Birthday 40

Tomorrow I turn 40. As I sit here in the quiet pre-dawn hours while my family sleeps, I contemplate the concept that today is my last day of my 30s before I leap into a new decade. On the one hand, this transition feels arbitrary and a part of me rebels against the societal expectation that I should be feeling or doing something BIG. After all, do trees and animals count the passing of their days as meticulously as we do? Like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day, I wonder if birthdays are constructed to encourage people to consume. But on the other hand, I know that if I don’t acknowledge this in a way that feels meaningful to me, I’ll regret it. Arbitrary or not, tomorrow I turn 40 and I need to process that fact in a way that makes sense to me.

So I write. I write because it’s the way that my soul makes sense of life. I write as I’ve always written – throughout my childhood in my little turquoise journal with the gold trimmed paper, with topic headings like “two best friends” and “jealous”; throughout my angst-ridden teenage years when I was desperately trying to define myself by the externals of beauty and grades; throughout my 20s when panic and anxiety grabbed me by the neck and propelled me into a decade of misery, then therapy, where the diamonds inside the anxiety finally started to reveal themselves; throughout my 30s as I became a mother, moved to a new state, moved again, became a mother of two and, each time, was turned inside out by a transition.

Knowing that my last day of 39 will be filled with the fullness of my life, I gratefully take this moment to reflect on my blessings and the miracle that most of the time a hum of happiness underscores my days. Life certainly isn’t perfect (there’s no such thing) and I have plenty of issues that I work on daily, but life is good. Later I’ll sit at the creek and pray for help letting go of impatience, irritation, control, and fear. But for now, I’m reveling in my blessings: my loving marriage, my two amazing children, our warm home in a beautiful city, a circle of soulmate-friends, a supportive family, work that I love, and, perhaps most importantly, effective ways of attending to my emotional life and a connection to Spirit.

And I all I can say is:

Thank you. Dear God, thank you for my life. Thank you for the gift of being born, for the struggles that have brought me to this place of blessing, for the blessings that have allowed me to transform the struggles

In a moment of clarity, I see the sacred purpose held in each decade: my teen years were about developing an authentic self-love; my 20s were about traveling into the hell-realm of anxiety, paving the way for much of what I do in the world; my 30s were about family and work; and my 40s? I have a sense that they’re going to be about service. With so many blessings I feel a profound obligation to give back to the world, not just in the way I give to my clients and e-course participants, but in a selfless way. It’s time to teach my children about giving back, what it means to give regularly of our time and resources, how to look at the pain in the world and not only feel that pain, but find ways to take positive action.

But who knows what the next decade will bring. I feel a twinge of grief as I let go of a familiar number and a twinge of fear as I wonder what lies ahead. But mostly, I feel joy, gratitude, and excitement as I continue to experience the privilege of being alive. Goodbye 30s. I’m ready for the next adventure!

9 comments to Birthday 40

  • Sarah

    Happy Birthday Sheryl! Enjoy your day, and thanks for all you do….I know this website has meant a lot to me the past few months!

  • Suzie

    Happy birthday! May God bless you and your family. And thank you for all you do, and for staying true to your vocation- you’re a blessing to me, as I know you are to many people.

  • Absolutely beautiful, inspiring post. The world is blessed for your presence in it.

  • What a beautiful resilient courageous spirit you are! You light up the world with your crystal clear wisdom. Happy birthday!

  • Tanya

    Happy Birthday Sheryl! Thank you for the gift of your website and wise words. May the year ahead be extra special xx

  • Ashley

    Happy Birthday! I remember once chatting with a woman who was about to exit her saturn returns and she shared with me something that I will always remember: Age is a privilege. Over the years, especially this one, I’ve come to really understand what that means. Many, many blessings for your transition into a beautiful decade 🙂

  • Thank you, everyone, for your beautiful wishes. I took them in on my birthday morning and they stayed with me all day. Much love, Sheryl

  • Marisa

    Awesome way to start a new decade! Happy birthday!

  • Valentina

    Happy, happy birthday from the heart Sheryl! Lots of love, health, joy and new dreams! May your 40s bring you everything you are wishing for! A wonderful post that reminded me of taking the time to celebrate special moments of our lives!