Yesterday was my birthday.
With each passing year, I become more cognizant that my time on Earth is limited. My children aren’t little kids anymore. My parents are getting older and my father’s health is deteriorating. I dye my hair every five weeks. Heck, my husband turned fifty on his last birthday. In the past year, two friends have been diagnosed with cancer and a high school classmate died suddenly of a heart attack.
Midlife feels like a race through a minefield, bombs dropping within inches of my path.
Sometimes, I’ll wake in the deep of night to a dark and quiet house with a prick of panic. What am I doing with my life? Is trying to be a writer crazy? Am I a good mother? Is my husband content? Am I happy? Do I make any difference in the world?
My parents both had noble careers. My father was a field surgeon in Vietnam and later an emergency room doctor, his work was to literally save people’s lives. My mother, a stay at home mom for years, returned to workforce with gusto as a math teacher. Now while most of her contemporaries have retired, she’s employed full-time as the Director of the Tutoring Center at the local community college. My parents’ work has had meaning and honor—a purpose.
I wrestle with my calling to be a writer and my responsibility to make a living. The two are in conflict as there is little money in the arts. And many times I feel like I started too late. The calendar tells me I’m a middle-aged woman and that I should pass the torch. My season for dreaming is over. Focus on my kids—their passions. Plus others are so far ahead. Publishing with a big house, though I am getting closer, most days seems impossible.
In the wee morning hours, there is a peculiar loneliness in a sleeping house. Time does a funny thing without the distractions of the day. It becomes more finite and unforgiving—more real.
An urgency will settle upon me.
Rattled, I’ll get up and go to the bathroom. Sometimes, I’ll catch the reflection of a young girl in the vanity mirror. She’s full of creativity, potential, and hope. Life hasn’t happened to her. For a second, we’ll lock eyes. Her face turns older and fuller as she disappears and I come into focus. But before the ether swallows her, my younger self smiles mischievously, her eyes bright and kind, and says, “Don’t quit. Put our light in the world.”
I am so grateful for each birthday—each year. The time I get while it is denied to others. There’s no rhyme or reason to where the bombs land or to whom they hit. At least I get to try. It’s my duty. And yours, too.
So, I duck and dodge.
How about you?
Thoughtful Food: Seafood Skewers & Spinach Salad w/Gorgonzola Croutons & Bacon Twists
This meal was a huge hit across the generations at my table. The Spinach Salad was taken from Ruth Reichel’s The Gourmet Cookbook. I’ve relied on this cookbook for years and the recipes are continually excellent.
Instructions and Ingredients Seafood Skewers (for 6):
2 lbs raw shrimp (peeled)
12 large scallops
2 Cups Italian Dressing (any kind)
12 cherry tomatoes
½ red onion
1 stick of salted butter
Marinate shrimp and scallops in Italian Dressing for two hours (keep refrigerated). Then create skewers, allotting two scallops per skewer, and alternating shrimp, tomatoes, onion, and pineapple. Broil for 20 minutes. These would be superb on the grill as well! Meanwhile, heat butter until it froths. Give each diner a small ramekin of butter for dipping. Yum! Yum!
The Gourmet Cookbook’s Spinach Salad w/Gorgonzola Croutons & Bacon Twists (This might be my favorite salad! I defy you not to like it!)
8 bacon slices
½ Cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1 tbsp softened butter
4 large (1/2 inch thick) slices of sourdough bread
1 garlic clove
½ tsp salt
¼ Cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
2 tsp honey
1 lb spinach
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered (I used 3 eggs)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. First up, we make the bacon twists and croutons. Twist bacon into a tight spiral and place on broiler pan. Bake in upper third of oven until crisp (about 30 minutes). Transfer to paper towels to drain and then chop into ½ inch pieces.
Meanwhile, mash together Gorgonzola and butter. Spread generously on bread slices. Cut slices into 1-inch squares and arrange on baking sheet.
After bacon has cooked 15 minutes, put croutons in lower third of oven and bake 15 minutes until golden brown.
While croutons bake, using a large heavy knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste with salt. Combine mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, honey, and garlic paste in a blender and blend until smooth.
Toss together spinach, warm croutons, and onion in serving bowl and toss with dressing. Top with bacon twists and eggs. Delish!!!
Thought For The Week:
Srikumar Rao said, “I believe that if you don’t derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don’t come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don’t feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you, then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste.”
Have you found your purpose?
What makes you feel most complete?