What’s a birthday?

It wasn’t until I woke up yesterday that I realized what a head game I’d been playing with myself about turning 50. On Sunday it happened. I kept saying that I didn’t have any issue with turning 50, just the idea of it. But that idea was giving me all kinds of trouble. I kept telling myself that it was ridiculous to think that on a certain day, marked by only a date, something about me or inside of me would be radically altered overnight. Why is 50 such a big deal? I don’t know. How did it come to have that much weight? And how did I come to buy into it? Apparently, I let that happen, because in the last few weeks I’ve been testing my body’s edge getting back in shape after three weeks of travel, hell-bent on proving to myself that 50 wasn’t going to get me… Get me? How could that even happen, and where do we get these crazy ideas? In the meantime, my body is now kindly requesting that I knock off the excess if I want it to continue to cooperate.

I like to celebrate birthdays by doing something memorable – some kind of adventure. My recent travels were part of this, but they didn’t include my family. This year, Sunday morning dawned and my previous ideas about what I wanted to do disappeared. Skiing and hiking had been at the top of the list, but instead, I decided I wanted to go on a European style adventure. I wanted to do something that didn’t involve a lot of driving, preparation, organization and provisioning. I wanted to just head out the door and stop somewhere along the way to get food or drinks or whatever. Though I’d never been there, Redhook brewery in Woodinville came to mind. My 14 year old daughter was a little reluctant, having just returned tired from an overnight birthday party, but she rallied. I didn’t think about the fact that she has a crappy old mountain bike and I forgot to check the mileage to the brewery, but had in my mind that it was about 17 miles.

Two and a half hours later, with both kids suffering from dangerously low blood sugar, we arrived at Redhook. It was a beautiful day and I kept trying to convince them, that it was about the ride, not just about getting somewhere. And truthfully, I kept trying to convince myself that if we didn’t make it, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But because my daughter is a trooper, and an incredibly good sport, we did make it – crappy old mountain bike and all. We lounged on the grass in the sunshine while we waited for a table, and ate outside. Eating outside in the sun, is a rarity on June 12 of any year, and this year, with the lousy spring we’ve had, I felt like it was an additional gift.

As we rode home, I mused about what a perfect way it was to celebrate this birthday. In many ways it was just a normal day. No party, no fanfare… But it exemplified the way that I want to live. I want to think of every day as an adventure. And head off into it without worrying whether I’m fully prepared or provisioned because that takes way too much thinking and planning and then half of the time you don’t go because its too much work. Had I realized that riding to Redhook meant a 42+ mile odyssey, I’m pretty sure I would have come up with a plan B… and I’m pretty sure I would have at least taken a windbreaker and suggested the kids do the same. By the time we reached the University of Washington, we were riding into raging headwind, so I suggested to the dad and brother that they go ahead and get a car so that Gillian wouldn’t have to ride the last mile all up hill. By the Montlake Bridge, with a good 30 minutes left to ride, it started to rain. The car arrived just as we started up the last set of hills or I might have gotten the bad mommy award on my 50th birthday. At home, we checked Google Maps and discovered how far we’d ridden. I felt a little sheepish about the miscalculation and apologized to my daughter for my oversight. She’s still incredulous that she rode that far and I’m more than a little proud of her.

So I got my adventure, and I got to do it with my kids, minus the oldest who wrote this post from her own adventure in Brazil: http://cldohrn.blogspot.com/2011/06/blessings-and-birthday-wishes.html. I don’t think I feel any different than I did on Saturday evening except a few sore shoulder and neck muscles from spending many hours on a bicycle… I know… its the same every year, but 50 was messing with me!

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