Tiny Salutations

Tiny Salutations

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Perfect Unremarkable Birthday

Walking along the sky bridge to the Museum of Glass while observing the art
I recently had a birthday. Special days- birthdays, anniversaries, etc- can often be difficult for people with chronic illness. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, you usually end up pushing yourself further than you would normally. There is always this rationale of "I need to do a little more, I mean, it is my birthday" in the back of your head all day. This reason is very tangible, as you can count every time you pushed yourself too far throughout the day.

There is another much less tangible reason for special days being difficult on those with chronic illness or disability.... expectation. Special days often have some sort of expectation attached, usually created by how you think the day ought to properly be spent. Sometimes that expectation is created by a societal norm, eating a birthday cake or exchanging traditional anniversary gifts for example. Sometimes the expectation is created by yourself by comparing the ways you have celebrated that day in the past to your present or simply by having unrealistic plans. These expectations set the day up for failure. So you would think, don't set expectations that are unreasonable right? Easier said than done. It is hard not to expect your life to live up to your peak healthy days, even if you will never be healthy. It feels like settling for less than you know you have the potential to be.

I tend to push myself too hard on special days, but I think that expectation is the most common, most robust downfall to such a day for me. It is hard not to hold on to that expectation of the way I have spent past birthdays, which were nearly always celebrated in the woods either camping or hiking or both. This year that was clearly not feasible. So instead, I made a different plan, but even that plan ended up being more than we could do. I think that normally this incapability, this falling short of my vision, would be deeply disappointing and frustrating, even resentful of my failing body. This time though, I was able to quickly come to terms with it, to simply accept that this was the best I could make today. This is not easy, especially for someone like me who feels the need to be able to do everything to which I put my mind. That day, however, it came easier. And it was wonderful.

So what did we do for my birthday? I had a doctor's appointment which took up most of the morning. We went to The Museum of Glass in the afternoon. We shared cake. We read our son to sleep with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and then watched X-Files until getting sleepy. I had hoped to also visit the Tacoma Art Museum and take an ADA stroll in the woods, but I think it turned out pretty well anyways. Here's to accepting more days as they are.

The Museum of Glass exterior (left) and interior of cone (right)
Exciting exhibits
Exciting exhibits
Looking at the Kids Design Glass Exhibit, my favorite exhibit
Looking at the Kids Design Glass Exhibit, my favorite exhibit
A Kids Design Glass piece (left) and my son's entry in that program "Apple Tennessee" of an apple trying to get free of his branch, ha! (right)
Museum of Glass cone interior
Museum of Glass piece
Museum of Glass piece- these pieces use a lot of reflection in their design
Museum of Glass pieces
Museum of Glass piece
Museum of Glass inside cone (left) and live glass blowing (right)
Live glass blowing
Live glass blowing
Glass sky bridge
Museum of Glass Outdoor installations
Union Station glass installations
Statue waiting for his train outside Union Station
Observing art along the sky bridge
"Happy Birthday Mom"
By the way, the Kids Design Glass Program at the Museum of Glass is awesome. They choose drawings entered from children under the age of 12 and turn them into legitimate 3D glass art pieces. The Museum keeps one piece for their collection to show and gives another identical piece to the child who created it. Amazing, right?!