Monday, November 8, 2010

What a Difference A Year Makes

Yesterday was my birthday, and while I am not thrilled to have to announce my age as yet one year older, I cannot help but look back at this year and think of all the learning and growth and change that has happened in my life. Normally I do that sort of thing on New Year's Day, but this year, birthday to birthday, has truly been a defining one for me.

This year, like last year, I was away from home in Chicago for my birthday. The art show, SOFA, occurs every year on my birthday weekend (I'd like to think they are celebrating me as well as the kind of art I love!), so it is a busman's holiday for me to spend the weekend in Chicago for the show, seeing artists and gallery owners who are part of my completely integrated personal-professional life. But last year, as I spent much of my time alone, I knew I was to return shortly to a home in San Francisco where I would be living alone for the first time in 33 years. My birthday preceded my official separation by a few weeks (though I had mostly been living apart from my husband for the prior two years) and I was feeling adrift, unmoored, excited but scared.

I had no idea when I leaped off the married bus what would lie ahead of me. I neither anticipated falling head over heels in misplaced crazy love nor the accompanying loss of equilibrium; I had no idea I would be so sad over the end of the marriage nor had any idea I would be so hungry for new adventure; I couldn't have imagined how many new people I would meet and how thrilling it would be to make new friends and lovers; I suspected how awful dating might be, but had no idea how I would cope, how I would be perceived, or how being rejected would feel (PS - it hurt like crazy!).

While I was building my new solo life on my own two feet, I was also suring up my company's life. Coping with the Great Recession and the toll it took on the company has been a huge task, and this birthday finds the company in a stronger place than it was a year ago, operating more efficiently and effectively, having greater relationships with both customers and artists, and in a sustainable healthier financial position. It has been a hard year, and my wonderful staff is understandably and rightfully exhausted from the effort it has taken. I am so grateful to them.

Throughout the year I feel like I tried on different Lisas in clothing, home decoration, and behavior, and ended up quite happy with the mix. While there are some purchases, trips, and actions I regret, most make me extremely happy and I feel at home in my home, in my clothes, and in my skin. Writing this blog has been a significant part in helping me think through that which is important to me, both personal and professional: part catharsis, part editorial, part reaching out to those who indulge me by reading it, part philosophy.

So here I am, 58 years old, a little wiser, definitely more experienced, and OK with it (well, not so OK with the number 58, but what can you do?) No husband nor boyfriend was there to wine and dine me for my birthday, and I was better than fine with that. I spent part of the day with friends new and old, and part of the day alone, and both parts were delicious and satisfying. On to the next year, the next experience, the next art, the next love, the next blog!

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