Celebrating a new decade Down Under
Early in my 40s, I started to crave celebrating parts of my birthday by myself. My days are full and often fast. To be intentional and in the moment seemed like far-fetched ideas, often unattainable day-to-day.
If my birthday were to fall on a weekday, the day would begin normally with school drop-offs and some light housework (because the dishes NEED to be done!). Then, I would allow the day to unfold as I wish it to be.
Some years, I had a plan. Museum! Spa day! Lunch with my girlfriends! Some years, I didn't venture far and did little. It was a day to be quiet, to be still, to sit on my balcony, under the shade of the Redwoods. To reflect. To pray.
This year was a milestone birthday. 50. I'm a mid-lifer. It's a new age-category to check. I now receive mail from AARP and companies who sell hearing aids, incontinence products, libido enhancers, menopausal relief, life insurances, and other age-appropriate products.
One thing great about turning 50? I have a better understanding of what I want and have learned - slowly but steadily over the years - how to voice them without apologies or explanations.
I didn't want a party. I didn't want presents. I just wanted a few hours to myself.
I did want mail, I said, to the handful of friends who had asked about my birthday.
In the days leading up to 50, a few cards, letters and a couple of thick, padded envelopes arrived. Then, in the early hours of my actual birthday, I snuck out of the house with them, drove the ten minutes to the beach, found an empty bench and began reading.
Mail came from around the world, representing different chapters of my life. It felt like a rich and decadent look into my past. I heard the voices of my friends and family from far away in their words, nearly all hand-written.
I was alone but not.
This new decade begins with a clean slate. Not only am I in a new country, my goals from yester-decades have, largely, been achieved. I write that with a great sense of awe and humility because all that I have attained could only have happened with the guidance and support of others.
We live alone but not.
50 is a good time for a review, a course readjustment, a reset. I'm tired but excited. Worn but renewed. And I'm very much looking forward to what's next.