Happy Birthday To Me!

Happy Birthday!

birthdayMy birthday is fast approaching. On February 15 I will celebrate my 51st   year on this journey and what a half decade plus it has been!

Last year at this time, my daughter, granddaughter and I made our way to the land of my birth, Jamaica, to celebrate my half century and what a blast and joy it was. My birthday this year will be less eventful but no less memorable as I am finding that as the years go by, they are taking on characteristics and an intensity of meaning that were not present throughout my 20’s, 30’s and not to mention younger years. This deepening started with my 45th birthday and I shared that in a post published on my former blog. Today, six years later, you are invited to read that post (below) and share whether there is any part of it you can relate to. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. As well, join this community and receive daily updates of posts, affirmations and my monthly FREE newsletter.


Throwback Birthday: A Turning Point

birthdayThey say age is but a number but 45 is playing with my mind. Milestones in my life are marked either by a number or an event and since this post is about turning 45 years old, allow me to recall some milestone ages.

Sixteen was a big number for me. Sweet Sixteen we called it back then. Whatever else was going on in my world that February, turning 16 made everything beautiful.

My mother had this tradition of throwing a birthday party to mark every year of my birth and I had visions of a celebration like no other for my 16th birthday. Reality was, however, that there would be no débutante ball for me as that was beyond my mother’s very meager income. In the end, my dress was homemade and the neighbourhood hairdresser did my then shoulder length hair in a Farah Fawcett ‘do. The food was plentiful and I was expecting the love of my life – at that time – to be there. He was truly tall, dark and handsome; a football player and a heart-breaker.

And that he did. Errol broke my heart that night by not showing up to open the dance floor with me. Thirty odd years later who actually shared the first dance with me is a distant memory.

That was the last official birthday party my mother would throw for me and funny enough it was to be the last milestone birthday celebrated in such a fashion for a long time.

1995 – My thirtieth year on this Earth. There was no party to mark this milestone. Other things had taken on greater significance and stopping to celebrate my birth was not one of them. Raising a 7-year-old child, career building, trying to stay afloat financially in an economy that was tanking faster than the Titanic and grappling with my identity were far more pressing concerns than a night on the town.

The next big anniversary should have been my 40th birthday but for several reasons it was my 41st that was celebrated with a party – the first in years.  I had heard many times before that 40 were the “freedom years.”  I had no greater sense of freedom, however, on February 15, 2005. My age felt like a burden that year as my life was nowhere I had imagined it would be and in an age-conscious North America I wondered whether things would change for me anytime soon as a still relatively new immigrant to Canada.

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The bright spark of my 40th year, however, was my daughter’s 18th birthday and it was marked with a befitting celebration including a well-laid table that would have made my mother proud. Looking back, my 40th year was in fact the beginning of the freedom years although I could not see it then. While I deeply grieved my daughter moving out from under my roof less than a year after turning 18, it is now clear how that was masterminded and why.

The Big Question

the questionAnd now I am 45; the midway point between the beginning of freedom and the big 50.

A preacher man asked my permission recently to tell a portion of my story. He was intrigued by the fact that my life seem to be going so well after a great big fall and yet I am still asking the question – Why? The point of his sermon, it appeared to me, was life is a big question.

My favourite preacher man, Bishop John Shelby Spong, put it best – “You are the question,” and at this midway point in my life,  I have wondered what is the question I am posing  now.

“Cutie, what do you want to be when you grow up?” my mother would ask me and the answer was never far from my lips. “A doctor,” was my eight year old answer because that is what my neighbor Janice said was her future career.   Gracie and Janice were my next door neighbours for years and whatever they did was what Cutie (the nickname that my mother gave to me) was going to do.  They went to St. Hugh’s High School and so it was my first and second choice for higher education. Janice became a medical doctor and Grace earned a degree in an associated field but I eventually asked a different question – why can I not be a leader of my country and help women come into their own?

That took me to Eastern Europe to study and where I became a mother. Since that time, the question has adapted and changed so many times – each time taking me along paths I could never have imagined.  It took me through the civil service of Jamaica, supporting and working for political campaigns, quasi—diplomatic position in CARICOM, serving a religious organization, migration to Canada, theological studies and hospital and prison chaplaincy.  Yet, with every adjustment of the question there was great learning and tools for my survival kit.

Now at 45 years old, a Canadian citizen, living in Southern Alberta, a nice house, married, two dogs, a brand new truck, a career with the federal government and doors that keep opening, you would think that question time was up.

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birthdayFar from it. But 45 feels to me like an “in the meantime” moment, a place of clarity and visioning my future as an aging parent and friend to my daughter,  a loving but firm Grandmother, a Lover and Companion to my husband,  a compassionate Elder to strangers and a productive Senior Citizen.

I must admit that I am not totally comfortable with these emerging identities. There is a part of me that wants to fight the aging/maturing process. My long legs still look gorgeous in shorts and shorter skirts. My ankles are still slender. My skin, although needing more frequent application of moisturizer and lotions, is still taut and my neck is not sagging.  No, I would not chance wearing a bikini on the beach but my butt still looks good in tight pants, especially in those seamless undies from La Senza.

My heart, however, is in a different place.  No longer do I need the excitement of a big party, the spotlight or a campaign trial. The few close friends that form my inner circle and who are part of my extended family are enough. My home is my sanctuary.  Angello, who like me is aging, and Marley – the puppy, literally warm my heart when they greet me with kisses  at the end of a day’s work.

