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Of Victory, Defeat…and Birthdays

“Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat.” (Horatio Nelson)

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. It was a WONDERFUL day, for many reasons and thanks to so many people. It was a happy day, all day, for me (and my husband, who shares my same birthday.) But then, unexpectedly, there came that moment.

That one moment when I couldn’t help but acknowledge the miracle of having such a wonderful 47th birthday…as I remembered how absolutely terrible turning 42 had been.

That lovely birthday that hit about a month after my extreme life losses and divorce in 2009, amid of a LOT of change, challenge, trauma and turmoil. I felt terrible, I looked awful, and I can’t describe the misery I experienced–feeling like a total failure in my 40s! (I don’t recommend it, haha.)

But I DO recommend hanging in there. Choosing to live anyway, despite your losses, burdens and adversities. Never give up. Get out of bed every day and accomplish something, even if it’s just getting out of bed!

Because time really is everything. And those ensuing minutes (or years, in my case) really do make the difference between defeat and victory. And victory feels so good and is literally, so SWEET.

“Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.” (Malcolm S. Forbes)

Taste it.



The Ideal

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.” (Aristotle)
I have a few heroes. Let me tell you about one. The ideal woman. My ideal.
She is actually a Ponzi scheme victim–a victim of the Ponzi scheme my former husband perpetrated. (One extremely difficult aspect of marriage to a criminal perpetrating a Ponzi scheme unbeknownst to you or anyone else, especially when he appears to have preyed on family, friends and strangers alike, is that some of those you knew well, and loved, are victims of his crimes. I knew a few of Shawn Merriman’s victims in that way. Especially this one.)
She is a beautiful woman. In fact, her physical beauty was the first thing I noticed about her. But from the moment I met her, she was so gracious, dignified, kind and everything else…she instantly became one of my heroes. The type of woman I hoped some day to be. And then, due to a Ponzi scheme, our relationship ended.
Five years later, just last month in fact, we ran into one another. I was at work–so busy, and working in a crowd of people, I would never have seen her or known she was there. She could have easily walked past me without a word and I wouldn’t have known. But instead, and unexpectedly, I felt an arm go around my shoulders and give me a quick hug.  She kissed my cheek, quickly said something like, “You look so good! You are doing so well! I’m so proud of you!” and she was off in the crowd again before I could process what had just taken place.
Talk about dignity and grace and class. Not only making the best of circumstances but GOING OUT OF HER WAY to not just be kind, but LOVING, to the ex-wife of the man who stole her material wealth!
She remains my hero. Today (and many other days) I think of her example and I celebrate her.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” (Maya Angelou)

A Child of The 60s

I don’t remember which dark day occurred first last year: the day my former spouse was taken in to custody or the day I turned 42. In some ways, difficult days had become a blur, they occurred all too often in my life last year!

So about my birthday.

“Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it’s not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

In some ways, that was my birthday last year.

August 25, 2009, wasn’t a fun day to turn 42 years old and face my life for what it was! It certainly wasn’t where I had envisioned myself being by that age. Talk about feeling like a loser.

All I could think of was that I had very little of what I had ever wanted or dreamed of. My marriage had failed. I was overwhelmed with all kinds of legal pressures, financial pressures, work pressures, and life pressures. I had always thought I’d “be” someone or someplace or somewhere in life by that age. Instead, I was starting over. Wait. Make that starting from well behind the “start line” compared to most people my age! I was still trying to claw my way out of the dark abyss I had been knocked into by the choices of another.


If I’ve ever had a birthday I would like to have skipped or forgotten, it was my birthday last year.

I worked all day and told no one it was my birthday. I certainly didn’t want to face it, much less celebrate it! I wanted to forget it. But I couldn’t. To me, it was an anniversary of my failures. I probably cried in the bathroom at work that day and for sure cried on the drive home.

I arrived home to find my children ready to celebrate my birthday. They had set the table, cooked dinner, and had somehow scraped together some funds to buy me a gift. They had all secretly gone to the mall to purchase it together–all of them. (Anyone who has ever taken my youngest shopping knows what a labor of love that effort, in itself, was!) They were glowing with anticipation and delight at celebrating a year in my life with me.

While I had tried so hard to forget that day, they had gone all out to remember it.

And they weren’t the only ones. A friend sent me flowers. A friend had her college-age daughter deliver a birthday cake to me. A friend took me to lunch. Friends called. Friends sent gifts. My children looked at me with delight and made a fuss over me. And I had a job and a roof over my head.

Hadn’t I said all along if I could just have a job and a roof over my head, I could handle everything else? Alone or not, 42 or not, that was still the truth. I had everything I needed. And it wasn’t over.

“Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come.” (Anonymous) I just had no idea, at the time, how true that statement by an unknown person would turn out to be for me, in my own life.

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays…not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door…unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.” (Susan B. Anthony) And what we do with them.

It is absolutely what we do with our moments, THE moments we’ve been given, that matters. The challenge is to bloom and blossom like a rose, instead of close up or become bitter like a cabbage.

Roses versus cabbage? Do I even have to think about it? Does anyone?

Flower power!

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