Today is my birthday. And I’m ok with that.
(Although now I have The Beatles’ “Happy Birthday” running through my head.)
When we are young, we can’t wait for the next birthday. We are filled with excitement over getting another year older. Birthdays are day-long, sometimes even week-long, celebrations. There are parties, friends, activities, and gobs of gifts we may or may not ever play with. My mom used to throw awesome birthday parties for us as kids, complete with family, friends, cake and games. As a matter of fact, I came across a photo recently of one of my birthday parties as a little girl, and there I am, blind-folded, clearly not pinning the tail anywhere near the appropriate anatomical part of the donkey picture on the wall. What can I say, I’ve always been blonde.
As we get older, and become mature Real Women, that sugar-high excitement over birthdays diffuses a bit. Certainly every birthday deserves a celebration of some sort. What’s not to love about a bit of pampering, some time with friends and family, and a good dinner out? But that “oh, goodie, I’m a year older!” feeling is just not there. Instead, birthdays become much less about the number (I vote to stop counting past 35), and more of a time for appreciation, reminiscing, and goal-setting for our next milestones.
Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my common phrases in past years has been “I don’t want to get old.” My fear has never been about having too much time on this earth – after all, I really do hope that I’ve got another good 40+ years in me. No, my fear has been more about the affects of aging on my body and mind. I’ve had a really hard time loosening my grip on my longed-for youth.
But a funny thing seems to be happening this year. I’m easing up a bit, and starting to learn to accept that age happens – or I’m trying to. Our bodies change. And as long as I take care of this body I have, I hopefully will be able to enjoy the next few decades. Now, please take note that I will need to be reminded of these words the next time I wake up in the morning and panic over a new crop of grey hair, get depressed over 3 more wrinkles, pout about my muffin top, or get frustrated over achy knees. I didn’t say this was an easy progression.
I do intend to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can. First of all, with this economy, I will likely need to keep working for many years to come, so I will need to be a healthy, spry and smart old lady. Secondly, I will need to keep my eyesight and dexterity so I can keep scrapping. I have my priorities.
So beyond the attempt to come to terms with the aging process, I’ve naturally learned to appreciate each day we have, especially the birthdays. It is our time to truly be aware and thankful for the amazing people we have in our lives, the experiences we’ve had, and how blessed and lucky we are to have made it through another year. We can remember both the good times and the bad – because they all make us who we are. And, as part of my “don’t be scared to get older” philosophy, I’m getting into setting goals for things I want to do before the next big milestone. I have places I want to go, accomplishments I want to complete, experiences I want to enjoy. It makes me not cringe so much about another year, but – dare I say it? – get excited about what’s to come.
Ok, so I’m not in my 20’s any more. Not in my 30’s either. And there’s a big scary number looming on the horizon. But this is the year that I’m going to try to look forward more, and not lament the loss of my past youth so much. I’m going to focus on squeezing every drop of good stuff I can out of every moment, and having the energy and awareness to appreciate it along the way. There is another great quote that I’d rather take to heart, by Hunter S. Thompson: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some livin’ to do, and there is a fun fruity celebratory drink waiting for me.