The only thing sweeter than talking to my daughter at least once a day and hearing her call me “Mummy,” even at 22 years old, will be to hear the words “Grandma,” from her offspring(s).

Robert, my (former) husband, has given this leg of the journey meaning. He came into my life when a nunnery was looking like a fantastic idea. Trials and challenges we have but the beauty of finding a partner at 40+ and one who has travelled their fair share of dark and winding roads, is that there is no need or place for bull.

Henri Arneil it was who said “To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”

I have five years to learn this art. The next age milestone for me will be 50 and if I am blessed with the breath of life to see that day and the ability and capacity you my friends will be invited to the gala!


Claudette P Esterine
Claudette

Obviously elements of this story have evolved since it was written six years ago. Robert is no longer walking along me and while she now calls me “Mama,” even though I am trying hard for her to say “Glamma,” my darling granddaughter is the love of my later life! Almost 51, single and about to embark on a new career, life is good and getting better with each passing day. My daily visioning is ensuring that and you are invited to join me in the process through Weekday Wisdom© a daily dose of motivation that is delivered free of charge to your inbox.

Sign-up and join this community to receive Weekday Wisdom, along with my FREE monthly newsletter and let us together celebrate the days, months and years ahead.

Namaste!

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44 thoughts on “Happy Birthday To Me!

  1. […] 15, 2015 came along, it was just another day. Well, aside from the fact that my family and I had travelled to Jamaica and were in the middle of putting the final touches to my birthday celebration. I woke up that […]

    1. Ms Claudette

      It’s on Monday but thank you in advance Tonya! 🙂

  2. I love that you went to Jamaica for your 50th Birthday. I will be 50 in a few years and i think i should go somewhere on my bucket list for it. I hope you have a great birthday.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You will love 50! I didn’t think I would but I absolutely do, Ann. 🙂

  3. What a journey and adventure!
    Happy Birthday when it comes and just enjoy the blessing.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you so much Colette, thank you. 🙂

  4. Lexie

    Belated Happy birthday hun. I hope you enjoy your day

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is coming up Lexie. My birthday is on Monday but thanks in advance! 🙂

  5. Happy belated birthday claudette. i wish you had an aweome day

    1. Ms Claudette

      It’s is not belated yet – it’s coming up but thanks in advance, Nicole!

  6. Love this line “To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”

    Happiest birthday to you homie!

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is a wonderful line, Jen! Thanks for the wish and the visit! 🙂

  7. Happy birthday! I’m finding that over 40 is way better than I had anticipated!

    1. Ms Claudette

      My birthday is next Monday but thanks in advance! Yes, 40+ is more awesome than we thought. Thanks for the visit. 🙂

  8. Happy belated birthday Claudette, its great to be 51.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It’s not yet belated. My birthday is February 15 but thank you so much anyway! 🙂

  9. Jen

    I like how you say, “the midway point between the beginning of freedom and the big 50” – that’s a great way to look at it. I hope you enjoy your birthday!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you Jen! And thanks for the visit. 🙂

  10. What a wonderfully interesting journey you have had, Claudette! I love that you went to Jamaica for the big 5-0 last year too. Have a beautiful birthday!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you Liz! Yes, it has been a ride and it continues! 🙂

  11. I hope you have a wonderful birthday this year. I’ve been to Jamaica before. It’s a lovely place.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you Krystle! Yes, Jamaica is beautiful and we had a great time last year. This year, I am staying home (Edmonton) but will make it just as merry. 🙂

  12. Happy Happy Birthday! The fifties are awesome!!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you and that is what I am learning! 🙂

  13. Happy Birthday Claudette! You’ve been through a lot and this has taught you to be stronger person.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed it has! Thank you for the birthday wish! 🙂

  14. 🙂 Happy Birthday, Ms Claudette! I think I heard somewhere that 50s are the new 30s 😉

    1. Ms Claudette

      You, I love being 50 – it is better than 30! 🙂

  15. Elizabeth O.

    I wish you all the best for your birthday. You’ve survived a lot of trials and made a lot of memories and life definitely gets better as you go along.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you very much, Elizabeth. 🙂

  16. I wonder where I will be in my life when I turn 51. I look forward to seeing where my life goes.

  17. Glad your journey is going well. Have a great birthday. Celebrate like crazy

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you so much!

  18. Great post. I’m turning 49 this year and can relate to a lot of your post. Love Jamaica too!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Glad that you love the land of my birth!!! Ant plans for your 49th birthday Bonnie?

  19. Happy Birthday!! I am sure your 50th birthday was very special with your trip with the family to Jamaica but like you said this one will be less eventful but no less memorable. Reading about your 16th birthday party made me remember mine!

    1. Ms Claudette

      And what did you do for your Sweet Sixteen, Michelle?

  20. I cant believe you are nearly 51 I thought you were a lot younger! I enjoyed reflecting on your 45th birthday and your right milestones seem so momentous but to be I enjoyed my 22nd birthday far more than my 21st.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, I am! 🙂 Some days I don’t believe it either Ana as there were times I wasn’t sure I would or wanted to live to see this day! Thank heavens I am here and thank heavens you are too! 🙂

  21. Happy birthday! I turn 51 on this year too.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Sweet! Happy Birthday when it gets here Tara! 🙂

  22. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    Sounds like you are really coming into your own. 45 is going to suit you well.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am actually 51 next week Robin. 🙂 And yes, I have and continue to “come into my own.” 🙂

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