Tuesday, November 1, 2011


     Every year since I was 10, I have written a reflection on my birthday.  What I’ve learned throughout the year, what I hope to accomplish in the coming year, what I hope to improve about myself.  (To answer what you are thinking: Yes, I was a nerdy bookworm.  No, I didn’t have many friends.)  It’s a tradition I have kept up for many years, and this year is no different … except that I’m going to let you read it.

      Today is my birthday.  As I look around me, I realize the world looks no different than it did yesterday.  The leaves are changing colors, the construction guys are still patching that same stretch of road, Local Grocery still has chickens on sale.  Nothing is really any different, except for me.  I am a year older and, Lord willing, a year wiser.  This past year has been a learning experience.  After waking up one morning and realizing that I am the only one who can make me a writer, I finally took these thoughts I have been writing down and posted them on a blog.  I have built up a few loyal readers who faithfully sign in every Tuesday and Friday to see what odd take I have on the trite, the mundane, and the just plain stupid.  I have married couples, parents of autistic children, and fellow curmudgeons finding solace that they are not alone.  Funny how strangers on the Internet can feel more like a community than the people living next door to you, fighting the same weather, and paying the same taxes.  I don’t know their names, most of them, and I don’t know what they look like, but they connect with me.  They tell me their stories, encourage me in my writing, and send messages to my e-mail box that would otherwise be a haven for spammers.

      My international friends are from various parts of the world.  The United States, Russia, Netherlands, Iraq, Germany, the United Kingdom … the list goes on.  I find it interesting that someone in a country thousands of miles from my own would find the observations of a grouchy writer worthy of their time.  I have found myself thinking more and more about the people around me.  What are their stories, their takes on the trite, the mundane, the stupid?  It’s a fun mental exercise and a constant reminder that we are all connected in one way or another. 

      Throughout this year, I have solidified my belief that sometimes the best way to end a fight is with a shocking, unexpected bear hug.  It has become more real in my mind that some things are worth fighting for no matter how long it takes, while some things are best to let go.  I have learned that no one is going to take care of me but me and there’s no time like the present.  I have realized how deeply connected I am to my family, how unwaveringly loyal my friends are, and how very intensely I hate liver and leftovers.  I am becoming more sure of who I am and more sure of who I want to be.

      For this new year in my life, I will continue to carry myself as a writer.  I have been described as “Erma Bombeck having a drink with Archie Bunker and R. Lee Ermey”, and I realize what an awesome compliment that is.  I will continue to view the world through the “Bertha lenses” of my variety show brain.  I will give sincere, heartfelt compliments and encouragement to those around me and work on this seething intolerance for idiots that causes my heart to race and my teeth to itch.  I will stop worrying what other people think of me and start worrying about what mark I will leave on society.  I will take every opportunity to make someone laugh when they feel like crying and think when they are certain they have all the answers.  I will take the admiring eyes of my daughter as a challenge to do better every day of my life; the wisdom of my girlfriends as a reminder that sisterhood transcends age and genetics; and the teasing of my male friends as proof that God gave me awesomely insane brothers for preparatory reasons.

      I will no longer wish to be something I am not, but will strive for health and strength.  I will relish my curves and stop wishing for straight lines.  I will bask in the light of my friends’ accomplishments and thank them for allowing me to share in their joy.  I will give with gentle generosity and receive with humble thanksgiving.  I will think more deeply, laugh more freely, and love when it pains me.  And I will never, never give up.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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