My birthday was on Wednesday last week. I turned 39. Thirty nine?? How on earth did that happen? Some days I'd swear I was still 12, stuck in Jr. High Hell. Some days I'm 17, full of life and adventure and excitement, with everything ahead. Most days I've just turned 30, went skydiving on my birthday, am feeling strong and happy and good. How could I be staring 40 in the face?
I have a confession to make. One that doesn't make me proud. I've spent too much time this past year feeling vaguely bothered at the thought of turning 40. Feeling awed by that inexorable march of time. It never ends, does it? Won't slow down for even a minute. Worried about where my life is heading, and feeling far too stunned by mere numbers.
Yes, yes, I know. You are only as old as you feel. Your best years are still ahead. Life is sweet. Old age is better than the alternative. Blah, blah, blah. I do know all that. I do. It doesn't help much when you're the one turning 39. Thirty nine sounds so... so middle aged somehow. How on earth could I be middle aged??? No way is my heart middle aged. Not my mind either. But, well. My body just might be. I've occasionally heard these little groans come out of me when stand up after sitting for a while. YIKES!! I've noticed that I squint and adjust my arm length when I have to read the small print. And, what's the deal with needing to go to the bathroom two or three times a night? MY GOSH! My Mom was right. Getting older's not for sissies.
So there I was up until a few weeks ago. One part of me was feeling disgruntled and sort of lost. The other part of me could hear my internal drill sergeant yelling, Get up soldier. Age is just a number. Get up! Get moving! What's your problem anyway?
I still can't tell you what my problem was exactly. But, I can tell you what helped. Actually turning 39 helped, of course. More than that, friends helped. Christina turning 40 and confiding that it made her feel sexy and powerful helped. Robin being so strong and confident and happy and past 50 helped. Grammy telling me that she's happier in her 60s than she's ever been helped. And Meri. My friend Meri really helped. This is what she told me:
I think the key to growing beautiful old is to keep learning, to stand in awe at the wonder of the universe, to stay open to whatever arises, to do what makes you happy at least once a day, to express yourself creatively in whatever form suits you, and to laugh. It means treating yourself like a queen especially no one else does and always wearing comfortable shoes. It means saying no whenever you feel like it and shedding your guilt at not martyring yourself for the whole world. It involves having friends of all ages and mentoring younger women. It requires taking risks.I am. I am up to it. I will become beautiful old. What about you? How do you think we become beautiful old?
There's no choice but to grow old. The challenge is to become beautiful old. Are you up to it? I think you are......
I love that picture of me. It was taken by Tangobaby when I was in San Francisco this past July. She's an amazing photographer and makeup artist and I have several very nice pictures from our time together. I probably even have a few that are more flattering. But. I love this one because it is so me. I'm laughing, and talking, and looking up. Looking up. That's the real me. The me I plan to be as I grow beautiful old.