Friday, August 11, 2017

On Birthdays and Modern Creative Life

As I write this, Rick is somewhere in Canada, pedaling his little legs off between Michigan and Quebec. When I meet up with him in Quebec CIty, we'll celebrate my birthday (a little late) but today I'm celebrating in a more timely fashion!

And looking back a bit. The first birthday I remember was when I was four. My friend Nancy lived next door and when she brought over presents, we both tore into it!

I would remember that gift even without the benefit of photos. It was a kitchen set -- a little dish drainer and pans and spoons. Who would know that 62 years after that day I would still be cooking and Nancy would be retired from her career as a dietician (and the school lunch lady!)

I don't remember turning five, but my mother made sure I'd have a visual memory of it -- neighbor kids and cousins, all together.

And when I was nine, I remember that party well. We went to see the movie "Bells are Ringing" with Dean Martin and Judy Holliday (one of my favorite actors) and then a party at home. I remember this green kangaroo (and not who it was from, regrettably) which was made to collect autographs. It's tough to get kids together for a summer birthday party. Maybe that's why I remember it so well!

(I'm sure I enjoyed the movie more than anyone there. When I was a kid and we'd play actor, I wanted to be Judy Holliday -- but no one else knew who she was.)

Like Nancy, a birthday celebration doesn't have to be mine to be fun. (See Rick's birthday post from last month!) For example, there was the year I surprised my friend Suzanne when she turned 50.

I can't remember how I slipped into Canada and showed up or was hidden -- I just remember it was loads of fun! Her husband gave us all "starter funds" for a trip to the casino in Niagara Falls. Of course I lost but I didn't care!


I really should show a better picture of Suzanne, since I'm seeing her in a few days and she'll kill me if that's how you'd remember her by! Here we go!


My mother was always good with cakes. I don't remember this one...


...but I do remember this (and have written about it here) -- the styrofoam birthday cake for my eighteenth! Looks gorgeous, doesn't it? The only thing edible was the frosting. (It was during one of my starvation periods. I think I was only eating yeast tablets or liquid protein or something exceedingly stupid. And yes, I was the girl who ate only lettuce when her date to the junior prom took her to dinner during my first Weight Watchers venture at the ripe old age of 16. But let's not talk about body image and the damaging things it can do to your psyche. And still does -- or else I'll get really depressed!)


I believe heartily (as so many of you suggested in Rick's birthday post) to celebrate hearty and for as long as possible. And no, this isn't a birthday that ends in a zero or five (those always seem to be the most traumatic), I am most grateful for each and every day I'm here. That's well worth making some noise about!


There was a time a few years back when I truly wasn't sure how long I'd be hanging around -- at least with any quality of life. And it was a very frightening time both physically and emotionally. I am more than aware that for any of us, each and every day is a gift. I panic when I think about those I love not being around anymore. (And I panic every single day Rick is on his bike trip, especially.) After our brush with death in March, I take nothing for granted. Not one single breath.

So, here is what I want for my birthday.


Promise me that no matter how challenging your life might be at a given moment -- whether it is a physical or emotional issue, one involving your family or best friend or your work or financial situation or health -- anything, that you will take just a few minutes today or tonight before you go to sleep (as I do) to make your gratitude list.

I am so grateful for my family, my friends, Sweet Lizzie, the lake. Grateful to have interests that keep me occupied, to have my sight so I can better read and my hearing so I can enjoy the birdsong (and the yapping cat). I'm grateful for basil and shrimp and Rick's bread; for my neighbor Rosie's garden. For Medicare and insurance. For a house that will be paid up in a few years. I'm grateful for PBS and especially Masterpiece and Mystery and for crisp fall days and warm summer nights. I'm grateful for how the water feels when I venture in to swim -- sometimes too cold, but always, in the end, just right. For the warm sand under my feet, bunnies, the sound of autumn leaves crunching under my feet and the first snowfall (not so much for the ones after that!) I'm grateful for the cottage and my house and resources to be able to do not all, but at least some of the things I want.

Grateful for life itself.

And, grateful, too, that I have become associated with the wonderful people who pull Modern Creative Life together with so many inspiring posts. My current one is titled "In Search of the Peanut Butter Power Bar" and I refer to a wonderful recipe of that title shared by Jenna of The Painted Apron right here. (My post, alas, is not a cooking post, so if you want the recipe, check out Jenna's page!). It refers to needing a power bar of inspiration sometimes when your creative juices aren't kicking in quite the way you'd like. Thanks, Jenna, for an inspiring title!


