Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Photo: Leo Reynolds
According to Wikipedia, 32 is a happy number. It's also the number of pages in a standard comic book. And the Fahrenheit temperature at which water freezes. Today, it's also my age - a way of marking the passage of time. The last few years, that particular pastime has been full of frustrations at those things that weren't part of the equation. Those things that, in my own mind and heart or in the eye's of others were subtractions. But this year, I choose to look at the math a little differently. This year, I'm going to look at what adds up to 32 reasons to celebrate myself.
  1. Daughter - Perhaps my first role in life...one I arrived almost a full month late for, but when I showed up, it was with a total devotion to my parents that I carry still.
  2. Little sister - It came fast on the heels of daughter, being a sister, and the fierce loyalty and love for my older sister and brother with it.  
  3. Friend - I'm still friends with some of my earliest friends - Sarah, who I've known since I was three; Niki, who's been one of my dearest friends since first grade.  That loyalty thing again.
  4. Loyalty - So let's talk about that thing loyalty. Once I'm won, I'm hard to lose.
  5. Smile - From the earliest pictures, I can see my smile. Even if the baby face doesn't look like me anymore, that smile - big, open, happy - is there.
  6. Laugh - Loud, cackling and anything but ladylike, it's frequent and heartfelt. And contagious.
  7. Writer - I found one of the great loves of my life early in words and stuck with it.
  8. Pictures - My eyes see, and I can show what I see.
  9. Honesty - I cannot tell a lie. Never could.
  10. Hugs - Hugs are little bits of love passed on through a squeeze. I believe in 'em. And I give them out with reckless abandon.
  11. Compassion - No one ever cries alone.
  12. Left-handed - My wronghandedness has always been a badge of honor - especially when I have the telltale smear of pen ink on the outside of my hand.
  13. Humor - I can laugh at me.  That's important.
  14. Courage - When I got to a point in my life when I really needed help, I admitted my frailties and found the strength to ask for help.
  15. Clumsiness - My bruises and scrapes (literal and figurative) have been the reason for many a side-splitting story.
  16. Dandelions - I know they're weeds, but even weeds need love.
  17. Hopeful - Despite the trials and tribulations, I never lose hope that better things await.
  18. Creativity - The inner-workings of my brain are mysterious and magical.
  19. Faith in mankind - While it gets me into trouble from time to time, I have an unfailing (some would say naive) faith in the goodness of man.
  20. Aunt - A more recent addition to my list (four years and counting), I lavish love on my nieces and nephews.  And promise to teach the left-handed one to tie his shoes.
  21. Volunteer - The notion of giving of one's self and one's time entirely for the benefit of someone else carries the power of change.
  22. Adventure - Some would question my inclusion of this...not an innate quality of mine...but a learned one that has led me to push my boundaries and discover the world outside of my comfort zone.
  23. Openness - No mystery here, which I often lament. But you can trust that what you see is what you get.
  24. Simplicity - While I can get caught up in an overstimulated need/want frenzy with the best of them, in the end, I can enjoy the simplest of things: clouds, a particularly lovely tree, a drop of water on the edge of a petal, that you can buy something called Fluff in a jar.
  25. House - The bane of my existence for some time, it's still something I accomplished. Like a grown-up or something.
  26. Nostalgia - All that came before, hazy with hindsight, is precious.
  27. Shoes - What, you say?  How can shoes be on this list?  Because they've evolved into some extension of all the facets of my personality.  A shoe for all seasons.
  28. Grace in the profane - One of my grad school professors used this phrase all the time...and I like to think I've learned how to see the grace even in the dimmest of circumstances.
  29.  Curiosity - Mostly this leads to the accumulation of more useless trivia knowledge, but occasionally, I find a way to turn it into something meaningful.
  30.  Encourager - I will be your cheerleader and your champion.  Your triumph is mine; your failure is a reason for me to swoop in with hugs (see #10).
  31.  Singing - It's a terrible racket. But I do it because it makes me happy - with the windows down and the radio up, and it's one thing that's taught me not to apologize for those things that bring me joy.
  32. Love - In an ever-widening circle of people, from those who have known me for decades, to those who have come into my life in recent years and months, there is love.  I never run out of that.
So that's my list.  Happy birthday to me and all my 32 years.


lightbulbs & ahas said...

What a beautiful self-tribute. I agree with every item on your list and hope your 33rd year of life is a year of "ups!"
Hugs from Ohio,

Eva Marie said...

That was beautiful! I love it and I love you

ChadDudley said...

Ashley you still know how to put a smile on my face even when you and I haven't seen each other in a really long time...I really enjoyed reading the 32 reasons you celebrate yourself and really needed the smile today..thanks
Happy Birthday..your friend Chad

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