Birthdays · Life

And Then BAM, You’re 40…

40I’ve put off writing this post because I knew it was going to be a challenge. But seeing as today is the last day of 2016, I guess I don’t have a choice.

2016 was the year I turned 40. (Note to self: The Year I Turned 40 would make a great book title.)

40 hasn’t been that easy. And not for the reasons you may think.

Sure, it’s not that fun to find the random gray hairs that have snuck in or to notice that it’s much harder to lose weight now. And don’t even get me started about those little wrinkles that have appeared around my eyes.

But coming to terms with 40 has been hard and it has nothing to do with the physical aspects of being four decades old.

Frankly, I’ve never felt better. In fact, I don’t feel 40. I feel like I should still be 25. Sometimes it shocks me to realize how old I am. I remember my parents at 40 and I thought they were super-old grownups who had it all figured out. Now I know the truth!

40 has been the year when I no longer care what people think. This year while my husband and I were in Mexico, I opted NOT to wear my swim skirt cover up over my bathing suit. That skirt has been a beach staple of mine since I was 25. Yep. You know what? It felt great. I spent years feeling self-conscious because shudder what if someone saw cellulite on my hips? HA.

At 40, I laugh in the face of cellulite.

It’s also been the year that I realized I’m more than my job. I’m a classic workaholic, I’ll admit it. I’ve let my career define me for the past decade or more. No more. This year, I’ve left work behind on multiple occasions without even a smidge of the guilt that would have plagued me before. Friday afternoon? I’m done. Vacation? Two vacations in 2016 and I didn’t log on to work once. That may seem silly to some, but it’s a big accomplishment for me.

At 40, I realize that work is not the most important thing. There can be other jobs, but you can’t get back the moments you’ve lost.

It’s been the year I’ve become comfortable in my own skin. I am who I am. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t want/need to improve on, but overall, I’m no longer apologetic for my “quirks.” I am introverted in a way many don’t understand. Large groups—even my family whom I love—give me anxiety. I have learned what I can and cannot handle. Sometimes that means I leave a family function early. I used to feel terrible about it. Now I realize that it’s better to just be me, even if it means I retreat to the silence of my own home after a few hours of togetherness.

At 40, I finally understand that sometimes I have to take care of myself and that makes it so that I’m better able to care for others.

Me and my parents in 1976, the year I was born.

It’s been the year that I’ve had to face the idea of life without loved ones. For whatever reason, 40 has been the year when I’ve been gripped with the fear of losing my parents, husband, and family members. There are nights when I wake up and can’t go back to sleep because I’m terrified of what a life without them would be. There are no answers here—I suspect we all go through it. I may appear to be a grownup adult, but there are many moments DAILY when I need my mom or my dad.

At 40, I see that life is so short. When you’re young you think you have all the time in the world. At this point, I realize that time really is the most precious currency, and I have to make the most of it.

Here are a few other gems I’ve learned at 40:

Good and true friends are some of God’s biggest blessings.

So are good dogs.

High heels aren’t always worth it. Sometimes it’s more important to be comfortable.

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and a good cup of coffee.

A clean house really does make a difference in your quality of life.

Some days you need to call in sick and stay in bed and binge watch TV all day. It may not be productive but it is such a treat.

Spending time with people who make you laugh will make you feel at least ten years younger.

Prayer changes you. If you have an issue with someone, pray for them. Daily. It will make a difference.

If a movie, TV show, or book has something in it you don’t like or approve of, remove yourself. Walk out of the theater. Change the channel. Put it back on the shelf. Life is too short. I don’t like violence or bad language. I’ve finally, finally realized that It’s MY choice not to see or hear it.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. No good can come of it.

And there you have it. My “turning 40” post. I’ve watched my friends turn 40 this year and it’s been weird because when I see them, I still see cheerleaders and football players and people I laughed with in the dorm. Seeing them at 40, adults, parents, businesspeople…it’s kind of shocking. I spent a lot of time earlier in the year wondering where the time went.

But now that I’ve come to terms with 40, I know where the time went. We were all living life, experiencing moments both good and bad. That’s what brought us to now.

And I’m suddenly looking forward to 50 because I can look back and honestly say that life has gotten better with each passing year.

What a gift that is.

Happy 2017, friends!

