Happy Birthday to Me!
I have looked forward to this birthday all of my life. I imagined myself: first a movie star, later a literary figure, but always successful, living in a New York City penthouse and celebrating with a fabulous party with fabulous friends.
I am thirty-seven years old today.
I always assumed I would have more by the time I hit this age; I never dreamed I would be this much at this age.
I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a strong spiritual entity. I cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with my fellow human beings. I explore the world and myself. I experiment with creativity and connections. I keep my body strong and healthy. I live ethically. I share my life with the perfect partner for me.
I love fully and have been blessed to be loved in return.
And yet, at thrity-seven years old I have yet to reach the point I would call successful. I have never attained the material gains or public recognition I thought I would. But in my previous thinking, thirty-seven was always old. My younger self thought that the only success was early success. In our culture old means irrelevant.
Why do we place expiration dates on people?
Is it because we are so ingrained to be consumers that we unwittingly see ourselves as products? Newer is always better, right? How much of our life is spent jostling for position, selling a product, or even ourselves? Why is it so common to feel we are not enough?
Today is my birthday, so I am giving myself a present.
Cultural norms can fool us into thinking life is one way, but that serves no purpose other than to keep us in line. Life is about choices.
I choose to accept my age with gratitude.
I choose to accept myself with that same gratitude.
Mostly this relates to my body image. I have spent most of my life unhappy with my body with the exceptions of the year I was bulimic and immediately after giving birth. The year of my eating disorder, I looked fabulous. Hollywood fabulous. I know that the stars with bodies I covet perform the same damaging stunts I did to look that way. It is not natural to look like a frail bobble head. It is not normal to wish you were a size zero. A size nothing.
The moments after I gave birth were moments of my body’s deepest pride. I remember commanding myself to love my body for the rest of my life; just think of its marvelous accomplishments! But once the pictures were developed, I saw myself as a whale and I privately admonished myself for gaining so much pregnancy weight that I would look forever fat in my children’s newborn pictures.
You see, we all have a wicked side, and unfortunately, many of us direct it at ourselves.
But I am done with that. Really, truly done. Too much of my energy has been wasted fretting about my appearance. Too much of my inherant self-worth has been devalued. Trying to be small made me live a smaller life than I ever intended.
So I have made a choice, sat with that choice and settled into this choice for over a month. I choose to not waste anymore energy bemoaning how I look, because ultimately doing that belittles me.
My face shows that I worried in my twenties and laughed in my thirties. So be it.
My stomach shows that I gave birth to two glorious sons. So be it.
My arms show that I’m a good cook and I like to enjoy a glass of wine with my husband. So be it.
I’m not going to fall into a pit of sloth and gluttony. I enjoy exercising and eating healthful food. It makes me feel alive. That’s what this is about: living a life that celebrates life. I’m sure my appearance will still fluctuate. I am just not going to waste anymore energy caring about it or being mean to myself. There are so many more interesting and important subjects worthy of my attention.
All babies are cute. We oohh and ahhh over all of them, not just the ones who will grow up to be supermodels. We recognize their beauty as human beings. Why not extend that same thought to everyone? Why not extend it to myself?
Beauty is a birthright and today is my birthday!
I almost feel reborn.