Birthdays: I love to celebrate them – for other people. I find it enjoyable to go out of my way to make sure that my kids and husband have a special day with cake, and gifts, and balloons, and dinner. I make sure my mom, dad, sister, and other family members have gifts sent, and birthday greetings called in, texted, and posted to Facebook. But when it comes to mine, well, I’m kind of “meh” about the whole affair. I love receiving birthday greetings, cards, and gifts, and I am truly thankful for each and every one I receive, and when there are celebrations, whether they are full out parties or quiet dinners out, I do enjoy them. But, with each birthday it means I’m a little bit older and really, I’d rather just fuss over others than have people fuss over me.
But I do like the presents! And an excuse to eat cake.
I’ve written about this before, but I think the “meh” feeling comes from my birthday being in mid-January. After the holidays and during a somewhat dark and cold time of year, it’s hard to get too excited. As I like to say, January birthdays suck because no one is drinking, no one is eating carbs, and no one has any money left from the holidays! I joke, but it is kind of true. There is one cool thing about my birthday: it happens to be the day after my mother’s, so if we happen to be together in the same state, it’s fun to celebrate with her.
The last big party was, of course, on my 40th. It was the obligatory milestone party, but I made it clear to everyone that there better not be any gravestones and “over the hill” crap because 40 was hardly “old.” 40 was the new 29, right? I was in good health, had friends and family around me, and did enjoy celebrating. I wasn’t at all depressed or disappointed; I felt like I was entering the best years of my life, and I was right! My 40’s have been wonderful. But the birthdays after 40 are not really anything special. They are just reminders that I’m getting closer to 50, which I’m not afraid of or dreading, but let’s be honest – I’d rather stay in my 40s if I could.
When I hit 45, I felt like that was more of a milestone than 40 was, but there was no celebration that year. I think there may have been an ice storm, or friend drama, or maybe I was pissed off at my husband for one reason or another, or maybe all of the above. So even though there wasn’t a hopping party, I embraced the day because I was officially “Middle Age” – I was halfway to 90! I started using the hashtag #halfwayto90 to commemorate the year. I found it both fun and funny. By 45 I had realized that I was indeed enjoying the best years of my life. I had never before felt as confident. I was able to stop caring about what other people thought of me, and instead chose to focus on my own happiness rather than trying to make everyone else happy and make sure people liked me. It was in my 40’s that I decided rocking the boat was OK.
As I turned 47 this year, I realized all of that was still true, but even more so. There was something that clicked in me during the political craziness that has been rocking our country since the election of Trump. I found my voice, and I was no longer afraid to use it. I decided that my core beliefs were more important to me than whether or not people found me likeable. I also decided that there was no reason to stress and worry about work, family, life – because stress and worry don’t accomplish anything. When I started my new job, I decided it was OK to not be a superstar and an over-achiver at work, which is extremely hard for this perfectionist. I decided to embrace all the change that was happening in my life including the new job, a new home, and both kids gone and off to college. I decided to focus on the good in my life, and all of people, places, and things that have made it enjoyable.
I’m #halfwayto94 now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to 94, but I do know that I should celebrate the years I have under my belt and enjoy today, rather than worry about the future. I am very lucky. I am in excellent health, probably at the best shape and weight in my life, and I have had the luxury of spending a little extra money on me – I had my teeth fixed a couple years ago, lost a bunch of weight, and I do choose to splurge now and then on cosmetics, or clothing, or shoes if I want to. And I do it without feeling guilty about it (usually). My birthday this year was quiet, not the wild night out at Johnny’s that we had the year before for my 46th – dancing and laughing with some really great friends, the day after I nearly cut my finger off with a brand new serrated knife (that’s a story for another day). But my day this year was nice. I had a nice dinner out with one of my daughter and my husband. I treated myself to a little shopping trip. I received lots of birthday wishes from friends and family near and far. I received some fun gifts like gold Adidas sneakers, and a framed print to hang in my office. I came home to birthday balloons and chocolate covered strawberries and cheery yellow roses. I was even lucky enough to have Book Club fall on the weekend after my birthday which meant more birthday wishes and fun gifts and catching up with friends.
I’m hoping that this year is just as enjoyable as the last, and that maybe I’ll discover new passions and go on new adventures and continue to rock the remaining years of my Fabulous Forties. I’m thankful for this life I have, and intend on enjoying it to the fullest.