Tag Archives: birthdays

45 Candles

Well, tomorrow I will be waking up as a 45-year-old. Birthdays have never gotten to me. I celebrated 30 and 40 without any dismay about the accumulating years. That is not to say getting older hasn’t hit me. The increasing wrinkles and slowing metabolism are a constant reminder of the aging process that I am none too happy about. But, it has never been a birthday that has depressed me.

This year is different. For the first time, I am experiencing the birthday blues and want to protest or divert this upcoming age transition.

I should get some credit for skipping despair of turning 40. Though I may now resort to celebrating a repeating 44th birthday.

Perhaps it is that I am approaching 50. Every day, from here on out, I am closer to 50 than 40. Fifty sounds like a whole new life. Not an age I ever imagined being. But now it is sinking in as a reality. I am crossing over the line. I have friends in their 50s. They look amazing. Actually, they look better than they did in their 40s. But I am not ready to join them.

This birthday also means I have officially hit midlife. (I figure I will live past 80, looking at the women in my family, but don’t expect to see 100.)

Or maybe it is the combination of mood swings and hot flashes that have been a preview to what is in store. It’s an uphill battle from here on out. Good genes can only carry me so far. In an effort to take some control, I have taken a few preemptive strikes. Similar to Stormy, I am very good finding reasons (sometimes farfetched) to pay for services that make my life, and looks, better.

Covering the grey hair has been part of the age-fighting routine for years, although now the timeframe has narrowed from every six weeks to four. Though, a fresh hair color was not going to carry me through this birthday. When I was getting my hair done, my gorgeous 49 year–old stylist told me she liked me without makeup. I looked younger, fresher. Hmmm … it got me thinking. I always wanted to try “mink” eyelashes. And what better reason than a birthday—I would experience time savings in getting ready, less stress on my eyes if not applying makeup, saved makeup costs, and a new look. Plus, I had been complaining that my eyelashes were thinning out and breaking (a common complaint this year that I also attributed to aging). A week later my masterful rationalization has me donning new, lushes lashes with only a hint of blush and lip gloss: A natural look. (Okay, a fake natural look, bought and paid for.)

wrinkles

I did add some “natural” help, all shoved into a few weeks ago as I realized 45 was getting close. Microdermabrasion treatments to brighten up my skin (no needles were involved, so I count it as natural) and waking up at 5:30 to add a 20-minute Jillian work-out to my other routines. She promised it would change me in only 30 days!

I think the toughest thing is time is going so fast. It seems to be speeding up.

40 years ago with my sister and mom. Same bangs though!

40 years ago with my sister and mom. Same bangs though!

Sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving, I used to wonder when I would feel like an adult. I remember thinking 30 was so old and now it seems so young. My mind still feels like that same little girl. I still have a lot I want to do and experience. I am not ready settle.

Yes, I know that aging graciously is the way to go. I am just not ready for it. And, if I have to distract myself from all the other issues of aging with a silly focus on looks, so be it. Right now, I will focus on the shiny object.

I will also spend my first day after turning 45—first day closer to 50 than 40—with Stormy for a birthday drink. We can catch up (we both have been crazily busy at work) and perhaps the bartender will buy me a drink after hearing I am turning 44 … again!

Did you think I would end this post by coming around to accepting my age and being thankful for all the wonderful things about aging and all the things I am grateful for? 🙂

 

Power of the Clover!

Anyone living in Minnesota has felt a bit unlucky this year. As KitKat and I have mentioned several times, we’ve had unprecedentedly lousy weather this spring/summer. In addition, work has been relentlessly busy. It’s all a bit wearing on the spirit, so in early June—when a brief break in the rain allowed me to get to some long-neglected yardwork—I found this:

Power of the Clover!

Power of the Clover!

We were preparing for my youngest child’s graduation open house and our home really isn’t large enough to host her many family and friends, so when I found the clover, I was excited. I may not believe in gambling for the big jackpot, but finding such a lucky token surely must mean something, right?

Feeling a bit beaten down and daunted by the task of getting my house and yard into tip-top shape for the party, I decided to embrace the power of the clover. No matter what transpired in the coming week, I was going to view it as good fortune. I believe that our outlook is mostly a matter of attitude, so if I used this symbol of good fortune as a reminder of my blessings, it would bring about a change in attitude that would ultimately benefit me. Well, that was my theory at any rate.

I started the week with my attitude adjustment firmly planted. I was lucky! Good things were going to happen at every turn! I just needed to keep my outlook positive and my eyes open. The previous three months may have been a bit—well, sucky—but the tide was a turnin’ now and everything would be going my way!

Despite my positive outlook, the week was inauspicious. While nothing terrible happened, it wasn’t exactly like Lady Luck was smiling upon me. I was a bit disappointed in my botanical harbinger. Then, at the end of the week, things took a decided turn for the worst. We had a system issue at work. This wouldn’t be terribly catastrophic except that we had just had a similar problem—one that cost our company time and money and our clients considerable disruption—a mere month earlier. We hadn’t experienced such a significant disruption to our business before that, and the thought that this new incident might mirror the earlier one was weighing heavily on our minds as we sought to troubleshoot the situation. “Power of the Clover!” I invoked. Maybe this was the situation for which the luck was intended? Well, the problem was resolved much quicker than previously, but it didn’t feel so much like good luck as just an avoidance of really bad luck.

Disenchanted with my clover, I turned my attention back to other matters. My daughter’s graduation was troubling me and not just because we were hosting a big party and the weather wasn’t cooperative. This was my youngest child’s graduation from high school. I would soon be an “empty nester.” Moreover, my birthday was looming ahead. So, combine bad weather/party stress/empty nest/mid-life crisis/anxiety about getting older and you get a stormy Stormy.