Some “turning 40” photos:



Birthdays · Life

Roller Coaster

No wonder I always feel like I’m on a roller coaster! I just found out that Love Roller Coaster was the #1 song when I was born. So it’s the song of the day. 🙂

Last year in honor of my birthday, I made a list of 33 things about me that most people don’t know. This year, I’m going to stick to 10.

Here are 10 more things that make me “me”…

1. I’m left handed. I think this helps with the creativity. It doesn’t help in handwriting, peeling potatoes or using scissors.

2. I have an aversion to feet. Except for cute baby feet.

3. If I could only eat one meal forever, it would be chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce.

4. Someday I want to take a road trip across America. Just some good music and the open road–sounds about perfect.

5. I’m still sometimes surprised when I see my name on the cover of a book. Seems like a dream.

6. I have a really good memory. As in, there is a chance I could tell you what happened on a given day in a given year–what I wore, where I went, who was there, etc. It drives my friends crazy. I can also still remember my high school cheerleading routines and every Makin’ Music performance I was ever in from college.

7. I still believe the best is yet to come.

8. I know this will make me sound old fashioned–but sometimes I miss the way things used to be. Simpler. Slower. Technology and innovation are both good things, but I miss Mayberry.

9. That being said, I still love my DVR.

10. Last one! Hmm. Okay. If I could, I would stay up all night and sleep all day.

If you were reading this blog last year, you know that I dreaded turning 33. Well, I have to say that I actually had a wonderful year. My first 2 books releasing, several fun trips and a gigantic leap of faith when I stopped working full time to write. 33 ended up being the best yet. I’m hopeful that 34 will be even better!

Birthdays · Life

Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

I mentioned in my last blog post that 33 had always been my “scary” birthday. It’s always sort of loomed out there for me. Not really sure why. Perhaps it’s because I remember my parents at that age. I have no recollection of either of them turning 30, but I distinctly remember when they were 33. It was 1987 and I was 11. And (I thought) they were grown ups.

And now I’m apparently a grown up as well. At least I suppose that’s what people think! Although most of the time I don’t feel that way. I do, in fact, still feel 25…most of the time. (thanks to George Strait for that sentiment!)

But if I could go back and actually be a twentysomething again I wouldn’t. Sure, there were some good moments…

  • I’d love to be back at FHU in the dorm with my friends for a couple of days, prank calling the PKA guys, skipping class and sitting out in the commons, and having Tea Society meetings at Dawn’s. Maybe one more Spring Break trip to Florida with the girls and of course I’d love the chance to be in Makin’ Music one more time around.
  • I’d probably take another week of backpacking through Europe with Kelly, fearlessly exploring country after country, going to see U2 and REM in concert again, and maybe having a large hazelnut gelato on the Duomo steps.
  • I’d love to have a couple of days in the apartment in Henderson on Gailbraith Street where I lived with Vickie, Nicole, Mandy, Julie and Bethany. (only Vickie and I were there the entire time, the rest rotated). It was in this apartment, right after college graduation when I coined the (now famous in some circles) phrase “These are the worst times of our lives,” which must be said very dramatically with your hand placed to your forehead just so.
  • I’d like a couple of days in the house in Nashville on Linden Street with Katherine and all of our crazy neighbors, grabbing endless cups of coffee at Fido and flirting shamelessly with the musicians who worked there.
  • I might take a couple of days back at Shiloh as a ranger. That job was such a dream come true for me and my weird Civil-War-buff-since-4th-grade-self. There’s nothing quite like firing a Civil War musket…
  • I wouldn’t mind a couple of days in Mobile to visit with everyone at the Chamber and enjoy a long lunch out on the deck at Ed’s. And maybe a long weekend at Gulf Shores and, of course, a Mardi Gras parade.

But looking back, I wouldn’t want to actually permanently be back in any of those times or places. I loved those years. I’m so blessed to have had the experiences and the friendships that grew along the way. And all of those combined experiences have made me who I am today, and brought me to where I am today.

If you’ve caught on that this blog post is meant to convince me to embrace 33 rather than dread it, you’re right! So happy birthday to me. My wise friend Dawn tells me that the 40’s are better than the 30’s which were better than the 20’s. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I’m going to believe her. And if the best is yet to come, there must be some great times ahead! And that thought alone makes turning another year older worth it.

Song of the day is Seasons of Love from Rent. Love it. 525,600 minutes–that’s all the time I get to be 33, so I’d better enjoy it!