Last week Wednesday, the 22nd, I turned 40. Strange. People have been asking me how I feel about turning 40 and my response has been truthful. “You must be speaking of someone else”.
I think it has to stem from being a child and knowing people who were 40. They were old. I mean, OLD. People who are 40 are parents, and people who don’t have any fun anymore. They’re tired and cranky and well, OLD!
If I think about it, me, being 40, I definitely don’t feel old. I am a parent but I think I still have fun?! Maybe not as often as I used to, but shoot, I have fun. As for tired and cranky? Well, I think I probably fall into that category more than I would like to. That seems to come along with the “being a parent” part of the deal. (smirk)
Honestly, I had the panic attack about turning 40 when I was 38. Something happened then. It was like I was strapped into some insane roller coaster and I had been clicking my way up to the top of a deadly drop. When I turned 38 it felt like I was right at the precipice, looking over the edge at the long, endless drop below. Tightness in my chest and rapid breathing were normal for at least 6 months. I didn’t even want to celebrate my birthday. Acknowledging it was just out of the question.
Now, that I’ve “dropped” over that edge, the scary part seems over and I feel like I’ve settled in to the ride. I’m on that nice long curve where I’m almost compelled to raise my hands and smile.
This year I even had a desire to celebrate my birthday. I wanted a party. Nothing huge and over the top. Just something nice and festive and fun for me and for the people who are important in my life. It was hard to keep the guest list down. I could have invited so many more people, but then it would have been a crazy event! I wasn’t in the mood for crazy. Just fun and simple. That might become my new motto in life. Fun and simple!
For the party, I knew that I wanted to have photographs of myself around, so I started digging through boxes and albums and envelopes and folders. I rounded up close to 200 printed photographs of myself from birth to around 32. I strung yarn from our chandelier to different points of our great room and hung the photographs by clothespins along the yarn. I did the same thing across our living room and dining room. It was pretty cool to create that web of my life. Living with my past around me for a week before the party was interesting for sure. Not only did it stir loads of nostalgic feelings but I was able to see my life in this linear way, visually, that you really never get to do.
My mom has been living with us since late August which added a whole other level to my experience. I would see her looking at the photographs as I was hanging them. Remembering her life as well. It was cool to be able to ask her how I old I was in certain photographs and to hear stories of what was happening at the time. We’ve had an up and down relationship over the years. Maybe more down than up, but for those couple of weeks leading up to the party and the party itself, it was a magical experience.
It was interesting to realize that having printed photographs ended so many years ago! We have a few prints from recent years but the majority live on hard drives. Matt solved the problem of completing the story of my life in pictures by pulling together an incredible slideshow of digital images over the last 9 years that was played on our television through Apple TV during the party. So cool.
Matt, who truly helped in more ways that I could ever express, did so much. He and I strung all of our white Christmas lights, and we have a lot, across the backyard to create a magical environment. He pulled 9 hours of music together, everything that he knew I liked. He’s so incredible like that! He set up the photo backdrop which was in the corner of our dining room. Basically our camera with a flash was on a tripod, set up on a timer so people could just go and take their photo at anytime they wanted. The photo’s are AWESOME by the way and I can’t thank everyone enough for participating!!! We also set up a projector in the backyard, thanks Brian!, and showed obscure movies with no sound once the sun went down. He did all of this while being sick! He pushed through not feeling well to do all of that because it was important for me. He loves me that much. I don’t even know how to express my love and gratitude because it flows so deep. Matt, I LOVE you. Thank you for EVERYTHING!!
We served gluten free food that was yummy and healthy and had a vodka bar with lemonade, fresh lime juice and fresh watermelon fresca. There were makings for martinis and cosmos as well. Rebecca, who we call Auntie mom, brought her “painting table” which was such a gift! She cut out a variety of shapes from clay and brought them fired complete with a hole at the top for hanging and placed them in baskets on a table in the backyard. There were paints and brushes so the children, and there were a TON at the party, could just go to the table at any point during the party, and paint. It was so great. There were kids painting the entire time. Even in the dark! Friends brought me sunflowers, orchids and my favorite, dahlias. Those flowers along with some sage and lavender from the garden were the splash of color the decor needed.
I have to say that the whole event allowed me to process my life in a new way. I made all of the decorations myself and really just had a vision of wanting everyone to have an experience being here that left them feeling happy and inspired. I think it was pretty successful. I know I had a great time. I felt loved and special and being surrounded by my friends and family as I crossed the threshold into 40 was incredible.
I know that I’ve only officially been 40 for a week, but, I actually think I like being 40. Did I just say that?! I think I do though. There’s something about being comfortable in my own skin, knowing myself and settling in to who I am that feels good. I know myself more than I ever have. I’m more relaxed with myself and with what I like and what I don’t like. There isn’t a need to make excuses for who I am and I’ve learned how to better communicate who I am to others. Funny that it took this long to figure myself out. I’m sure I still have a long way to go but for now, it feels pretty good.
THANK YOU to everyone who came to celebrate me, it was the most incredible gift from each and every one of you. Thank you to everyone who sent me a note or a message or post on FB. I feel incredibly blessed to have such wonderful friends I feel completely and utterly spoiled. THANK YOU
Here are some of my favorite backdrop shots. If you want to see more, go HERE.