On Turning Forty

Today is my 40th(!) birthday, hence the title. And, strange though it may sound, I have been looking forward to this. I have had a great anticipation for this birthday, so much so that I cannot really explain it, even to myself, but it is true. It feels like I am waking up on Christmas morning, all that excitement bundled up at the base of my spine, just ready to race up it and set me spinning.

It has been a lovely weekend of celebration, friends, messages, and sweet gifts. My dear ones have been generous and kind, and I have greatly enjoyed myself. Honestly, it is a gift merely to be able to do that: enjoy myself. It has been several months of struggle on that front, and to be at a point where I can actually enjoy a night out with zero guilt is the greatest gift. I am so thankful to God for that. He’s led me to people who can help me with my struggles, and I praise Him for that faithfulness and care.

Forty feels sweet, feels powerful, feels true in a way that I do not have adequate vocabulary to describe or explain (imagine such a thing: me without words!). This weekend, for instance, I found myself utterly fascinated with one coiling curl of my hair that is completely threaded through with silver from root to ends. I love it! I love the shock of tinsel amidst my dark hair, a bright grey which actually has been mistaken for glitter before by strangers.

As I step into forty, I feel as though I want to hold it close. I am at a point in my life where I acknowledge my own deep humanity. I am not every woman; it’s not all in me. I need help, and I am seeking it. I need encouragement and affirmation, and I am praying and asking for it. I am needing time with people, and I am making an effort to create space for that. I want to spend my forties becoming more and more the woman I truly want and who God has designed for me to be. I want to be more and more myself and proudly so. I want to do what makes me feel healthy and strong and right. I want to be creative and honest and indulge in the beauty of others’ imagination and thoughts.

As I head into my forties, I am looking forward to being completely, utterly, unabashedly me.


Still Here

Here we are, at the end of another month. My birthday (and maybe yours, too) has come and gone in this strange time of social distancing and sheltering-in-place. It was a lovely one despite the limitations on what actually could be done to celebrate. I received some beautiful phone calls and video chats from beloved friends and family, and one friend even sent me a Disney World firework show. It was a lovely birthday altogether. “Fancy” take-out dinner, cake, and a $0.99 movie with my little family.

Doesn’t it feel odd, what we have learned to live with over the past month or so? The adjustments and adaptations we have made in order to live life in this new normal? The very way we interact as human beings has changed, and we have come to cling to those changes as, in most cases, they are all that we can do.

Tuesday was THE day. Grocery Day! All three of us happened to be out that morning, a deviation from our normal routine as one of the cars has to be taken in for servicing. So, donned in our new sweetly-made masks, mine covered in its lovely book pattern (fitting, no?), we ventured into the grocery store, my husband and daughter heading off to the electronics and toy section while I scurried about the grocery and pharmacy aisles with my list. As I moved about, I found myself in an absolute fit of irritation that people were clustering close together and whatnot in the aisles and walkways when I was studiously trying to avoid it. Granted, as an introvert, I tend to studiously avoid people in the grocery store as a matter of practice, but this irritation felt far more urgent, more worrisome. It is this worrisome urgency that sent me scurrying off as though I were actively running away from people. However, at the same time, I have come to accept that worried irritation as a part of my mental process through all this. Especially when I see more and more people chaffing at the restrictions and states beginning to re-open and allow the distance between people to lessen or even close. I am not okay with this, and I am unsure as to how others can be.

Do I miss my students? Yes. Do I miss being able to go out when I feel the want or need? Yes. Do I wish my daughter could socialize and play with her friends and other children? Yes. But I am not prepared to believe that this is over yet. I am not prepared to put my family and those of others at risk by throwing our caution and adjustments away. I am not, and I am urgently irritated at people who are.

Where is your sense of community protection or (at least) self-preservation, people? Do I understand the need to work and for income? Absolutely. But I also acknowledge that we still do not know enough about this virus, its staying power, resurgence, etc. I am not prepared to take that chance, not yet.

Is it hard to be home all the time? Absolutely. Is my daughter driving me nuts? Undoubtedly. Do we struggle to find and share space in our little home? All the time (but especially when my daughter refuses to go upstairs to the two rooms that are all hers and leave me to the peace of the living room). But, above all other things, WE ARE STILL HERE. We are still together. We are still here. And so are you.

We are still here, Dear Ones. Doing what we can. Separate but together. Even as things might begin to change again, let’s continue to stay here and do what we can, for the good of ourselves and others.

Finding My Glorious and Beauty Again

I turned thirty-four on Monday, and I found my beauty again yesterday morning. I stood before the mirror in the bathroom, going through my morning routine before work. Done with brushing my teeth and washing my face, on a whim, I then divested myself of every stitch of clothing before pulling down my hair to comb it out for the morning. As I did, I found something. A few somethings.

I found a sultry tilt to my head as I combed through my mahogany hair, now long again.

I found the seductive tumble and fall of my hair over my shoulders, falling  over the left side of my face like Jessica Rabbit’s famous red tresses.

