Not all birthdays are biggies. This is just one past a large round number. Last year I was so determined to hit the big 50 with accomplishments to show, along with the wrinkles or greys (colored over thank you)... so I held a book party, then did an Ironman in july. Not the ordinary mid-life crisis, I grant you, but when you see my shiny red tri=bike and find out how much these toys cost, it might as well be the proverbial Ferrari. I was all thrilled with this strategy: I'm not aging, I'd tell myself, I'm taking control of my life, finally becoming the fulllest version of me I could be.
But it's not always so easy, so simple, so linear. There are setbacks, like a deblitating hamstring injury that had me not running for almost two months in March and April. And then there are days when work is tough, there is too much to do, I miss a key swim because my hair needs to be smooth (i know, sounds so silly but there it is: vanity and the need to look polished can override the need to train and get in the pool).
There are days when I fight with my teenage daughter, don't connect with my son, barely see my husband. Or virtually hang up on a parent who seems to not understand the sentence "I have to call you back!" Or I'm abrupt at work, leave the dishes in the sink and turn to chocolate or cookies, or any living carb as comfort. There are days I can't keep my fingers away from my face (resulting in blemishes that last four times longer than they should) or I say the wrong things or I don't say the right things or I forget to ask a friend about her ailing parent, her life, he kids, or I fail, yet again, to remember her birthday.
I can be as hard on myself as the next person and there are times, more than a few, when people have to remind me to reread my own book. That I am still beating myself up and not using the great strategies devised by Catherine and me to help women deal with just such needling inner conflict. I know to do this, and don't.
And yet. And yet as I write this I think: this is too grim a picture! Your self-depricating b.s. only goes so far before it sounds hollow. I like my life, I even like myself, despite the obvious flaws and inevitable downfalls (and the recent 10 pound weight gain that has crept on since the July-August peak of fitness and slimness post-big-race.) I even know that when I'm down on myself it's to good avail. I don't need to remind myself and others that a little self-criticism goes a LONG way toward sparking positive change. Feel fat? Go for a run! A LOT of self criticism does not. It just buries you until you literally have to throw it off like a cloack and feel the lightness of being, without all that baggage.
So here is my birthday thought: not every year is a banner year. Not every day is perfect. Not ever moment will you be at your best all around peak in one way or another. And guess what? THAT IS FINE. It/s the human condition, to want to grow and change and evolve and to do so you have to be dissatisfied with SOMETHING or you'd sit there and do nothing. It's also the point of the book. You never have all rooms neat and tidy at once. If you did, I like to point out you'd be the most loathsome person anyone could know, so you're living room would be a mess, since you'd have no friends.
Here is my birthday wishL to have a great year, and by that I mean make the most of my opportunities, as a magazine editor, as an author, as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, sister, daughter, boss and yes, triathlete, since I like doing that sport and it keeps me on track in all the other areas.
I want to be the best I can be in any given moment. But that doesnt mean perfect by any means. And I hope when I'm lacking you help me get it together. We need each other. Anyone who pretends different is just insecure and unwilling to admit it. Another reason I love being on a team: we bring each other our strengths and help minimize each other's weakness. I now try to do this in my worklife and homelife and in my own head.
So happy thoughts go out to all and each of you. Thanks for reading. And good luck with your own journey along the path to being your best self. Remember, it's a moving target. And that's a good thing! Because you are always going to want to be better, just try to be happy with the goodness that is you, right now. And I will too.