My birthday card from Amy Johnson...
My birthday card from Amy Johnson…
And the great month after Jon found a VERY drunk person passed out on our tree lawn. (It wasn't me!!)
And the great punchline…one month after Jon found a VERY drunk person passed out on our tree lawn. (It wasn’t me!!)

A la Bilbo Baggins, I so wanted to use “ELEVENTY-ONE” as today’s post title. But a desire for accuracy won the day. And so, a reflection today on my sixty-first birthday.

Here I sit. Sixty-one years old. There is a storm around me, one that’s raged for over fifty years. I’m feeling as unmoored and estranged as I ever have. And why does Spellcheck say “unmoored” is not a word???

A friend said recently, “The most dangerous people in the world are people who don’t know what they don’t know.” Sadly, very true.

All I can do is look back, to see how far I’ve come.
I can look ahead, to see how far I can go.
And I can look at the end, to see what is of value there. (Thank you, Quinn McDonald, for these words of wisdom!)

When I look back, my gratitude list is long. In fact, after the Year of Endangered Children and Near-Death Experiences, I’m truly grateful for what I learned. What I found. And mostly for what I DIDN’T lose….

I see that sitting with discomfort can open many doors. And close some, too–maybe ones that needed to be closed. Or that were never open in the first place.

When I look ahead, I see that being able…and willing…to make a major change in life, with a willing partner at my side, will be an amazing adventure. I’m pathetically scared. But at least I know my fear is pathetic. It will be daunting, and exhausting. But also exhilarating and exciting.

When I look at the end, it puts it all in perspective.

My greatest joy? Every day, I’m learning more about life.
My greatest fear? The day I finally figure it all out, I’ll be 73 and drop dead before I can really put all my wisdom to work.

The reality? We’re all hear trying to do the best we can. Trying to figure it all out. Some of us are open to learning. Some of us aren’t. Their journey is not my journey. And that’s okay.

My goal this year? To kick the “good girl”–the one who feels she has to make nice, to be “good”, whatever that means–to the curb. And let out the “bad girl”–the bitch who speaks her mind and asks for what she wants–a little more often.

What am I doing for my birthday today?

Maybe I’ll clean my studio so George can fix my lights.
Maybe I’ll do a little more reading on issues of social injustice. I’m embarrassed at how much I don’t know. But grateful I’m willing to KNOW how much I don’t know.
Maybe I’ll go to t’ai chi tonight with Jon.
Maybe take the afternoon off and read a book for HOURS. And fall asleep on the couch with the cat and a dog or two.
Maybe I’ll sit and think. Or just sit.
Maybe I’ll go out and watch the clouds for awhile.

I’ll try not to worry about how I’ll ever pack up and move my neutron-star-dense studio across the country. And whether I’ll ever find a good-enough space to set it up again.

I’ll try not to worry about earthquakes.

I’ll try not to worry about giant millipedes.

Hmmmmm….. Maybe it’s time to go out and look at some clouds.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

10 thoughts on “SIXTY-ONE”

  1. May you have an excellent, calm and very happy birthday. Moving!! Earthquakes!!!! Are you moving to our wonderful state of California??


  2. Wait! What? You’re moving?!?

    First, Happy Birthday! I hope that whatever you did on your day, it was exactly what you needed. Second, What? You’re moving? My selfish-me wants to cry “NOOOOO!” I’ll never have the opportunity to practice one of (so many) things I learned from reading your blog. Like this one: Leave one of my cards in your booth at Sunapee with a note, “Love your cool work. I barter. Booth ###.” Because I really do love your cool work.

    But grown-up me understands that it is not about the self-centered me (That’s a very grown-up thought, right?) What an adventure! Another world of so many exciting things to explore and experience! And how those experiences will be reflected in your new stories/new work – you are STILL going to create, right?

    I wish the best for you and your family as you take on this next part of your journey. May the packing and moving gods look kindly on you and bless you with good karma. And no earthquakes once you arrive in your new home.


  3. Happy Birthday to you — I had a major birthday on the tenth of this month and am 11 years older than you and still asking the questions. And feeling that there are too many projects left to do with the time available but I keep trying — Having a birthday party today for two active 80 year olds so life is continuing to be fun for all.


  4. Interesting thoughts–Happy Birthday–I am most surprised to find I am younger than you–your spirit seems wise but youthful to me!

    On moving–here I was lamenting I’d never get to meet you and you’re moving to my coast? (Want to hear the story for that!) I hope the synchronicity gods find you the perfect home and studio combination! Look up Sunset Magazine, a long-time favorite western magazine. I bet they’ll have earthquake homeproofing tips. As for packing–it is also a great time for clearing–though that is so difficult (agonizing?) for us gatherer types.

    On age–long ago I used to say I’d do something-or-other until I was 80, but soon realized how quickly that was approaching! Now I use 120–want to give myself more wiggle room in case my body somehow believes in meeting that goal. I was talking to my Dad yesterday and he told me about a friend of his with a lovely smile. She died one day and was gone a short time. She was told she was needed so she had to come back here. She did not want to. Now she is perfectly happy with going to the other side, and that is why her smile changed.


  5. Happy Birthday Luann and all the best with the move! I have survived a few of them and they can be creatively stimulating! This, like all your posts, was fabulous. Thank you for them. Hugs from Australia, Wendy M


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