Hi, Hello, Good Morning, Good Evening, Good Day...
Today, I'm doing something I always ask my students to do, but I rarely do myself, anymore.
I'm writing a reflection on October 22, 2009.
Let's just say, for once, I'm taking some time to look inside my crazy mind. Writing a review. Critiquing one day.
It is also a gift to myself. We all need to give ourselves gifts. To take care of ourselves. So let's say that today, I am sharing with you, my team, my support, my inspiration, my "friends" – the community we've become – a gift I'm giving myself.
A moment of reflection.
Yesterday was a landmark day for me. Not because it was my 61st birthday. Sixty-one isn't one of those typically landmark years ending in zero or five. It is, however, like 21, I think, a turning point because for me, it feels like I've arrived.
Aging is so interesting these days. I'm enjoying it. Another reason why I'm utterly mad. I'm enjoying liking the person I've become. It's taken 49 years of psychotherapy. This is a real milestone. I'm seeing my psychiatrist, Dr. Bob, next week for the first time in months. I think he'll be thrilled to hear this.
I didn't feel this way yesterday. Yesterday, my actual birthday, was a disaster.
But this morning, when I awoke after six hours of solid sleep, I realize that it was probably one of the most extraordinary days of my life. I just didn't know it until a day later. My timing has always been a little "off."
To begin, I didn't celebrate in any traditional sense. I worked here, until 3 a.m. on the morning of my birthday, which happens to be the day after the anniversary of my father's death. Since he died, in 2000, two months after I was married, his death and my birthday are inextricably linked.
He had perfect timing in life, too. He also managed to die the day before his kid brother's birthday. A brilliant legacy.
I had a class at 11:40 a.m., so I continued my preparation. I wanted this class to be fun, so I was giving my students a Pop Quiz to help them learn to arrive on time and to read the text. I was showing them one of my favourite National Film Board of Canada documentaries – Race is a Four Letter Word – and I was giving them a basketful of Halloween treats to sweeten the experience.
All day long, birthday messages arrived from my Facebook "friends" – an unexpected surprise I found curiously stressful. As a Facebook neophyte, what is one supposed to do? Answer all of them individually?
I tried. Time was ticking away.
My class didn't not turn out as planned, but I've learned my most difficult, challenging classes are actually my best classes. Teaching is learning. As an untrained teacher, I've learned to teach through experience. I've thrown myself into it headfirst. Learning as I go. No two classes are ever the same even if you teach the same course year in and year out.
This challenging birthday class yesterday, my first, ever, was a gift in disguise. I had to work hard after it ended to figure out how correct my mistakes – that took some complex processing, too. Especially as I break rules and engage with students on the phone if I sense they're struggling. I can't help it, but I do.
Dinner was simple. Celebration was a kiss on the back of my neck from my husband when I least expected it and a marvelous pin my sister Glorianne gave me. It says, "I've survived damn near everything."
Best of all, she wrote on her card, "You are my hero."
I thought of the title of one of my husband's plays, a line from the Old Testament, 2 Kings, 9:32.
"Who is on my side? Who?"
On March 7, 1994, the day before International Women's Day, Glorianne, my youngest sister, gave me my life back by giving me one of her kidneys.
None of this really twigged until this morning, after I had six hours of sleep the night after my birthday.
I desperately need sleep. My mind doesn't function with no sleep. I become manic so quickly, I have astounded my psychiatrists for years. Within hours sometimes. Sleeplessness is killing for me.
Yesterday, I was working on three hours of sleep. I forgot to take care of myself while being barraged with "Happy Birthday" messages.
Sleep is the greatest tranquilizer in the world.
Last night, I slept. Now, I feel clear. Calm. Less crazy.
Thank you. You gave me the most intriguing birthday of my life.
And I survived it, too.
Take care. Be well.