So on my long list of to-dos, was my annual exam. I was telling my nurse practitioner about all of the things going on in my life and she was nodding sympathetically. At the same time, she was telling me that I was in great shape. My blood pressure—great! My lungs sounded good. Pressing on my abdomen, she commented on my muscle tone and said I was in the best shape of anyone she had seen that day. I have to confess, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Maybe turning 48 wasn’t that big of a deal. Then it came time to do my breast exam. “There’s a lump. Feel it?” Sure enough. How did I miss that? (Maybe because I do a half-assed job at breast self-exams when I remember to do them at all?) “When was your last mammogram?” she asked. It had been 2 ½ years. Shit. “You need to get that checked out.” Next was my pelvic exam. “Your ovary is enlarged.” Double shit.And I had made an outrageous statement about cancer being more suited to my temperament than Parkinson’s in an earlier post. How stupid could a person be? I was just asking God for another big slice of humble pie! Even if neither were indications of cancer, it would likely take a while to get the all-clear report and the specter of doom would be hanging over my head all weekend—tainting my daughter’s party, Father’s Day and my birthday. Boo.

Fortunately (luckily?), my doctor’s office was able to line up diagnostic tests quickly: The mammogram would be later that afternoon, and an ultrasound of my ovaries would be done the next day.

Stormy freaking out.

Stormy freaking out.

I have to confess, I freaked out a bit while waiting for the tests—after all, I was facing TWO diagnostic tests for two DIFFERENT kinds of cancer, one of them highly fatal. I wasn’t sure of my odds, but they were doubled, right? It was like a frickin’ BOGO! Suddenly, the status quo looked pretty attractive. Preparing for my daughter’s open house seemed very insignificant. So did turning another year older. After all, it’s a blessing to tear another page off the calendar, right? A lot of people don’t get that privilege. What was wrong with me that I had been so absorbed with such petty matters?

Well, if I ever needed to invoke the Power of the Clover, this was it. And I’m happy to report that my little four-leaf friend came through for me. Both abnormalities were harmless cysts, not malignant tumors. Afterward, I was much more enthusiastic about the fact that I had a wonderful accomplished daughter whose graduation we were celebrating. (After all, this is a good thing, right?) And despite an ominous forecast, it was even sunny for her party. Yay! So lucky! And so what if I was turning another year older—that’s better than the alternative, right? And I was certainly another year wiser as well. Sooooo lucky!

My dad always says, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” And while, I can’t determine who coined that expression, there’s some truth in it. However, the part that’s not explained is that luck isn’t something you “find”—like a clover—it’s all around you, hiding in plain sight. Rather, it’s something you need to RECOGNIZE . In the end, the clover was just a lens through which I gained some much-needed perspective. I don’t expect this realization to last (it never does) but maybe I can come back and read this at a later date and that will help me remember the good fortune that surrounds me. And if it helps you keep a little perspective, too, then it’s all been worth it.

I don’t want to be a grown up

Texting and venting with Stormy the other day, she sent me a line that goes through my head often: “I don’t want to be a grown up!”

I believe the only people who think being a grown up is fun are those who are not grown up yet. What does being a grown up mean?

  • Paying bills (When there is money to pay them.)
  • Working – at work and/or at home (The to-do list just keeps growing in both spots.)
  • Setting a good example for your kids (Still working on that.)
  • Biting your tongue in certain situations, even if you know you are right  (That’s a tough one.)
  • Making responsible choices (That’s boring.)
  • The aging process (That’s horrible and can be its own blog post.)
  • Giving up things you want for the sake of the greater good (e.g., I can’t run off and sell toe rings on the beach.)

That list does not sound enticing! As a kid, you get to make selfish decisions based just on your wants; you can be impulsive and not overly worry about the outcome. You have your whole life ahead of you to make bad, and fun, mistakes … and a life ahead of you to then fix them. There is plenty of time later to figure out your perfect path.

And to think how I wistfully waited forever to become a grown up. Spent much of my childhood trying to be a grown up. I remember each year seemed to take so freedomlong to pass. I couldn’t wait to be in my 20s and do what I wanted, when I wanted it – never having to ask permission.  I’d picture myself in my 30s, all wise with my life perfectly figured out. Well, I am now in my 40s and still waiting on this. I don’t have complete freedom as people are dependent on me. I still often have to ask permission. And, I seem to be even further from having my life figured out. A big problem now is that the years are flying by. I actually even lost a whole year. I was certain I was 42, but with an approaching birthday, I have now been told I am about to turn 44. I seriously do not remember turning 43, and I can’t afford to skip any years at this point!

My daughter asked me the other day if I ever get tired of being big and said she was tired of being little. Oh sweetie, I sure do. I wish I could have made her understand all the things she should be enjoying right now. But, I knew it was a lost cause. It would be just another rambling of an adult not getting it. It would be that Charlie Brown teacher’s voice making no sense and just a background noise. It is not something adults, or children, can explain to each other – that wish to be exactly what you aren’t at the time. Looking at that little face, I knew we would freaky fridayboth be totally up for some Freaky Friday action.

Now, I suppose I should end with something about why getting old is better. Instead, I want to take a different approach. I am going to make a few decisions that I simply can because I am an adult with a car to get around and a credit card to splurge in case of emergency.  I am going to set the appointment to cover my grey peeking through, call my aesthetician to discuss more miracle cures for aging skin that I can sink some money into, and ask a girlfriend to meet me out for a glass of wine and laughs. I am not mature and wise, yet, so instead I’ll embrace where I currently stand and with childlike hope continue to imagine all the places my selfish self would bring me. And as I am doing all the “grown up” things I am mandated to do – I will hope I don’t forget another year!