Birthday Meditations

I turn 32 today. When I first met Erin and Jenna, they lamented about turning the big 3-0, as do most of my girlfriends. What is it about getting older that we abhor so much? I understand that being forced to check the next level up in age bracket boxes–age 30-34 instead of age 25-29–can be horrifying, and if you asked me ten years ago, I would’ve said the same. But it’s funny how after all the things we’ve been through in life, age becomes something more to celebrate. Now I find myself embracing each birthday, each increase in year of age. Perhaps it’s because I feel like I’ve accomplished a good amount, suffered through and survived a good amount, and thus, each subsequent year brings a possibility of welcomed surprise: what will I be able to overcome next, what will I accomplish next? So with this fresh and refreshing attitude about turning older, I welcome you, age 32. I say, bring it on!

Growing older, however, should not be without its reflections. Without looking back on how far we’ve come, where we’ve come from, there’s no way to measure our future success. And having gone through something like Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) and still living to tell the tale, I like to take, from time to time, the opportunity to sit back and reflect on all the things I’m grateful for in life. So here it is, my list of 32 things I’m grateful for these past 32 years. I invite you to also think about what hope you do have, and think about it not just on your birthday or during a special holiday, but a little bit at a time, each and every day.

My List of 32:

  1. Dogs–even though mine seem to cause me more pain than joy, it’s nice to have something I’m responsible for (but that doesn’t require as much responsibility as, say, a child).
  2. The ability to not have to constantly worry about a roof over my head, food for my mouth, a cute dress on my back, kibble for my pups
  3. A spacious, new house that, because we live in Houston, is not costing us an arm and a leg and the shirts off our backs
  4. Houston–as much as I complain about my hometown, there are some of the greatest places in the nation to eat here.
  5. See #4: Not to mention, there are lovely museum and theater districts–Houston does have some culture after all.
  6. Good girlfriends that are willing to drive me places, pick out fashionable clothes and shoes for me, guide me across streets, up and down curbs.
  7. Having many people to whom I could have a good cry to
  8. Bags of frozen peas and corn in the freezer to put on my eyes afterwards (see #7).
  9. Kitchen aids to cook as a blind person
  10. Other aids to sustain an independent life as a blind person: cane, magnifiers, iPhone, Macbook, etc.
  11. A husband when #9 and #10 fail.
  12. The MetroLift–even though I also complain a lot about this shared ride service for the disabled, they’ve brought me to many a class on campus for the past three years [relatively] successfully.
  13. Meeting people I would never otherwise meet because I ride the MetroLift
  14. Open-mindedness–something I’ve acquired more of since I’d been diagnosed with NMO
  15. Compassion–(see #14).
  16. Empathy for the down andn out (see #14).
  17. My NMO family
  18. The Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation who is pooling their resources and doing what they can to better patients’ lives
  19. Community–through the NMO family online and at conferences, through graduate school, through church, through family and friends
  20. Faith, Love, Hope, and Prayer: things we have when we feel like we have nothing else left
  21. My husband who is also my best friend
  22. Having made it to one happy year of marriage just yesterday (see #21). Happy first anniversary, John.
  23. Friends, family, pastors: and endless supply of people to accompany me to doctor’s visits
  24. The good physicians and neurologists and opthalmologists (and maybe even the bad ones, too, because they make me appreciate the good ones that much more)
  25. Social networks (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) so that we can keep in touch so much more easily (see #19)
  26. The Internet so that we can access information so much more widely and easily (see also #25)
  27. Birthday cakes, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, New York-style cheese pizza, my mother’s Vietnamese egg roll recipe, salmon sashimi, French fries
  28. My mother who, even though she died eighteen years ago, leaves fingerprints of herself everywhere in my life–in my face as I get older, in my love for literature and school, in my sassy McSass-sass attitude. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
  29. My father who loved me the best way he knew how
  30. My ever inquisitive (and still functioning) mind
  31. Art, which beautifies our often dim world: visual art, performance art, musical art, theater art, literary art
  32. My residual vision and decently functioning body for what it’s worth…and then health insurance for the times when it’s not working so well
May 2011
POSTED BY Christine

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