“Amuck, amuck, amuck”– in a Pumpkin Patch! My (Early) 36th Birthday Party

I decided to celebrate my birthday about three weeks early this year– since all the fun Halloween/fall stuff is closed by November. I chose a family-friendly, sober activity where we could all just be kids again and run “amuck, amuck, amuck!”

Bengston’s Pumpkin Patch in Homer Glen.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so special. I’m beyond blessed! It was an eve of hilarity, surprises, generosity, memories, and non-stop laughter. It was exactly what I needed.  It was a great mix of old and new friends! I hadn’t seen most of them in quite awhile but we all came together as if no time had elapsed.

In attendance were my dear friends Melissa and her husband Bill; Kaela, Justin and his son, Kai; Leta; Tammie; Ian and Mallory (siblings) and her boyfriend, Camron; Heather and her man, Phillip, and Dawn. I love them all and am so happy they made the effort to come celebrate with me, even though it rained earlier! In your 30’s it’s easy to feel disconnected from people you’ve known for years– everyone is so busy with jobs, families, obligations.

But I was happy to learn tonight that the ties with these people run deep. I see them always being in my life. They indulged me in my favorite love language: pictures. They posed for pictures with me that were classic and adorable, they took pictures of me just being myself and enjoying the day, they took tons of unflattering but hilarious selfies!

My birthday is actually four days prior to Election Day, which is depressing. So I told myself I deserved something extra-special to compensate. Who hasn’t been stressed with all these horrible news stories about our candidates?

My friends were the perfect anti-dote. We took so many silly pictures that I’ll have to finish uploading them tomorrow! Work in the morning. 🙂 It was a small group, which was perfect. Everyone got along great and I got to spend time individually with them all– something I’ve learned from past birthdays is hard to do at a big party.

I’m glad I didn’t go in with a plan. I just had people text me when they arrived and we found each other and decided what to do. And we did everything fun! The Fun Slide (twice!) — I finished first both times! The petting zoo, a hayride, the haunted barn, and mostly just hanging out, catching up, and taking myriad fun pictures because I’m an obsessive picture-taker! Luckily, they were all good sports and everyone jived well together, too.

I had a Toasty Cheese sammich, an apple cider donut, and apple cider ice cream with a flabbergasting hyper-color orange spoon that turned purple where you ate!

Somehow it was 75 degrees but I luckily had found the perfect ensemble yesterday, including a big loose sweater that matched my very ’90s black floral dress, which I wore with black tights and brown leather lace-up boots I’ve had for eons! I felt stylish and beautiful in it.

Tammie, Dawn and I closed out the park together, including a manic spinning session on the Honey Pot ride (like the Teacups at Disney!)– which Dawn commandeered. Tammie was in the Teapot behind us and went “Live” on Facebook to record it– which I’ve always wanted to do but never thought anything I was doing was cool enough. Haha ! I got my chance. She had us spinning so crazy all I could do was hang on, cackle with abandon, and do my best not to hurl. (I didn’t!)

Party on, Wayne.

Then the three of us gals walked to our cars together and I separated from them to find mine. However, we were all in a muddy field. It was dark. I couldn’t see the path. I went down a hill and then tried to turn right and power up a hill to get out and realized I was spinning in the mud. I tried second gear. Nothing.

Luckily, both Tammie and Dawn were still there– I texted them about my problem and within minutes, they both came to find me. Tammie got out and suggested I put in in the “L” gear and drive slow– Dawn gave me a push from behind with her SUV and told me via phone to get on the grass, out of the mud. It worked!

For a few minutes before, I almost panicked. There were no parking lot attendants. I was in the back of the field, alone, in the dark, past 8 pm. at least 30 miles from home on a Sunday.

But God heard me. And with a little help from my girlfriends, I was back on the road going home within a few minutes.

Today is one of those days I’m loving being single. I love that I can spend five full hours at a pumpkin patch with my friends having adventures among the ordinary, and that they will not leave me when I truly need help. I’m more than okay– I’m loved and cherished.

I already know that 36 is going to be my best year yet! But I’ll also cherish my last few weeks as a 35-year-old, indulging in as much Halloween fun as possible! The actual weekend of my birthday I will be traveling to see family.

And now, it’s time for a hot bath and a good sleep! Goodnight, my pretties.

 

About People

That’s what prayer is, for me.

My favorite way to pray is connected with others in a group. Of course I pray alone. But the power is undeniable when you’re surrounded by others and you’re all in it together.

Today I’ve been blessed to stand connected hand-to-hand with others in prayer, twice. First at Mass. And just now with a small group of friends. I was stressed, and I mentioned this– not expecting anything. One friend went out of their way to assemble a few people together to pray with me over the situation that was worrying me.

