Beautiful Birthdays

Last week I turned 40. Yep. The big 4-oh. Over the hill. Mid-life crisis time. Except it wasn't.

I have never related to those greeting cards that tease about too many candles, sagging body parts, or developing wrinkles. My perspective on aging changed dramatically when at 19, I had a stroke, was diagnosed with a heart condition, and doctors predicted I would only live another ten years.

My heart function improved over the next year, and the terminal timeline was lifted, but I was left with a new outlook on the fragility of life and would come to know it deeper a decade later when I discovered my underlying, genetic muscular dystrophy.

This is why I opened up my home to my friends and family on my 40th birthday. I wanted to hear the voices of 40 people, to connect in conversation and laughter as a reminder of how rich my years have been as I had gathered these jewels and gems of humanity along my journey.

Between visitors and phone calls, I had exactly 40 personal interactions -- a doorway for sure! I received cards, gifts, and hugs and felt blessed with each exchange. The support around me was awe inspiring as I reaped the harvest of friendship, knowing that my efforts to cultivate relationships and my willingness to be vulnerable were worth it.

What do birthdays mean to you? Do you celebrate or criticize? Who are the gems in your life?

Now, more than ever, each of my birthdays is a celebration of gratitude and love, and I welcome the signs of aging because it means I'm still alive in this beautiful world. Bring on the gray hair and the wrinkles! I'll boldly wear them as evidence of a life lived fully.

Three doorways from this week:

  • As I was driving to my parent's house for Sunday dinner, the view in front of me revealed wispy clouds in the bright, blue sunny sky.

  • I ran across a letter I had written to my grandparents when I was 10 years old. In neat handwriting I told them how much I liked writing letters and that it must mean I was going to be an author someday!

  • I literally ran out of gas while driving down the highway! The beauty of it was that it was less than a mile from my husband's workplace, so he was able to rescue me easily (if not a bit inconveniently for him); it was a warm, sunny day; and I was able to pull over safely and listen to my audiobook while I waited.


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