Everyone asked me, how will you celebrate your 40th? A teenage version of me scowled, I don’t know. A toddler version of me stomped my foot. Today, on my birthday, I’m laughing at these other me’s who’ve been so resistant to the inevitable. (Graceful transitions have never been my thing.) But I woke up this morning so happy. Look at how far I’ve made it! Look at how beautiful this time in my life is, this exact moment. So much emerging, growing, flourishing. Four decades flew by and landed me here, inside heaps of happiness.
40 is new motherhood at midlife. It’s waking up to my two-year old announcing, “Happy birthday, Mommy! I love you!”
40 is being married to a good man, a true heart. It’s watching my husband with my daughter and seeing a dream realized.
40 is a house with a front porch and a rambling backyard. It’s rooted and grounded.
40 is learning to live with uncertainty. It’s believing that ultimately, it will all work out. And even if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.
40 is the gift of parents and stepparents, happy and in good health. It’s the joy of seeing them with their granddaughter. My toddler on her Papa’s shoulders or snuggled with her Grammie reading a book. It’s a new and profound appreciation for my parents’ dedication, hard work, and unconditional love raising my sisters and brother and me.
40 is the difference between dreaming and doing.
40 is believing in myself. It is brave.
40 is having traveled so far. From the Grand Canyon to Uluru. The blue stained glass of Chagall’s chapel to the music of the ocean dragging across the rocky shore in Nice, and far more beautiful, the laughter of my daughter beneath a cathedral of maple branches.
40 is having sisters who are also my best friends.
40 is knowing who I am and who I’m not. It’s writing my own narrative.
40 is reliving the highlights of my early childhood through the experiences of my daughter.
40 is running for fitness, not weight loss. Strength of body, strength of mind.
40 is knowing I look good in dresses, not skirts, and never buying a skirt again.
40 is writing. Every single day.
40 is published.
40 is listening to a lot of Raffi and singing nursery rhymes.
40 is a new and stronger feminism.
40 is accepting that, though I may never kill the voice of self-doubt, that ruthless second-guesser, I don’t have to listen to it or let it decide.
40 is observing wildlife, naming the birds, paying attention.
40 is sometimes still falling into the habit of spinning my wheels, frantic to get traction, then remembering that’s not how traction is achieved.
40 is being the same hippy I was in the ’70s at age 3 and in the early ’90s as a teenager.
40 is valuing kindness and connection. It’s choosing words carefully. It’s mindful of the feelings of others.
40 is looking back on more highlights than regrets.
40 is deep gratitude for the endurance of old friendships and the people who lift me up.
40 is the fulfillment of my heart’s desires. It’s the most beautiful my life has ever been.
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