I found the curve from my waist to my hip, not as sharp or hour-glassy as it used to be but still there.

I found the line of my jaw still strong, though I had sworn it was disappearing, much to my chagrin.

I was plainly surprised to find these things, these parts of me–to find me— beautiful, to think myself glorious after months of feeling utterly to the contrary. I was very surprised.

I saw my own beauty.

I found my glorious.

And I smiled at me.



Annotation to a Birthday

This is an annotation to “It’s That Time of Year Again”.

I finished the original post late last night but, even after I went to bed, it kept turning over in my head, this realization of happiness. I know that happiness is not only a feeling. It is a conscious choice. I realize that I am choosing to be happy. Is life always easy and a spoonful of sugar? No. There are days that are rough, difficult, lonely, and challenging. I know that, for Ben, teaching and pastoring can be a huge drain on his energy. Being at home with Elizabeth all day long, managing house and money, cleaning and errands and chores can all be a bit draining on me, too. Sometimes I do not know where to put my foot next, what is the next step to take, and that can be disheartening, the waiting. BUT I am choosing to be happy in the midst of it all.

We have so much to be thankful for. We have a home of our own, we have vehicles to transport us there and back again, Ben has good jobs, I am able to be with Elizabeth right now, and we live in a nice community with family close by. We are greatly blessed.  Granted, I could always want more, demand more in order to be happy – a bigger house, perfectly-manicured lawn,  a higher-paying job for Ben or myself, a different neighborhood. But I don’t want to put my happiness in things that can be taken away from me or lost. That’s not the point. Things or money or position aren’t happiness, they wouldn’t make me happy. I have a husband whom I love every single day, a daughter whom I adore, a family that is kind and generous and simply amazing, friends who bless my heart all the time…these are the things that matter in my life. It is for all of these things that I am thankful.

I am choosing to be happy every day. A friend of mine pointed out that choosing to be happy is a wonderful thing but so also is seeking out happiness. I don’ t know how much I seek it as much as cultivate it. As I consider it, I realize that I cultivate happiness in my writing, in trying to help and be there for others, being a helpmeet to Ben, teaching my daughter joy and encouraging her curiosity in the world, and in getting lost in the world of a good book now and again.

How do you cultivate happiness?


**EDITED 4-26-14**

The Truth About Birthdays

Pinterest is a fantasy world, in case you haven’t noticed. For the heck of it, I looked up ‘baby first birthdays’ (check it out for yourself) and looked through the pins that showed up. And I almost laughed out loud. Elizabeth’s first birthday looked NOTHING like these elegant, magazine-glossy affairs.

I had planned a simple, laid-back day with snuggles and cuddles and reflections on the past year, to be culminated with an afternoon nap to be fresh and ready for a family dinner at Johnny Carino’s that night. Yeah, that is NOT what happened. The morning was filled with errands, what should have taken perhaps two hours, took four, there was no nap when we got home, there were presents to wrap amidst amusing a rightfully sleepy baby. Then it was bathtime and getting ready time. The birthday girl did NOT want to get dressed, comb her hair, etc. Mommy ran through three outfits before she found one that she didn’t feel ridiculous in. Once we got everything packed and loaded up, including Elizabeth, we were fifteen minutes late leaving the house for dinner. She wasn’t happy being back in the car, naturally, and the rush hour traffic had begun. Even my husband beat us to the restaurant, coming from work, and he works about an hour away.

When we got to the restaurant, Ben took Elizabeth inside while I got the stuff out of the car. Naturally, as I’m getting out of the car, I drop her birthday presents. On the ground. In the mud. I could have cried right then and there, as I could have at many points that day. My mother handed me some tissues and I brushed them off as best I could. We got inside and found out that some family friends who had come had to leave at 6pm (it was almost five). We got Elizabeth situated and our drink orders placed (our server was patient and wonderful, thank you!). When Elizabeth’s milk came, I overfilled her sippy cup so when I went to screw on the lid, milk shot up into the air, only splishing her rather than soaking. Her bag got most of the wet. I sat there and just covered my face, again almost crying. Throughout dinner, Ben and I fed Elizabeth lots of bread and bites off our plates, though I know that she wasn’t getting as much food as she might normally. But she really seemed to like the bread and the milk at least.  Elizabeth suddenly decided that she had had enough of being in her high chair so I managed to free her and give her to our friends so they could cuddle her. They soon had to get ready to go so I had to rush along opening her presents from them, singing happy birthday and giving Elizabeth her birthday cupcake (we didn’t bother lighting it).

And there was my moment: watching Elizabeth stick her fingers in the frosting and eat bites of the cupcake as well as tasting her fingers. For a few minutes, I got to sit there and tape my girl and watch her enjoy her cupcake and frosting, eating far more daintily than I think I have ever seen a one year old eat cake. She did try to smoosh it towards the end but there was no huge mess.

On the whole, the day was not the best. I felt a great deal like a failure as a mommy, weary as a woman, and a shadow of a person, run off my feet and brain-weary. It was a ‘the universe hates me’ sort of day. But there was that moment and that moment made all the difference.