Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness/Dear Life

Dear Life,

Summer has always been an interesting time for me.  All of that "before birthday" build-up and then the quiet, bittersweet feeling that lingers behind when the day finally comes and then goes.  It's kind of like that very last slice of chocolate birthday cake with whipped-cream frosting that sits solemnly under wrinkled plastic-wrap inside of the fridge.  You want to eat it but when it's gone, so is the reality of another year behind.  My brother, Rob, only had forty-one of them.  Birthdays.  He should have had more.  Many, many more.  He should have eaten more cake.  Mine and his own.  His birthday was in July, too.  And honestly, Life, I feel like he got ripped-off.   I feel like I was also deprived of the rest of his life, but who am I to determine these things.  So I think about him when I blow out my own candles, and I envision that little black smudge of fading smoke that rises up into the air, as a wish for peace.  Mine and his, everyones.
Last week when Mark and I were walking on the beach searching for sea glass, I came across this leftover bit of ribbon which was tangled in amongst the rocks.  And while we usually pick up small pieces of trash that are left behind on the beach, I couldn't help but leave this one where I found it.  For there are many people who might have needed to see this message which was accidently, on purpose, left between the stones on the beach.  Messages have their own ways of finding the individuals whom they are meant for.  This seemed like a message for many.

Dear Life,

Please always let me take the time to notice the messages.  And the lessons.  And the hellos from the Universe.  We miss so much when we forget to notice.
They say that life is what you make of it.  I fight, with all of my spirit, to live a contented life filled with as much love as I can bring in.  And then, I release it back out.  When I was eighteen years old, I met the love of my life.(But of course, you already knew that.)  We set out to build a marriage filled with joy and adventure and love.  Our quest brought us four incredible angel daughters.  Each one is unique.  Each one is special.  Each one is a product of love.  You certainly trumped my wildest dreams there, Life.
I never could have imagined this beautiful family.  These extraordinary individuals.  Five distinct people that I love more than life(sorry, but true) itself.

Dear Life,

Thank you.
In celebration of my birthday, all four of my angel daughters came home to spend the day with me.  There is nothing that I look forward to more, these days, as they get older and busier and more independent.  We traveled south down to San Diego to a lovely, little town called Solana Beach.  Truly, I love Angel Daughter Number Three's pink high-topped sneakers.  Watching each one of my girls develop their own personal style is something that amuses me.  When they were little, I dressed them all alike.  It was the cutest thing I've ever seen.  Everyday, four little ducklings in matching outfits.  Some people worried that they would never develop their own, individual styles because of my guilty pleasure.  But if there is one thing that you have taught me, Life, it is to follow my own instincts about things.  Not only have they each refined their own personal style, but they are very original in everything that they do.  Angel Daughter Number Four, my youngest daughter, even shaves the hair over one side of her ear.  And she wears it very well!
Now if this baby isn't an original, I do not know who is!

While shopping, my girls spotted this sweet fairy baby.  We all "oohed and cooed" over her which made me very happy because I know that my babies love babies, too!  This ensures that I will someday have grand-babies to love on in the future!  Which, dear Life, is something that I would very much appreciate!
We visited a nursery and discovered a giant cage filled with the most wonderful birds.  Little nests overflowed with the most beautiful doves.  We tried to count how many were in the nest above, but there were babies hiding underneath the babies!
These unusual Quails nest by creating a hollow in the ground and then the babies burrow underneath the parents.  Our whole family sat for at least twenty minutes admiring this cage filled with sweet, chirpy birds.  The doves make that low, melodic cooing sound, the kind that tends to melt your heart.  And the smaller birds chit-chatted in that high-pitched chirpy way.  They were absolutely mesmerizing.

Dear Life,

Please always remind me that there is always time to be mesmerized.  And fascinated.  And to learn something new.
We then made our way over to a lovely Farmer's Market teeming with fresh, organic produce, flowers and handmade trinkets.  We snacked on delicious goat cheese samples and chocolate toffee covered in almond bits.  We purchased some gorgeous yellow cherries which tasted like sunshine, and brought home some tomatoes, baby potatoes and blueberries.
Angel Daughter Number Four rescued a fuzzy, little caterpillar while AD3 giggled and took her picture.

Angel Daughter Number Two, who was having a particularly rough day at first:(, couldn't help but smile after a while.  Sometimes, I will do the silliest things which tend to annoy her, in order to see those adorable dimples.  But I don't give up easily, because seeing my daughters happy is what life is all about.

Dear Life,

Please remind my daughters that sometimes, old boyfriends need to be brought out with the trash where they belong.

