BY: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”
Chapter 18: Celebrating My 45th Year at the Border of Crazy.
Visions of the past 44 birthdays flash before my eyes. This is a day of dread not because I care much about getting older, but because I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my birth’day.
December 28th is the non-descript 362nd day of the year. It’s a day that is sandwiched between two of the biggest holidays; three days after Christmas Day and three days before New Year’s Eve. This is indeed a shit hole of a birthday.
I saw a quote recently on Facebook from a fellow Daily Feels blogger that sums it up perfectly, “The five days between Christmas and New Year: where you don’t know what day it is, who you are or what you are supposed to be doing.” And my birthday is smack in the middle of this no man’s land.
Most people are generally holed up in their homes or traveling somewhere warm. They need a break from the year, plus a well-deserved pause from the frenzy of the holiday lead-in where they are cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping and managing screaming kids. Adding insult to injury, no one is interested in going out their front door as the weather is usually a disaster; typically either below freezing, raining, snowing or all of the above.
I could easily throw a pity party about how terrible my birthday is…however, this year I decided to stop bitching like the petulant child that missed out on the annual cupcake parties at school, and flip the script.
See, I’ve lived a life being obsessively goal-oriented to the point of goal-mania. Every year, I’ve provoked change, both big and small; always in need of some project to tackle, trip to take, life-altering event to plan. Since I was a child, I’ve thrived in change and every year presented an opportunity to shoot for the stars, to achieve something better — all in search of greater happiness. All this change, I realize now, in search of me.
This has also served to help me avoid dealing with my pain and with the past. I was always looking forward, as looking back was way too agonizing. It came to the point that I was so busy that I was incapable of being present. I didn’t appreciate what I had and always focused on what was missing or what was next.
Last year, I had the honor of writing my Uncle’s retirement speech and shortly after his eulogy (check out my blog that shares his story, I Saw the Signs, And It Opened Up My Eyes!). I had the chance to tell the world about his fascinating life. I pray that he was pleased, that I captured his essence and his story.
And then I began to wonder what my loved ones would say if I went down in a ball of flames right now. While I realize this is incredibly morbid or even a bit narcissistic, it wouldn’t surprise me if many people reading this blog shared this thought process when facing a similar tragedy. It forced me to think about what my loved ones would say. Would I be proud of my life? Would I be satisfied? Would I agree? (I laughed out loud thinking about all the crazy shit I did in my life, wondering if those stories would make it into the documentary).
Then I had an epiphany, what would I say, if I could write it myself?
As these questions blazed through my mind, I decided to stop my self-imposed madness and eliminate goal setting. Mostly because, fuck, I’ve accomplished everything I could ever imagine and more. I mean, not in my wildest dreams would I ever believe that I would be here in this moment writing this blog, in my beautiful home, after celebrating Christmas with my remarkable daughter, surrounded by loved ones, while on a nine-day vacation from a career that I love (and I get paid while on vacation!).
So instead of creating a vision statement or a long list of new goals, or fixating on what is missing in my life; today, I’m going to reflect on the past 45 years by writing my obituary.
I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s morbid or enlightening…
Cherry Maggiore, aka the Freak of Nurture, passed away on December 28 at 11:11 am. She was 45 years old and was surrounded by her family and friends at her home in Westfield, NJ.
Her darling daughter survives her, her pug baby, her beloved mother, brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew’s, as well as her large Italian family and “framily” filled with cherished uncles, aunts, cousins and friends (her chosen family).
Raised in Brooklyn, she lived on Staten Island for ten years, and most recently resided in Westfield NJ in her 1887 home. She credits her working-class Brooklyn-Italian roots with keeping her humble and hard-working throughout her adult life.
Cherry was an award-winning marketer for 23 years, proud leader, and creative visionary with many side hustles, passions and hobbies. She was most passionate about being a writer of The Daily Feels, ballroom dancing (Argentinian Tango was her favorite), traveling, home design and being a mom.
This insatiably curious humanist was relentlessly learning. She loved connecting with people of all cultures and walks of life. Her laughter was infectious, and she respected those who made her laugh and those that made her think.
This divorced college drop-out has no regrets. She gratefully realized that her life wouldn’t have been as blessed if she’d forged a different path. She welcomed failure, striving to fail forward, and believed this was the most essential part of growing into her whole self.
Her daughter was and always will be the light of her life, and she loved her beyond measure, beyond explanation. Her greatest wish is that instead of living a life asking Why? She lives a life asking Why Not?
Services will be held at her home in Westfield, where her life will be celebrated with a proper Italian Sunday dinner, followed by dancing the night away to an eclectic playlist that she dedicated to every single person that loved her through the ugly and the beauty.
This was such a cathartic process because I had to cull my life down to the simplest terms, to what was most important. There was so much else I wanted to say, so many other lessons I wanted to impart. However, I realized these are my learnings, and each person leads their journey through their successes, mistakes, and missteps.
Writing this obituary helped me face another year with arms and eyes wide open; to be present, to welcome whatever life throws at me, to continue to say Why the Fuck Not to any cool experience that crosses my path. I live a life of YES…and I vow to forge ahead with the knowledge that I am full. Anything else that comes my way is a cherry on top (pun intended).
And now I will go blow out 45 birthday candles (hopefully I won’t start a fire), as I’m thankfully still breathing. I have no more wishes for me because every wish I ever made came true (and then some). What I wish for this year is that all my loved ones find their path, and cherish their life as much as I cherish them. I wish that they relish every goddamn second of the life they’ve been gifted. Goals are great, but they should not distract you from the beauty in front of you or the love that surrounds you.
I hope that you all, “Think Big, Live Bigger and Love Biggest.” Happy Birthday to me!
Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.
Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.
This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.