Like death and taxes, birthdays are the only sure thing in life. And, like death and taxes, they come around whether one likes it or not.
Me? I don’t mind Birthdays. And, unlike some people who try to hide their age, I have no hesitancy in disclosing that I turn 47 this week. The truth is, I am relieved to be turning 47. There is a lot of water under this bridge and it feels more congruent to have my chronological age reflecting all that life has brought, all that I have endured, and, in some part, what I have learned, lost, fought for, and sometimes won.
The truth is that I am a middle-aged woman. This is a glorious, shocking, humbling, breath-taking, and often humorous reality. But it is my truth and I choose to own and celebrate it fully, knowing there are lessons I have learned that wouldn’t have come at any other age or stage in life. These lessons are the gifts I am celebrating on this, my 47th Birthday.
- Begin each day with the end in mind and live each day with the purpose, clarity, and conviction of this point of view. At 47, it takes more than two hands to count the loved ones I have already lost. Life is hard and time is often shorter than I realize. Knowing what matters, what is truly important, helps me get the most out of living each day.
- Not everyone is going to like me. That’s okay, as long as I like myself. It is cliché, but really is true. I have to look myself in the eye as I gaze into the mirror each morning. It’s important to like the person I see staring back at me; the person I see myself becoming. At this age, the shape of who I will be at the end of life is beginning to show. It’s more important to like who I see than to worry about what others think.
- Kindness really does matter. So do good manners. With age comes the realization that life brings seasons of harsh bitterness that are unavoidable. A kind word can serve as a pumice stone to a calloused soul. Good manners remind me to look for civility and beauty in what is sometimes a horrifying and often uncivilized world.
- Good wine and dark chocolate are usually the best remedy for a bad day. Just go with it. Seriously. Deprivation and a smaller dress size won’t make up for an unhappy soul.
- I don’t have life all figured out. No one else does, either. Some people are just better at faking it than others. There is a relief in being with people brave enough to admit they don’t have it all figured out and yet are still trying. These are the people I want to surround myself with.
- It’s okay to say no. No to what is expected or obligatory. No to what I know I am fully capable of doing. Sometimes, saying no is really a way of saying yes to something else; something different, new and perhaps important, something that will take the time and energy created by first saying no.
- Never turn down the opportunity to take a nap. Also, eight hours of sound, uninterrupted sleep is better than the best sex or drugs. This is a truth that only a middle-aged, menopausal woman can fully appreciate.
- Say yes to the chance to do something unexpected. Impulsive. Adventurous. Much of my life is spent trying to be a responsible grown-up. Too often, I am so busy trying to make a living; I forget to make a life. Saying yes to the chance for unexpected exploration or an out-of-the-blue opportunity makes me – and life – more interesting.
- My true friends are scarce and worth their weight in gold. I can count on one hand the number of people who are close enough to tell me when I am wrong. Selfish. Too stubborn. They are also the first to run to my defense and fight for and with me. These are the people worth keeping in my life at all cost.
- Someone wise once said an unexamined life is not worth living. But it is equally true that an unlived life is not worth examining. Life is meant to be lived. Out loud. Arms wide open. Messy. Complicated. Pure. Unadulterated. With a passion so intense, there is nothing left unsaid or undone when it ends. In God’s hands, and with God’s grace, this kind of passionate life is one that brings pleasure to Him and is a gift to others. And to me.