Still learning about life

I just turned 56 years old. Where has the time gone? Where have I been all my life?
How did I get here?
Just like the song “7 Years” by Lucas Graham, I turned around and I was 10, chasing after crayfish shells along the creek and reading fairy tales that I believed in.
I turned around again and I was 21, and married. Married at 21?! Wow. I turned around and I was 30, with three little children, then 34 and a single parent.
Spin ’round again and crowding 50, and so many questions. And now here I am suddenly closer to 60 and, oh my, I’m still feeling as if I haven’t yet begun to know who I truly am.
I was born the day before Hallowe’en and as a kid, my birthdays always were full of spooky celebrations with my girlfriends.
We would sit in the dark and pass around bowls of peeled grapes, cold spaghetti, and jiggly Jell-O (eyes, guts, and brains)—pseudo body parts—that my mom had prepared for us giggly goofs to sink our fingers into while we sat in a circle and told ghost stories.
It was gross. It was so much fun.
Then my mom would top it all off with a birthday cake that had a new Barbie doll standing in the middle of an inverted sponge cake that billowed outward and was decorated like Barbie’s party dress.
It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. And best of all, the Barbie was mine when all the cake was gone.
Inside the cake, my mom had hidden 10-cent pieces wrapped in wax paper. Magically, we all managed to find a dime in our piece of cake. It was amazing and I, for one, felt rich.
Ten cents would buy a handful of candy at the local store near the school. I think it even bought a chocolate bar.
When I was one year old, I put my face in my birthday cake. Plunk. Just like that. Oh, the undeniable free spirit of the young at heart.
I did it again when I turned 18—a calculated move. Plunk. Hilarious.
I still have my Barbie dolls in a box. I still love birthday cake, spooky stories, and chocolate and fairy tales.
I still wonder where am I going and what this woman who is me is going to learn about herself today. Some of it I will like and some of it I won’t.
I wonder about the tomorrow river and the circumstances that are sure to come along, as they always do, that I will not understand and if I will remember to do as Pema Chodron wrote:
“The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart—to the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart.
“You are given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”
Here I go.