Let’s Celebrate

By Susan DeBow

Let's Celebrate

I love to celebrate. I celebrate most anything anymore. A birthday? No question. The possibility of a good day today? That’s cause for a hallelujah! A notice from the doctor that the Pap test turned out fine? Ye-hah!

Mind you, most of my celebrations do not involve a big party. And, many of my celebrations are held by myself or with just one other person. But the fact that I celebrate the little victories is a total shift in the way I live my life.

See, I used to do what I call “preventative worry.” I’d worry about things that happened and didn’t happen. Worry sat on my shoulder like a parrot that likes to peck at the scalp of his owner. I’d worry that if I didn’t worry about the plane continuing to go up on take-off it would suddenly lose power and crash into some swamp filled with alligators and water moccasins.

My preventative worry was heavy to carry around. Because my thoughts usually had a yarn of worry somewhere in them, I wove myself into a tight knot, not allowing much room to celebrate. I thought worrying was my duty as a mother, wife, daughter and friend.

I even tried to use preventative worry to deal with my husband’s cancer three years ago. As a caregiver, it was my duty to take my husband’s worry and carry it in my purse and heart. Wasn’t it?

And then it happened. Sometime in my early 50s, (I’m 56, but next year I plan to be 55), I realized that my worrying wasn’t doing diddly-squat in terms of making anybody or anything better. The only thing it was doing was taking over my life like kudzu.

My transition in thought and life coincided with a year where I learned I could not worry away my friend’s cancer. No matter how much I worried, I could not stop my children from getting broken hearts. And no matter how much I worried about the world and its problems, my worry was going to do nothing except give me ulcers.

I used to worry that people would disappoint me on my birthday. So instead of worrying about others living up to my expectations, I decided to do something unique…I chose to celebrate it myself. Be the leader of the celebration parade. It was fabulous. Not fabulous in scope or size, but marvelous in the fact that instead of worrying that I am getting older and nobody thinks my birthday is as important as I think it is, I bought myself a birthday cake and had the girl at the bakery write on top, “Happy Birthday to Me.”

It is not only the big days or events or certainties that I celebrate. Many people won’t celebrate something until things are for certain. I celebrate the possibility something might happen.

Instead of worrying every day about the recurrence of cancer to my husband or friends, we celebrate that we have another day. My husband and I celebrate sunsets. We purposefully go looking for beautiful sunsets and celebrate the fact that we get to see another one together. If cancer returns, we will deal with it.

I have learned to celebrate life in the colors of my paintings and not worry about the fact that I will never be a Van Gogh. (And actually, I am quite glad I am not! I enjoy having two ears).

Many of my celebrations include a cup of hot tea and a scone, a clink of cups and salute. I sometimes celebrate a wonderful loaf of bread that I have made, a painting that I have done where I met a challenge, or news from a publisher that she loved my work. Before, I would have immediately worried about whether the publisher “really” loved it and if they wanted to make a book. But now, I celebrate the kind words and realize that “what will be will be.”

This past year, I have celebrated my husband’s clean CT scans, my friend finishing chemo, the first tomato from our garden, my daughter getting a part-time job, a glorious Friday, a rainy Wednesday, a haircut that I actually like and the discovery that I have a passion for painting. I’ve celebrated with iced tea, diet soda and a glass of ice water. None of the celebrations have been festooned with balloons or streamers or bands. The celebrations have not taken me to expensive restaurants, Italy or other far away places.

Some of my celebrations no one even sees. Because these celebrations take place in my heart and soul and in the sound of my laughter that fills the air with lightness brought about by joy. It has taken me a long time, but I finally have learned to choose to celebrate life and not just worry about “what ifs.”

If I am ever on a ship named the Titanic II, and we hit an iceberg and the ship is going down, instead of worrying about how damn cold that water will be, I am counting on my new-found wisdom to see me through as I lead other passengers in a rousing version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Oh, and about that parrot on my shoulder? No worries. I’ve discovered he wasn’t real. He was only in my head.

About this writer

  • Susan Hipkins DeBow Susan Hipkins DeBow is a writer and artist. A hobby of hers is watching Law and Order reruns and then going around telling people she wants to make a “collar on the perps,” and demands a “remand.” She got hooked on Law and Order reruns after seeing Seinfeld reruns 20 times. You can read Susan’s work and see her art, photography and miscellaneous miscellany at www.ohiowritergirl.com If you are nice, she’d like to be your friend on facebook. Go to her Facebook page, Ohio Writer Girl.

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One Response to “Let’s Celebrate”

  1. Rita Mukherjee says:

    Thank you for a beautiful celebration of life.Yes in trying to reach out for the sun we sometimes forget the rays that shine on us, in other words if we do focus on the small stuff we are already halfway to happiness.May the sun always shine on your writing.

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