52… It is one of those birthdays that feels ho hum. Not a milestone. Not a momentous-occasion type of birthday. One that you sort of can’t remember if you are 52 or 53. It’s one of those birthdays that FEELS 50. I’m not about to turn 50. I didn’t just turn 50. I am IN my fifties. It’s one of those birthdays that you just write on FB, thanks for all the birthday wishes, it means so much to me that you took the time blah blah, and so glad I’m still here ticking. I don’t know all my feelings about turning 52 yet, but I do have some nailed down.
Yesterday I got two texts wishing me a happy birthday… a day before my birthday. One of them was from my mother and another from a friend who is always ON it so, at almost 52, I thought, “Oh wow. Have I lost my mind and mixed up when my birthday is?” I did actually double check the calendar… no, today is indeed the 20th. I was born on the 21st.
I’m not a big birthday celebrator. I should be because my mom always made a big effort to make each one special and I always appreciated how much she put into making the day and gifts meaningful. I do the same for my kids and try to for others I love, but don’t always hit that mark (my poor nieces never get their gifts on time, but I do always sing to them). For me though? Except for my 50th, I’ve always felt more subdued about them for some reason. Maybe I don’t like the attention? Maybe it doesn’t feel like a celebration I’ve earned? Not sure.
I have two things I do like about my birthday. First, I love where I was born – Kodiak Island, Alaska. I just love that it is my birthplace. It is a beautiful area and it is full of special memories for my family, so it makes me feel like I came into this world with a special vibe in the air, surrounded by beauty.
The other thing I like about my birthday is that the song “September” is my birthday song. Not “Happy Birthday”. I was born at 7:08 pm on September 21, so yes… I do “remember the 21st night of September.” I always loved the song and because I am not a person who pays attention to most details, I never really heard the lyrics until my son pointed it out to me about 7 years ago. I was a little late to that party but arrived, I did! I love when people send it to me throughout the year when they are somewhere and they hear it. It actually brings me so much joy. I love the guy who has a series of funny videos about the song and I love people who love dancing to it at weddings and parties.
Anyways… about turning 52. I’m in a busy, transitional season in my life so my musings feel different. I am not unhappy, but I am also not settled. I don’t love that feeling. There are things about my life that I do feel really proud about and feel happy within. Absolutely, I don’t have the overall feeling of my life sucks and how did it turn out this way at all – I celebrate a lot of blessings. But truth be told, for some reason, this year and not 50, nor 51, I feel the ticking of the clock. If I am lucky I have 20 years of true quality life perhaps? Of course, I hope to be vibrant and feeling like 70 is the new 50 at 70 or to be half as spark-filled and stylish as my mother at 70 but as I celebrated her 80th last week, I did think, 80 is just 28 years away and that felt differently this year even though the math for that equation hasn’t ever changed.
I feel a bit restless, a bit like ‘let’s get shit done’ energy, some ‘it’s now or never’ attitude. But I also feel like I am sick of hustling and ready to be slowing the pace of things simultaneously. It is an odd place to straddle.
I’ve been thinking about loss a lot lately. I’ve reconnected with a friend who lost a spouse way too young, and I think about how much the spouse was robbed of. I had a friend from my past send me footage of him interviewing the Blues Traveler lead singer (they used to tour together) and they talk about my late boyfriend, Chris, who also died way too young, and though he didn’t get to have a child of his own, at least he got to experience a kind of fatherhood through his relationship with my son Jack.
I’ve thought about the privilege of getting older and I can’t believe I’m quoting from this show BUT there was a line in the horribly cheesy show “Virgin River” (that I feel committed to watching it all the way through but cringe for half of it) that felt well timed. An older woman talked about how it isn’t easy to age. The changes to our bodies. The lost dreams that never came to fruition. Living with the mistakes you’ve made. Losing loved ones. But, she reminded the characters in the scene that so many don’t get to make it to their age. A nod to the adage that we are lucky to keep living, to keep having chances, to have the opportunities for love and laughter, and growth.
I try to stay in that space of gratefulness. Sometimes it is easy, like a comfortable chair, and other times it feels like the office chair I have that I cannot wait to get rid of because it hurts my back. I have so much to be grateful for, and I have things I grieve also. I’m learning how to live within the two realities.
So….here are some thoughts on my life as I turn 52. As you read mine, I’d love for you to reflect on yours, too.
