i’m writing this at the actual time i was born 40 years ago: 3:11am. one of my kiddos woke up around 2 and read three books, listened to some music, turned the big light on, and then came to get me around 2:30. after trying to convince her this is not a good wake-up time i am now up. so i tiptoed into the room where i can hear the peaceful rhythm of our dog snoring and begin to think of what i want you to know on this final post of the birthday countdown to forty.
i am officially at the age where all of the parts are beginning to try to lie down even when standing. skin is wrinkling. a tummy that has played the accordion for years while hosting the beginning stages of life has decided to be more of a pillow for the beginning of a good nap than a rock or pack of any number. my hands look like they have seen and held more than they bargained for. my feet have clocked many miles; some on pleasant paths ushering me somewhere better than i imagined and some paths darker and more hazardous then i thought i had the strength to travel.
in the next few years i will be targeted for anti-aging products, being told there is still hope even though we are starting with such a canvas as this. instead of changing my diet, workout regime, and skin routine here is what i am changing: the lens through which i see myself. the lines around my eyes are there because i smile huge and often. i laugh so hard my belly hurts and i smile at as many people i can as i pass them. i have these lines because i have sought to see people and brighten their day and because laughing is one of my very favorite things to do. these signs of aging are often times signs of a life well lived.
my belly was a home to four children, three of whom i had the honor of meeting and the privilege of raising. there are not many things that can stretch to 3 or 4 times it’s size and then be able to hide all signs of the journey. my girls love to lay on my belly because it is so “soft” and “squishy” and it’s a good spot to settle in. they like to snuggle there, tell me about their day there, and through reading a book be taken into a whole new world, all right there at the place where they began. i am letting go of the desire to appear as if these moments didn’t happen, both the initial ones where i created space for new life and the following ones where we comfortably enjoyed the life that’s been given.
my hands have shot more baskets than i can count. they have written more words in more journals than a healthy-sized basement should be expected to hold. they have held hands, washed dishes, and wiped hineys like a boss. these hands have held life new and old, and placed on a forehead hold a more accurate reading than the most advanced thermometer. they’ve held books written thousands of years ago and seen what fades as a fad of the times and what can never be taken away. these hands have saved my tinies from running into the street when a ball got away from the game, wrapped boo-boos in the very best character band aids and wiped tears from the boo-boos that go too deep for neosporin. these hands have comforted, held, healed, encouraged, loved, and they are well worn. i am proud of all these hands have been through.
my feet have kept me on the path when it is not the one i would have chosen. my feet have crunched through the leaves that signal the fall decor can come out and cocoa and cider can pour in abundance. they have walked along beaches and had soft sand squish between toes, playing in waves that refresh us in a way only their salty strength can. i have learned to walk, run, fall and get back up, all with this same pair of feet. i can get a pedicure till the cows come home, but these feet are the ones that have clocked the miles of life and felt the weight of the journey. i could have kept them home and dressed them up in the finest stiletto to be admired by all, but i wouldn’t have seen much, traveled far, or learned what i was intended to grasp to help those around me.
maybe the victory should be not in smoother skin, firmer abs, and well nourished skin, but in joy, comfort, strength, and the beauty of the signs of a life well-lived. i see you and i feel the peaks and valleys with you. it’s my conclusion that the signs of aging are magical, beautiful, and worth every nook and cranny.
so congrats on getting through the final countdown with me. i am so glad we have had this time together and whether you are approaching 40, 80 or 25 know that this day you are walking in now is making you who you will be tomorrow and for the rest of your life. don’t try to reverse the signs of aging, but instead work this day and every one that follows to embrace life and delight in the lessons learned.