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I’m 50 and I can do what I want! (Like, take up painting!)

It’s my birthday today and I have promised myself this would be a year to remember and accomplish something amazing. Incredible. And something I’d do alone. Linda, my Tennessee BFF urged me to create my bucket list, something that hadn’t occurred to me before she dragged my unwilling, carm, cozy tush to the county’s outdoor pool to ring in the new year at the annual polar bear plunge.  For the unitiated, January in Nashville and Middle Tennessee is freezing!

It was then that I started giving thought to my bucket list. I’d seen the movie, my first introduction to the concept. And from January to today, I’ve been giving the idea tremendous thought and consideration. I explained to Linda on that frigid day that I was fortunate to have lived some very cool experiences already.  And I listed a few for her

I celebrated my 30th Birthday at the Hotel Martinez in being wined and dined on the Cote d’Azure, on a magnificent Mediterranean beach under the stars in Cannes, France, music from string instruments and accordion wafting into the air with the scent of the fragrant centerpieces and smoke from candles providing the only light, other than stars on that magical night. (That it was a business event did little to detract from it in my eyes).  I spent time with friends and family in a few – not enough – European countries, on beaches in the Caribbean and New York City on lazy summer Sunday afternoons. I’ve met a few music and entertainment celebrities and even addressed a presidential political convention’s caucus, attended presidential debates, and attended a singularly spectacular inaugural ball too.

Other than backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, a dream I’ve had since my teen years, I couldn’t think of anything to go on my bucket list when Linda first mentioned it. And the A.T. dream is still alive – more real then ever given my two sons’ survival skills from serving in the U.S. military. It’s up to me to get fit and name the date and time to head out and we’re going, so they say. The rest of the list is still a work in progress. With one exception.

As my boys were growing up, there must have been a frustrated hands-on artist inside waiting to express itself because every gift-giving opportunity I could find, I’d sneak in an art gift among the requested GI Joes, Tonka Trucks, or XMen figurines that were on my sons’ lists. Rock Tumbler, Pottery Wheel Kit, paint-by-numbers… It never worked, with the two of them preferring more active pursuits like rugby and hockey. The quality time I had hoped for, with the three of us exploring color, texture, theme, expression, morphed into colorful conversations during drive time to and fro practice and games, and me honing my hockey mom (and coach) skills.

So I’m thinking it was fate when, this past summer, we cleared out our sunroom of furniture, donating it to Pete, the younger son, for his first apartment. At the nexus of my 50th birthday was this beautiful, sunny, light, 16 x 20 space beckoning to be appreciated. Where once a massive wraparound sofa sat, lazy boy and coffee table sat, there were blank walls and expansive windows. I don’t know how it started, but I decided it would be the perfect craft room.

First out was this great drafting table I had picked up at a yard sale for ten bucks a couple of years ago. Scraping off dust bunnies and dirt from its former garage corner storage area, I moved it, an old book case, and a vast collection of cookbooks, home decorating and craft books in first, along with a pair of patio chairs we’d intended to toss the next time the city had a junk collection. Next came the craft and sewing supplies I kept tucked away.

It is amazing how a large, empty space can fill so quickly! I was fortunate to score another great and wide bookshelf off a family who had to move their great uncle Sal into an assisted living facility. At $10, I figure the storage offered by this massive, 4 foot wide x 4 shelf unit was well worth the ignomy of driving through town with it strapped to my SUV’s roof rack.

And so it is that today, Sept. 13, 2009, I present, rather than my bucket list, my “fifty-year plan.” A life-changing scheme, I have decided to put my craft room to use as often as possible, in an endeavor to learn to paint. Like my expulsion from piano lessons as a child because after 18 months I never learned to read notes, (TRUE STORY: and to make it worse, the piano teacher was a widow who relied on the tuition from her personal lessons) I imagine it will be tough. You see, when I was a child, I couldn’t draw for beans, except maybe trees. My goal, in this my 50th year, is to learn to paint. Well enough to be able to illustrate a children’s book series I have thought about for a while.  Not right away of course, but down the road. Art and writing, intertwining in my life. What could be better?

It might not sound like much, but believe me, I was never even a doodler either, preferring to make poems and express myself through words. My lifelong BFF Bindy is the artist. In fact, she studied at Parsons and makes a living designing and creating larger-than-life party sets. She who knows me better than anyone else, she who bemoaned my inability to color inside the lines in Miss Hoss’ Kindergarten Class at Alps Road School in Wayne, New Jersey, she knows what a feat this will be and to her I dedicate this journal. Well, her and my hubby David, the most supportive and kind-hearted, sensitive and wonderful husband in the world.  I also have to dedicate this to my sons too, without whom I may have discovered my inner artist decades ago, but who led me on a journey I am far richer for, smelly hockey gear and all! (And whose guide services are eagerly appreciated in advance, once I am ready to hit the Appalachian Trail for serious trekking.)

I have to go now. There’s organizing to accomplish and library books to borrow!

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