The clock is slowly edging toward midnight as it does day after day after day.
I notice it more today. I find myself glancing at the upper right corner of my screen more often as I sit at my computer, editing, placing Kroger delivery orders, and aimlessly scrolling on social media. I know, that when the clock strikes midnight, I will turn 40 (which may be better than the fate of dear Cinderella and her pumpkin-toting mice—well, maybe not.) I kid, I kid. Surprisingly, I am not upset about this inevitable move toward the second half of my life. I am not dreading it or reminiscing about what once was. I am not feeling full of regret or asking myself "is this what my life has become?" I am not excited about this number that will now be attached to me every time someone asks my age or cards me for that bottle of wine at the grocery store, but I am also not mad at it. I've earned it. Silly as it sounds, it's a comforting thought.
I've earned the ability to say I am 40. I've experienced heartbreak, embarrassment, and insecurity. I've fought with friends, bosses, and co-workers. I've been caught in a lie, caught others in lies, and overheard others talking bad behind my back. I've been the girl that doesn't get the guy and the girl who had to reject the guy. I've loved and lost and gained and succeeded. I've been the butt of the joke (more often than not) and the one making the jokes. I've partied into the morning and slept until noon (let's be honest, I still can and will if I am able). I've worked in a job that made my skin crawl because I had to make rent and bills. I've seen a dear friend come and go and mourned that loss without understanding how or why it happened. I've experienced the loss of loved ones, friends, and animals. I've been the shoulder to those going through immense amounts of pain and suffering. I've faced the realities of depression, anxiety, and addiction in those I love and have known.
I have seen love in its purest form. I've given life, created a home, and supported others in their dreams. I've pushed doubt to the side and taken chances. I've failed only to get back up and try again until I succeeded. I've cursed out that voice inside my head that tells me I can't do it, and then I have done it. I have faced my fears and done the work to figure out who I am and work toward who I want to be. I have danced in the rain and jumped in puddles. I have loved fearlessly and truthfully, even when it's hard. I have trained myself to know my worth and remember that in the moments that doubt seems to settle in. I have accepted the fact that I can't bake for shit and am okay with store-bought cupcakes and other baked goods. I have stood in the ocean and let the waves knock me down with a smile stretching from ear to ear. I have accepted who I am and learned to love that person, even if others don't.
Today, I had a session in my town. It went great and I was really proud of the result. After it was done, I had a half hour to kill before I had to go be a taxi cab for my kids. Without the time to go home, I decided to go to my neighborhood watering hole and grab a beer and sit on the patio. The sun was setting, the air was cool and the patio was busy. I sat there, drinking my beer, relaxing and reflecting on the day, when a thought crept into my mind—"This is what 40 is. 40 is sitting on the patio alone with a beer and enjoying the company you keep." A decade ago I would never have felt comfortable having a beer by myself on a busy patio without the intention of meeting someone. I loved the feeling of being there alone and completely in my thoughts. That is my 40. That is my outlook on this new decade and this new season of life. Simple as it is—my 40 is having a beer alone at a bar, and I absolutely love it.
Before I leave you as a 39-year-old, I want to share with you a secret. This song was written about me—and now you will never forget that my birthday is the 21st night of September.