Today I turned 40. That’s like middle aged. I would say I should be ready for my mid-life crisis, but I think those are reserved for people who have lived a life of some convention. My whole life has been a mid-life crisis.
I began to lose friends and loved ones as early as grade school. It hit me in second grade when a class mate stood up suddenly and collapsed to his death bed that we are on borrowed time. By the time I graduated high school. I had lost 10 friends or close relatives. Mix that with growing up in a small farm town in Kansas and watching my father beat my mother to near death many times, and I knew I had to move. I couldn’t spin my wheels. Hell, I’d be lucky to make it to the ripe old age of 30. I had a bucket list to get busy with (yes, even in my early 20’s).
Before I hit 20 I had tried college in New Mexico and had worked as a dishwasher, waitress, bookstore clerk, housekeeper, and missionary. I sold my car and bought a ticket to Hawaii because it was somewhere I was always curious about. I sold art on the beach and wondered why I was so completely alone in the world. I came to the conclusion that I was capable of whatever I wanted.
In my 20’s I chased a man back to Kansas, then one to Iowa. I worked in marketing and sales, fire safety in a nuclear power plant, counselor to people with multiple sclerosis, barista, Executive Director of a non-profit, office manager of an environmental firm, personal assistant to a CEO, house sitter, and a nanny.
I fought to be paid and promoted as an equal in a corporate job, had my heart broken at least 3 times, played house, was misdiagnosed with cancer, began painting, and decided I had worth.
I won my first artist fellowship, moved to Europe with $300 and no back up plan, fell in love with myself, and fell in love with so many strangers that became friends.
In my 30’s I became a mother (unexpectedly). All the demons I tried to bury in my 20s came back to play. I was humbled and hungry. I was forced to think about someone other than myself. I wrestled with the fear of never being good enough.
I came to the conclusion that no one had walked in my shoes, therefore their way didn’t work for me. I would have to figure out how to do it my way.
I learned to ask for help, lost friends that were just there for the party, but gained friends who were genuine and true.
I held hands of dying loved ones, held new born babies of friends, learned that crying isn’t weak, and kept another human being alive longer than any house plant in my possession.
And now here I am at the doorstep of my 40s. My intent is to make the next 40 years as interesting as the first. To remember that I am on borrowed time. I have a gift of another day that at least 40 people in my life no longer have. There is adventure in every day; we just have to be willing to say yes to it. So my physical years on this big blue and green planet might be 40, but I still don’t feel like the grown ups I remember from my teen years. They seemed so polished and put together. I am just me, and I’m ok with that. I’m faking it until I make it. I’m looking for the every day magic, and I’m wearing skirts and tennis shoes.
I’m working on accepting my body, hugging the shit out of the pain and releasing it, loving the unloveable parts, and trying to figure out why in the hell I still get neck acne.
On to the next adventure.