This is the first birthday I feel legitimately old. As in, aging. Don’t roll your eyes at me and tell me I’m young. I know I’m only 44 and things are bound to get worse but these past few weeks, a series of events have reminded me that I am no longer a spring chicken.
First, there’s the pandemic pounds that have piled up on my mid-section thanks to perimenopausal (and over-indulging). Then, age, or spending endless days in virtual google meetings, resulted in so much squinting that I finally broke down and saw an optometrist. Cheaters were the solution, for now. A series of ads resulted in me noticing the deep divots (likely from squinting) lining my forehead and a flock of crow’s feet on my eyes. A custom skincare promises to ease the problem or at least inform my ego I’m trying to slow the decline. These items would be bad enough, but manageable. But it gets worse.
Shooting hoops with my kid makes my plantar fasciitis flare up and running has become increasingly difficult. My husband also informed me, while on vacation, that I snore. He even took video to prove his case. I’m sure this is a result of any number of the above items, including but not limited to the pandemic pounds. I’ve noticed I’m not as quick to spring up after lounging on the couch. Odd cracking sounds usually follow. Muscles are tender. Hair is thinning. My memory isn’t quite as crisp.
I’ve invested in some vitamins. I sometimes wonder if these are just placebos to cater to one’s ego, similar to my new facewash routine. Time will tell.
Bottom line. I’m aging. My birthday wish is to slow that process down just a bit this coming year. Not halt it. Just manage it.
How you might ask? Atomic Habits. I am such a fan of James Clear’s work. Since January, I’ve been implementing small changes in my life. This past month, I’ve come to realize that perhaps I need to amp up this game. Clear often reminds us that we are a summation of our habits. Given that, it makes sense I’m where I’m at today. It also makes sense that there are many aspects of this I can change.
I know that because I’ve made serious inroads in other areas of my life. I now have a work-life balance I once thought impossible. My morning ritual has freed up space to be creative and start crafting a second book. While slow, I’m still running after more than a decade of continuing to show up and move. I had my best garden ever last year with plans to build on that this year. All of these are the result of some small but consistent changes to how I approach each day.
To top things off, this past week, my faith in humanity was restored by the simplest of gestures. We were strolling a beach in Elk California when a stranger approached me with a large sea shell. He mentioned he enjoyed finding them and then giving them to parents to hide so their kid could find it. I did just that. Jake reveled in finding a shell that mom and dad walked right past. Sounds silly I know. I don’t care.
I’m bringing that shell home as a reminder that there is still good in the world. A reminder I sometimes need when I get wrapped up into the troubles that seem to find me wherever I go. The shell reminds me of a sand dollar parable my pastor once told me on a church trip out west. You know, the one where a mom and child are walking along the beach and the parent keeps throwing sand dollars back into the ocean. After a while the kid asks, why do you keep doing that? There are hundreds of sand dollars here and you cannot possibly save them all. And the mom says, it may not seem like much but for this sand dollar, it makes all the difference in the world. A bit corny but true.
Despite the downside of aging, I’m so grateful for the perspective each year brings me. I now know how fortunate I am to have cultivated some incredible relationships with individuals I’m lucky enough to call my friends. That being an introvert is not a negative. And, that even the simplest of gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life. Here’s to another trip around the sun, this one focusing a bit more inward on making some simple changes to help ensure many more trips around the sun.
Here’s to 44. To know her and love her and embrace her for all she’s about to bring me. May we all be so lucky.