- I love having a 24 year-old kid. And I love that he is living with me right now. It is not said enough how amazing it feels when you really LIKE your child, and you get to see the world through their eyes. We talk about childlike wonder when you become a parent but we don’t talk about the beauty of sitting back and seeing your kid become less dependent on you and really forming who they are. And we have not talked about nearly enough how amazing it is when you feel the shift of their brains fully forming at 25. GAME. CHANGER. I’ve always loved my son’s personality and think he is so fun to be around and so interesting, but I’ve never felt it more than now. I prefer time with him over most everyone.
- I was prepared for some of the aging things… more wrinkles, gray hair, thigh skin sagging. I wasn’t prepared for my daughter calling my breasts “floppies” and her sweet little innocent reaction of “well, they ARE!!” as I gasped when she said it to me. I’ve always loved my breasts and have been fine with the less perkiness of them… but I had not thought of them as flopping around though. Out of the mouth of babes. I also wasn’t prepared for the ick feeling of aging with hair loss. I’ve written about this before but I can’t say it enough… I had no idea I would experience this and had no idea how much it would mess with me. I’ve figured out things to help stop the process and heal the hair fiasco, and I do feel much better now, but I was completely unprepared for the self-worth impact and lack of body compassion I felt when my hair shedding turned to hair dropping and we found my hair everywhere I walked or sat. It felt like my teeth were falling out and I couldn’t do a thing to make it stop.
- I love meeting women my age who are doing big things. I get to do that almost every day with my work and I feel so proud of that and also so intrigued by each person I meet. I’ve worked hard to enter those rooms and they are as special and interesting as I imagined when I was knocking on their doors. I still deal with some imposter syndrome at times but mainly entering one room and sitting at that table just makes me want to knock on more doors and sit at more tables. I find that my motivation and drive to have an impact on the world has increased as I reach an age where a lot of people in my life are retiring.
- My relationships are really important to me. Connection with friends, family, my kids, romantically, work, really matter to me and give me life energy. As my work life has grown exponentially I find my bandwidth at the end of the day is really, really low. At 8am I am full of hope and ideas for the day. I am going to call so and so over lunch, I am going to go for a walk and connect with this person, I am going to text these people in my bath. Then as the hours progress and dinner ends… those intentions move to I’m so fucking tired, I can’t talk to one more person, and I just need mindless, ease or quiet. And that feels like shit. I’ve never been good at answering the phone and I rarely call people these days because I don’t have a commute and that was often my calling time, but I have historically been good at keeping up with the people I love and adore. I’m not now. I often wish I could telepathically call or text when I have the moment or energy or if those people cross my mind. I imagine it feels like I am a bad friend or neglectful loved one, but I don’t feel that way in my heart. I know I care and want to show up for people, I just need a different way that works for 52.
- My group called SoulSpark made a Tree of Love this year on my front lawn. The concept came from the amazing Meryl Russo who I met through the incredible group called Campowerment. I can’t quantify the utter joy it has brought me. It may be an eyesore at times, but the smile in my heart I get when I see people of all ages stopping at it to read the notes and rocks, or to leave a note or rock, is beyond what I would have guessed. It has made me feel like a part of the community. It makes me talk to people more. I have about 200 photos of people looking at it and each time it feels like I’ve gotten a sneak glimpse into humanity. The notes people leave are darling or tear jerking. There is a group of young kiddos who are leaving love notes for each other and are checking the tree after school to see if they were given a response. There is someone who seems to be on a mission to surprise me with notes when I am not around. I have no idea who it is but they have their own style. There are people who incorporate the tree into their nightly walk. I am grateful to Meryl for the inspiration and for her sharing it with the world, and I am grateful the community has embraced it.
- If I didn’t feel like I needed social media for work / could figure out a way to not need a social media presence and could find a way to have access to all the photos I’ve posted and lost along the years, I would get off all social media. Or I would become a troll only and just look at other people’s stuff to keep up with other people’s lives. I fantasize about what it would feel like to take a year off of all social media. I don’t spend tons of time on any platform beyond TikTok but I still don’t love it. I hate the posting part. I get sick of the stress of what to put up, what is on brand, I wonder about what people think of what I write or post and I imagine probably too often that people are rolling their eyes about this picture or that blog. I really wonder who in the world reads or cares about what I think, but sometimes it does seem like some people are benefitting and that is enough to keep doing it. I also get sick of the unsolicited comments about my postings – that photo is too revealing, that caption was too much, I forgot that day of celebration. I also get annoyed knowing people can see my life or my work without knowing me or hiring me. And my favorite: ex wives of people I date or marry always do a deep dive which is annoying too. My favorite comment is “yeah, she’s so classy, look at what she posts, she’s ‘Insta famous’ dripping with sarcasm.” Do I really care? No. Would it be great to not put a target on my back some days? Yes.
