A few days before my 40th birthday, I walked into Publix and purchased body lotion. But not just any body lotion, Positively Ageless, firming body lotion, clinically shown to provide firmer looking skin. The active ingredient is shiitake mushrooms. It reeks of desperation.
I was mostly thinking, if this crap worked, it wouldn’t be $6.99. Yet, I hung onto a glimmer of hope. Maybe it will help, even just a little.
I hadn’t thought much about my birthday other than it was a milestone that seemed worth celebrating more than a regular birthday. But I brushed off the What are you doing for your birthday? questions as peer pressure. It seemed that everyone else was much more concerned about my birthday than I was which was sweet in a way, but also led me to believe that I wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved.
A few weeks later, I have yet to do anything celebratory. I haven’t made any extravagant purchases. I haven’t even taken to my bed to molt, as suggested by a friend who also recently exited her third decade.
But I have felt it. Unexpected waves of anxiety have me wake in the middle of the night. I feel like I’m not doing enough. I don’t know how I could possibly take on one more thing.
Then it struck me. When you are smack dab in the middle of your life, it becomes annoyingly clear:
This. Is. It.
This is my life, and while there are many, many things including my husband, family, friends, and home that I love about it, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve let some of my dreams be pushed aside by the daily grind of modern life. I’ve neglected a few things that need my attention.
I’ve also caught on to nature’s cruel trick. Just when you start to feel really damn comfortable in your own skin and find peace with who you are on the inside and out, your outside starts to betray you.
Hence the positively ageless, last-straw, body lotion.
It’s odd to know who you are, but not recognize yourself in a photo.
Is that me? No way. It can’t be.
I finally know who I am, and I’m totally down with that person. Lucky for me, she is just the person I want to be around all the time.
Now that the candles are blown out, it becomes less about one day, and more about, the rest of my life. Heavy, sure. But also one of those rare moments of clarity like when you realize that you are totally PMS and the world sort of makes sense again. Now I see why I’ve been a weepy, impatient, holding my boobs up the stairs, freak show all week. Serious clarity.
With serious clarity comes next steps. I know what I have to do. I have to be more disciplined about making room for the things that are important to me even if that means saying no more. It means stop being so damn accommodating of other people’s agendas. It means asking for help more frequently.
It means signing up the writing workshop I’ve convinced myself I’m not ready for. It means reaching out when I want to withdraw.
It means saying yes even when I have no idea where the path might take me. It means not just believing in something, but finding the courage to say it out loud, again and again until it doesn’t feel scary anymore.
It means renting a private karaoke room and singing solos until I lose my voice. (Maybe I’m the only one with this specific carpe diem fantasy.)
It means having a little faith that eventually the person in the mirror will start to look a little more like me.
The last few months have been moment after moment of fighting the urge pull the covers over my head. From the state of the world, to personal challenges, I’ve been in a state of retreat.
But now I see there’s no more room for wallowing or its accompanying fear. Because I’m freakin 40. I have to push harder, go bigger, care less, because, this is it.
That is why today, I have decided to love turning 40. Because 40 is the mother of all wake up calls – a reminder that the universe does indeed deliver exactly what you need, when you need it.
And if today just happens to be your 40th birthday (you know who you are), I wish you a magnificent day full of positively ageless skin. Welcome to the club. I think you’re going to like it here too. XOXOXO