Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another trip around the sun

Today is my birthday. I love birthdays, mine and others. I think they offer us a wonderful (albeit arbitrary) reminder that our lives our fleeting, our connections precious, the world extraordinary and our selves unique. They give us an excuse to celebrate our existence.

As I have in past years (you can look at other Octobers) I'd like to offer you things I know or am grateful for, one for each year of my life. Really, these are things I need to remind myself of on a regular basis.

This is also my fifth birthday post, the fifth birthday of this blog. So happy birthday, world, thank you for reading me for five years. It's nice to be in kindergarten with you.
  1. You. Whether I know you or not, thank you for being in this world, for your breath, your story, your kindnesses and your song.
  2. Assume kindness first. Both in yourself and others. Yes, you risk being hurt, but you may also be wondrously surprised. I once heard amazing stories from a man who stole $200 from me. Looking back it was worth it. He probably needed the money more than I did, and I know I needed those tales.
  3. I am grateful for those times when I remember to be kind to myself.
  4. So please, be kind to your self.
  5. I am grateful for the natural world, for its beauty and power and the fact that we still have yet to entirely rule it. 
  6. Everyone, humans included, needs something bigger than themselves, be it god(s), storms, science or love. Be grateful for these reminders especially when you emerge from them altered but unscathed. I may change my mind about this, based on the coming storm, but to date I have found this to be true. 
  7. And if those big things do scathe you then ask yourself why, how, what you might do differently next time.
  8. Be like the palm. Bend in the wind before you break. Be resilient.
  9. I am grateful for good food shared with those I love. 
  10. Conversation.
  11. Oh, I love listening to the world around me. To stories, to strangers, to random sounds. Listen more.
  12. Take time alone. We each have different needs for alone time, but we all need it. I love alone time. 
  13. I love alone time in part because it makes me that much more grateful for shared time.
  14. Work hard at whatever you're doing, even if it's a task you'd rather avoid. If nothing else, you'll end it sooner. But don't be half-assed.
  15. Play. I am so grateful for play, for my inner five year old who sees the world as full of wonder and giggles and still believes in the tooth fairy. 
  16. Be a good loser.
  17. Be a better winner.
  18. Feel your feelings. I am grateful to them all and have found the hard ones are easier if I let myself feel them.
  19. I am grateful for the mistakes I have made. And moreso for the times when I have learned from them.
  20. Read. I love reading and sometimes let other things get in the way. Let written language take you away.  If you usually read fiction try some non-fiction. And if non-fiction is your love, try something fantastical.
  21. Tell more stories. Listen to more. Make music, even if you don't sing well. And listen to more music, especially music outside your comfort zone.
  22. Accept love. I am so grateful for all the people who have loved me.
  23. And accept like! Being liked is distinct from being loved, so thank you!
  24. Be likable.
  25. But don't be afraid to be unlikable if you have something to stand up for. A wise woman once said to me I think a day when I haven't pissed someone off just wasn't a very a good day. She's right. Care about the world. Care about what you do. Care about yourself. Don't be afraid to piss someone off.
  26. Stop for pedestrians. Even if they aren't in the crosswalk.
  27. Learn to stop in general. I am grateful for my intermittent meditation practice. Find a way to stop and let the world move around you.
  28. I am grateful you've made it this far! It's a long list and getting longer each year.
  29. I am grateful to those who have gone before me. Thank you for your work, sacrifice, love, humor, determination.
  30. I am grateful to those who will come after me. I can't wait to see what you will make of the world and, knowing I won't be here, excited to think that you will see more than I ever will.
  31. Take time to notice your other senses. Smell the air. Touch things (even if you get into trouble sometimes, say, in museums). Close your eyes and listen. Really look at one thing. Taste with abandon. Be a sensualist.
  32. I am grateful for people doing the best they can, even when it may not be enough.
  33. And in turn, do the best you can, even if it's only a little bit.
  34. I love bad jokes. If you know any, I'd love to hear them!
  35. By the time I was 35, I was 9 years cancer free. I am so grateful that it hasn't come back.
  36. I am grateful for my body. Even with its aches and pains, I am grateful for my joints, my muscles and organs, my ligaments and skin, every part.
  37. Don't be afraid to be foolish. I never would have become a storyteller if I was afraid of being foolish sometimes.
  38. Let the people you love know. Don't wait.
  39. Don't lie about your age. Embrace each of your years as earned.
  40. Learn new things, regardless of your age. I have a friend, near 90, who has fallen in love with the band Queen.
  41. Recognize that there will be things that confuse and frustrate you, especially about other people. You can't change them. Accept that this is the way it is and try to at least be amused.
  42. Don't be afraid to touch people when you hug them. So do it, hug more.
  43. Love yourself.
  44. Love the world.
  45. Do it again.
Thanks for coming along on this ride with me.

p.s. This is me giving my Uncle Meyer a kiss when I was maybe 4. He died over a decade ago. I still love him and I'm so glad he knew how much I loved him.

(c)2012 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Hey Laura
    I'm glad you've had another trip around the sun! Because knowing you're out there makes my life better

  2. Awwwww.. those are such wise words and the photo of you kissing your Uncle Meyer is absolutely beautiful. Happy, happy birthday. May you continue to offer wise words to your friends in blogland and to your real friends and family as well. Hugs and best wishes! Oh, and don't forget to eat cake!


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