  1. I love your adorable pictures over the years. I hope you've had an absolutely wonderful birthday. :)

  2. Happy happy birthday! I hope you have a fabulous day! I love your attitude about life and getting older. I, too, believe birthdays are worth celebrating, no matter what number you are turning. And as you get older, it's even more important to celebrate! Each year of life is definitely a gift - I am realizing that as I get older. I'm glad you have such a long list of things to be grateful for (and I am sure there is even more than what you've listed!). August is a birthday month in my family, too, as my BIL, mom, and Phil all have birthdays. Phil's is next Friday and we'll be going on a camping trip with a good friend and then I'll have a birthday dinner for him the following weekend. I just started planning the menu for that (it will be Mexican as he LOVES tacos).

    Have a joyous day!

    And PS - I love the fancy dresses you wore on birthdays in your younger years!! How fun to have those photos!

  3. Hello,

    Happy Birthday to you! I love all the photos and birthday cakes. Wonderful post. Enjoy your day!

  4. Ah, chiquita -- happiest of days to you, a fabulous year ahead, and all the wishes you want. So glad to be in your tribe!

  5. Happy birthday, and enjoy all of your celebrations. What wonderful parties you had as a kid. I always hoped I would get a party and cake, but it never happened...You have BIG fun in Canada, hugs, Valerie

  6. What a positive way to view life! I too am so grateful for my life, family, friends, faith and future! Enjoy every minute of it!

  7. Happy Birthday, dear Jeanie! Have a wonderful day and enjoy every minute! I wish you health and happiness! Every day is a gift indeed but we often forget that. Over here it's evening already. I'll now have a glass of white wine and drink a toast to you. Cheers, Jeanie!
    xo Julia

  8. I just love those old photos of you growing up, Jeanie. They are priceless. Happy Birthday to a wonderful and vivacious woman! You had short hair at 18? Mine was always long. Wow, that birthday cake your mother made is something else! It's as big as you are haha. This is a sweet picture of you at nine with the kangaroo. Wishing you many more fantastic birthdays, my friend. And Yes, so much to be thankful for. : )


  9. Love this post - Happy Birthday to a wonderful lady. I know when you met up with Rick he will give a special Birthday party celebration.

    Loved all the pictures of growing up - the are great.

    Have a wonderful weekend.


  10. I love this post. Happy Birthday, Jeanie. I wish you health, happiness, and the means to enjoy life with the ones you love.

    Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my posts. You always make my day. We have been away and just getting back today. I am very much behind in corresponding, so I apologise if I have missed some of your posts.

    Have a terrific birthday!

  11. A great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you. I love all your vintage photos and your more recent ones too. You especially look like you are enjoying yourself in the last photo with the birthday cake. Enjoy your celebrations and your time in Quebec. I do try to remember being grateful often for the things I have and the time with loved ones. Even being able to do simple things like walking is something I'm grateful for as a result of having knee issues. However I don't do every single day when I'm tired and I don't write the list down. I think I take photos of pretty things as I have joy and gratitude when I look at them. Have a very nice weekend. xx

  12. Your post is wonderful! You are so lucky to have all those early birthday pics of very cute kid & teenage Jeanie! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts ... both upbeat and not-so-upbeat.

    Many happy returns of the day, many happy cakes, much to continue your awesome gratitude for.

    best... mae at

  13. You're a very good writer. Happy birthday!

  14. Your friendship is on my gratitude list.

  15. What a perfect birthday post. And we are grateful for YOU. Hope it has been a perfect day and soon you will be on the road for a celebration with Rick in Canada. How fun to go down your memory lane a bit. I know I have one picture of a birthday party as a child, I need to find it. Happy Birthday to you, dear friend!

  16. Thanks for sharing your memories Jeannie, I wish I could be there to give you a big hug. You are such a special lady with such wonderful gifts that you share so freely. I, too, count my blessings and say prayers for those I love every day. And one of the things I give thanks for is that God brought you into my life. Have a special day today and every day.

  17. Happy birthday!
    These photos are cool! I also like to mention some moments from the past. Sometimes I love to experience them again!
    The first birthday I remember was when I was 5 I think. My mom also made me delicious cake and I invited my 2 friends from neighbourhood. I'm still in touch with one of them, we're not best friends, but we like to meet from time to time.

  18. Those pictures of your earlier birthdays reminded me how little girls used to get dressed up for birthday parties. It was a big deal.

    Happy birthday!

  19. Happy Birthday! You are right, we should think of all the things we have to be grateful of. It is a treat and we often forget them over our co plaints. Have a wonderful day.

  20. As always, I envy your photos a bit, but I'm glad for them, because they bring back memories of my own,unphotographed birthdays. I do have a photo of a couple of parties, and one of me at my third birthday -- we knew how to celebrate then: the cake and kids were more important than the "themed parties" and rented blow-up thingies!

    Happy birthday!

  21. Happy Birthday!

    So important to keep track of how fortunate we are, and to deliberately appreciate the many good things that happen to us every day!


