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March 13, 2005

Itís All About Me

I have one steadfast rule in my life Ė I never work on my birthday. If it happens to fall on a weekend, Iíll take a take a day off either before or after the date.

I canít remember when I started doing this but I know I was adamant about it the year after Graham was born. That day is clearly etched on my mind; I can even remember what I wore.

I dropped Graham off at school and then had breakfast at Zanderís Cafť on Selby Avenue, back when they still served their killer Eggs Benedict. While sopping up the delicious lemony sauce, I read a book about gardening with ornamental grasses. When I told her it was my special day, the waitress brought me a sweet roll the size of my head.

Then I went to the Como Conservatory fern room and read from ďThe Code of Love,Ē a book about a British couple who were separated in World War II while he was interned in a Japanese concentration camp. I remember how quietly I sat, just soaking in the words, the scents and sights of the ferns and the easy feeling of not having to do anything, be anywhere or care for anyone.

And the day just got better when I went for a massage with Barbara Glommen, an amazing healer. My emotional wellspring was dry and I needed someone to focus only on making me feel better. And she did. Then I ended the day by sharing an English high tea with my friend Sherri before picking Graham up again and heading home.

In short, it was a day all about me. And it was just what I needed, after nearly a year of nurturing our small son and spending my time at work nurturing potential volunteers, who sometimes seem as helpless as small children.

Each year since I have followed a similar pattern Ė a special meal, a massage and the opportunity to do something Iíve always been meaning to but just couldnít justify. One year I gave myself $20 to spend on whatever I wanted at the Bibelot, the ultimate shopping destination for pretty but not particularly practical items. I purchased a set of three tiny vases Iíd been eying for a long time and three green frogs for Grahamís bathtub, all for only $19.96!

I think the only time I didnít follow this routine was the year we finished our addition/remodeling project. Then I took off an entire week and spent it unwrapping, washing and finding homes for all the china, dishes and kitchenware that had been in storage for over six months. With BBC America shows on the television and a hot latte on the new granite island, I was content.

And now Iím facing another birthday hooky day and Iím trying to decide what to do with that precious time. Itís a little stressful because I know it will be full year before I have another day all to myself. I do know I will be spending it alone.

I guess itís the MeyersĖBriggs ďIntrovertĒ or ďIĒ coming out in me. While other friends would cram their special days with appointments, excursions or outings with girlfriends, I, on the other hand, just want to be alone. I need time to regroup, unwind and find my energy again and I do that best by myself.

I donít have an overwhelming need for a massage this year, which I see as a good thing. I must be regaining balance in my life, because Iím not feeling so needy right now.

My list of other potential activities is endless Ė starting a tray of seeds, reading a good book, going through my closet, reading a trashy book, organizing my office, reading a gardening book, writing without any distractions, or even (dare I say it?) taking a nap. Or reading a book.

No matter what, I will spend the day at home. I love our ďnewĒ house - watching how the sun lights up each room differently depending on the time of day and season, knowing how comfortable we all are with our bigger space and reveling in the peaceful colors and textures - but working full time, that enjoyment is limited to weekends and holidays.

So Tuesday, itís a pretty good bet that at some point during the day, Iíll be sacked out on a couch with a dog or two across my lap, reading a good book and quite probably falling asleep. In short, doing nothing but things I want to do.

On my birthday, it really is all about me.

(Whereís Brian in all this?, you may be wondering. Well, Iím actually taking two days off this year Ė one just for us and one for me. But finding couple time is a topic for another blog and another day so Iíll leave that for then.)

Posted by maasx003 at March 13, 2005 6:03 PM | Family


see, we are separated at birth, i always take my birthday off too. i usually spend it lunching with a girlfriend, because i rarely get to do that since most of my lunches are work related. i also now take bo's birthday off--he turned two last week. and starting this july, i'll be taking another day off for a little girl baby. maybe we can plan a weekend next summer for you to come out and meet her? xxxa

Posted by: amy at March 14, 2005 8:09 AM

Have a wonderful day off Jackie. Happy Birthday.

Posted by: Kristin at March 14, 2005 7:07 PM

I love your blog! I had a good chuckle over your story of being overwhelmed and gardening in the rain. Great pictures too. Happy Gardening!

Posted by: Sandy at June 6, 2005 11:04 AM

You don't look a day over 20 to me.

Posted by: Brian Maas at August 12, 2005 6:44 AM