Best gift to myself .. on the calendar.

Part of my to do list today (not that you can read my handwriting):

…………….

With the smoke having mostly cleared from what seem like weeks of bang up 40th birthday celebrations .. my mind is turning back to the things I would like to do, have to do, and should do.

Especially for my overall mental and physical health.

Like .. catch up on work.  Run an extra mile each day to counteract my (I’m certain) ever slowing metabolism and the fact I’m not willing to give up good beer.  Or chocolate.  Eat more salad.  Check in with my life coach.  Catch up on email and continue to purge all this non-essential electronically and otherwise in my home/office/surroundings and life.  Finally schedule that yard sale with the neighbors, an appointment for my new crowns ..

And, a mammogram.

Check.

………………

I was waiting the other day to hear back from someone close .. on a biopsy she needed to have done to determine if the lumps she had found in her breast, were cancerous.  Or, just plain old lumps.

But at 32-years-old and with a history of breast cancer in her family we were all holding our breath, I do believe.

It was that morning, and I was rushing through my morning routine and had about 2 minutes to shower and get out the door ..

I thought to myself:   When is the last time I even did a self-exam let alone think about scheduling a mammogram given I’m now ‘at that age’?

I did a quick self exam that morning, now about a week ago.  Not that I would have known if something were abnormal.

Because it had been so long.

I actually had my first mammogram a few years ago, as there was a suspicious area my doctor and I both wanted checked out.  Turned out it was nothing.  But .. I haven’t thought about it since.  Other than the fact I know I am at risk because 1.) I am a woman.  (although men can receive the diagnosis)  And 2.)  I, like my friend and so many others out there, have a maternal history of breast cancer in my own bloodline as well.

My girlfriends biopsy, thankfully we celebrated as benign.

While there are a lot of suggestions out there right now as to how often one should have a mammogram if ever, how effective they might actually be and who should get them .. mine is now on the calendar.

Finding the energy to call both the dentist and the IRS will have to wait until Monday.

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Forty ..

I feel like I am supposed to have some sort of epiphany about life that I can tell you all about, because I’m now 40.

But ..

I pretty much don’t.

And I am slowly realizing .. perhaps that is why I’ve been in kind of a funk the past few days, despite the fact it was my birthday and everyone around me seemed so excited to help me celebrate.

I think I’m feeling like I should be making more of it, because, after all, it’s 40.

You know, the new 29 or whatever everyone kept saying out of kindness or .. probably not being sure what else to say to make me feel like I’m not getting that old.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am humbled and grateful for what this year was an outpouring of wonderful reminders of how many incredible people are in my life…

The comments, compliments, cakes, cupcakes, well wishes, phone calls, wall posts (what did we ever do before Facebook reminders?), surprises, the party .. flowers, chocolate, a quick dinner with an old friend, and a night with my daughter (spent sitting in a meeting we would have been fine to skip)….

There have been so many reminders of how blessed I am in this life.  I love and genuinely appreciate all of it.

But why when someone, anyone turns 40, or 50 or 60 .. does the world seem to think its more important than say 43.  Just curious.  Marketing scheme?  Can someone explain to me the significance….

I do believe now .. all the hype made me feel all the more like I should have been making a huge deal of the day, myself (when I don’t do birthdays).  The actual day.  And that I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.  Because I somehow need to really grasp what turning 40 means, that I’m supposed to be in this great place in my life and know what life is all about and the best is yet to come .. well, because I’m 40.  We have to party.  This is a big one.  You go girl.  It’s your time.  Time to conquer the world.  Don’t you get it?  You don’t want a big party? .. You must not get it.  That kind of thing.

What’s funny is .. I think I do get it.

That’s just a lot of pressure to put on one day.  And I genuinely feel every single day is worth celebrating.  Especially now.  I am in a great place in life.  Sure, I wish some things were different.  Or easier.  But at 40, I feel I am totally starting over.  With some life experience under my belt to do it better this time.

Is that what 40 is supposed to be?  I don’t know but I guess in those terms,  maybe it is the new 29.

It actually is a very cool time in life for most, I believe.  At least that’s what people who are there and have been there are telling me.  But the entirety of it .. you know, the whole year.  Not just a day.  The turning 40 thing is one of the reasons I decided to start blogging this year.  To keep track of all the awesome, beautiful changes happening.  And my thoughts on it all.

