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A Life Less Ordinary

Then and Now – My Birthday

Last week, Donna from Retirement Reflections suggested I do a “Then and Now” post about my birthday. While the thought had crossed my mind, I was hesitant to pursue it, because I thought I could do something bigger with that topic than “just” a blog post. See, a little while back, I played with the brief idea to make my variety of birthdays a thread in the memoir I am writing, or at least incorporate my last decade into an article, “Sailing through My Thirties” or something like that. As always with most of my genius ideas, not much ever happens with them. So, why not turn the thought into a blog? Some parts will still make it into my book, so I can’t reveal any juicy details or you won’t buy it. πŸ™‚ The photos will not be able to make it into the memoir,Β  so… here are some birthday galleries!

30 – Monterrey, California, USA

My birthday in 2005 was a bit stressful and exciting at the same time, since our sailboat F/Our Choice/s (on which we were living) was getting hauled out of the water in the morning and undergoing an inspection to be sold. Or not… We spent part of the afternoon in the amazing aquarium and went out to dinner. We both love Monterrey, especially the wildlife, like sea otters swimming by the boat.

31 – Belize, Central America

Mark, Darwin, Kali and I were on the return trip back to the US with our truck camper. We had driven as far as the Pan-American Highway goes, in Panama. (By the way, “highway” is really not the correct term here.) While we like Belize a lot, this was not a fun birthday, emotionally. The good thing was that I had made some friends and could spend it in good company!

32 – Beaufort, South Carolina, USA

After a turbulent period, Mark and I purchased a 35′ catamaran and named her Irie. We prepped her in Annapolis, MD to head south via the Intracoastal Waterway. The initial destination: Florida and then the Bahamas. On my birthday, Mark had a few nice gifts ready and we visited town with the dogs.

33 – Salinas, Puerto Rico

This birthday was a big bust. Nothing seemed to work out in Puerto Rico, which was not dog-friendly and cooperative at all. Luckily, the anchorage was pretty.

34 – Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

Mark made up for the previous year. He bought me a pretty necklace with Pacific black pearls and we went on a day trip to the beautiful Grenadines, which we had to skip on the sail south to Grenada that year.

35 – Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA

This is the year where Mark and I left Irie for three months in Grenada to go back to the States for family reasons. My birthday was a nice Sunday with gifts and a Thai dinner, until we noticed that our dog Darwin looked a bit weak. The following morning we took him to the vet, then a specialist. His cancer diagnosis destroyed us. A couple of days later, we had to put him down. He never made it back home to the boat. In the last photos, we are saying goodbye to him.

36 – Curacao, ABC-islands, Caribbean

In 2011, I had a very enjoyable birthday. Since our dogs had passed away, we ventured further west and made longer sailing trips. Apart from some useful gifts, Mark treated me to a fun day on the town. We took a bus into Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, to do “whatever we want”. This meant sneaking into a hotel to use the swimming pool, exploring old town, and going out for drinks and meals.

37 – Portobelo, Panama

A lot of stuff went wrong again that year. The weather was uncooperative with our plans and it rained on my birthday as well. On a positive note, we had some cruising friends around who gladly celebrated my birthday with me!

38 – Anaho, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

In 2013, we crossed the Pacific Ocean on Irie and had a bunch of new adventures. My birthday coincided with Thanksgiving and it was a pleasure again to have good friends around.

39 – Maupiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Mark and I celebrated my 39th birthday on one of our favorite atolls in the South Pacific. Unfortunately, without friends (they arrived a few days later), but with nice scenery and good food.

40 – Carrabassett Valley, Maine, USA

Last year, I celebrated my special birthday with friends Jen and Mark at their cottage in Maine. My Mark and I went for a cold hike during the day (it even snowed!) while they skied, and we had a lovely dinner together at home.

41 – Rocklin, California, USA

And that brings us to this year! Mark and I are living a totally different lifestyle now, much more comfortable and slightly less exciting, but it is what we want and enjoy. My birthday fell on a Monday, when barely anything is open. So, we made it a birthday weekend. Three days of birthday bliss instead of one… not bad! On Saturday night, Mark treated me to drinks, dinner and a movie at a theater set up for this. Sunday, we went wine tasting and had lunch in Lodi. On Monday, I had a total rest day (very rare – I didn’t even write a blog) with gifts and a wonderful pasta-shrimp dinner cooked by my husband. And, to recover from the effects of too much wine the previous day. πŸ™‚

What did you do on your last birthday?

