Guest Post: In the Shadow by Sunni Bannon

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!”

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7 Responses to Guest Post: In the Shadow by Sunni Bannon

  1. Jan Udlock says:

    Sunni, nice post. I think it’s so important for women to discuss how fearful we are/were about turning 40. I hated it because I “wasn’t where I thought I should be.” But now on the far, far side of 40 – actually 53, I tell myself to lighten up and be where I am today.

    Liz, it’s really nice reading what your friends share. This is a terrific idea for posts – maybe a women’s article in the future???

  2. Tia Bach says:

    My mother always told me to stop trying to grow up so fast, to enjoy being young. I didn’t listen. I stressed about everything from boys to college majors. But I must say… I’ve felt younger in my 30’s than I ever felt in my 20’s. Sure I have more responsibilities, but I’ve also learned control isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are so many things I can’t manipulate to my will. Having children helped me with that. I have more grey hairs, but I feel less pressure to make everyone happy. But 40 is still a year and 3 months away, so maybe I just haven’t started freaking out too much yet. (and no, I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up!)

  3. Liz says:

    @ Jan, yes, I think there is a ton of material here for the future! Another plus for the Blogathon.
    @ Lisa, have your friends enjoyed Japan?
    @ Tia, I agree…the things that bring me stress are (thankfully) much different today than they were when I was in high school, college or even my late twenties. Ah, perspective is such a great thing!
    Thanks for visiting, everyone.

  4. Jenni says:

    I’m sensing a couple of themes this month, Liz: not having to impress and discovering passions – makes the forties sound like a very good place to be. Sunni, I’m so in touch with forgetting to have passions because I’m so busy with the kids! I love your idea of a big trip to celebrate – so I hope you have your New Year’s in the Big Apple!

  5. Sunni says:

    Aw, thanks everyone! Reading the blog posts here this month have been a good reminder to treasure this moment while also taking a few minutes to look ahead to what I hope for the future. The best news is that my mom read my guest post and emailed me to say she would be glad to come babysit my kids while my husband and I celebrate in NYC! 😀

  6. Trelawney says:

    I’m in the shadow of 40 as well, although I hadn’t really thought of it that way before. I freaked out at 35 and planned a really fun 2-part birthday (sailing and dinner) to make sure I was looking forward to celebrating with good friends. I’m much calmer now. I feel like the 20s were all about figuring out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and where I wanted to live. The 30s seem focused on who I really am and what is important to me. I’m excited to see what the 40s have in store.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, Sunni!

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