I’m 40 today.

For a woman to age gracefully she has to have that je ne sais quoi; that I don’t care, come what may attitude.

Growing up and growing old takes guts. It takes even more guts to do it well.

I never thought I would be where I am at today. When I was 20 I didn’t think much about my future beyond marrying and having children. I liked to write, craft, travel and eat. That’s what The Husband and I did for 8 years in our 20′s. We drove to San Fransisco on $500 for 10 days, we stayed in dark parking lots. We had a lot fun and got fat, but that’s a different story.

Turning 40 is confusing. You feel like crap one moment and ecstatic the next. That must be why they say “Uh oh. You’re turning the big 4-0.” I read somewhere that 40 is the new 30, 80 is the new 60. Funny things happen as you grow old. Your boobs and rear get lower, your soul gets wiser, but your spirit doesn’t age.

You’re still you, inside there. Like Peter Pan.

I’m 40 today.

I get out of the shower, wipe the steam off the mirror and stare at the lines on my face, I take a deep breath and then let it out. Maybe I should visit the dermatologist, I wonder. Isn’t that what you do when you turn 40? They did start sending me email offers recently. How do they know that stuff?

A moment passes, I take a step back and dry off my body as I think about the story I’ve played a part of in it for the last 40 years.

Life is never what it should be, it’s what you make of it. There are no should’s. In life, we find ourselves in situations and circumstances we didn’t choose. When we’re kids we don’t know any different, we think we’re just like everyone else or rather that everyone else is like us. Somewhere around high-school, the lid blows off and we start to see our story from the outside of the box.

I glance at body and then at my floor. For a moment, I think about how far I am from where I wanted to be by now. My mind goes to all the things I haven’t yet accomplished.

  • Write a book.
  • Speak around the world and inspire others.
  • Visit Africa. Work with sex traffiking victims.
  • Be more consistent.
  • Be more kind.
  • Love more deeply.
  • Be more thoughtful.
  • Be more present.

But…it’s all too easy to get stuck in the be more’s do more’s. I know this because…

I’m 40 today.

  • I thought at 40, I would have a big house in the suburbs – I do.
  • I thought at 40, I would be married with a gaggle of children – I am.
  • I thought at 40, I would be an entrepreneur – I am.
  • I thought at 40, I would be a mentor and business coach – I am.

I thought at 40, I would have arrived; arrived at that glorious place called – who the hell knows – it’s wherever you think you’re going to arrive at in your 20s and 30s.

But, somewhere, around the middle of your 30′s, if you’re like me, you begin to come to the realization that you never really do arrive. You begin to understand that there isn’t some big Ah-Ha you’re missing that everyone else gets. You begin to see that our stories are just strings that extend from before time into eternity; strings that stretch out along the horizon. In reality, we’re all just wandering and stumbling forward along the path in our own storybooks – like Peter Pan.

My story is what I make of it; your story is what you make of it.

You and I would not be who we are if we had not traveled the darkness of our paths. We would not be who we are if we had not stood in the sunshine and burned our faces. We would not be who we are if the tears we cried did not moisten our cheeks. We would not be who we are if you did not fall down and scrape our knees and break our bones. We would not be who we are if our hearts themselves did not burst into the billion tiny pieces that scatter the pathway of our lives.

Our stories define us for better or for worse.

We get to choose. We get to make the choice to pick up each drop of pain and every ounce of joy from the journey and carefully place them in our backpacks to use for good. Or we get to choose to let them weigh us down. We get to choose to set our gaze, turn our faces toward the sun; toward the unknown; toward the future; choose to let every particle fuel us. Or not.

If you make the choice to let your pain fuel you then you have power. When you meet someone on the pathway that needs a hand – you have something to offer them. You can carefully tend their hurt with a bandage that once covered the scars you bear. You can caress the soul of the stranger with the hand of mercy you never had. You can choose to dig deeply into your past, pull out every gem leave them like sparkling dust in your wake.

This is life. It’s a rollercoaster in a amusement park – if you choose to see it that way. We all go through it, but the strong choose to own their brokenness. They embrace the ups as well as the downs. They accept the wounds of this life and choose to let the ashes of ruin ignite their fire. They take in every failure and through labor, they birth beauty.

You get to choose to let your story be your strength, to let it carry you into the unknown; to let it break bonds and unite hearts. Be strong. Let every bruise fuel your step; let every joy be your song.

Choose life.

I wipe the steam off the mirror once more and peer at my face. This time, I smile. I earned and love every single last of the damn lines that etch my face. They remind me of who I am. They remind me that…

Today, I am 40.

I love my life, I love myself. I am Precious. Loved. Miraculous. Beautiful. Capable. Wise.  So are you.

Happy Birthday, Gorgeous.

All My Love,

Daun