35 Comments

  1. For my last birthday, I took my kids to the dentist to get braces. Then, we ate Chinese food. It was very exciting. The day is usually less important to me than the weekend celebration. The Saturday before my b-day, we shopped and had a fantastic lunch. I enjoy spending time with just the wife, out and about.

    One thing we like to do is have extended celebrations. We call it a birthday month. Mostly that means you get to pick the restaurants, movies, tv shows, shopping destinations for the month. It works, mostly.

    • So you are obviously used to the birthday weekends, Ryan! And, you even take it a step further… Birthday month!? That is such an awesome concept. I might have to introduce that next year, since we just started a new month already. Time spent with family is very precious. Not sure whether your kids liked your last birthday though.

  2. Another great post, Liesbet. Unfortunately, David’s not big on birthdays which means we don’t do much on mine. For the last one, we took a drive out to the Flint Hills in Kansas where there’s a national prairie preserve. It was too cold for a walk (my day’s in January), but pretty nonetheless and really nice to get out of the house.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • I think outings are better birthday “gifts” than material goods, unless they are useful, of course. Mark is not big on his own birthday, which makes it hard to organize or buy anything. We both have “everything”, so shopping for each other is challenging. I won’t even mention Christmas gifts… It sounds like David did turn your last B-day into a fun one by joining you! πŸ™‚

  3. I like the “thread” of birthdays. It’s a mixed bag, this life thing. Last birthday was pretty good- pub food and a new
    book!

    • Yes! I remember your last birthday – eating out is always fun, definitely on a birthday. Have you read the book yet? Life, like everything, is indeed a mixed bag. πŸ™‚

  4. It looks like you’ve enjoyed some wonderful birthdays throughout the years! I’m glad you got down to Lodi. My MIL lives there so we get up there once or twice a year. The wine scene is pretty nice and there are lots of tasting rooms to choose from. Happy birthday to you!

    • Thanks, Janis. Lodi was fun, but I drank a bit too much wine without realizing it, really. The portions are so small and I always want to try everything… There are so many other wine regions in California, though. It is quite overwhelming. Do you have any favorites??

  5. Happy (belated) birthday! What a lot of exotic places you have celebrated in. Mind you, my birthday is in July so we are nearly always away. This year we didn’t go on holiday till August though, so we were at home. A walk followed by a Chinese restaurant – I had to look it up.

    • Thank you, Anabel! I would love to have a birthday in the summer. Since I don’t like the cold, those exotic birthdays came in handy. πŸ™‚ It is nice to switch it up, though and have a celebration at home once in a while. You’ll discover new (Chinese) restaurants that way. πŸ™‚

  6. Hi, Liesbet – I am so glad that you decided to do this post. Your past birthdays have been extremely varied and incredibly interesting. You have now whetted my appetite — I will definitely buy the memoir!
    Donna
    http://www.retirementreflections.com

  7. This is such a fun idea for a post! So interesting to see the different ways you’ve spent your birthday. I’m not sure I remember what I did for my last ten birthdays. You’ve got a great memory or good records. Love the balloon hat on the dog – very cute πŸ™‚

    • That hat was given at the restaurant in Monterrey, where Mark took me for my birthday. Bene Hana or something like that, where they cook the food in front of you. See, my memory is not that great. Must be the notes, but more likely, all the photos! πŸ™‚

      I find that when all the days and years blend together, that’s when not much becomes memorable anymore. I was fortunate to have very different birthdays the last decade and that helps to distinguish and remember them.

  8. I love all the diverse locations you’ve celebrated a birthday. Good luck on writing that memoir and look forward to reading it.

    • Thanks, Ingrid. It is a lot of work and I am not always as motivated as I should be. And then, there are all the distractions: blogs to write, to read, to comment to, emails, house sit applications, walks when it is sunny out, yoga this month, errands… Yeah, I am good with excuses. πŸ™‚

  9. Happy Birthday Liesbet and we look forward to toasting you next week! For my last birthday I was madly getting ready to leave on our Mexico kayaking trip the next day.

