Saturday, September 26, 2009

As the Years Pass

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.

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 am. I am up to it. I will become beautiful old. What about you? How do you think we become beautiful old?

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.


Sarah said...

I just love visiting you Relyn-you always have something so interesting and wise to say and I wish I was really sitting by your fire so we could have the conversation I imagine! I am 43, nearly 44 and I constantly think about ny age and the past at the moment-I think I am on some kind of cusp of accepting it all and moving on. In some ways I am happier than ever because I know many of the things I can do to make myself feel like that. In other ways I am as unsure and scared as I was at 16 or 18 or 21.
I don't like the effects time has on my body and I am often too lazy to deal with them-what I used to take for granted now takes work-and I am lazy! But I think it will all sort itself out-when I think of my beautiful Nan, my Mum and all of the beautiful older people I know or have known, I hope it will. Happy birthday to you!

beth said...

happy birthday...

gosh...if only I had known, we would have had a dance party !!

I don't love all the wrinkles around my eyes, but I love laughing and smiling....

so growing old for me is an attitude !

and like meri said....say NO's amazing how much that keeps the soul young :)

and now at 45, I don't worry so much about the number, as long as I feel good when I get out of bed...I say, bring it one !

Gigi said...

You are so beautiful, Relyn! Happy, happy birthday, baby.

I will turn 42 in a couple of weeks, so I hear you about all those anxieties. I'm glad so many strong friends helped you see that there's a good side to all this, too. I have to say that so far my 40s rock the house. I certainly ache more in the mornings, but I am more confident and more active and more excited about the future AND the present than I was for most of my 30's. The key for me is being curious and asking questions. I never want to stop learning and feeling adventurous. I can tell that you are the same way, my friend. That's why I love coming here to visit you.

Big birthday hugs,

Wanda said...

Oh, honey...

I'm 55 and never feel older than 35. It always surprises me when I am not immediately welcomed into the circle of the younger set. 40 is good. You'll enjoy it.

Happy Birthday!

Elle Bee said...

Ah! I love that you are "looking up". My goal is to grow beautiful old too.
Wonderful words.

elk said...

I say one foot in front of the other...I am 51 yep. 5..1... I will have an empty nest in a year and a whole new chapter...laugh lines and all! a true blessing you are my friend...that is the mind set!

Debbie said...

Embrace that age my friend! I turn 50 next year and I am looking forward to it. I feel better than I have in years, I am comfortable in my skin, and you can have my gray hair when you can pry it from my cold dead fingers (channeling my inner Charleton Heston there). You can't go back even if you wanted to so go forward and enjoy.

Jeanne said...

Happy Birthday my precious friend
You are young and vibrant
bright and beautiful
and in good health have a job a great family
You are truly blessed
Love Jeanne♥

Char said...

here's to turning 40 with grace and dignity....from another that has passed that mark (and more)

hope each year following is more beautiful than the next.

Roban said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roban said...

Happy birthday, Relyn! Mine was on Friday of this past week, and I turned a whopping 48. Now that's a yikes!

I used to be bothered by the "7s:" 27, 37, but it didn't get to me last year. And this year, turning 48 was okay, too.

I'd rather be younger. I don't "feel" so close to 50. I hope I don't look "middle-aged." And I might, but as long as I don't see myself that way, I think I'll be okay.

Lucky you to still be skydiving. I gave it up after I got married. Had made close to 500 jumps then. It was a difficult thing to say good-bye to, and I still stop sometimes and say, "This would be a great jump day" ... when there's a light breeze and the sky is clear and blue.

Enjoy your year, and please don't consider 39 old!

Joanne said...

Your friend Meri sounds like a gem. I love her wisdom, especially to continue learning. Learning means growing, stretching the boundaries, living! Great advice, and raising my coffee cup in a Happy Birthday toast to you!

Christina said...

