Christine On: Leaving Forty
Editor’s Note: I first “cyber-met” Christine last year when she wrote so eloquently about turning 40 here. A year later, like many of us, she’s not where she imagined she would be. Today she shares the ups and downs and the lessons learned along the road to 41…
Tomorrow I am leaving my fortieth year. It seemed like just yesterday I was writing about turning forty in a blog entry (Turning Forty) and how significant that event was to me. It was a great birthday accompanied by a super fantastic surprise party with my family and friends. My impending birthday tomorrow has left me reflecting on the past year. One of the things I wrote about in the Turning Forty essay was about how birthdays are a way to celebrate our lives and how they are also a chance to say “Yes, I have gotten here.”
In many ways, I have not quite ended up where I thought I would be by the time I turned forty-one. I had anticipated that the past year would lead to a significant improvement in my health as well as a return to the work force as a registered nurse. I had plans for having one of my essays published in print. I wanted to lose a ton of weight. Like I stated in the previous essay: Ahh, the best laid plans. Maybe that is why we shouldn’t make so many of them, right?
My autoimmune illness got worse rather than better. I was diagnosed with two life threatening illnesses within a span of ten days earlier this year, both of which I have recovered fully from. At least physically. The threat of what “could have happened” still lingers in my memory. I know, I really need to get over that. Although both illnesses were not lifestyle related, I hit rock bottom with the exhaustion of dealing with illness and being sick all the time. I found a way to cope with that. I took more control over my body and health by changing several aspects of my lifestyle including changing my diet, getting exercise, and reducing stress. I made a big commitment to being a healthier person.
I lost a lot of connections with some friends over this past year for a variety of reasons. I made a few new ones. In the process of both, I learned the value of quality over quantity and the importance of selecting my friends with care. As I continue to get older, I become more astutely aware of the significance that these relationships have for me and that sometimes these relationships are ever changing, just like the rest of the world is so much of the time.
In my fortieth year, I took a few risks. One of those was committing to marry the love of my life, A bold move for me because it has meant placing my complete trust in a partner. And finding out that when you are with the right partner, that trust will not be broken. I have learned over my past year with him about what it takes for a relationship to survive the darkest of hours in order to be able to travel the same path together for a lifetime.
Although when I turned forty, I felt like I had already learned the importance of living each day like it was a privilege, this past year has taught me the importance of prioritizing each of those days:
That cleaning the bathroom is not as important as spending time on the phone with a loved one.
That washing the dishes in the sink is not as important as hanging out with my fiance.
That returning emails is not as important as getting my work out done.
Although my birthday tomorrow will be much more low key than when I turned the big 4-0, I am looking forward to it. I have much to celebrate and be thankful for. The most important thing I have to celebrate and be thankful for is the fact that I get to keep going on this crazy journey which is otherwise known as my life. I am still alive. I get to experience more joy, more hugs, more tears, and more laughs. Tomorrow I get to sit back and say once again, “Yes, I have gotten here.” And like last year, I once again have the opportunity to realize even more of my hopes and dreams in the next year of my life.
I really could not ask for more.
Christine Molloy is a writer and registered nurse who lives in Western Massachusetts. She is the author of the blog Thoughts and ramblings on life, love, and health.You can find the original blog post here.