    • I had no idea that your birthday almost coincided with the Mexico adventure! Happy belated birthday to you too, and… see you tomorrow!!!! So exciting. πŸ™‚

  10. And heaps still to come πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I only remember the ‘special’ ones down the years. The rest just blend in.

    • That sounds like my “before the last decade birthdays” as well, except that I don’t even remember any special ones during that period. Special is good. Have a wonderful week, Jo, with no pains or inconveniences. πŸ™‚

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  12. It’s always the same… at the first winery, you think, “why are they pouring such small portions?” By the last, you think (if you are still thinking lucidly), “oh please, no more wine!”

    There are some nice wineries in Amador County – one place that I remember was gorgeous. My brother is much more familiar with the wineries (he lives in the Bay Area) so I’ll ask him.

  13. I love that….~ “sailing through my thirties”… great title! I am impressed with how you remember a decade of borthdays! I always choose a trup for my birthday celebration. No better way to celebrate another year of life than that! But dang you do it well girl!!
    Like the French Polynesia birthday.

    Nice collection of birthdays. Meantime you could self publish these pics into a decade bday book of sailing through your thirties…..

    Cheers! Here’s to the 40s! And of course…you are a Sagittarius!!

    Peta

    • I sure am a Sagittarius. Apparently, those are adventurous… πŸ™‚ As for remembering the birthdays, I did put some thought into that before in regards to my book, and I had to cheat some, looking for the photos on that particular day over the years. That was enough to bring back memories. I’m sure you have some interesting and universal birthdays under your belt as well, Peta!!

  14. I love this journey through your birthdays and look forward to seeing you publish your article ‘Sailing Through My 30s’. What a decade. And I’ve enjoyed this initial glimpse into your 40s and look forward to seeing more.

    • Life is an adventure, right, Lisa? It is just such a coincidence that my 30s were mostly spent on Irie, or in “preparations” of a life on the water. My 40s won’t be as interesting, unfortunately. Although, we are getting itchy feet again, as you might have noticed in our last call. πŸ™‚ Being in the same spot has a lot of advantages, though, something you are discovering for yourself. Keeping my fingers crossed, still!!

  15. Your comment is energy for me. Thanks and you’r welcome 🌸 🌼 🌻 🍁 πŸ’

  16. Belated happy birthday Liesbet and I love the ‘sailing through my thirties’ as a book title! Looking back you have spent your birthday in so many wonderful locations that makes it look like quite a blessing. I am in my mid-fifties now and we always take the day off on our birthdays and go for a long hike with the dogs and have a simple celebration in the evening.

    • Thanks, Xenia. I like that title as well, but unfortunately, it wasn’t always smooth sailing through those thirties… πŸ™‚

      I think taking the day off for your birthdays is the way to go. It is truly the only day of the year for me when I don’t run any errands or do any chores, and expect Mark to do it ALL. (Same goes on his birthday). I don’t lift a finger. And, ideally, we do something outdoors as well, if the weather is nice. Mark is still stuck to a weekday work schedule, so this year, we did our excursions on the weekend.

  17. Happy birthday! What adventures you’ve had. Some of the places you’ve been are truly beautiful. The post about your dog was heartbreaking–how sad. πŸ™ Our animals, they do break our hearts, don’t they?

    On my last birthday, I was exploring the most haunted island in the world by myself. No one but me and a bunch of ghosts. I’m not bound to forget that birthday. Afterwards I treated myself to this amazing spider crab pasta and prosecco at a wonderful restaurant in Venice, where the wait staff treated me like royalty once they found out it was my birthday. Instead of feeling lonely, I was just happy.

    • Thanks, Holli. Dogs eventually will break your heart when passing on, but not after giving you many years of joy, love and entertainment! πŸ™‚

      What an awesome last birthday! Was the haunted island in Italy as well? I’m glad you have some nice memories from that trip as well… You know, every time I see a spooky house or hear or read about haunted places (like in the California guidebook yesterday), I think about you!!!

  18. That is really an impressive summary! I have to admit I didn’t do anything too exciting on my last birthday, but my husband cooked me a delicious meal – chorizo cod – so I was pretty happy:)

    • Good meals are about the most important thing on one’s birthday (or any day for that matter), so, it looks like you truly had that covered, Inger! πŸ™‚ And, I love it that our husbands cook for us. Don’t ever let go of him!

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