“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22”

Indulge me. There’s nothing more important to me than my family, particularly my two daughters. And today, my youngest daughter Emmalyse celebrates a special milestone – she turns 22.

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After a long drought of no musings from your SpinMeister, you may be wondering what has prompted me to finally put fingers back to keyboard or proverbial pen to paper. This blog post is a shout out to a remarkable young woman who has enriched our family with her sass, her cheek and her sweetness.

Fondly known to me as Emmalyse Bumble Bees – a singsong nickname I gave her years ago, the endearing moniker has morphed into Emmalyse Bumble Beast, with Emme’s edgy cynical wit and sarcastic way of thinking.

A second child to busy well-intentioned parents, she often laments that I didn’t maintain a journal of her early life like I did for her older sister when she was first born. But that doesn’t mean I don’t remember her hurried entrance into the world and the special way she has enhanced our family.

Tuesday’s Child is full of Grace

Similar to another summer long weekend 22 years ago, the Tuesday following Simcoe Day in 1995 was August 8. We had spent the annual August civic holiday at my brother’s for a BBQ and got home just before midnight. By 2 am, I was awake with contractions. By 3:30 am we were at the hospital. And by 4:18 am, fewer than 40 minutes after entering the delivery room, Emmalyse Helena was born.

She was beautiful. I remember being astounded at how round and perfectly symmetrical her head was. She had dark eyes and perfectly shaped rosebud lips.

When the girls were younger, we used to watch a reality  TV program called True Beauty. In the show, host Vanessa Minnillo and two other judges assessed the contestants on their outer beauty as well as their inner beauty. For their outer appearance, professionals were brought in to measure the symmetry of the contestants’ faces. This score would be added to others and a winner would be named.  Emmalyse would have exceeded all measures for her facial symmetry and outer beauty. Her inner beauty ranks at the top of the chart as well.

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Now when it comes to her hair, she didn’t quite win the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful like her, it’s just that it’s very fine like mine.

When she was born, she had a mop of superfine dark hair that stood straight up from her scalp. As she got older, the hair got longer but no thicker. As a pre-schooler we watched a Canadian children’s television series called The Big Comfy Couch. In addition to Loonette and Molly the Dolly, there was a character called Major Bedhead and another loving label was showered on Emmalyse.

Always with a sparkle in her deep brown eyes, a mischievous smile on her cheeky face, and a flare for the dramatic, Emmalyse has brought an energy and vitality to our family that has entertained and charmed us.

Now you may be wondering why I think the age of 22 is so magical. Well as someone who is known to be a lover of words and letters, my prowess with numbers is often under appreciated. But as someone who was born on the 22nd day of the 11th month, I have a thing for same double digits.

I remember my own 22nd birthday like it was yesterday. Newly graduated from university, I wasn’t quite ready to enter the working world. Instead, I set out to travel the world – or at the very least a good part of the southern hemisphere. With a backpack and a one-year work visa, I took off for a year to Australia and New Zealand. One of my first ports of call was Fiji where I celebrated my champagne birthday with a tropical fruit drink, a group of other young twenty-somethings, and a few Fijian geckos and lizards. A pretty memorable birthday and the start of a remarkable year.

22 is the year one defines one’s self and marks the beginning of the path one wants to follow in her life journey. Officially an adult since turning 21, a 22 year old is no longer constrained by the routine and boundaries of the education system, nor restrained by parental influence, nor confined by the exertions of unwelcome peer pressure.

At 22 one becomes accountable and fully prepared to embrace the responsibilities of individual choice and self-sufficiency. At 22, one continues to define the woman or man one is meant to be.

I’m very proud of Emmalyse and excited to see what her grand 22nd birthday year has in store for her. Like me, she graduated university at age 21. But unlike me, she started her first career job just one business day after handing in her last university assignment.

At the same age a generation later, she is already years ahead of where I was in putting in motion her master plan for achieving her life goals and  designing her life’s big adventures.

 

If there is anything I can take away from my own journey and share with Emmalyse as she considers her own path at 22, it is to surround yourself with good people, to not be afraid to lean in to take risks that will stretch and develop you as a person, and to be confident in following your own road. Say “Yes” to opportunities.

In the immortal words of contemporary recording artist Taylor Swift, “Everything will be alright, if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.”

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