Happy, happy to my sweet 16

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oh those milestone birthdays — the big ones, the ones we anticipate and remember. Sixteen is one of those and I do remember it was a big deal the summer that birthday arrived.

Today, I tried to remember exactly what that birthday was like. I know I probably had a party because I usually had a party. It was most likely hot because my birthday is in July. Other than that, I cannot for the life of me recall anything about, what at the time was, a very big day. I don’t even remember the gifts.

Maybe my birthday amnesia has something to do with all the emotions that whirled around inside me during those teenage years. At that age, I was a mass of uncertainty but didn’t dare let anyone see it — isn’t that a pretty good description of being a teenager.

Everything, to me, took on far more importance than it warranted. My hair not flipping perfectly was cause for great distress. A new pimple on my chin could almost bring me to tears.

If a friend didn’t say, did say, didn’t do or did do something that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, didn’t want to hear, wanted her to do, didn’t want her to do, it could send my emotions sailing or plummeting. And those emotions could shift in about two seconds.

Don’t misunderstand; there was much happiness, much expectation of the good things out there waiting for me. I wondered what it would be like when I was “all grown up” and I was starting to feel that perhaps that part of my life was just around the corner.

Now I know you can’t go back and you shouldn’t live in the past. I don’t even want to, but I do wish I could share some of what I learned from those days with a very special young woman who is about to experience her own milestone as she turns 16 this week.

So, what did I learn that I’d like for her to know. First, those teenage years go by in a hurry. Don’t rush them. You will be grown up soon enough.

Next, don’t sweat the small stuff so much. All the things that seem so big and so important will take care of themselves. In the blink of an eye, pimples become wrinkles so appreciate yourself because you are perfect and beautiful at any age.

The upsets and traumas that feel huge, especially when it comes to drama with friends, will pass. Let it go and don’t waste precious energy on things or people that bring you down.

There is an extra special gift I’d like to give her. However, sitting here almost 46 years past the day I turned 16, I know it is one she has to discover for herself and I know she already has it. It is the gift of grace; the understanding that grace (some call it divine energy or God) flows with her and through her always.

Finally, Haley, my beautiful first grandchild, I’d like for you to see yourself the way I see you, the way all the people who love you see you. We see an amazing young woman who has so much to offer the world.

You have so many adventures ahead of you. Choose well your path and enjoy every minute of the journey.

A day will come when you look back to this time in your life, so fully experience every moment of your sixteenth birthday. You only turn 16 once, so celebrate, celebrate, celebrate this milestone.

(And get ready world; driving is included in Haley’s upcoming adventure).