Monday, October 18, 2010

"Experiences Over Possessions"

My birthday was last Friday. As my birthday got closer, the kids asked what I wanted for my birthday and one day after a walk I made a list of three or four things that I would like to have as gifts. I felt good about the list I made as they were all wants, but also needs. I don't mind those kind of gifts at all. I thought all was settled and I would be able to pass my list along and see what happened.  Then I remembered a philosophy that my friend Hannah often shares on her blog. She says, "I have always valued experiences over possessions." I love reading her blog because she does have wonderful experiences and I have always admired her philosophy. I don't think I have ever been a person that is all about possessions, although of course I do like some of them, but I have never really concentrated enough on the experiences. Sure, my kids are unschoolers which is based upon the idea of the experiences of life being their teacher, but I often put worry with my own personal experiences. Will we have enough money? Is the money used worth the experience? Is it taking away from what others want?

After thinking on what I really want for my birthday, I decided that I want the experience over the possession. So instead of a list of "birthday wants", I told my family I want a day with them either bike riding in a new area (Steve has a place in Wisconsin he wants to take us now that I am riding again) or hiking at Starved Rock so Izzy could join us. Also, I asked that if they really want to give me something, I would prefer homemade cards or gifts. The decision to not have any purchased gifts came from a discussion that Sophia and I had a few weeks back. We talked about how when we think back to the previous year, we often can't remember a lot of the gifts we received for Christmas or birthdays. However, the gifts made by others that we have in our house are always treasured. Alexander and Sophia have always been great at making gifts for me and they always come with fond memories.

After a super busy day on Friday and again on Saturday, we headed to Starved Rock on Sunday.  When we arrived, the experience I had in my head was different than the one I was experiencing in real life.  In July, we went to Starved Rock with my sister and her boys and the day was relaxed with few people.  Of course, it was a humid summer weekday rather than a perfect fall Sunday.  There were TONS of people at Starved Rock.  At first, I felt overwhelmed.  We brought Izzy with us as I had planned to do. The paths are narrow and she easily gets excited by other dogs and people.  I wondered if we should go home and prevent a stressful day. 

We stayed.  Steve volunteered to walk Izzy and keep her close. She did such a great job.  She tends to try to walk next to me no matter who is walking her.  She was so cute.  If I was ahead of her, she would pull hard on the leash to catch up with me .  If I was behind her, she kept stopping to make sure I was still there.  She is a ":momma's girl".  I like that about her.  She did a super job and seemed to enjoy all the new smells.

The day was nice.  I enjoyed the sunshine, nature, and mostly relaxing with my family.  It was a perfect gift. 

Tuesday was the last day of classes for this quad.  One of the gals that always arrives before me was late to class.  When she arrived she had a big bouquet of flowers in her hands and everyone stood up and started singing “Happy Birthday” to me.  Then we had the usual last day celebration which means lots of homemade Mexican food!   After we finished the food they pulled out two big cakes from a bakery.  One was to eat in class and the other was to take home and share with my family.  They turned out the lights, lit a candle, and sang to me again.  Then they lined up and each one gave me a birthday hug.  They are so sweet!  I felt very special.  This experience is one that I won't forget easily.  

A special thanks to my mom and dad for bringing me into this world, providing lots of great experiences, and loving me for 43 years!