Today’s post is written by my friend Sunni. We met more than ten years ago through an alumni group of people who taught English in Japan. Sunni and I were on the same island (Hokkaido) but a few years apart. I’m thankful for Sunni and for having a stateside friendship with someone who also fondly remembers her experiences in Japan…the wacky, the wonderful and the just plain weird.
In the Shadow
I’m on the pre-side of forty so I have NO idea what it will be like. I have no advice, no reassuring stories and no calming self-acceptance speech. Honestly, my first reaction to turning forty is a fearful one. “Oh my goodness, I am almost forty! How did I get this OLD?! I haven’t accomplished ENOUGH! Am I pursuing my PASSIONS?! Oh crap, I’ve been so busy becoming and being a mom that I think I forgot to even have any passions.” Before the fear takes over completely, I take a deep breath, acknowledge the feeling and pay attention to what this moment offers. First, I remember that I’m dreaming up a trip to New York City for my husband and me to celebrate our fortieth birthdays. The thought is since my birthday is in late November and his is in early February that we will try and go there for New Year’s Eve and celebrate kid-free! Whoo-hoo, nothing like a good excuse for a great trip to help the fear of forty start to fade.
I sit quietly for a few more minutes while I continue to ponder turning forty. I see that this is another chance to be grateful right now. I am thankful for how hard my body and mind have worked on my behalf, for the blessings of my loving husband, my sweet kiddos, my beloved parents and brothers, my dear in-law family members and my precious friends. My life is full and rich here in the shadow of forty, I have no doubt that there are even more blessings to come. I think about getting “old.” Sure, forty seems ancient to a sixteen-year-old but it is young to the sixty-four- year-old. Which means it all is a matter of perspective and I can choose which view I want to use. I imagine myself a year and a half from now… no, I don’t look like Jennifer Aniston did when she turned forty, but I didn’t look like a movie star at 30 or 20 either! I can be loving, accepting and caring to myself today, at thirty-eight and a half, and I can plan to be good to myself when I turn forty. And when I am forty-seven and fifty-two and sixty-eight and every year. I can take a break from the mommy-marathon and turn inward to rediscover my passions and give myself permission to make them a priority.
So I wish you a happy, happy fortieth birthday, Liz! I thank you for offering me the chance to think about leaving my thirties, even if it felt a little frightening. Because it helped me to realize that there is much to look forward to in my next life stage. And I don’t even have to wait until I turn “the big four-oh!”