This is 40

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I turned 40 last week, and I feel really good about it. I still vividly remember when my mom threw my dad an epic 40th birthday party, and someone brought my sister and I to the club she’d rented out for the surprise party so that we could be there to surprise him too. It feels odd to have that vivid memory and to have arrived here personally, because I still feel young in so many ways, but by now I’ve learned that you never feel nearly as much like an adult as younger people might perceive you to be.

I debated for months over how to celebrate, and finally decided on a small and simple dinner with some close friends. During dinner we ended up talking about whether or not any gay bars still exist in Kalamazoo (none of us believed that there were any) so my friend Lisa texted some colleagues who might know and they told us that there was one just down the street. Since none of us wanted the celebration to end quite yet, we decided to walk down and check it out. As it turned out it was little more than a Greek restaurant that hangs up a small banner and suddenly becomes a gay club on select Saturday nights (and yes, whatever you’re picturing is probably exactly right), but we danced and were silly and had fun.

There are lots and lots of reasons that I feel good about being 40, so here are just a few:

  1. I have no list of things I’d hoped to have accomplished by 40 that are still hanging over my head. I feel outrageously lucky to be living the life that I am with this family, in this house, in this neighborhood. Some days I can’t believe that I get to do this every day, and I want time to pass more slowly so that I can take it all in.
  2. Kristin’s passion for yoga has finally spilled over into my life and I’ve started doing yoga on a pretty regular basis and it feels amazing. I love the simplicity of You Tube yoga (and the small amount of time and commitment that it takes to do it), I feel stronger, have a lot less back pain, and feel better about my body overall.
  3. On my birthday I was surrounded by a group of wonderful female friends who I didn’t even know one year ago. Thanks to my friend Kara, who is a powerful connector, I was able to meet and get to know these amazing people who all live within walking distance and who make me feel so supported and loved. I finally feel like we have a community of friends here, a piece that was always missing before.

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Like always, the kids decorated a “secret” cake for me with Mama K. There were a million sprinkles and eight “spider legs” made out of Pirouette cookies, compliments of Jonah. They all picked out socks for me for wonderful reasons that represent each of them: Jonah chose Harry Potter Gryffindor socks because we love reading the books together. Jude chose socks with deer on them because he knows that I love seeing the deer that come through our yard (and because he’s our little outdoorsman), and Vivienne chose socks with unicorns and narwhals, plus a bonus pair with a birthday cake. Kristin chose some with fireflies, which made me feel especially known and understood.

And also like always, the kids made me birthday cards. Their cards may be my favorite thing about birthdays in recent years. Jonah went with a simple triangle with a message in pencil, but Jude and Vivi painted watercolors and dictated their birthday messages to Kristin.

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Jude’s message was cryptic and utterly Jude, as usual. I think I’ll miss it when his birthday messages begin to make actual sense. He specifically asked Mama K to draw both a heart and a wreath.

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And Vivienne’s was both heartwarming and jarringly existential.

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This year I’m striving for more openness, more belief in possibility and putting things out into the universe, and more willingness to push myself beyond what feels safe and comfortable. I want to focus less on what other people might think and more on the kind of choices I want to model for my children.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.

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