- I love taking baths. What a funny thought to share but it means more than just I like baths. It’s my thing. It’s my nightly routine. I love the ritual I have with it. I love the comfort it gives me. I love that although I probably ‘shouldn’t’ do it every night and it’s probably annoying to my family, I love that I know it is good for my soul and it’s my sanctuary, and I’m happy I have that space for myself.
- I am so profoundly lucky because of the people who hire me as their therapist / coach / counselor. I get a glimpse into so many people’s worlds. Their hearts. Their dreams. Their struggles. Their agony. I feel like a trusted friend and confidant. I get to be the crazy aunt or best friend or trusted advisor. I get to learn about different types of lives, different parts of the world, different professions, different cultures, different races, different ages, different perspectives. I am exposed to so much worldliness and at the same I am invited into the sacred smallness of one’s inner world. To be trusted week to week, and for some over many, many years, my work has profoundly changed my world too. I get to feel valued. I get to help people. I get to let people know every day they matter. THAT is amazing and at 52 that feels like an incredible gift.
- I can’t wait for my period to stop. And I have completely let go of the feeling that was with me for so long of longing for children and always feeling like I wanted more. I feel none of that, happily. And I can’t wait to no longer have a period and envy those who are already there. I wish there was a switch we could pull when you feel done. It would be pulled for sure.
- I love the phrase ‘a soft place to land’. I talk about the concept a lot with my clients but it isn’t something I talk about in general. It hasn’t been easy for me to find this for myself over the years but it feels really wonderful that most days the home I have created for me and my kiddos is that place for me, for us. I love that they feel safe here and feel ownership within our home. Yes, it gets cluttered and I hate it and yes, there are times I feel like the walls are closing in, but most days, most nights, I walk in our home and breathe differently. Home feels safe and welcomed and ours.
- Being an entrepreneur, a boss, a business owner… is hard. I didn’t learn one thing about it from my family or from school, and it is a struggle for sure. But one I really love and have invited into my world to an increasing degree each year. I think I am getting better at it but I’m not completely sure. I love the people who work with me / for me / alongside me, and this year I expanded my company a lot and each expanding soul who joined us was beyond special. I kept feeling like ‘this amazing person wants to work for me?’ My COO, Kaitlin, is next-level wonderful. She has changed so much in my life and my work wouldn’t be where it is today without her. I sit at 52 looking at her in her young 30’s thinking… Did I ever show up like that for someone I worked with like she does? I hope so. I think so but am not sure. I know today, I love working with this group and feel proud they wanted to join me.
- We have a new part of our world since my last birthday. A dog named Flash. A cute little pug. I knew our family needed a dog but I was terrified of the change in our life having a dog again would bring. I always had pets growing up and know what solace and joy they brought us. We had a dog for a lot of my son’s life but when she left our life I didn’t think I could handle caring for one solo. Then I felt more drawn to look for a dog for my daughter and a sweet little bundle of brown needed a new home at the same time, and he became ours. I am stunned by the healing that little guy has done in our hearts. Healing I didn’t know needed to happen. We are one of those insane dog owners that wants everyone to experience his joy and cuteness and talk about him way too much. I’ve done a good job not posting lots of photos of him but it’s only by sheer willpower that is the case. I’m so allergic to him which stinks but he’s worth every allergic reaction. Seeing my daughter love on him and be loved by him and seeing him give my son some purpose and companionship is truly beautiful to see. And….WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT HE IS GOING TO BE FOR HALLOWEEN!
- And last… I have days of energy and joy and bliss and days of ‘turtling up’ and feeling sad and lonely and lost. I never thought I would feel this way at 52. I thought I would have less sadness, less worry, less longing. But it is there. I wouldn’t say it is more than others and from the vantage point with my work I would actually say mine is less than most but I never thought to consider I wouldn’t feel that ‘put together’ feeling at this stage. Conversely, I wouldn’t have been able to put words to the joy I feel in knowing who I am. I do really know who I am. I love that feeling. Being so clear. I still work to align some choices and behaviors to that knowledge, but I am not searching for me anymore. I am expanding me. I am grounded in me. I am celebrating the me more and more each day.
I know your details will be different but I’m so curious what came up for you in your life by reading about mine?
As for a birthday request? I would love for you to play September today and smile. Send me a photo or video of you dancing. Find a funny meme of the song. Send a different version of it. Find joy in the beat of it and never be shy sending it to me on a non-birthday day. It is always so wonderful when I get a home video of someone out in the world who thought of me when the song came on. It helps me know that I matter too when you remember me.
Here’s to 53. xoxo