  22. Love this review of birthdays past! Happy Birthday!

  23. Being grateful is a wonderful thing.
    Life is to be treasured.
    Wishing you a beautiful new year Jeanie.

  24. Jeanie, wonderful post and I agree, life is such a gift to be grateful and thankful for every day! Such wondererful photos capturing your childhood memories, I enjoyed those so much. Happy Birthday sweet friend......

  25. Happy Birthday! All my life I have envied people with Summer birthdays (mine is in dreary January) and their picnic parties -- you mean to tell me that it's hard to round up kids in August?

    Ah, what lovely party memories you have. And a new memory in the making in Quebec City: live it up!

  26. What a great post, Jeanie. Celebrating life and all the beautiful years of YOU (these photos are priceless)! Grateful for many of the same things you mention, and for the virtual friendship of YOU! Happy that you write so inspiringly, and always look forward to opening your posts. Cheers to your trip to QC, meeting up with Rick and seeing your friend Suzanne again! Happy Birthday!

  27. Happy Birthday to you, my friend! These are lovely memories, and I wish you many more to come! Have a wonderful time in Quebec with Rick. We certainly welcome visitors helping us celebrate our 150th birthday! :)

  28. Happy birthday, Jeanie! I fear I am a bit late. I always love the photos you include in your posts, especially the ones from a "while" ago! You really do know how to celebrate a birthday. Gratitude lists are very good for putting life into perspective, aren't they? If I lived closer I would bake you a birthday cake and Styrofoam would not be one of the ingredients! It was just my husband's birthday on the 10th, so you are both Leos. I hope you had a grand birthday. You deserve it! -Jenn

  29. This is a great post, so fun!!--and happy happy birthday my friend!! Love the fun trip back down memory lane and your childhood parties look just like my own! The cakes, the decorations, party favors, the GIRLY DRESSES that little girls wore back then, LOL Yep, when you were invited to a birthday party--you wore your best dress, and probably little white lace trimmed socks and fancy patent leather mary jane shoes and little boys wore a nice shirt and a little bow tie maybe and dress up slacks or shorts with creases ironed in, and their shirts tucked neatly in. I just think so much of what is gone and "out-dated" now is so sad that it is missing. We live in such a different world now. anyway!!--hope you had many birthday blessings!!

  30. WOW, JEANIE! Happy Birthday dear friend! I love how you went through memory lane with such wonderful photos. I can see that your family was also, like mine, a very shutter-happy family. I have tons of old photos for every occasion as well. May the years continue to allow you to grow wise and wonderful my friend. Happy almost end of summer!

  31. This is so sweet. Happy Birthday.

  32. I love your birthday post. I don't think I have even one photo of a Birthday of mine - 70 opportunities and not one photo! I'm so glad you get to celebrate in Quebec City with Rick. We went there years ago and loved it. Happy Birthday!

  33. You know how to celebrate, Jeanie... everything, you are so good at celebrating everything, and I love that about you! :) So glad you had a good birthday. And such fun to see from birthdays past... That 50th gift for your friend Suzanne of *ahem* bra support is hilarious!! I had a starvation period in high school too. What terrible mess body image can be, and such sad stuff we do to our bodies, right? Here's to making it through all sorts of things... and keeping that gratitude list. :))) Have a wonderful time with your friend... And safe travels for Rick! LOVE YOU, my friend ((BIG, EXTRA BIRTHDAY HUGS))

  34. This post filled me with joy and hope and all good things birthdays are suppose to be about. Celebrating another year of life first of you, and sounds to me like you have been celebrating most of yours in style!!! I know it was a good one from your more recent post, and I hope when you meet Rick In Quebec City you celebrate in style some more. Hugs-Erika

  35. Oh my . . .
    It is the YOU I love . . .
    A person of Heart . . .
    The Real Deal
    Meet and Greet, Birthday Treat my Dear. . . .
    After Quebec . . . set a date . . . relax at Licari's . . .
    PROMISE . . . I adore your spirit . . .

  36. I think you're very good at birthdays, and it seems like your mom was too. Nick is a Christmas Eve baby, so has the same trouble with getting people together for a party. I think that makes it even more special when people come, though.

    I like your gratitude list. I love that Lizzie is on it.

  37. Happy Birthday Jeanie...What an uplifting post...My Heart feels 100 times lighter. :)

  38. Dear Jeanie, this is such a beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos. I could sit and read your blog all day every day but my hubby has just woken up, and I must go and start on the breakfast. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for every single second of every single day.

  39. Jeanie, you are so positive and I loved reading your gratitude list.It is really inspiring! What a nice collection of birthday photos, a collection of different dresses and cakes! I wish my mother had thought to take photos of us on our birthdays but it was always dad who used the camera (and then not very often.) Do you have photos of every single birthday?

    I'm working backward here as usual so I know about the strawberry shortcake! :)


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