Sunday, February 17, 2008

Birthday Reflections


Last week I had a birthday. I looked back at my goals of two years ago when I turned 60. I had said I would “dance” through my sixties. I wasn’t really sure what I meant. When I turned 60, I took a year off from work to clear my life of some clutter. I found my house and my mind were actually quite similar. Both were cluttered and tired and needed some revamping! During that year I organized, I gardened, I cleaned, I cooked, I walked, and I wrote. I started a cookbook, I visited my daughter in Baltimore, sailed, went to some great restaurants, strolled on an island beach--and I danced. I danced at the weddings of two of my children and I danced at home. I learned my greatest passions in life involve my senses. The fragrance of daffodils transports me to all the springs I have known and loved. Roses and honeysuckle are overwhelming in their fragrance and an armful of lilacs is almost more than I can stand. And there are lilies-of-the-valley, mock orange, . . . My family helped me plant a tiny lavender field so I will have plenty to scent the sheets on the linen shelves upstairs. I brush my hands over the lavender whenever I pass by.

My year off was filled with heady fragrance and culinary adventure. What is better than a kitchen stove with a ready pot, a counter of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, cheeses, and a bowl of straight-from-the-garden dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme with a good Wusthof knife and a cutting board? All of that is even more delightful if the blackberries are ripe and a pie crust has already been rolled out by best friends in the kitchen, with a dog or two waiting for a snack.
I discovered that I love clothes that feel good on my skin—soft cotton is my favorite. I like the feeling of earrings that are long enough that I can feel them dangling against my neck.

I rediscovered music. Sometimes I want beautiful, soft music so I can float along with it in my mind, sometimes I play music that is powerful, and sometimes I just play any music that makes me want to move. Dancing has become my exercise.

Over that year off, I learned what “dancing through my sixties” means to me. It means absorbing the fragrance, feeling the sun, the breeze, and the earrings, sharing the food, laughing at the humor, and treasuring the faces. It means responding with all my senses to any music I hear or want to hear, and eliminating all the clutter that makes me stumble.
In the movie, “Ratatouille,” the food critic says, “I don’t like food; I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.”

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