One of the benefits of having this blog is that I can look back through nearly 5,000 posts. I can see what was making me laugh, pissing me off, making me think - at any given time in the past 13 years.
This morning, as I greet the day - my 52nd birthday - I have been looking back through the Posts of Birthdays Past (all apologies to Dickens).
Birthdays spent alone, birthdays spent in Vegas with my sister or Rudy, birthdays spent on soccer fields. So many memories, so many observations. And so many words that add up to an overarching theme - I am so very lucky.
My house is warm, my husband is hot, my kids are happy and thriving. I wake up with love, I go to sleep with love.
There is a beauty to this side of life. Mainly, it is the awareness that the small things are actually the large things, the lasting things. And that real estate in my life is finally at a premium. I don't waste it on people who drain, things I can't change.
These words appear in a post I wrote on the day I turned 50: Life is about transitions, growth, letting go, learning more, and in my opinion, facing forward, moving forward.
If I were to offer advice to those younger, I would start there.
Embrace the unexpected as the universal gift it is. Life's speedbumps are where you find opportunity, how you discover you really are strong enough, how you grow. It is where you face a fear, knock it to its ass, and move on.
I would then add this - stop worrying about what other people think.
In my younger days, I worried obsessively about things like birthday party goodie bags. I'm not kidding. Stuck in an endless preschool-Chuckie Cheese-birthday-party loop, I lost sleep debating if mine were elaborate enough, full enough. Was the party theme unique enough? In the end? Money wasted, time lost. The kids' interest in the bags averaged about 90 seconds, and the parents' observations had more to do with "Jesus, more plastic crap" than "How much did Linda spend?"
In the final analysis, very few people in your world actually matter to your world. The rest know fuck-all about what you are facing, why you are facing it, or where the struggle is going to take you.
In looking back, I found this post from the day I turned 41. FORTY ONE. That seems eons ago. But as I read it, I realized I still feel that way. Perhaps even more so. So, with an update to the years, I humbly present MY present to YOU:
Today I celebrate the fact that I have successfully completed 52 years of life on this planet.
(If you did not send a card or a really cool gift – I forgive you - this time. You didn’t know. However, all bets are off should you not mark your calendars and remember next year.)
I use the word celebrate above because I am not one of those people who bemoan each birthday, spend long minutes (hours) dissecting their every wrinkle in the mirror (if I don't like one, I have someone on speed dial to deal with it), or waste time clinging to some supposed glory days of yore.
No. These are my glory days.
These are the days when I feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life.
I didn’t cry over 50. And I certainly don’t shed a tear for having to add another candle to my cake.
Quite frankly – 52 doesn’t look a bit different than 51 looked when I kissed it goodbye in the mirror last evening before going to bed.
I do, however, realize that my mindset is different than most people who buy in to the whole "over-the-hill" greeting card market. You know who you are. Worried that life has somehow left you behind. That beauty or studliness evaporates in your thirties, leaving not so much as a white, powdery residue in your 40’s, and blows away in the wind of your 50s.
To those people, I say, "Pull your head out of your saggy baggy ass and pay attention."
Age is a gift – with it comes confidence, wisdom, knowledge. As a woman, I can tell you other females, it also comes with the gift of sexual clarity.
Oooo! Got your attention with that one, did I?
It’s true. Think back to your twenties – those glorious days when you faked it so often and so well, you actually believed they should add the category to the Oscar telecast...Best Performance In A Bed or On A Countertop...
Age changes that. You simply come to realize that just "settling" in the sack is a big, fat ripoff. You now know what you want. You come to understand that men are sexually ignorant (and rightfully so) about the female body, and you now have the confidence to not only ask for what you want, but to pull out a blackboard and chalk if need be and teach your partner how to do it.
Basically, as you get older, you declare a moratorium on bad sex.
Outside the bedroom, life is better too. The tendency to tolerate bullshit just doesn’t exist anymore. Truth becomes a powerful tool. You tell it, and you demand it from others. Life becomes richer because you are no longer wasting time on, well, wasting time.
I honestly look at young things in their 20’s and feel nothing but pity. The Kardashians and Hadids of the world? Feh. They walk through life so convinced they have all the answers, but continually make asinine choices and mistakes, blaming anyone but themselves. (Think not? Even Britney Spears, the personification of "shitshow" in her 20s has, at age 36, started to get it together.)
And, quite frankly, they look stupid. They draw their confidence from dressing alike, following the latest dictums of fashion, regardless of how an outfit actually hangs on their frame. But what do you mean? The latest issue of Glamour says I should dress like a ten year old girl from the 40s!
Pish. Think for yourself. Look in the mirror and acknowledge that some things just look absolutely stupid. I know what looks good on me. I know what doesn't. And I am proud that I have very few fashion DON'TS in my closet.
I also love that the scale no longer holds sway over my life. I don’t bop from one fad diet and Tae Bo-Pilates-Krav-Maga craze to the next. I know what works for my body. I treat it right, I feed it right. And if my clothes fit and look good in the mirror? To hell with some number on a scale.
Scales are for fish.
Yes, my body does bear the artifacts of both age and bearing three children. Yes, my tummy has a pooch of extra skin, my boobs – well, they look great, but that owes to a fabulous plastic surgeon who put them back where they belong years ago, my back tends to laugh at me should I try to stand up quickly after bending over for a minute, I tend to leak if my bladder is full and I laugh or sneeze too hard, and around my eyes are the memories of 3 million smiles and lots of laughter.
Not a bad trade, I’d say. (Seriously ladies. A leak here and there is not the end of the world. Slap a panty liner in and laugh till it floats.)
Those of us with more birthdays under our belts are often heard preaching, "Oh, I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything."
When you ever hear me say that, take it to the bank, because I mean it.
My twenties were what they are supposed to be. Stupid. Selfish. Arrogant. Thoughtless. And filled with potholes and missteps.
Sure, these days, I still make mistakes upon occasion. But the difference is that I own them. I accept them. They don’t blindside me or leave me trying to blame them on someone else. If I f*ck up, I f*ck up.
Oh, and if I trail toilet paper on my shoe out of a bathroom, have lipstick on my teeth, a stain on my shirt, a hair out of place, or trip in public – I could not possibly care less. Don’t point it out and expect me to shrivel up inside. At this age, I don’t embarrass easily, if at all. Life is too short to worry about spinach in my teeth. If it’s there, tell me, I’ll pick it out and we’ll continue laughing over lunch.
I love this age because I see the world for what it is. Imperfect, incredible, frustrating, fabulous, scarier than shit, exciting as hell, full of smart people, rife with dumb ones, a buffet of humanity laid out before me. And experience has afforded me the wisdom to sidestep the dishes that will give me cerebral diarrhea or make my blood boil.
This is a good age. I know more. I have more confidence. I embrace challenges. And I laugh at myself with ease.
So to those of you lamenting turning 30 (babies), hyperventiliating full speed ahead as you near 40, or believe you feel the Grim Reaper's breath as you near 50, remember what I’ve said.
Age isn’t a punishment. And it certainly isn’t a crisis. Age is a gift. Open it, embrace every year that has passed, every facet of who you are, and rejoice.
Happy 52nd Birthday To ME.
And embrace the silly Snapchat filters. Just be sure you put a new panty liner in place first.