Sunday, January 6, 2013


So the whole Vitality! and Usefulness! kick was spurred by the sad/happy realization that has been dawning slowly upon me for the last 35 years that this March I shall be 50 years old. I have a fine collection of 1940s paste jewelry and a few--by which I mean more than a few--wrinkles around the old baby blues to show for it. Maybe a few other things (kid, spouse, house, Kindle, secret chocolate stash). But the point is that at mid-century I have been having a retrospective and have decided that the best way to kick middle age in the slats is to be very Alive and very Helpful. It's like that Brownie motto has finally sunk in. I have actually been singing "Vitality and Usefulness" to myself as I search around for things to do that will demonstrate either one of these principles, in defiance of my usual go-to plan for most days: go lie on the couch with a book and then fall asleep.

Today's demonstration of Vitality:

With my Canadian Tire toboggan at the top of the hill, surrounded by young families and pre-teens giddy with the rare experience of being allowed out of their parents' sight, I felt a little awkward: a grey-haired woman of a certain age in purple snow pants all alone in the middle of the day at the sled park. I swear one young mom twinkled her nose as if trying to catch the scent of crazy--or gin--about my person. I almost went home. But then I figured: what better way to cultivate Vitality than by showing the kids how it's done? So I turned the sled around, pushed off, and sailed down the hill--and over the little jump that the naughty boys had constructed at the bottom of the hill to derail toddlers--backwards, waving at the little kids as I went. My purple hat sailed off my head, I made a whooooof sound as I caught some air and then landed on the hard-packed snow on my ancient tailbone, and my nose started to run. And then I stood up, creakily, awkwardly, climbed the hill and did it again. Face-forward this time. The third time, two little red-haired boys came with me. Also the fourth time.

And I am thrilled to report that, for the first time in many many years, I have been invited on a date: tomorrow. Sled park. Noon. With Trevor and Taylor, age 4.

If we called it "babysitting" it might also qualify as Usefulness.

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