Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sixty-nine years of accomplishments

I just revisited my blog entry from one year ago today. I didn’t say much about my birthday except that I thought I looked younger than my years and certainly felt better than my years. Well, the same is mostly true today – except that I do look like I’ve aged quite a bit. I have more lines, bags under my eyes and I’ve let my hair go quite gray – totally my choice. I’ve also grown a bit around the middle. But, I’m becoming less vain about all that. I’m 69 for Pete’s sake; I might as well show that I’ve lived those years.

So, today I’m thinking about what I’ve accomplished in those 69 years.

For one thing I’ve accomplished good health. I don’t have any major or even minor illnesses, and I have no aches and pains. My cousin-in-law says everyone past 60 has pains. Sorry, he’s wrong about me. I don’t. I’m as fit as I was 20 years ago. I don’t jog anymore, but I think nothing of working out most days and taking up to two-hour walks with absolutely no problems afterward. In fact, I think I’m more limber today than I was a year ago – thanks to regular Pilates and Yoga stretching.

Another thing I’ve accomplished is a long, happy marriage. I didn’t get off on the right foot in that department. I had a first marriage (a practice one, some say) that I got into too young and for all the wrong reasons. But I must congratulate myself for realizing my mistake early and getting out. I remarried five years later and am about to celebrate 39 years of marriage with husband No. two. A woman couldn’t ask for a more loving and caring and giving husband. I am blessed.

I also have a wonderful son – age 35. He is handsome, smart, and talented as a tennis player/instructor and an actor. He still hasn’t fulfilled his dream to become a successful actor, but as of today, he has a lot of possibilities. He works hard at it, and I respect that. I also love him unconditionally. And I think that love is reciprocated. We tell each other I love you every time we speak, and we mean it. Unfortunately, he is my only surviving son. I cannot believe that the last birthday I celebrated with Paul was 10 years ago. There’s no healing from that. There is only living fully with what I have and moving on.

And, live fully I do. I have a successful career producing proposals for a large aerospace company. I’ve done this job off and on since I was one year out of college. In fact I was a sort of trail blazer for the women coming into the company after me. Early on it was almost impossible for a woman with a college degree to get a job with equal status and pay as men doing the same work. And I was a part of a class action suit that paved the way for that to change. Nowadays women are almost equal in the lower level professional jobs. Yet, there’s still a bit more to go to get equality in the number of women in vice president and other high level management positions – at least at my company. I’m confident it will happen someday – maybe not in my lifetime – but someday.

I supplement my career with a fairly successful writing avocation – something I’ve actively been doing since Paul was first diagnosed with bipolar disease in 1993. Just recently I’ve had three poems published, won an honorable mention in an essay contest, and had an excerpt from my memoir published. Speaking of, I’ve completed a first draft of a memoir that I’ve been marketing to agents for about a year. And the steady stream of rejections doesn’t deter me. I keep querying on. I also co-wrote a non-fiction book published in the early 90s, co-edited a poetry anthology published in the early 2000s, and recently wrote the poems for a book of photography – another book I’m trying to market. So, the writing is going well and most importantly, keeping my creative juices flowing. I’d be lost without this creative outlet.

Okay what else? Travel, reading, movies, plays, operas, dining out, meeting with friends, and the relationships I have with my nieces and nephews and other family members are all a big part of my life. Someone recently asked how I’ve survived the death of a child. I told her using one word, “Diversions.” Diversions and friends and family have helped me survive – and that survival is probably my greatest accomplishment of all.

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