|I've worn many hats over the years, but this is one I will always cherish.|
I remember when my mom turned 40, I was 14. I seriously thought, "My poor mom, she is getting so old." And, you know what? I probably told her that too. Not in a sweet, compassionate way, but more of a snotty, junior high tone of voice way (can't wait until my girls hit that age...karma, karma, karma).
Boy was I wrong about 40.
Over the last few weeks as I have headed into my fourth decade of survival, I have realized it's not so bad. In fact, I'm actually enjoying this older version of myself. Here are some things I have come to embrace over the years and will continue to work on in the coming years.
- I have a bigger appreciation for parenting. Life can be unpredictable, challenging and completely overwhelming at times.It takes a village to raise our families. I don't believe you have to physically bear a child to be a parent. From teaching in my early 20s to raising kids of my own, then watching my close friends and families support me by taking my kids after school, giving them hugs and kisses when they see them and letting me know that parenting can be hard are all ways we parent together. I also have grown to appreciate my own parents more, now that I am older. Cliche' but it is true. I love our close relationship and even partnership when talking through difficult issues and enjoying each other's company as we laugh and joke around. Everyone has their own way of parenting, and I love that. I love that my kids will be raised by a variety of special people.
|I love these times with my dad. I always learn something new and it's usually not about fishing.|
- It's the little things that really count. I have always struggled with the fact that people pop in and out of our lives. I have experienced deep heartache at times when someone leaves my life for whatever reason. As I have gotten older, I have grown to feel blessed by the fact that they were even present in my life at all. I now try to let go of the reason why they had to leave and focus on what I learned from them. Some lessons have been positive, others eye-opening and left with a sting, but overall it's the little experiences along the way that have the lasting effect. Another thing I have learned, is how much a small gesture can impact your whole day: a simple smile, a warm hug, and short thank you or even quick note. Never underestimate how some things, which seem insignificant, have great power.
- You get one body. The wrinkles are coming, the scars have set in and I can't eat a Quarter Pounder anymore without feeling sick (that latter one probably has more to do with the awful food choice). My body needs to be respected and I have started to embrace it's imperfections more and more. My wrinkles have become reminders of the many laughs I have had over the years. My scars are symbols of a life lived and reminders to slow down. I have to workout more frequently to remain healthy and watch closely what I consume. While it's not always exciting to workout and eat healthy food, it's been rewarding to know that if try my best, I can avoid this body from breaking down!
- Find an aspect about your job that you love. Everyone has a job to do, whether you take home a paycheck or stay at home with your family. There are areas of our jobs, careers, professional responsibilities which make us wonder, from time to time, if we are in the right place. I have learned that it is impossible to love every single thing about what you do. That's what makes work...well, work. Working hard does pay off, but not every time. There's this important piece about it all: follow through. Start something and finish it. Be reliable and always be gracious. Standing up for yourself can be difficult at times given the situation but it crucial to gain respect. There are times when I do not enjoy completing certain tasks. It's life, it's work! I do love the fact that I work at a Jesuit University which promotes growth: professionally and personally. This is such a work in progress...striking that balance of finishing up and knowing when to end my day.
|I get to see and feel growth at work, for which I am thankful|
- Soothe your soul. Nurturing your soul to find that inner peace has become very important to me. Feeding my soul by laughing with others, listening to music or even just being alone are gifts. Prayer and meditation; more importantly, reflection are ways my soul feels refreshed. We all have different needs, wants and wishes. Don't neglect your soul. Everyone has a soul, is a soul, be sure to find time to soothe your soul.
I have much more to learn and experience! Here's to being wrong about 40 and looking forward to the next 40+ years of feeling right!
One of my favorite prayers:
Mighty God, Father of all, Compassionate God, Mother of all,
Bless every person I have met, every face I have seen, every voice I have heard especially those most dear.
Bless every city, town, and street I have known, bless every sight I have seen, every object I have touched. In some mysterious way these have all fashioned my life; all that I am, I have received.
Great God, bless this world.
--Jack Morris, SJ
--Jack Morris, SJ
Funny scene from "This is 40"...