Perhaps in writing I just came to the epiphany I needed to.

Regardless.

I am still stealing moments this week amongst all the chaos of a beautiful, whirlwind, emotional few days leading up to my birthday and got back to what I like to do in the privacy of my own special day each year:

– Thank the woman who chose to give birth to me, because she easily could have chosen not to.  And for that fact, I am eternally grateful.

– Thank the family who wanted and could raise a child, and picked me.

– Hug my daughter.

– Tell those closest to me that I love them and thank them for being a part of my life always.

– Treat myself to some chocolate.  Good coffee.  And a great beer.

– And .. garden.

It may have been digging in the dirt on my little patio last night in the dark and potting a few plants and seeds I’ve wanted to get started.  But I fit it in.  A wonderful way to chill out in the final hours of a great day.   Time for myself, to think about the seeds I’ve already planted in life and what I hope grows out of another wonderful year.

Surprises ..

Anyone need a big black sign that says Happy Birthday You’re 40?

I’m trying to clean up the mess that is my home this morning and I’m not quite sure what to do with the banner I’ve got sitting in a bag filled otherwise with wine, a bottle of locally made fine vodka, a whole slew of cards and a few gifts I have yet to get to on my living room floor.

I’m definitely hanging onto the beverages.  But the sign.  Given I prefer recycling to further contributing to the trash heap outside town where I can…  Anyone… Anyone want it or need it for their own celebration?

…………….

I’ve not given a whole lot of thought (yet) to the fact I’m turning 40 this year.

I figured I’d get around to that .. perhaps the night or the few minutes before the clock strikes twelve on my ‘special day’.

Our family has always celebrated birthdays, but very quietly.  Growing up it was always dinner with my dad, brother, grandmother, perhaps my aunt and uncle.  An angel food cake that my mom would make.  A few gifts.  That’s it.

Because of this, I have never made a big deal out of birthdays that I can remember.  In fact .. when I turned 21, just about everyone in my group that night was three sheets to the wind.  I drove them home.

I am also typically not a big fan of surprises.  So the two, surprises and a big party, combined in any fashion is not something I would ever say I want.

…………….

The Cowboy has been bugging me for awhile about what we’re going to do .. about the ‘special birthday’ I have coming up.

“I don’t know yet,” I keep saying..  “Well, I do want to get a few key family members together because we need to …  But other than that, nothing,”  I tell him.

With a few of those key family members in town, just a fraction of the larger group I would like to have time with … some of us were going to get together this weekend.  For dinner.  A nice, intimate little dinner I thought was a belated Easter get-together.

The Cowboy and I walked in.  I started to look around to see where they might all be.

Quickly a hand went around my waist, steering me left.

“They are over here,” says the Cowboy.

“How do you know where they are sitting,” I asked him.

And before he could answer ..

I see a room full of people.  All of whom I love … family and friends … all from very different parts of my life …

“Happy Birthday!” they shouted.  I think, anyway.  I was so taken back, and quite honestly, shocked .. I really can’t remember what all transpired or what was said.

It was the most wonderful chaos.

One I never would have asked for or thought I wanted.  But one I will forever cherish.

A night the Cowboy had planned for months with the help of a few friends, kept a secret and made special in so many ways, as I head toward a new chapter and decade in my life.

“I just wanted to get everyone together who loves you .. think its important you know how so many feel about you,” the Cowboy told me.

I’m still not sure what to say ..  other than thank you all.  For those who were there that night.

For those who came from far away, who rearranged plans, who lied to me for months out of the goodness of their hearts, who I haven’t seen in forever but who have touched my life far beyond what they will truly ever know.

For those that wanted to be there but couldn’t.   For those who helped the Cowboy pull it off.  For the notes and gifts and well wishes ..  especially the wine.  Please stop by and let’s share.

There are few opportunities we get in life I think, to really look around and realize in one moment, how blessed we are by the people in our lives.

Usually it is at a wedding, or a funeral.

Or .. a birthday celebration.

I am reminded though, after nights like the other night, how important it is we take advantage of every occasion to appreciate those we love and that are around us.  It is something I try to do as often as I can .. but that there never seems enough time to do, as well as I might want or like.  I would assume that is the case for us all.

But even those who stopped by for a few moments, made a statement that to me will last a lifetime.