Happy Birthday to Me.. One Decade at a Time

I Always said when I Turned 40 I would go to Italy, Instead I went to France…..There it is, reading audience, the title to my future best selling novel.  It will be a an epic, page turning piece of literature that will land me many interviews across multiple networks.

Today I turn 50.  Ten years since my fateful trip abroad.  And it got me thinking about the events that have marked those pivotal age milestones in my life.  When I turned 20, I was  studying Agribusiness at Cal Poly and living in a one bedroom apartment with my long time side kick Shawna.  I don’t recall anything special or memorable about the day.  Truth be told, I have always disliked having a birthday so close to Christmas. As a child I asked my parents if there was anyway I could just celebrate it on April 5, their answer was typical for the time, a flat no.  It wasn’t the getting holiday combination gifts (although my mother seizes the opportunity whenever the option arises), but the pure fact my birthday often got forgotten.  Which in hind-site has allowed the celebration to trickle throughout the month of January.

(side bar – My mother is reading this and at this very moment is saying she made a huge deal about my birthday making individual chocolate pudding cups and cookies when I was in kindergarten for my entire class)

Getting older has never really bothered me.  It wasn’t until I turned 30 that my birthday really did start to matter.   More to the tune of how much each year really brought about a stronger, more self assured Jacky.  My 30th birthday was spent at Sierra Vista Hospital on full bed rest with Chris and my third child John.  My mother brought me a pretty red satin set of pajamas and wrote a lovely sign on the door “Today is My 30th Birthday”.  I didn’t realize at the time that this birthday would bring to me the greatest gift, hardest feat, and most pivotal moment in my life. On January 21, I gave birth to our son at 27 weeks, weighing in at a whopping 1 pound 10 ounces.  We were told not to worry when he didn’t cry or move at birth.  But that little blonde haired guy came out and proceeded to swing his arms around and kick his legs.  John Carl Hildebrand wasn’t with us for very long, but he left our family with a forever reminder of faith and goodness.  And he taught me that I was stronger than I ever imagined.  I have learned that sometimes talking about John, makes others uncomfortable, like the sad stuff should be forgotten, but acknowledging him makes me feel better.  He is part of our life that will never change.  Finally John gave us the final piece of our family, little miss Lilly Ann Hildebrand.

Jacky’s I want to do in my life list

I will never forget Nolan’s first parent teacher conference in Kindergarten.  His teacher seemed a little unsettled while showing me his work.  She had asked Nolan to draw a picture of his family.  The drawing was of Chris, Nolan, Kayla and myself playing in a field and then up in the sky was another little figure.  Poor Mrs. Wishon went on to tell me that when she asked Nolan about the person in the sky, he said “Well that is my dead baby brother, in a rather matter of fact farm boy tone.”  Needless to say, after a brief explanation and further discussion of Nolan’s take on his world, she understood completely.  Refer back to lesson number two above for clarification, it is okay to talk about sad things.

When I turned 40 all I wanted to do was go to Italy.  It began five years earlier when I created “My List”.  Long before the movie Bucket List, I felt the need to qualify tasks I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.  Nestle in notebook full of 2002 CMSF sponsorship parking pass numbers and Jazz Night table requests, is the road map to my goals.  Over time I have checked off lines, as one would a grocery list.  But, by the time I turned 40, Italy was still out of reach, but France was right in front of my eyes.  It was ten days of soaking up the French country side, experiencing amazing Rhone wines and gathering stories like a squirrel collecting nuts.  And oh yes, I have them all stored away for the winter feast. I promise that I will take any spare moment afforded me in 2017 and begin the tale of I Always said when I Turned 40 I would go to Italy, Instead I went to France.

Over time I have come to believe that celebrating ones birthday is a really BIG deal.  I afford every opportunity to spend my day doing something fabulous.  Because when you think about it, there is nothing more important than the day you were born.  It is the day you entered the world, changing it forever.

Waking up this morning in a new decade of my life, what is on the agenda?  No I am not headed to Italy, nor have I made it to the land of my dreams yet (maybe when I turn 60?)  But I have traveled to many states in the past ten years and was lucky enough to live for three months in Australia.  (Actually, Lilly and I visited a rain forest Down Under, must check that off my list!)  Today I am going to actually live by one of my all time favorite sayings All you need is Faith, Trust & a little bit of Pixie Dust and spend the day in Never Never Land with all my Lost Boys & Girls sharing the love with the mouse himself and if we are truly lucky a few glasses of bubbles!

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. . . . . .

My last birthday lunch with George.
To George .. The man who believed I was smart enough to achieve anything I set my mind too!

Not very poetic, lacks inspiration and certainly not the way to begin a blog focusing on the new year.  But as I sit here and reflect on 2016 and look forward to 2017, I feel like a child choosing the very best one using a method as simple as a nursey rhyme. If you would have told me 365 days ago that my life would look like it does today I would have told you to put away the tarot cards and get a grip on reality.  But the more I reflect on the past 12 months the more it seems like it was written in the stars all along.

Rereading the past January posts I discovered that in true Pollyanna spirit I give the new year the full benefit of the doubt. Anything is possible. Blogs filled with messages of change, reflection, experience, and creation The world is my oyster.  And 2017 seems to be no exception to the rule.

But this new year brings with it something that I have never experienced before.  It marks my 50th journey around the sun.  That alone causes one to stop and reflect, who begins a new project at this age?  Being in the classroom for fourteen years, I have watched countless bright eyed, hopeful, smart as hell twenty somethings go out and set the world on fire.  Why am I so confident, is it just my crazy free will or is there actual proof that one can achieve greatness at any age? So to the internet I journey for some proof and inspiration.

At 49 Julia Child published her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Not only do I love that cookbook, I must begin writing my best seller.

Ronald Reagan switched careers and was elected to his first public office at the age of 55.  No political aspirations in my future, but Reagan was a quint essential human being with classic quotes, wisdom and an all-around intelligent goodness that is missing in today’s political environment.

In 1947 Christian Dior introduced the “New Look” and changed the way women dressed forever.  This fashion moment caused my style icon to come out of a 15 year hiatus at the age of 70 and reintroduce the world to the House of Chanel.  Establishing a timeless look that is continued today under the direction of the very youthful 83 year old Karl Lagerfeld.

And lastly, it was a woman of the age of forty-seven who was the brave soul to take on the construction of a lifetime and help a fifty-six year old man start to construct “the ranch”.  Better known to all as Hearst Castle, they spent the next twenty-eight years building the “La Cuesta Encantada” or “The Enchanted Hill”.

For once I don’t know what the next year holds for me. It is a blank canvas nestled in a new land and my bag is full of fresh art supplies.  What I hope is to write more (I know I proclaim this annually), worry less, stay in the moment and above all color my new surroundings in vibrant memories and growing experiences.  And twenty years from now, if I come close to Coco Chanel or Julia Morgan, well that will be very delightful indeed.

“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.” – Ronald Reagan

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