Oh yes, turning 40, has been brilliant. I feel grown and sexy. I even think, I know a little bit more, about life. There is nothing more sexy, than a confident, smart, and good hearted woman. And if all else fails, remember 40, is the new 20. Yes!
Happy Belated Birthday, my dear friend.

spread your wings said...

you are beautiful in every way. Happy Birthday my sweet friend.

i have to say i enjoyed my forties and now i'm about to turn 51. now that sounds old. but i'm good with it.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

You are soo growing beautiful my dear friend. I love a quote on Mrs. E.'s blog about how you give yourself the face you have at 50. And I am also kean on the one that says "a smile is the best facelift" and you have that and a whole lot more going for you. Love U!

Lubna said...

Yes, you will be beautiful always. Belated birthday greetings, hope you had a good one.

Tracy said...

Happy Birthday...belated, Reyln! I wish I'd known too...I'd have send you a card or treat. :o) I love all the wise words here about aging. I'll be 37 in December. The "wrong" side of 35 as some say--LOL! I admit to feeling slightly nervous about 40 in a few years too. But the words of your friends here help me as I face even 37 soon. I love the learning and inspiration that comes with age. I like who I am now and what I have to offer. It's the whole bit number thing that trips me up. Maybe the trick is not think in numbers gained, but wisdom gained. Let's drop the number--LOL! Hope you had a grand time celebrating your birthday...maybe you've carried it over into this weekend too--hope so. :o) ((BIG HUGS))

Mrs. E said...

Happy Birthday, blog friend! I think you are going to find the next decade to be wonderful. Age doesn't have to limit us--the best part of aging in today's society. In some ways, aging is quite freeing. Enjoy that freedom! Be grateful for each age, each stage of your life. 40 and fabulous! (I'm loving the 50's!)

dulcy said...

Hi Sweetie!

You're completely gorgeous, and will continue to become even more beautiful as you age. I was so relieved to finally turn 40 just to get it over with and get on with my life. I think that the 9's (such as 39 and 49) can make one a little anxious because of the next big number. Enjoy being 39. My very best years have been my 40's and 50's! So wonderful seeing you the other day.....xo

Jaime said...

Hi Beautiful You...

What can I say that hasn't already been so perfectly said here?
I am not too far behind you, and I am embarrassed to say that 35 scared me! But the anticipation of it was the worst...once the birthday came I was just fine, in fact, I embraced it.

Isn't it funny how our minds never seem to age the way our bodies do? I feel so much younger inside my head, always have. Must be nature's way of helping us cope with the passing of time.

Anyway..from what I have observed in you over the past year, I think you embrace everything that is beautiful in truly live every moment to its fullest Relyn. With each passing year, I believe you are going to glow even brighter.

Love to you and happy birthday!

suvarna mollerup said...

Oh, happy belated birthday, I can't imagine you growing anything but more beautiful old. I love what your friend meri said, she sounds very, very wise.

That said I do think aging is not for the faint hearted. It does require courage and a lot of faith.

I am less than 2 years away from 50 and find i am mostly looking forward to wearing that number, but it is sometimes hard to watch the changes happening in my body. (typed while consuming my daily requirement of bran cereal, after having to shave my pits in the mirror because i can't see them in the shower anymore, lol) I have discovered though that I enjoy my daily care rituals much more now (perhaps because they take soooooo much longer, lol) than ever before.
What I say to myself when I start worrying about it is " I earned every wrinkle laughing, crying and loving, I lived every ache, gardening, cycling, hiking, and running. I earned every rumple, giving birth to my beautiful son and enjoying every potato prepared in the french manner. I earned it all and I'm proud of who I've become and who I'm still becoming."
I hope I'm becoming beautiful old, and I hope I'll be out there snapping and beach combing when I'm eighty-nine years young.

Patti said...

Happy Belated Birthday Relyn!!! I wish I had known! I hear you sister- the "growing old pains" but attitude will get through anything! And you have such a wonderfully positive outlook on life it is sure to make things easier! I am 1 and 1/2 years away from 50 and I an nervous... YOU are my inspiration!!! And I LOVE the picture! Hope you had a wonderful Birthday Day!!!

Jessica said...

I think we come more beautiful as we get older because we know how beautiful we truly are and appreciate that within ourselves more.

