Sunday, October 12, 2014

Celebrating Birthdays

This was a pivotal birthday year for me so please forgive the personal nature of this post.

Although I am sure this will surprise many of you (LOL), I turned 60 in August. And, believe it or not, it was not the birthday that has bothered me the most.

That birthday was when I turned 40! Now, to defend my self, my 40th year was a HUGE year in my life. Consider this:

  • I had just become a Mother 5 years before and that changed everything for me. All of sudden it would matter to someone, so small and helpless, that I was alive and there for them for the next 20+ years!
    Lee Hall Travis (and Minnie)
  • We had decided to move back home to Memphis leaving our best friends of 10 years behind. We had all had our babies together and now they would have lives together that didn't include us and we would be so far away. 
  • I had taken a new job where I would be the one "in charge". It was about time, but I had no idea what I was really doing! I learned it quickly. My experience working with mentors, including Carol Moore, taught me what to do. But it was stressful and I knew that I had a lot to do and a lot to learn!
So much change in one year and add to that that turning 40 means you are not just over the hill (which happens at 30) you are way over the hill but not old enough to be revered and respected for the fact that you are still holding it together. You are just expected to be getting it done and, well, that is what I did.

Lee Hall Travis, the proud BSC graduate, 2012
Turning 50 was, on the other hand, a celebration. I had found my stride at work and at home. 10 years on the job and I had figured it out that I had to keep us fresh, relevant, and moving the market forward.

I had also figured out that I needed to let go a little. I realized I couldn't really micro-manage my son's life and that letting go meant I was giving him a chance to become who he needed to be. Sounds so obvious, but trust me, it took many mistakes to help me understand that truth and then to live by it! I am so proud of the young man he has become; graduating in 4 years; getting a job within a month of graduation; and living on his own. So many blessings.

Now, 10 years later at 60 I am celebrating even more. My Mother once told me that as we age, we distill.  I can definitely see that in myself. I always loved certain aspects of life including family, nature, activity, volunteering.

And all of these are even more important to me now than when I was younger. In the last (or best) 10 years of my life I have:
  • Reconnected with the Mississippi part of my life. I now have a place of my own in Rolling Fork, a mere 20 minutes from our land in Louise. I have not only reconnected with family and friends in Louise, MS, my father's birthplace, but I have made a home for myself in Rolling Fork, MS, loving my "Bottle Tree Bungalow" and all the friends that came with it! And, I have started showing off this special place to friends from MN, WI, Switzerland and more. 
    My Bottle Tree Bungalow, Rolling Fork, MS
  • A hobby - photography. I had dabbled with it before, but the advent of good digital cameras and easy software that allows creative post-photo editing made it a natural for me. I can do this on my own, which gives me a chance to be spontaneous and just head out with my camera when I want to go! And, of course, my favorite subject is the Mississippi Delta which never ceases to offer me new opportunities to capture its majesty.
  • Ventured out to new places. It is an understatement to say that my trip to Switzerland was the highlight, but I took side trips to Sedona, Gettysburg, Baltimore, Middleburg, Shiloh and more to be sure I didn't miss all those special places that were around me while I attended meetings or was passing through. I love going to Ladies' Weekend (which has become a week for me now) at Carolyn's cabin on Round Lake in Hayward, WI. After going for 5 years now, I am thinking about buying a cabin myself up there to be near Carolyn and Kris!
    Carolyn's lake toys at Round Lake, Hayward, WI
  • Become a grandmother and a great-aunt! What joy to see our daughter Keelin become a wonderful mother to Andrew and Charlotte and to see my oldest niece and nephew become parents themselves. It is as great as they say re: having all the fun and then passing them back to their parents! And, I am proud of Keelin and Doug, Jennifer and Will, and Jeff and Amanda for being such loving parents. I can't wait to see how these kids grow up!
    Our 2013 Christmas Card taken when we
     celebrated Pat's 70th Birthday!

  • Connected professionally with super, committed people. I won't go into detail, but I love it that my job requires me to work with people that are so committed to patient safety, quality health care services, equity for all, and understand how the health of a population impacts a community's economic vitality. I have learned so much from these professionals and count many of them as friends as well as colleagues. 
A 60th birthday celebration can't just happen once, it must take time and there must be many celebrations! One celebration was with my classmates from Hutchison. Twenty-two of us gathered at the Shack-Up Inn in Clarksdale, MS to renew friendships, celebrate the lives we had together back in the 1960's, and appreciate the people we had become. Most of all, we celebrated all turning 60 in 2014 (well, there were two who beat us to it in 2013) and committed to keeping in touch and getting together again before we all need wheelchairs or canes!

The RF gang gave me a Kay Shropshire Heller original!

I also celebrated my birthday with family and my friends from Rolling Fork. It was a special evening that ended up with an after party at my house. Finally they could see me in my element here in Memphis and that was fun for me.

I am so glad to be 60 and to be alive and to having a life full of work, fun, family and friends. Who could ask for more?

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