December 4th , 2003 – Kenny Rogers is crooning carols in the background, our first Christmas card arrived today from Bill and Fred, Jeff is putting the lights in the windows and I’m sitting here thinking, “Times a wasting Ardeth, hop to it”.

What is there to tell this year that is new, different, interesting, amusing or of great import. Well, life is moving on at a rapid pace and as Dad would tell you:” wait until you’re 87 and see how fast it goes”.

I turned the BIG 50 on April 4th and can tell you 50 was a breeze compared to my 29th when I had congestive heart failure. Well, just like TIMEX, I keep on ticking. When someone asked me how I felt about turning 50 I responded: “I’m still breathing”. Life has a way of ensuring that you appreciate that which you have!

Jeff, with organizational help from friends Brenda and Mike, treated me to a surprise birthday party which until 2pm that afternoon was a surprise. When Jeff said I was to repair to the upstairs, have a relaxing bath and not come down until 6pm with party clothes on I knew then. What fun it was to have friends and family together. After the cocktail party and munchies Jeff took the family out to dinner. So, trust me, my 50th was a cinch, especially when compared to my 29th !!

Turning 50, besides changing the hormone levels, sets in place a new perspective on life. It is a chance to look backwards, review things, events, traditions and then to look forward and choose a spot where you would like to be as a human being and then….do what needs to be done to get there, more, a refining of who you are, not redefining.

I am exercising my right to say “no” to lots of things and yet, at the same time say yes to things that I really want to do. I am purging my life and home and it feels good. I now know why our mothers and grandmothers did spring and fall cleaning. It’s a great way to keep up with all those little things that need to be assessed on a regular basis and to decide whether to keep, give away or send to the garbage. (I do not want to lead you astray and think that I have done this on an annual basis…its been years!!) The new term for this type of cleaning is called feng shui (pronounced fen schway) or as Jeff calls it…fen shooing as things are being shooed out of our house and lives that we no longer need or want.

Like what you ask? Well, 8 cartons of cookbooks that I no longer need. Now that I’m 50 and with all the entertaining I have done…I could write my own. Then there were the books on decorating, home decorating, Christmas decorating, flower arranging, etc. ….know most of it…what I don’t know I can either live without or I can borrow a book from the Library and find out.

There has been a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. Furniture has been re-arranged, cupboards cleaned, drawers emptied and it feels good. I highly recommend it. Things can be a terrible burden, especially if they no longer have a function in your life other than collecting dust. So I sent several things on to a new life with a new owner whom I hope will enjoy them as much as I have and then send them on their way when they no longer have any use for them.

This year has also brought me a clearer understanding of the premise that “you must let other people live their lives”. I can attest to the fact that this type A ++ personality, who is basically a problem solver, has a really tough time accepting this and practicing it is even TOUGHER!

Creating space in your life allows new opportunities to present themselves which is a perfect way to satiate my curiosity of learning - new things, meeting new people and spending more time with myself. As you can tell, this year has been a journey to bring more space and peace into my life. After all, once you GET the concept of letting others live their life…then you can live yours. (Notice I said “get the concept”….I am still working on the “practice makes perfect” part!!!)

Part of the fun of enjoying my own company has meant I have read ( a lot of different things), played the piano, sung to my heart’s content and gardened, both flower and this year, vegetables too, thanks to Dad’s help. All of this has rekindled my desire to belong to a choir, and renewed my appreciation of being in nature, God’s real time, 3D, surround-sound, picture-perfect 24 hour inter-active movie that stirs my Rolling Dam country soul and makes me thankful for the beauty of the earth.

So how is everyone else? Dad continues to be himself – busy, content, or if not, never once complaining. I always enjoy being outdoors with him, especially in the garden as I badly needed a refresher course! Janet continues to march on, always doing and enjoying her blessed little home. “Mady” is blessed with extra mural nurses, home help, and her friends and family. Blaine is in Chateau Lake Louise with a full-time job, holidays on the east coast and e-mail to keep in touch.

And Jeff? Well, he really likes the fen shooing part. I’m not sure he is as enthusiastic about some of the other things. Jeff, however, is a brave man, not faint of heart and has stoically said: “You are a grown woman, you can do whatever you want”. Frankly, I think that is good advice for us all to do whatever we want, or be true to ourselves.

Remember, we have but one life to live, embrace it and live it to the fullest, each moment, and each day. At 50 I have been able to look back and say what fun there has been and even the days that might be described as dark days, have been life lessons to ensure my journey forward has been and will continue to be sprinkled with sunshine and light. Thanks for being part of the sunshine and light in my/our lives.

“Solitude, in the sense of being often alone, is essential to any depth of meditation or of character; and solitude in the presence of natural beauty and grandeur is the cradle of thought and aspirations which are not only good for the individual, but which society could ill do without.” – John S. Mill

Peace, joy, solitude and other blessings are sent with love from our house to yours.