Yesterday, I was still in my 30's.
Today, I am not.
We celebrated at the Mexican restaurant by our house.
I warned my girls that I was going to kick them in the shins if they told the waitor that it was my birthday, but apparently, my threats weren't enough to deter them.
And when all the employees showed up singing Happy Birthday in Spanish, I pointed to Josh's mom, trying to convince them that it was her birthday rather than mine.
Somehow, they still knew to put the hot pink sombrero on me though.
A few weeks ago, Yans asked me if I was going to start having a 'broken back' like Paka (my mom) because I was going to be 40 and sooooooo old.
Honestly though, I'm good with 40.
In fact, I kind of feel like my 40's are going to be good because I'm coming to understand a few things that I didn't understand before...
1. Sometimes the struggle is where the good stuff is. I read this quote a few days ago; "I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders." I think it's a Jewish Proverb, but I'm pretty sure you don't have to be of Jewish decent to believe it. And I'm convinced it's true because it's never been the good times in my life that have grown or matured me - rather, it's been the hard times when I was stretched thin, torn up, worn out and washed up that have grown me the most, in spite of the pain (or perhaps, because of the pain.) So I don't want to be fooled into idolizing success or fearing failure. I want to accept them both for what they really are; an opportunity to develop broader shoulders. (I've heard that many woman literally grow broader shoulders in their 4o's and 50's, so dear Lord, I'd like to clarify that I am not requesting physically broader shoulders, only metaphorically broader shoulders. Amen.)
2. I want to make a difference, not a point. I listened to something recently that really hit this home for me; "It's easy to make a point, but it's hard to make a difference." I don't want to be a person who wants to make a 'point.' Not with my husband, not with my kids, not with family, not with friends, not with acquaintances and not even with people I don't like or who don't like me. I want to make a difference and nothing else. (The problem is just that I seem to think I have so many good points.)
3. There's nothing wrong with grey areas. I've always been a person who is either all in or all out. I've always been black or white, resisting any shades of grey. (And I'm not referring to the book. I haven't even read the book, unless you count that one time that my sister tried to read me an excerpt from the book even after I closed the door on her while chanting, "La, la, la, la, I can't hear you." like a seven year-old.) Of course, when it comes to honesty, integrity and things of that nature, I'm still solidly in the black and white camp. But in other areas of my life, I'm thinking it's ok to let a little more grey in. My goal needs to be to eat reasonably, not perfectly. I want to volunteer, but that doesn't mean I can/should give up my career and become a full-time volunteer, so part-time is good for now. I need to be more patient, but realize that I'm flawed and I'm going to blow it sometimes, despite my best efforts. I think you're getting my point. (Darn, this trying not to prove a point thing might be harder than I thought.)
4. I'm never happy when I'm thinking about myself. When I'm focused on how little sleep I got last night, how much I ate yesterday, how frustrated I am with my kids, how much I want to replace the ugly linoleum in the kitchen, how I wish my muffin weren't hanging over the top of my jeans, how I'm never going to get caught up with my inbox, how I'm going to manage to cram everything into my schedule this week, how much I want to run away with the circus, how much that person hurt my feelings, and on and on, ad naseum, I'm miserable. Our pastor calls it "inward-eyeballitis" - when your thoughts (good or bad) get too centered on yourself. It's usually a chronic condition and most of us don't even know we have it. I can't remember if I've already shared this or not, but a year or so back, I was having one of those days where my inward-eyeballitis was so bad that I couldn't even get off the couch. And when my friend called and told me how bad her day was going, I got up, drove to Dutch Bros, (a local coffee stand) bought my friend a coffee and started driving to her house and on the drive there, I realized that I felt good for the first time all day. And that was the first time that I realized that the cure for my chronic case of inward-eyeballitis was to take my care and concern off of me and to put it onto someone else.
5. Application is everything. It doesn't matter what I know, it only matters what I do. I've heard the analogy that knowledge without application is like buying a can of paint, but never painting your walls with it. Unless you apply it, it's worthless.
6. I want to be soft and vulnerable. I met a girl a few weeks ago that has had a hard life. Really hard. But what I picked up on within minutes was that despite all of those things, she was still really soft and really vulnerable (and therefore, really beautiful.) And it got me thinking a lot about how hardness and cynicism can creep into a woman's life as a result of circumstance without her even knowing it and how it can rob her of small things, big things, or everything. I see it in myself. Areas where bitterness have made me jaded or leery or closed-off. Thinking that I'm protecting myself, when I'm actually the robber. And I don't want that. I want softness. I want vulnerability. And I want the beauty that comes along with it. And I know that puts me at a higher risk of being hurt, but I think that hardness and cynicism hurts me even worse, so I'm ok with that trade-off.
7. I think I'm ok. I've spent a lot of years feeling like I wasn't ok. In fact, I can't remember a time in my life when I did think I was ok. I spent some time with someone awhile back who (without any bad intentions - because she's a wonderful woman that I adore) brought all of this to a head. Her good experiences, her correct choices and her self-respect against the backdrop of my bad experiences, my incorrect choices and my lack of self-respect left me in a whirlwind that I just now feel like I'm starting to come out of. But I needed it. I needed to deal with it because I had spent a lifetime not dealing with it. And I'm not there yet - I'm not where I want or need to be in the whole process, but I'm seeing that I can do something with it. I can love on a teenage girl who is pregnant and scared and has made all the wrong choices because I was a teenage girl who was pregnant and scared and had made all the wrong choices. And maybe that can make me love her more deeply and help her more affectingly. And I think that all of those things are making me ok. Maybe even better than ok.
And therefore I'm thinking that my 40's are going to be ok too.