I have always loved a celebration. Birthday parties, graduations, baby showers, weddings, even the opportunity to celebrate the life of someone who is no longer alive holds great value to me. I love the falderal, the ceremony, the cake, the wrapping paper in beautiful patterns, balloons in a rainbow of colors. As a child, I loved picking out just the right gift for friends and watching them open it. I’d carefully select and wrap it as I cherished the celebration of their friendship. I would carefully archive invitations and favors in my scrapbook.
It is for all these reasons, I decided to throw MYSELF a party. A BIG party…. With a band, fine china, colorful balloons, themed décor, lots of fresh roses and lavender, outdoor games, and hand dyed fabrics.
The past several years have been full of major transitions. I left my career, our children left our home, both my parents passed away, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and I turned 50. I have mourned many losses. With any transition, there is loss, then healing, and ultimately, growth. This blog has been a part of my healing and my growth. The party was a celebration of the reinvention of my life after my midwifery career and of me in mid-life.
I called the event Kat – Act 2. It was to mark my belated 50thbirthday and retirement from my Midwifery career. My Nurse Midwife-Nurse Practitoner license will expire on my birthday this year 11/23/2018. It marks a big step in letting go for me. My identity has been intertwined in my career. But as my wonderful husband noted, “Fifty-one is too young to be retired, this is merely your second act.” Sage words and advice.
The six months leading up the “the event” was an integral part of the celebrating for me. For the first time that I can remember, I planned an event solely with ME in mind. Our wedding, 29 years ago, was wonderful AND it was not just about me. It was the merging of two families, two lives. The planning and the budget involved many.
Kat – Act 2 was an event and was just about ME. I love purple, and gardens, and flowers, and music. I love my family and friends – my village. So that’s what we planned for.
When we married, we picked out a very simple, affordable and practical china. All white, to go with every occasion and not “too floral” and “too feminine.” We have used it for nearly every holiday since we married in 1990. I love the history and the way we have used it. I told my husband, however, that one day when our children where grown I would get a feminine floral pattern that I would enjoy and eat off of daily.
Leading up to the party this year, I collected over 130 floral china plates from all over Oregon in floral patterns in my favorite colors – purple, blue and pink. All used by others for events. Many of them also came with stories. Many of the people I bought from shared that the plates where from their childhoods. I loved the stories and the way the mix of patterns looked; and my party guests enjoyed a lovely meal off of beautiful, new to me, china.
I enjoyed making decorations and space planning equally as much as collecting the dinnerware. Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to decorate for a fundraising gala with a garden party theme. Much of the décor we used came from my garden and we then added to them for my soiree. I was able to change it up to make it my own. Lots of purple and pink, fresh lavender, tea cups, roses, and bird cages. We hand pressed fresh juice to serve from our homegrown vines.
TO make the event even more meaningful, my mom was there. Not in the flesh, but in spirit. A year before the party, months before it was even a thought, I had purchased an engraved brick to be placed at our neighborhood community center. The plan was that they would install them in the summer months when the weather was amenable. I had mostly forgotten about my order until after I booked the same community center for the party. The week before the big event, I sat and watched as contractors etched my mum’s brick. It was propitious.
Then came creating and sending out lovely paper invitations. The offers of help and “yes, I’ll be there’s” flooded in. I was delighted but mostly HONORED that so many people offered help and planned to come. My brothers and step – mum from out of state booked flights. Friends from near far planned trips to Portland. Months later, I am still HUMBLED by it all.
I bought an outfit – a purple tulle skirt that I could wear with my cowboy boots and jean jacket. Why? Because I wanted to. Purple is my favorite color and tulle because it feels FUN and FREE and the boots always remind me of my dad.
The day arrived and it was perfect. The house full of loved ones and helpers. All here for ME. I had enjoyed the planning so much that it was easy to forget that the party was still to come.
Close to 140 people attended.
I DANCED and CELEBRATED with the love of my life;
my children (minus one who is in the Peace Corps in Lesotho South Africa);
my brothers and their families;
nieces and nephews;
friends from the many towns I grew up in;
cousins, aunts, uncles;
midwives, nurses, and staff I worked with;
children I delivered;
roller derby friends;
and art friends.
I wore a tiara, given to me for my day.
I felt royal,
I felt loved and celebrated.
It was a memorable way to usher in “My Act 2.”
I am deeply grateful and am truly blessed.
Until the next celebration…
I am Kat – a retired midwife
who boxes, blogs, speaks, and makes art.