Guest Post: Stephanie Dethlefs

Today’s guest post is written by Stephanie Dethlefs, a friend and amazing story-teller from my online writing group. I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie in person several months ago and it felt like I’d known her for years. Her thoughtfulness, willingness to share and dedication to the young writers she helps is inspiring. Thank you, Stephanie, for all you bring and for this thoughtful post. I appreciate the connection to childhood and how I can find that same sense of wonder in my 40s that I had as a little girl.


I’m shocked. Turns out next year I’ll be turning 40. How is that possible?

Sure, I’ve got a nagging pain in my right hip now and wrinkles outline my eyes. And, yes, I define a swell evening as one where I’m in my pajamas by nine, snuggled up with a book and a glass of wine rather than dancing the night away in heels drinking cheap beer. And, of course, I can look back on many years filled with jobs, relationships, ratty apartments, graduate school, debt, marriage, mortgage, and childbirth. I can recall numerous intense conversations with my husband of nine years, trying to align our perspectives on such adult matters as finances, raising our children, career moves and whether it’s a greater priority to fix the plumbing or replace the carpet.

But 40? That’s Grown Up.

Within this body – aging slowly before me in the mirror – lives the same girl who used to take piano lessons and babysit. The same girl who prayed to God every day that she wouldn’t trip up the stairs in her high school hallways between classes. The same girl who dreamed of making a difference in the far reaches of the world while simultaneously penning the next Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.The girl who balked at the idea of marriage. And children.

People who were 40 were Grown Up. Adults. Parents. They led boring lives, going back and forth between work and family with little room for anything else. As far as I could tell, the dreams of their youth were gone, either achieved or long abandoned.

When I was 12 and my mom turned 40, I already thought that the world had much more to offer me than her (sorry, Mom).  But she must have felt the way I do now: like the world is open, there is room for growth, change and challenges. She must have felt like a young girl peering out at the world through the eyes of an adult. Perhaps today, decades later, she still feels the same way.

I suppose the lesson is that being an adult does not mean changing who you are. The world is still ours for the taking. Bring it on!

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7 Responses to Guest Post: Stephanie Dethlefs

  1. Joanna says:

    Love it, Stephanie. So sagely written. Love the image of making a difference and writing the next award-winning novel (funny, I had the same dream).

  2. Julie S says:

    Stephanie, You hit the nail on the head. I love it.

  3. Jenni says:

    I love this, Stephanie. I feel the same way about growing up. I know I’ve done all the things grown ups do but there’s something about 40 that makes it feel official. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Tia Bach says:

    Lovely. I really had to ponder the idea of “the dreams of their youth” gone or abandoned. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Ah, that makes me kind of melancholy for the cheap beer, dancing all night, ratty apartments and flirty, easy relationships. Life seems so serious and uber-intense compared to that carefree past existence.

  6. Mom/Gayl says:

    Stephanie – beautiful post – I’m Liz’s mom and tuned into the part where you were a 12 year old girl and your mom was turning 40 – I’m almost 65, the world is open to me and I await the challenges and discoveries to come. You are an amazing story-teller! I want to hear more.

  7. Alison Law says:

    Stephanie, as I savor the last of my 30s and ponder 40, this line resonates with me: “She must have felt like a young girl peering out at the world through the eyes of an adult.” 40 seemed so old when our parents were that age. Viewing it from this perspective, the number doesn’t at all align with how I feel.

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