At least that's what I think. This was the first year since I turned 30 that I didn't throw my annual surprise birthday party for myself. Just didn't have the energy.
But I did find energy to go to a local country-western eatery for burgers and line dancing lessons. And even though I didn't last long on the dance floor, I still had fun being out with friends. One of my dancing pals, Sandy, also had a birthday. She's with me in the top picture. (Sandy's the slender one!) We're modeling the hand knit scarves our friend Cora made for us.
I figured a night out would do it and planned to spend my actual birthday lounging around watching old episodes of House Hunters, but some of my neighbors decided they needed to bring over birthday brunch. I was touched by their thoughtfulness ... and we had so much fun!
Both my kids checked in and my son's girlfriend sent flowers. (She's a keeper.) And one of my Sheila Girls street team sent me chocolate covered strawberries. Wow, what a birthday!
The most wonderful thing of all was simply being able to celebrate the fact that I'm still here. Life is a gift and I'm so grateful to have been given a few more years of it.
So this birthday was filled not only with celebrations but with gratitude. Yes, a very happy birthday for me!
And how about you? How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
I think it's a good thing to have one day a year where we celebrate love. Most of us have so many wonderful people in our lives - it's great to have a day when we can honor those relationships.
It's also good to remember all through the year how special those special ones are. And after so many years with my honey Gerhardt I fell somewhat qualified to offer some tips on how to keep the love alive.
Our marriage has had some real ups and downs. Let me tell you, some of those downs have been real downers: coping with having a handicapped child, living through some soap opera adventures, having money struggles and, recently staring down cancer. But we've also had good times: great fun with our kids, our siblings and nephews and nieces, wonderful parents, memorable family gatherings, great times with friends, career success and travel adventures. And through it all we've had each other. This is not to say we've always had a perfect relationship. That's had its ups and downs, too. But we've hung in there and I've got to say that we're closer now than we ever were before. And I think part of what has pulled us together is clinging to each other during those hard times.
Here's what else we've done over the years to stay connected.
Enjoy common interests.
Ever since we got engaged we've played tennis together. He usually beats me but I'm determined to take him down one of these days. We also love to watch movies and mysteries on TV and most weeknights you'll find us smuggled on the couch watching some poor slob get his throat slit. We also go dancing once a week. Manly man that he is my husband took West Coast Swing lessons with me and we are death on the dance floor. He's also picked up a little Waltz and can Cowboy Cha-Cha like nobody's business. And we know 4 whole Tango steps. Our newest adventure is taking up golf which is proving very entertaining as Gerhardt has total Donald Duck meltdowns on the course. This year is going to be one of travel adventures as we hope to visit the set where "The Nine Lives of Christmas" will be filmed this spring. And then, come fall, we'll be off for a winter cruise in Germany. Woohoo!
Keeping your friendship alive by doing things together will also keep the love alive.
Do for each other
Even though I hate getting up early I always make Gerhardt's breakfast before he goes off to teach his college German class. I massage his aching muscles when he's overdone it (and he does the same for me). He's taken me to all my doctor and chemo appointments and waited on me and rubbed my aching joints when I've had bad days. He works part time as my assistant in my writing business and I'm currently editing his first book. We are each others' number one fan.
Remember special days
Like today. If you're broke you don't have to go out to eat. Stay home and feed each other chocolate. You can get small sample boxes for next to nothing at your favorite drugstore or Wallmart. I either get a chocolate rose or fun Valentine socks on my pillow and he always gets a big Hershey's kiss. A massage and a romantic trip to the bedroom after the kids are in bed is free!
When you're upset explain how you feel and what you'd like. Starting sentences with "You never" is not half as effective as "I feel like" or "It would make me so happy if you could"
Always be appreciative
Especially of those household chores your hubby does. Does he like to do a lot of the cooking? Thank him. Compliment him on his culinary skills (and thank you're lucky stars you don't have to be in the kitchen every night!) Does he take out the garbage without asking? Keep the garage organized. Let him know you appreciate it. Thank him when he does something nice. Tell him how much you appreciate him. This is a little like dog training where you're saying, "Good boy," and patting Rover on the head. The positive reinforcement makes Rover much more inclined to be a good dog. :)
Remember to see his good points through a magnifying glass and his flaws from a distance. None of us are perfect and there will always be times when we get upset with each other. Those are the times it's important to remember what you love about your sweetie and remind yourself why you got together in the first place.
Keep the commitment
Yes, there are times when you can't (when abuse is involved), but many of us are tempted to throw in the towel over an accumulation of misunderstandings that have piled up. Go to marriage counseling, try the above suggestions. Don't give up easily on your love. If you can hang in there and work through the hard times you will come out stronger as a couple. We've learned this from first hand experience.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. What do you do to keep the love alive?