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Friday, February 4, 2011

39 For the First Time

It's not that I don't like people, but as I recently celebrated my 39th birthday, I have to say that sometimes the human race leaves a lot to be desired. First, it's flattering that I look so young that people ask, "how old are you" when they're told that it's my birthday. But, it's irritating that when I answer them, they shoot funny looks my way and respond with a chorus of sarcasm in their words, "oh, you mean 39 AGAIN!!" Tee-hee, I guess the joke's on me. To say that you're 39 is like announcing that you had emergency surgery on your "deviated septum", when what you really had was that bump removed from your nose, or that you lost 80 pounds in a couple of months just through "diet and exercise" instead of major surgery (Starr Jones, I'm looking at you!). There is an assumption of dishonesty, or, more precisely, an assumption of vanity. I won't lie - 39 is difficult, but so were 30, 25, 21, 18, 16, and 13. We call these "milestone" birthdays, but they become like that annoying Jeopardy music, and when the music stops, what do we have to show for it?

I was always racing towards a big something during those past birthdays. By 13, I wanted to fill out my sweaters; by 16, I wanted to have gone out on my first alone date; by 18 I wanted to have a straight-A average and a tall, Adonis-like boyfriend for my sorority formal; by 21, I wanted to be based in a cool city and traveling the world; by 25, I wanted to have an Oscar/Tony/Grammy and to have been proposed to at least once; and by 30, I wanted to already be married, famous, and traveling the world with my husband and children.

This birthday is different. It's found me grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life and all of the wonderful experiences that I've had. Instead of running flat-out, I'm walking with a purpose, and stopping once in a while to survey all that is around me. I wish that I had discovered this active thoughtfulness when I was younger, this ability to savor a moment, to luxuriate in being. I am a better person for the things that I have learned so far, and here, as my gift to all of you staring down the barrel of whatever birthday is on the horizon for you, is a piece of my list of lessons far. Here goes:

  • I've learned that if you're going to work a job that you hate, do it for a lot of money and stockpile cash to start a business that you love.
  • I've learned that you shouldn't cut up photos of you and your ex - no matter why the relationship ended, those experiences are a part of your personal story.
  • Always take a photo, because your memory will get fuzzier with each passing year.
  • Never let someone insult you and get away with it - bad behavior in people must be treated like bad behavior in a puppy, so put their nose in it!
  • If it's a choice between buying something you really want for yourself, and buying something for someone in need, choose the someone in need because you'll both feel better.
  • Don't hate yourself, because if you don't like yourself, what chance has anybody else of liking you?
  • Take at least 2 trips a year - the change in perspective is better than a face lift!
  • Never respond to an email when you're boiling mad.
  • Avoid Super Bowl parties and New Year's Eve parties - both are annoying and tend to go on too long!
  • Go to church even when you don't feel like it.
  • When someone says, "bless you" in response to a question answered, just say "thank you."
  • Don't talk during the movie/opera/orchestra concert/play - it's just rude!
  • Always ask questions.
  • Be honest in what you know and in what you don't know.
  • Don't mistake need for love.
  • Don't become your significant other's mother - that's just not sexy and it's a bit creepy!
  • Don't order pizza in Alaska because it won't end well.
  • Always pack a hat in your day bag.
  • It's never too late to try something new, to be someone better.
Well, I hope this helps. Happy birthday to me and to you. I'm just saying:)

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