My Castle in Spain said...

oh happy belated birthday Relyn !!!
you are so full of life and always on the positive side, so no way you're middle aged girl!!
Keep looking up at the bright stars, dear friend...

Kim Living Life said...

Happy belated Birthday, I would have been out a day from over here anyway but Happy Day anyway. So 39 is freaking you out a bit well I will be 49 in January, hair raising let me tell you. But growing beautiful old hey I like that idea. Actually apart from my body letting me down I absolutely love being my age. I love the wisdom I have now, I love the memories good and bad. I love the life experience that it is impossible to have at 29 and I would not give any of it up to be 20 years younger. Well I lie I'd give up the tennis elbow and the creaky left knee and the age spots and sun damage on my face oh well Beautiful old hmmm I'm trying. Ha ha hope you had a wonderful day.Mwah xx

Dandy said...

Happy belated birthday my lovely! I loved your post. Aging is an odd thing and I hope to remember that every birthday is a celebration. They are triumphs over the turmoils of life. I'll try to channel my B who is more fit, more care-free and happier than most people my age... and he is 12 years older than me. He thinks the secret is retaining the wisdom you get with age and the happiness and humor you had as a child.

Wise words from your friend, I will remember them. Thank you both.

Gayle said...

Happy Birthday!!! Don't fear 40! You will be just as happy and strong and good as you are now! I'm 46 and I have some times when I think about how I thought my mom was old when she was 46. I don't feel old at all!

tangobaby said...

Happy happy birthday, Relyn. I know I speak for all of us when we wish we could be there to give you a big party and all the birthday hugs to last you for the next 40 years. Your life will only get richer and more beautiful with each year that passes, just like you.


Someone's Mom said...

I struggle with the numbers, only because I'm not ready to be "done" yet. I have so much more to do! As for how I my head, very body gets sore and tired more easily these days. Some of that is my own fault for avoiding my treadmill way too much. Let's just say that 39 sounds quite young to me:)

Happy Belated Birthday!


Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

Happy Birthday Relyn!
Lovely shot of you! Some celeb said recently that they asked Raquel Welch how she stayed so young and beautiful and her answer was that first and foremost: she never made old people sounds (like the ones you and I make every time we get up off the couch or out of the chair or bend down to reach something). Made me realize just how much I do make those sounds!

I think it's all about reminding ourselves just how young we feel! We are just as young and beautiful as we feel! I'm 46 but I've never felt much older than 19. Pick a number and let's just stay there!

jordie said...

Happy Birthday Relyn,

I came to your blog via the blue yonder blog & I love your zest for life.

I turned 39 this year & I & my best friend Alli, who I met when we were very young girls, had planned to go to Italy to celebrate our 40ths (March 2010). We had 'angst' about turning another year older & life slipping away.

Then the unimaginable happened - her life did slip away. Alli was 4 1/2 months pregnant and in May this year she had a blood clot which became a pulmonary embolism which triggered a series of heart attacks. After a week in intensive care we had to turn her life support off.

I never imagined that there would come a time when she wasn't part of my life. Out of that tragedy it has become abundantly clear to me that you have to live and enjoy your time on earth - not worry that a piece of cake has x amount of calories or that the inconsequential matters.

I think you'll continue to write wonderfully well, be a teacher who is remembere and inspire those who come upon your words.

I hope you had a wonderful birthday and continue to enjoy all your days!

Regards Anne

Meri said...

Happy Birthday and rock on!

Connie said...

Well Happy Birthday and 39 is not middle aged...50 is...that is my story and I am sticking to it :)
You are so beautiful...enjoy..the best is yet to be!

Anonymous said...

Good for you. You made a decision! You have decided to grow beautiful old. That is the most important step...deciding means you have made the choice and now you can move forward with it and not look back.

I'm 44 and proud of my age. It took me a long time and a lot of living to get here, relatively speaking. It's funny how many people around me say "you're still a baby". These are happy older women. I look forward to being where they are...I wouldn't turn back the clock for one minute.
Celebrate life and the years you have lived to get where you are!

stephanie said...

