I have made several mentions about turning forty in recent posts and given that November is finally here, I have decided to spend time reflecting on what it means to turn forty at this point in my life.
Without sounding too obvious, I never would have imagined that this would be my life when I turned forty. By that I mean, living in Texas and teaching at a classical school, and supporting a husband through graduate school. I have a picture on my dresser of Brad and me taken on my thirty-fifth birthday at a coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia. As I look at the picture of our smiling faces, I realize that we had no idea at that point that our next destination would be Texas. When I think about five years from now, I realize that once again I have no idea where we will be living or what the next chapter will hold.
For all the uncertainty that life holds, there are a few things that I have learned over the years about myself and about life. For starters, I am more comfortable being me than I have ever been before in life. I have a good sense of my strengths, and I am keenly aware of my weaknesses. I find this to be very freeing when it comes to meeting new people and facing new situations. I don’t worry nearly as much about whether or not anyone will like me. I’m afraid I have wasted a lot of time worrying about that one over the years. I also have a certain amount of confidence going into new situations. That’s where previous life experience is so helpful. I have moved across the country now two different times. I have lived in another country (yes, Canada is another country). I have made friends, established a household, and found jobs on both of those cross-country moves. There have certainly been rough patches, but I have not just survived these moves, but even thrived in those places.
Another thing I have learned about myself is that I love to be connected to the places I live. When we lived in the Chicago area, I was always scouring the paper or city magazines for restaurants to try and places to visit. I seemed to have more restaurants to try than date nights, but it sure was fun thinking and planning for them. In Vancouver, I wanted to know everything about the city. I was always asking people for recommendations for restaurants (again), coffee shops, or parts of the city I needed to visit. I think I was especially mindful of experiencing the city because I knew our time was so short there. Finally, I have done the same with Waco. For all of the bad press the city has received over the years, I find Waco to be a city on the move at the moment. The downtown area is experiencing a rebirth and new restaurants, housing, and shops are filling the vacant buildings and new construction is happening. Waco is no Chicago or Vancouver, but is does have some unique aspects to it, and I am eager to explore and discover those whenever possible.
So what are my hopes for my forties? Travel tops the list for me at the moment. I have never been to Europe and I can’t wait to go! One of the things that excites me the most about Brad being a professor is that I hope it will open doors for us to travel the world. We both are open to spending time abroad teaching and working. Another hope I have is to finish strong as a parent. Yes, I will always be a parent, but both of my children will leave home while I am in my forties, and I want these years to be filled with love, patience, understanding, and lots of good conversations and memories. Yet another hope I have is for me to go back to school in some capacity. It would be icing on the cake to take classes at Regent College in Spiritual Formation or Theology. Even if I can’t get a degree from Regent, attending some summer school classes and completing some audio courses would be fine. Finally, I hope for more opportunities to write and speak about faith and life intersecting the everyday. I toy with the idea of writing a book someday, and who knows, that may happen in my forties.
While I may groan about the age spots, the fine lines, the loss of tone in my triceps, I wouldn’t trade this time in my life. I love the ages my children are at, I am grateful for the years of marriage I have under my belt, and I love the fact that I have a sense of excitement and anticipation about the future. Don’t look for me to wear black on my birthday. Instead, I think something orange would be more appropriate for this girl.