10 Reasons to Celebrate Another Birthday
I just added another year to my life. I can’t say I did it without a wince because those numbers do roll forward faster than ever now. A friend who is a real jokester gave me a book titled, The Joys of Getting Older by Thomas and Cindy Senior. Eagerly, I flipped through it in search of comforting words that would ease me into another year.
The book was filled with blank pages.
“Ha, ha,” I told her, pretending to enjoy the joke.
But at the same time I wondered if this book of no words spoke the truth. Could there be nothing good about growing older? After some reflecting I’m happy to report i can fill the blank pages of my new book with many reasons for joy this birthday. For one thing, I’ve lived long enough to appreciate every birthday for the gift it is. I’m finally wise enough to be grateful for every year. No, make that every day.
Here are ten more things that add joy to my birthday, and these reasons have little to do with cake and ice cream.
1. I have the power to say no
I’m clearer about priorities as I age. Because I’ve figured out what matters most, I’m more protective of my time and can easily set boundaries.Building the career is not as important anymore. Building relationships that matter is.
2. I’m free to be me
I’ve earned the right to be my true self. No more living up to the expectations of others. I’m shedding the layers of all my previous selves to get to the heart of me
3. I hear the clock ticking
I’m no longer compelled to finish every book I start. If a movie disappoints, I walk out. I’ve stopped spending loads of time with people who are downers. As the great Bonnie Raitt sings, “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.”
By the same token, I’m intentional about telling those near and dear to me how I feel about them. If not now, when?
4. My brain grows more creative as I age
As it turns out, older people share characteristics most commonly seen in creative artists. Particularly, the area of the brain involved in self-conscious awareness and censoring is thinner in the aging brain. This likely accounts for the reduced need for acceptance as we age and a freedom to speak our minds — common traits among artists.
I bet you know of several latter day creatives. We’ve all heard about Grandma Moses who didn’t start painting until her 70s, but how about 90-year-old Millard Kaufman who wrote his first hit novel at the age of 90? Then there’s first novelist Lorna Page, who wrote A Dangerous Weaknessat age 93. And Benjamin Franklin was 78 when he invented the bifocal lens!
5. I have more compassion for others and for myself
I’m not as hard on me and allow myself a mistake or two. Practicing self-kindness makes it easier to accept flaws in others, too. I don’t get bent out of shape because the lady in front of me at check-out is having her purchases divided into three separate payments, or because the kid at the coffee shop messed up my order – again. He’s somebody’s son, after all.
6. I am enough
To borrow a line from another song, this one by Jewel: “…in the end, only kindness matters.” The natural drive to compete, to be first, is gone. I no longer push to prove myself—to prove my worth. I am enough; I do enough; I certainly have enough.
7. My appearance is not so important
If I’m running late for an exercise class, I pull on a baseball cap and slap on a tinted moisturizer before I hit the gym. When I was younger, I would have skipped altogether if I didn’t have time to pull together a certain image. Today I’m not there to impress anybody but myself with my muscle, flexibility and endurance.
8. I’m not afraid to break the rules
Sometimes I eat dessert first. What a rush, and why not? No kids around to see my bad example. Besides, I know this guilty pleasure makes little difference in long-term health as long as my diet is mostly sensible and healthy.
9. Reuse. Recycle. I understand.
I love to make do with less. I channel my grandmother when I make two cups of tea using only one bag.. I love to re-purpose Mason jars and other containers. And what’s wrong with reusing aluminum foil? Anytime I do one small act to reduce my carbon footprint, I’m being a good steward of God’s green earth. I’m not cheap or miserly or broke. Doing what I can to counter the consumerism culture of today enriches me.
10. I live in the moment
I appreciate each single moment just as I appreciate each cumulative year. Recognizing how quickly time slinks away helps me savor the hard intervals along with the good ones. May the moments and days and years keep coming!
What joys have you found in growing a year older?