Today is my birthday. I am 49 years old. I can't remember the last time I proclaimed proudly to the world that it was my birthday - I think probably when I turned 18. My 30th and 40th went virtually unnoticed, and I am already planning for my 50th - what a celebration that will be!
But this year I just decided to toot my own horn and announce to the world that it's my day, and to revel in the birthday wishes.
And boy is it working! I am having
I have so much in my life that brings me joy. And gosh darn it, if I don't celebrate it, it might not get celebrated! I have worked very hard to get to the place in life where I am today, I have learned something important in every one of my forty-nine years. I have earned the gray hair I cover on my head and pluck out of my eyebrows (just did that this morning.) I have wrinkles and age spots and they are signs of victory that I am still here and I am thriving.
I got all excited today because I bought some new software to help me out in the development of website templates. It's so cool, lots of menus to use if you want, but total flexibility to bring in your own stuff quickly and easily. I'm working on a site for a doula right now (there's a profession I wish I knew about a long time ago) and it's so fun.
Then the new software stopped working.
It gave me a message that my "activation limit is reached." I don't know what that means, either. So I sent off my "help" note and I am waiting for them to get back to me after checking into my account status.
Waah. The creative juices were really, really flowing well there.
The good news is this doula (she calls me her "website doula" - how cool is that?!?) has several people who are watching her closely and asking her questions about how she's getting a website, and will be potential clients for me! YAY!
So once the new software is working again, this website doula will be back at work. When the site is done I will post the link.
In the meantime, anytime you hear anyone musing about a website (or complaining about their current website) ... send'em my way!
One year ago, I was just back from the Iowa State Fair. I was just a week or two past the decision (accepting the reality, really, more than deciding) that I was not going to be selling the townhouse and moving into a house-house. And I was musing about whether or not I should be my son's Facebook friend.
Two years ago, I was celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I had just discovered "Where in the world is Matt" (or something like that) and I had cried when Michael Phelps won his last gold medal.
Three years ago, the boys & I had recently returned from our Chicago getaway where we explored museums and parks and all agreed it was an amazing place to spend a vacation. And four years ago this month I was hosting a lot of friends at the Peterson family cabin ... back when I was legally a part of that branch of the family - no clue that that would be my last summer as a Peterson wife.
Today, I am making spaghetti (my sons' favorite dinner), thinking about getting State Fair tickets, hoping for full-time employment, still wishing we could have moved to a house-house, congratulating my parents on 52 years of marriage, and feeling ambivalent about whether or not I should keep blogging.
But without this blog, I wouldn't be able to so easily review my past. And that's worth something.
Many, many moons ago I was an AFS student. I am thinking about it now because a young man I have never met but whose life intersected with mine through a connection with K12 is preparing to leave on an AFS year - made even more special to me because he is going to Norway, just about my favorite country in the world.
I remember those days before departure oh-so-well, even though I was just 17 (do the math, I'm 48 now...) I don't recall exactly when I left - sometime in late July, I believe - but I do remember that I didn't know where I was going. Back in MY day, you couldn't choose your host country, as you can now. I knew I was going somewhere, but didn't find out where until about 3 or 4 weeks before I left - and that was just the COUNTRY. Yugoslavia. My first reaction was "WHERE is YUGOSLAVIA?" I didn't find out until a few days before departing what town I was going to (Skopje) and who my family was (the Darkovski family.)
Looking back, I find myself wondering what my parents were thinking. How did they manage to let me go on such an apparently unorganized trip - for a year - on the other side of the world? But I don't recall ever being stressed about it, just excited. And I am certain that feeling came from them. I often think that I was an AFS student to begin with because they had both wanted to be but couldn't. The day I came home saying "there's this thing called AFS and you can go live in another country for a year ...." they both started telling me I was going. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was open to the idea, but they were both so firmly in the camp of DO IT that it never really seemed optional for me.
And off I went. The night before I left, I went to the Doobie Brothers concert in St. Paul with a friend, then came home to my house filled with all of my friends - we stayed up all night, packing and talking and laughing ... and though I don't remember it, there was probably some crying, too. I have absolutely no memory of going to the airport or flying to New York, which is where we had about a 4-day orientation. The next clear memory I have is when our flight from Brussels to Belgrade, the capitol of Yugoslavia, was landing and we (me and the other 3 AFSer coming to the country for the year) looked out the windows at the armed military guards surrounding the plane. And we looked at each other and a tiny granule of fear was evident in our eyes. Remember, this was way back before terrorism was even on the radar screen for airline travel. I don't think I had ever seen a real gun before.
As I think about Jon heading off to Norway, now, I think about how different his experience will be. When I went there were no computers, no email, no blogs, no cell phones. Handwritten letters took 3 weeks to be delivered and postage was significant enough that we used extra-thin paper and wrote really, REALLY small. I knew going over that I would get two short phone calls - one on my birthday and one on Christmas, but that would be it. Nothing else. And back then, AFS even discouraged that much contact. TWO phone calls was pushing the limit. Because, you see, they felt that if you had such frequent contact from home it would inhibit your bonding with your new home and new family.
Wonder what they say now?
I wonder if now the focus of an AFS year is to "visit" for a year - make friends, observe a new culture, learn to get along in a new language. Whereas 30 years ago, you went to come as closely as possible to completely, 100% assimilate and become an almost-native of a new land, and a true member of a new family.