Enough said.
Angel Daughter Number One browsed through the jewelry with her youngest sister.  I cannot help but look at my children through a "mother's eyes".  Each one of them fascinates me in a way that enriches my heart and makes me want to capture the moments.  The little moments that often go unnoticed.  The little moments when we are all together and life is good.  Very, very good.
And I can quietly view them through the lens of my camera.  Capturing their innate beauty and sometimes, unconventional distinctiveness.

Dear Life,

Please remind my daughters that feeling confident in their own skin is more important than what anybody else might think of them.  And that following a "trend" makes you exactly that.  A follower.
On the way home, we thankfully sped easily past the border patrol station.  For people who do not live in a state "bordering" another country, you might not be familiar with these interesting little points of contention.  For those of you who do, you can understand the frustration of going from sixty-five miles per hour, down to zero, in order for an officer to peek inside of your car to do a bit of racial profiling.
Thankfully, this racial profiling only occurs at random times of the day, so when you are lucky, you are able to zip right by without barely a second glance.
Enough said, again:)

Once we got past the border patrol station, we drove past the San Onofre nuclear power plant which is  also lovingly known as Dolly Parton by some locals.

Dear Life,

Sometimes even nuclear power plants can be funny in a really silly way.
On July 4, 1776, the forefathers of our country signed a declaration: The Declaration of Independence.
The words, in part, go like this; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  As do most Americans, I take these words very seriously.  We fought for our ability to lead independent lives.  To create our own paths on this journey.  To pursue our own happiness.  For myself and for those who have come before me, I will lead a happy life.  For my brother, I will continue to pass his legacy down to his daughters and nieces.  For me, I will fight with all of my might to be content.

And I will jump for joy in knowing that I have lived another year on this earth.  Another year loving on the people who I care about.  And another year learning a bit more about how to really live.

Dear Life, Dear America, Dear Me,

Happy Birthday!

                                                              *July 4, 2010-San Clemente Pier Fireworks


tj said...

...Dear Life, thank you for allowing my path to cross with Angel Deb's path so that my life would become richer and more fulfilled.

...Dear God, please watch over, protect and bless Angel Deb, Angel Husband and Angel Daughters.

...Dear Angel Deb, simply - thank you. ;o)

...Amen. :o)

joanne said...

Dear Life...even in the worst of times you are good and i wouldn't have it any other way...how else would I learn?

Dear Deb...love you, and the silent wishes of my heart that only you can understand...jj

Renee said...

Loved what tj had to say......
What a beautiful post. Enjoyed your pictures too....and happy happy birthday....
Yes, life does bring us too many surprises and gives us much to enjoy while also presenting us with much to bear...
Our son died when he was 25 and we sometimes wonder what he would be like now... Makes us treasure the times we do have with each other.
Gentle hugs as you remember......

Mickey (Michel) Johnson said...

...it looks like you had a beautiful birthday my friend. life is good...xoxo

Sabi Sunshine said...

Dear Debra,

Wow wow wow.. Dear life has so much in you that i enjoyed every single world of your post. At some point, I got so emotional reading it,Life is a miracle, if you see it everything is a miracle in life. I love the pic where you are jumping. loved it. Life is full of surprises and if you have a great family you are more than happy in your life.You do have a great family with you & i see a lot of love in all of them for each other, so life is so precious for you and your family. God bless ALl of you!

Great to know you had a fun on your B'day. Again love the post.

Sabi Sunshine

Laura said...

Happy Birthday dear one! ( sorry this message is a bit belated...I've not been online much)...I love how you have addressed "Life" with such complete honesty...the disappointment and sadness (missing your dear brother) as well as the joy and the gratitude. I wish for you many more birthdays filled with the radiant joy of your lovely girls, your devoted husband, good health (pain free, of course) and lots of chocolate cake every year!!!

Bluebird49 said...

Dear Life--you are so precious. I have Fibromyalgia/CFS and headaches, and sometimes, I tend to forget that. I really want to enjoy you more, Life, so thanks for sending me to enjoy Debra's blog.

Dear Life, we lost our daughter at age 31. In August, it will be 12 years, but we never forget. I wonder what she would have been at 43.

Dear God, it means so much to me that I'll see her again one day---and I'll meet you, too! I know living every day could also be looked at as dying everyday. Thank you, God, for knowing Life so much better than I, and for helping me deal with it.

Dear Debra--thanks for posting the link to the Chronic Pain website. I know I'll be back to visit you soon!

Sharon said...

Times like these with family: priceless.

Happy birthday, Deb. May the coming year be filled with wonder and joy.

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