I'm feeling quite reflective and nostalgic of the life that I have LIVED over the last 20 years; my 40th birthday is waiting not-so-patiently in the wings. And I must say...I'm beyond grateful for it ALL...the good, the bad and the ugly.
From each and every loving, fulfilling relationship and friendship, to the hurtful moments when I walked away from those of whom I had either grown apart from or was betrayed by. Each of those connections has made me the woman that I am today. Only recently have I accepted that not everyone is going to like me…and that’s okay. They don’t have to. They don’t have to want to get to know me…they don’t have to hear my story…they don’t have to give me a second chance, if I think that they have the wrong impression. I no longer feel the need to make everyone my friend…if you’re in…you’ve got my undivided attention, loyalty, company and support. If you’re out…I’m not going to force it, just because I think we would be wonderful friends…I now require the same out of relationships, as I put in…and THAT feels good…in fact I’d say it’s worth a gray hair or two.
There has been a myriad of thrilling experiences and an equal amount basic life skills acquired through trial and error. It makes me feel both proud and accomplished that I have crossed plenty of things off my bucket list, like skydiving and scuba diving, but I also know how to live alone, iron a shirt and cook an entire meal from scratch. Both the adventurous and the mundane moments, feed my soul.
I’ve had few hard life lessons that definitely left marks, yet with so much FUN and BEAUTY peppered in-between the painful mistakes, I can hardly see the scars anymore. I can’t imagine if I walked around with bitterness in my heart. But I don’t totally forget either (I’m talking to you bf who after you had me help you MOVE into your new girlfriends house *unknowingly*, only to wait to break-up with me over the PHONE, AFTER I had driven six hours home…yeah…that was messed up. I haven’t forgotten that one, but I do forgive you).
I’m happy that I’ve been able to paint with a wide economic brush; it’s taught me a lot. I have had years of living a true top-shelf, five-star life, where a budget wasn't really a concern and then I’ve had years on the “other side of the tracks”, living pay check to pay check, in a questionable neighborhood. Although most of my life has resided in a happy medium of the spectrum and that mid-range is definitely my sweet spot. Knowing how to live and be happy under different sets of circumstances is invaluable. I learned when I had less....that truly equals more, in so many ways, there was less stress with a small space, you learn how to be resourceful when you don’t have unlimited resources, the library is a wonderful place to use the internet, read the latest publications and get DVDs (who knew?!?). There is no pressure to "Keep up with the Joneses", when you're not a Jones. There is REAL beauty in simplicity. I acquired a decent skill-set of street smarts, scary neighborhoods and rough looking people aren't necessarily bad. Lawn and nose-bleed seats are JUST as fun, as the front row. I learned that a $5.00 bottle wine can be as tasty as a $25.00 one. But I'm also thankful for the highfalutin times...I learned that I really, really like first-class air travel, fancy hotels, a six hour spa day is where it's at and a $200 sushi dinner does taste better than a $20 one.
I have learned to love my body, it’s strong and beautiful. I do my best to take care of it and protect it…but there is always room for improvement. I wish that I could go back and slap my 20 something year old self! When I was 123 pounds, I wanted to be 110…I was rocking tiny bikinis and thought I was a cow. I was never tan enough, because I thought that helped make me look skinnier. I’d take diet pills and only consume 500 calories a day. All I can do is shake my head at that girl and hope that my own daughter knows how beautiful she is no matter what the scale or boyfriend says. Perfection doesn’t exist, but being comfortable in your own skin is as perfect as you can get. I want my daughter to honor her body and cherish her health, as I have learned to do, too late in the game. I no longer pray to lose weight…I pray to stay healthy.
I’m pleased that I’ve grown out of most things silly and stupid…like buying every color of a sweater, lipstick or pair of pants that I like…pretty ridiculous…and wasteful. I’ve got a retirement to fund and kids to send to college!! The list of stupid is pretty long…I’m actually lucky to be here if I really think about it…which I try not to do…I always thought I had a good head on my shoulders….but looking back, I was not only naïve, but dumb. Like that time that I was flirting with a guy on the 101 freeway, he motioned to pull off at the next exit and I did!!!! If that wasn’t enough of a red flag, he only gave me his work number…what the hell was I thinking?!? I was a Dateline story waiting to happen!!!! Good thing I don’t do stuff like that anymore…my husband probably wouldn't like it too much if I did.
I’ve learned to not sit on my words…I no longer have only an inner dialog when something moves my meter in a negative way. I’ve spent so much time in life keeping the peace and going with the flow, I never was one to give my opinion. But with the fine lines that I’ve earned on my face, has come a BOLDNESS that I embrace…being bold does not mean that you are a bitch and the two should never be confused. It took about 35 years, but I found my voice and I like how it sounds.
Well…here’s to NOT being 21….I wouldn’t go back if I could, even knowing all that do now, because it wouldn’t lead me to where I am today and that would break my heart. Cheers to the next 40 years!!