Living the Sweet Life: Sorry, Big 50 – Try Again Next Year!

By Alisa Murray Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist.

Well hello there, Sweet Lifers! My favorite month has rolled around again, and it looks like I will be getting another pass on celebrating my big 50. Last year carried with it so many passes and reschedules, but we are not yet there for life to be back to normal. By normal, I mean to say that this birthday – mine specifically – was to be quite extraordinary, and since that cannot happen, I have decided that it will not happen at all – again! I have gained not one but two extra years of life that otherwise I would have to admit happened. We all know the life cycle of the butterfly and how it transforms into its loveliness through lots of time and change. I see myself and others like the butterfly.

On Valentine’s Day in February 2020, I underwent a heart procedure and almost died. My doctors were shaking their heads when they realized I had suffered multiple heart attacks that no one  previously diagnosed. Then COVID-19 wove its way into our lives and changed pretty much everything, including my ability to see people – and hug people. Do you guys know me? Yes, did I mention hug people? This was devastating. The big birthday came and went with little pomp; I actually spent the entire day in bed still recovering from what had happened a few days prior. I quietly sulked and then proclaimed that this birthday was not happening. Many friends nodded over Zoom calls and all agreed that I could theoretically make that call, and then we all went into our cocoons.

For me cocooning meant lots of reflection and lots of trying to stay as busy as I am always, which is quite busy. I spent several days that turned into weeks creating a garden. I spent several months that turned into seasons studying seeds, pests and plants, and my vitamin D levels soared due to my time in the flowers and sunshine. I talked to butterflies, hugged tomatoes plants and made friends with frogs, birds, lizards and lady bugs. I talked to God a lot. I heard the whispers of my parents and grandparents, them that have gone before me while tending to the vegetables, and slept better than I ever had before. My psoriasis that has afflicted me for over twenty years miraculously disappeared.

This February I am in a suspended time continuum. My friends all agree that because of this “situation,” we all get to pass once again on the acknowledgment of having reached this milestone of 50. This makes me very happy, because I quite like growing and transforming and watching others do the very same. So many have discovered their passions and leapt into their dreams, creating lives they never would have known had they not been forced into hibernation. I myself found that all of the gifts that I have been given are intended to be a resource for others, and I have been called to teach skills and inspire people in ways that none of us could have ever imagined. What is living a sweet life anyway if not to help the ones we love and leave behind a legacy to inspire and educate future generations? So with one wing coming through my now cracked cocoon, I am fluttering halfway as we soon welcome Spring. The seedlings are blooming, my tulip bulbs have raised their heads, and although life goes on, my 50th birthday won’t!

Take Care of You and Others!