*I began writing this last year as I transitioned from my 30’s to a new “age group”. For several reasons, I never ended up publishing it on my birthday as I had planned. There isn’t much running talk in it (well, maybe a little) but contains a lot of things I’ve thought about while out on my runs. As I read over it today, I decided to add a little more to it now that I’m staring 41 in the face.
Do you remember when you were little and it seemed like your birthday would never get here? Even if it was a week away, it seemed as though it was taking FOR-EV-ER. Funny how that changes as you get older. I’m writing this exactly 1 week from my birthday, btw. I’m not sure when it all changed but I do remember there was a time several years ago that “I can’t wait!” turned into “I’m in no rush….” That’s not really a bad thing though, you know? Things are so rushed these days. Everything has to be Now, Instant, Overnight and On Demand – which, I’ll admit, can be nice sometimes (like 2 days before Christmas and you still can’t find a specific gift except on Amazon). It also can make it hard to enjoy life too. I use my wall calendar a lot to keep up with everything I have going on every month and there are days that I literally feel like I can’t catch my breath. Does this have anything to do with being 40? Well, not directly since I’m still 39 while I write this. I guess what I’m trying to say is that life goes by so fast already. Being crazy busy with a million things to do doesn’t necessarily make your life more fulfilled. If anything, it may cause you to miss out on some of the little things, the stuff you can’t buy. I’m only saying this because I’m guilty of doing it.
It’s funny how our way of thinking changes as we get older (for most of us, at least 🙂 ). Here are a few things I’d like to share with my kids (and you) now that I’m *almost* 40:
- Slow down when you can. Life goes by in a hurry, despite what you think when you’re in your teens and 20’s. You believe you have all the time in the world and before you know it, you’re 30 something and at your 20 yr high school reunion trying to figure out where the time went. *It’s also very unpleasant when your favorite songs from high school are on the “oldies” station.
- Enjoy your kids. The time that your kids are little goes by in a flash. I know that it seems like some days feel like they last 48 hours and it’s hard – I still have days like that – but they don’t last forever. One day, you’ll look back and wish they were still big enough to climb into your lap and rock.
- Take a lot of pictures. I know in this day and age, it seems like something pointless to say since just about all of us own a phone that has a camera, a tablet with a camera, a laptop with a camera, etc….but I’m not talking about our “I just finished working out/running 15 miles and I’m really sweaty selfies” or “This is my delicious food I’m about to chow down on” pictures. (There’s nothing wrong with those, btw – I take those too.) Just be sure to take some of you and your spouse when you’re out on a date together, your kids when they’re learning to ride their bike, picking flowers, drawing with sidewalk chalk or doing silly stuff. Memories. Things that they will want to look through when they’re all grown up and, when they do, they’ll smile and hopefully share them with their children.
- Write stuff down. My mother has been telling me this for years. “Write it down because one day you’ll forget when this or that happened, even though you think you won’t.” She’s right. I’m glad I listened to her and wrote *most* things down. There are so many things that I think will forever be etched in my mind but then other wonderful things happen and if it weren’t for writing those milestones down, I’d forget some of them. Here’s what I mean: I’ve had 5 kids start 1st grade, 4 kids lose baby teeth (Zoe’s still hanging on to hers.), 4 trips to Disney World that was a 1st time trip for one or more of the kids and don’t even get me started on all of the funny and unique words each one has had for this or that when they were younger. As you can imagine, this old mommy brain starts getting overloaded. Besides, I just don’t remember things as well as I used to. (Although, I do tend to remember things better while I’m running. You knew I wasn’t going to go a whole post without mentioning it, didn’t you? 😉 )
- Take care of yourself. This may seem like another given but sometimes we are so involved with taking care of everyone else that we forget that we need to make sure we’re eating well, sleeping, exercising, etc. This is something else I was guilty of for a long time too. (I’m still guilty of not getting enough sleep…) I focused so much on taking care of my kids/home that I completely ignored my deteriorating health. What I didn’t realize was that I was slowly sidelining myself from life, not to mention setting a terrible example for my children. I now hope I’ve set a different example for them. For my older kids – I hope that you can see that you can turn things around and make changes even when it seems almost impossible. This doesn’t just apply to physical health – this applies to life. For my younger kids that don’t really remember the unhealthy me – I hope you see that I want to take care of myself so I can take care of you to the best of my ability. I want to run with you, ride bikes with you, go exploring in the woods and, instead of spending money on doctor visits and medicine for me, we can spend it on trips to the zoo or the Children’s Museum. I don’t think choosing to take care of yourself is a selfish thing. I think it’s making a choice to be healthy so you can play an active part in the lives of the people you love. Find something active that you enjoy doing and do it! It doesn’t have to be running but it certainly is fun. 🙂
