 years and now I have changed my mind again! It's the day before Valentines Day- it gets lost in the "better holiday" too. Maybe we can pick a day in the middle of January and declare that our Birth day like we are Siamese twins and make everyone shower us with gifts and cakes and pies? anyway. Much Love and happiness I wish for you. I like the chicken quilt..I would like to hear more. and how does Mexico smell?

Tracy said...

Happy Birthday, dear Natalie! How wonderful that we share the same day! My birthday is on the 30th, today too! Your post really touched my heart, as I could relate to much of what you were saying. And how empowering your quote at the end.We do have a stories about ourselves, about our lives...And sometimes we have to make up a new story--for ourselves and others on the journey with us. After a period of illness, fragile physically, emotionally and spiritual health I started a new chapter in my life. It was hard at first, but once started I felt joy again and glad to be alive. To start afresh can be a good thing. "It's never to late to be what we might have been." I hope you've been playing, celebrating, enjoying and indulging in your favorite things! I wish you a beautiful day, and joyous New Year, and a life extraordinary of more blessing then you can possibly hold--a life of your own sculpting! ((Love & Hugs)) said...

Happy Happy Happy belated birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo

Nettie said...

Happy Birthday to you, Natalie! I stumbled upon yr blog via the spicy chicken doll quilt. Interesting, insightful blog you have here.

village mama said...

Feliz 'Belated' UnCumpleanos Maria!!!

What you love makes you sound like a beautiful being. Hope your 41st year is the start of reclaiming the obvious joy that shines around you.