Why You Shouldn’t Fear Birthdays

Today is my 46th birthday. I won’t lie, the occasion strikes a bit of concern, especially as my vision has grown noticeably worse just in the past two weeks. Even with multi-focal contact lenses, I must squint and strain to read labels in the grocery store, and yesterday I finally caved and set the text on my iPhone to a larger size. And then there’s the fact that it has taken me over a year to recover from a hamstring strain. 🙁

Conversations with my friends these days often revolve around health issues, like how I can expect my metabolism to slow to a near halt as I approach 50 and how arthritis might pop up in my hand joints.  However, as I discuss knee replacements and shoulder surgery with my contemporaries, I realize I have quite a bit to be thankful for.

We had a very serious scare last fall: a close family member near my age suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and spent two frightening weeks in the ICU.  She has had a truly miraculous recovery, but it’s caused big changes in her life and a sobering realization for me: there are no guarantees.  Every day, including every birthday, should be spent not mourning what I’ve lost but celebrating what I still have.

In the powerful novel Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, one of the main characters is a spy who is captured and tortured by Germans during WWII. As she approaches her eminent execution, she says something I think all people who traditionally mourn birthdays after 30 should hear.

I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant.
But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.

Growing old, my friends, beats the alternative.

birthday cake
The birthday cake my daughter made for me.

I love working with teens, and in the past I’ve had a habit of saying to them, “Don’t get old, it stinks.” But the right advice, the thing I will say from now on, is, “Love yourself and take care of your body, because hopefully you will need it for a long time.”

I’m 46, firmly planted in middle age, with wrinkles spreading around my eyes and hands that look more like my mom’s than my own. But that’s okay. Because I’m here, with good health, a wonderful family, and dear friends.  With the right habits and God’s blessing, I will be for many more years.

prayer

If you’re one who usually sees birthdays as a cause for dismay, will you please join me in celebrating the gift that each day, and each year, brings, even if wrinkles come along for the ride?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Tomiak

I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.

6 Comments

  1. Hope you had a lovely birthday. Blessings on many more years! It’s refreshing to hear the positive view on aging.

    (I’ve been wondering about those multi-focal contacts. Not quite there yet, but are they pretty comfortable?)

  2. Your post is “right on”. I sit here, less than a week from experiencing my birthday. At 71, I do so want to grow even older. I am not ready to give up my independence, ,my ability to do the things I want to do, to drive, to create, to enjoy. So I will continue to eat right, to walk every day at least 10,000 steps, to read, to cook, to sew and to enjoy my family. Thanks for the reminder to EMBRACE the changes and CELEBRATE the blessings.

  3. This made me feel a bit teary. You’re so right (and that Verity quote is powerful – I MUST read that book!) It’s so odd to be “getting so old” and yet feel so much the same as we’ve ever felt.

    I didn’t even know you could change the font size on iPhone, so thanks for that 🙂

    May this year be the best one yet!

  4. Happy, happy birthday, Julia. You and I are similar in so many ways, including the fact that we are only 8 months apart in age! I’ve noticed some wonky vision in the past few days too, and am working hard on trying to protect my body from further injury so that I can enjoy growing old.

    Mental wellness is as important as physical wellness, and your positive attitude towards aging will serve you well. Kudos to you for embracing it!

    P.S. You and I must meet in person at some point while we are still in our forties. 🙂

  5. Amen! I am reading this with my dollar store 2x magnifying glasses and sitting in my comfy pajama pants because most of my jeans are too tight. I was too sick for knee replacement the day my surgery was scheduled.
    Happy birthday!

  6. Happy Birthday! Yes, indeedy, it beats the alternative. I’m looking forward to growing old. I think the changes that happen from age 30 to about 50 can be the most jarring and then if we’re lucky enough to live past that, we sort of settle into ourselves until around 75, when another series of changes start to set in. But yes, those changes like vision issues (I can no longer drive confidently at night without using my brights :)) and metabolism changes can be especially disheartening on certain days. That said, I feel lucky to be here. And I love your “Embrace” mantra!

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