And just that small act of faith alone reassured me.

If these people were willing to take time out of their day to pray over me, and one by one say a quick intention on my behalf, I have nothing to fear.

With a Little Help from Mary and Her Son

I lose my car keys. All the time.

So often that I separate them from my house keys, so at least I won’t be locked out of my apartment. In theory, I will always at least have ONE set.

On both key chains, I’ve got something a little bit holy attached. Not blessed, but it carries the image and sentiment.

On my car keys, I’ve got a silver key chain I bought around Christmas time at a stand in the mall. The guy makes things from Jerusalem and visits every year to sell them. It was $5, so I bought it for myself. At first glance, it appears to be the Blessed Mother in her robes, looking demurely down. But when you examine it, you find it’s two separate pieces. The front is her image, but the back is actually Jesus. Inside, they both have an image of the other inside. Each piece is connected at the top by a small triangle fixture, which then connects to the key ring itself. The pieces swing opposite ways to reveal inside a picture of the other, in color. You have to handle it to notice the detail.

I love that. Such a simple and beautiful way to show that mother and son are always connected. And really, they both derive their powers from the other– both mother and son are divine, and yet were human. They devoted their lives to each other.

I’ve “lost” my keys twice in the last week! I’m a bit absent minded and set things down while looking around in stores. But to my relief, my keys are never missing for long– not usually more than 10-15 minutes. They always seem to miraculously turn up.

No one steals them. Some good-hearted person alerts me, or if I ask, someone helps me look– and they turn up.

It happened today. I feel so blessed.

It may sound absurdly superstitious and extremely Catholic to a cliche degree. But I believe these small tokens keep me safe, and able to find my keys despite my scatterbrained personality. Whatever help I can get, I’ll take!

On my house keys, I have a small silver “guardian angel” key ring, designed to fit into your purse over the ledge. You can hang it inside your bag, whether it’s a small purse or a larger one. I often have a lot of junk inside my bigger bag. I may need a to root around in there, but I always find it. I bought it in a hospital gift shop.

St. Anthony must be working over time with me! He answers whenever I call him.

On All Souls’ Day

Today is All Souls’ Day….

I didn’t make it to Mass.

But I will honor it with a blog post.

I send up a prayer to those in my life who have passed on and crossed to other side to be with Him, in Eternal Rest.

I lost a lot of important people in my family when I was young– and consequently, I carry a bit of sadness with me. I have wonderful days where I feel the full grace of God’s love in my life and I couldn’t be happier– but that’s also tempered by a feeling of loss that never quite abides. However, I think it’s made me a better person.

Because of those losses, I am so much more appreciative of what I do have. Of the people in my life who have blessed me.

I think it’s made me a much more empathic person– because I understand how grief can shape your character and also cause you to feel angry for a long time until you learn to see the beauty even in the darkness. It forces you to grow up faster. And it gives you a serious personality, even as a young child. A lot of people would characterize me as extroverted and friendly– and I am. And the joy that I exude at those times is genuine. But I’m also very intuitive about the sadness in others, which is sometimes a gift and sometimes feels like a burden. I feel what they feel, and sometimes wish I was less aware of these feelings in others. But when someone confides in me, I feel honored. I’m not the person that’s angry you called me at 3 a.m.– I’m the person who just asks what’s wrong and what I can do to help. If you need to be picked up, I’ll be there. Or I’ll just listen or give you a hug, or whatever I can do.

Sometimes it’s weird– I still have to draw boundaries about it. You don’t want to put yourself in danger, physically or emotionally, and you need to be aware that some people use a front of vulnerability to evoke pity in order to take advantage. I’ve become savvier over the years about sensing this facade. I’ve learned to know when I can give my time, and to whom– while also taking care of myself and my own physical and emotional boundaries.

I have been naive, and I have suffered for that as well.

But I’d rather have a heart that’s too big than one that’s too small.

I also feel that these losses early in my life have been a blessing in disguise. I feel as if I have a team of Guardian Angels, looking out for me. I feel that they protect me constantly. No matter how much someone wants to argue with me about God and the “facts” of faith, I have daily, hourly evidence in my life of God’s grace and the power of prayer.

Sometimes I wish I could just dismiss my faith– it would make my life simpler. My conscience smaller. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to intellectualize everything.

But at the core of my being, I feel that I am deeply loved by Him– and that I owe it in return to extend that love to others.

I struggle with that, of course. But it’s a choice that I make whenever possible. And as I age, I make better decisions.

So thank you Lord, my dear Father, for all those in my life who have influenced me– positively or negatively.

They all have something to teach. They all did the best they could. They all are human, both saint and sinner.