February 18, 2015
- Forgive yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up in the past – especially when I was younger. Some of them were huge, horrible mistakes and some were just dumb. I find it amazing that even when God and everyone else around us forgives us, we (or at least I) want to keep drudging it up and agonizing over it. I’m here to tell you that no matter how many times you feel bad about it, wish it didn’t happen, or tell yourself how big of a dummy you were – it still happened. It’s true. I’ve tried it. What I’ve learned is that distraction and discouragement are two of the most powerful tools the enemy uses to try and create a sense of defeat. (We have some powerful tools too, by the way: Ephesians 6:10-18.) I will still unfortunately make mistakes and mess up at times because I’m human. I do feel like I’m a little wiser though and, as my pastor put it last week, sometimes instead of asking yourself “Is this good or is this bad?”, you should ask yourself, “Is this the wise thing to do?”. That made so much sense to me. (Example: Is running a marathon bad? No, it’s a life changing experience. Is running a marathon with no food or water when you’ve never run over 2 miles the wisest thing to do? I’d say no. It could actually be a life ending experience.)
- For my daughters, don’t be your worst critic. (This applies to my sons too but I see it so much more with girls.) I’ve said this so many times but if you wouldn’t put down your best friend and say terrible things to them, why would you do it to yourself? There’s a distinct difference in saying, “Ok, I need to really start watching what I eat because I’m not eating like I should and I need to be healthier.” Instead of saying, “I hate myself. I’m fat and I wish I looked like this or that.” Once again, it’s not that I haven’t said that last statement in the past but the only results it brought me was depression. If you aren’t where you want to be, then, as I said earlier, you can do something about it. Be thankful for who you are and what you’ve been given even if you do wish your feet were smaller or eyes were this or that color. You’re you for a reason. You’ve been put on this earth for a purpose! Also, don’t participate in this horrible frenzy of girls putting down each other constantly. (My daughters already know it’s not tolerated in our home.) Tearing someone down doesn’t make you a stronger or better person. Truly strong, confident women build each other up. Talking about someone and putting them down for how they look or what they do or don’t have is mean and it’s wrong – whether you’re in middle school or middle aged. Period.
- Don’t assume that you’ll have tomorrow to tell someone you love them, forgive them or ask for forgiveness. Last year, I nearly lost my dad because of a cardiac event and my husband in a car accident. Thankfully, they are still here with us but it really reminded me how life can change in a blink of an eye. As a teenager, I had the chance to talk with a friend of mine and apologize to her about a silly disagreement we’d had a few weeks before. The next day she was killed in a car accident. As devastated as I was, I was also so thankful for that opportunity to make things right with her that night before.
- Don’t make decisions when you’re angry or promises when you’re happy. (Not my quote but I think it’s something important to remember.)
- Just because you’re having a bad day or week, doesn’t mean you have a bad life. There were times in my life that I had so many bad days in a row that it felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day. I felt like things couldn’t possibly have gotten worse but the truth is that they could have. I’m grateful to have gotten through the hard times because it makes me truly appreciate the good times.
- Find something to be thankful for everyday. In our home, we have a dry erase board with all of our names on it. I encourage the kids to write at least one thing that they’re thankful for that day. It usually turns into several things. Sometimes, it’s major things like a loved one being ok after surgery and other times it may be pizza. The main thing is that I want us to always realize how much we have to be thankful for, even on days that aren’t the best.
- Don’t let getting older mess with your head. I have to admit that this time last year when I began writing this, I was FREAKING OUT about turning 40. Turns out, 40 has been really great. I didn’t suddenly need bifocals or turn grey overnight. I’ve had the privilege of being with my family another year, celebrating my granddaughter turning 1, made new friends, was in 2 major motion pictures as an extra, had lots of new opportunities as a runner/blogger, won my first masters award in a race and even got a PR in my last marathon!
It’s funny that I’m nervous about posting this. It’s a lot easier to stick to what we’re used to (like writing about running) but as we runners know, when we push ourselves out of the comfort zone is when we start seeing progress. Although my kids have heard me say most of what I’ve written many times, I felt the need to put it in writing.
I don’t know what 41 will hold but I do know that I won’t face it alone, whether good or bad.