Age to me is such a strange thing. I never feel how old I am. I either forget that I am an adult and think I am 17 or I feel like I have been through enough to be 75. The truth is I am only 28. When I was 14 that sounded old, but now I realize I am just finally settling into who I really am. I am over all the silly insecurities of my teenage years. I am passed all the wildness of my early 20's. I have embraced who I am and work hard to grow as a person, but remain true to myself each step of the way.

I think to become beautiful old you have to realize that we can always learn, always grown and always make positive changes, no matter what our age is. If you are a better person today than you were yesterday, I think that is beautiful.

Kelli said...

Woooo.... I'll be 40 in the spring.
I can't believe how time flies!
I plan on celebrating for the entire year of 2010.
We will have to toast each other with Oreos. :)
Love that picture of you - so joyful.

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Happy Belated Birthday! You are only as young as you feel! Keep good your health and, yes, keep on learning! Enjoy!!!

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

I'm kinda late with the birthday wishes too but I'm sure you've had a great time and now wonder why you were worrying?! Like all your friends have said, don't even think about it. Life does run away with us. We just have to run on beside it. The other day, I realised that I've had the book I'm currently reading for 30 years - and I'm reading it for the first time!!!

margie said...

you know what they say, about being over the hill, the only answer is "what hill? did i go over a hill?" happy happy and healthy healthy. xo

meandering pearl said...

Ah the march of time, i feel it too :)
im thinking on becoming beautiful old!! this photo is so precious!!!
may your year bring too many wonderful things to count!

PixieDust said...

Mission accomplished, mi amor... you are so very beautiful, it is all in these powerful words here, in that gorgeous smile from your photo, beauty is in every ounce of who you are, in owning your soul and knowing your heart...



karey m. said...

ok. first...happy 39th!

i was going to write that you look like a baby, but then i think that's wrong. maybe it's right, i don't know.

but what i think is better or truer is this: you look like happiness. pure joy. total glee.

like a baby. hey. i was right.


{you've ALWAYS brought sunshine with you when you visited. you know this, yes? say yes.}

SE'LAH... said...

I'm so late...HAPPY BIRTHDAY (better late than never, right? ;)

I hope it was quite enjoyable.

much love.

susanna said...

Your friend Meri is a wise woman. One of the best things about developing friendships through blogging is that age really does disappear.
I found turning 30 to be much harder than turning 40 (this past August). I put so much pressure on myself at the end of my twenties. So far 40 feels pretty good although I had to laugh when you mentioned going to the bathroom 2 - 3 times each night. Me too! Charmin Soft. That's all I have to say on that. ;p

How do we become beautiful old? I think being interested in Life, trying new things, doing the things we love is the secret. And choosing to be with those people who love and like us - and who we love and like in return.

susanna said...

By "return" I meant who we love and like...not who we love and like because we are loved and liked. came out wrong in my last comment, I think.

susanna said...

AND Happy Birthday, Relyn! I hope you had a fabulous birthday.

Good lord, my memory really is going...

robin-bird said...

look, look at all these birthday wishes, hugs and kisses from your friends!!! oh you are so deserving of this love and affection! and the photograph...sigh... is so beautiful you. yes i agree:)

i being so god wful late realizing it was your birthday am wishing you a happy birthday year. i have ever so much more to to say but the lights are out, the person lying in bed next to me restless with the sound of my keyboard tapping away in his dreams and i want to read all of these great comments. i'll be the meantime have a cupcake. the thing i try to remember about getting older is that i am in good company and that helps me feel better about the time flying :)

Jeanie said...

I am too far behind. How I would have loved to have been the first to wish you a happy birthday and not the last! I hope it was glorious. You are!

And by the way, I know it is trite, but I have felt so much better since I've been past 40, even 50. Not always PHYSICALLY, but emotionally. More centered, more grounded, more joyful, more grateful. If you read the recent blog post link, you'll know I didn't even grow up till well after I was 40! And now, every day -- even the sickish ones -- are at their core, very good indeed! You'll see!

Oldies, but Goodies