Another Year Wiser

Ellen Patnaude, Patnaude Coaching

Welp, here we are. Another year has gone by, and the number I write on a form asking my age has gone up. But unlike my mother, I embrace my age. I don’t think of it as getting another year older. Instead, I think I’m another year wiser.

My momma

In the months leading up to my mom’s 50th birthday, she struggled. When my dad and her best friend Bonnie would ask how she wanted to celebrate, the answer was always the same. “I want to sit in a funeral home and mourn my lost youth!” Sometimes there were tears when she said it. Sometimes she was able to cover her anguish with a laugh. But it’s clear to me now how much she was struggling with that milestone.

I turned 50 last year, celebrating quietly with my wife by escaping to a little cottage on Lake Huron. While I wasn’t mourning my lost youth, I was mourning my mother. Two years past her death, I was struggling. I needed to get away and take a breath.

It’s all in how you choose to look at things. 

We control our mindset. 

We’re not victims of our stories unless we write the story that way.

So now the hands of time have moved another notch, and I’ll celebrate my 51st trip around the sun in a couple days. I’m looking forward to a few quiet(ish) celebrations with friends and family over the weekend. Writing the memoir about my mom that will come out on Mother’s Day has helped heal my grief. It won’t ever leave me completely, but it’s definitely different now.

So… what happened??

My dad and Bonnie made my mom’s wish come true. On her 50th birthday, they arranged a surprise party to take place at a local funeral home. They decorated a fancy chair with black streamers and balloons. Dozens of friends and family gathered and surprised the hell out of her when she walked through the door. I’d borrowed a friend’s car and driven home from college to add to the surprise. The look on her face was pure joy and happiness. She felt so loved by everyone. At 20, I wasn’t mature enough to ask, but I’m hopeful the experience helped her struggle less. I know as she aged further, she announced her age with more confidence with each passing year.

Isn’t that what we all want? To grow in confidence, peace, wisdom, and community with every passing year? That’s what I want. There’s an enormous amount of hurt in the world right now. It’s hard not to feel guilty celebrating and going on with life while so many are losing theirs and suffering. So, I’ll try to find some balance. I’ll surround myself with friends and family so I can cherish and be grateful for what I have. I’ll visit my mom’s tree, grieving that she’s not with me. And I’ll give myself permission to take a couple days off from the news.

After all, isn’t finding balance a sign of wisdom?

Ellen Patnaude

Ellen Patnaude

Ellen E. Patnaude has been coaching, training, and developing people to achieve higher levels of success in a professional capacity since 1997.

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