Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This is 45

Source: The Cake That Ate Paris

I'll admit it. I entered my 40's begrudgingly. I ushered in the decade sipping some bad wine while the NYC commuter trains roared by, shaking my newly acquired rental house as if it were made of paper. The stock market crash had stolen my life, and on top of that my face was showing its age. It seemed like my best years were behind me, and I wasn't happy.

That day seems eons ago, but just 5 years have passed. I've settled into my 40's, and things aren't quite so bleak. In fact, I've learned quite a bit. Here's what 45 looks like:

  1. I've learned that life paths are fragile and unpredictable. Today's normal may be shattered by job loss, death, or illness tomorrow. Today I strive to embrace each moment I have.
  2. The older I get, the more I realize I don't know. My life isn't figured out, nor do I know better than my neighbors or friends. This realization has made my life fuller, as I am open to more ideas and I don't judge.
  3. I've relaxed in my parenting. My children have taught me not to judge their progress with charts and compare notes with other parents. I love and support and push when necessary. That's what they need.
  4. I've moved beyond panic and dismay when I confront my wrinkles in the mirror. No, I haven't decided I like them, but I do realize they are part of the aging process. I will do my best to fight aging, but I will not break the bank or waste my precious time fretting about the inevitable.
  5. Marriage has stretched me. It is bumpy, exciting and not at all as I envisioned it when I said my vows. Marriage is compromising and arguing, but it is also laughing and partnering. Having a person who has my back when life is throwing seemingly insurmountable hurdles my way has been worth every struggle. Marriage is the soft pillow I lie my head on every night, no matter what.
  6. Life provides opportunities to reinvent ourselves time and again. These opportunities most often arise at life's milestones: when we go to college, get married, have children. They also come about when crisis enters our lives. These are key moments to assess wants, needs, and talents and forge a whole new path for ourselves.
  7. Crisis will come. I've learned to allow myself to grieve and be angry. I won't let anyone deny my struggle by pointing out a silver lining they think I ought to desperately hold onto, but after I've taken my time to grieve, I know I have to use that crisis as an opportunity to become a better version of myself.
  8. I spent many years pretending I was okay when I was not. Today I go out in the world acutely aware many others do the same. I am by no means perfect, but I try to offer a smile and a nice word to those who cross my path.
  9. I don't waste my time being angry. When I confront road rage and rude people (who are everywhere) I take a breath and shake it off. I thank my lucky stars I'm not as angry as they are, and I move on.
  10. I learn whenever I can. I read books, watch instructional YouTube videos, attend classes and seminars. Learning keeps me young, interesting, relevant, and informed. It makes me excited to get up and see what the day has to offer. 
  11. I ask questions, all the time. In the past I spent a lot of time telling. Asking allows me to better understand my friends, family, and clients. It opens the door to another person's heart. It puts my focus on others, not just myself.
How does life look at your age?

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