Come Monday though, I'm in need of a different pace. Time away from people with no need to smile or charm is what this day demands. Even when I was working outside sales, after a few days of heavy prospecting, I'd plan the following day for planning, organizing and written followup. A natural introvert, no matter how good I am at working with people, it's an expense of energy, and staying on top of my game means that I must recharge with time alone.
This was that day. I filled my brain with an easy reading mystery that I'm just not quite into yet and TV reruns from Hulu. My house doesn't have to sparkle today, and I successfully ignored that inner voice prompting me to scrub and polish. There will be time enough for that later.
Tomorrow, I turn 49. Most days, I neither look nor feel it, but it's absolutely undeniable that my forties are drawing to a close. Other than grasping the statistical probability that I'm entering the last third of my life, I really don't mind that much. The forties in some way have been the most challenging decade of my life. They've been marked by the illnesses and deaths of too many people I love. Other than a few bouts of pneumonia, my knee blowing out and the ongoing depression management, I've been basically healthy myself, but I've felt like I lived in the eye of a storm. There is a cost to watching people you love suffer, and it has changed me. I'm still figuring out what all those changes are.
Tonight, I'm observing one year of my life come to its end and another begin. Coincidentally, it's also the night of the dark of the moon, the beginning of another lunar cycle. The part of me that always seeks the positive in everything tells me to embrace this beginning.
In many ways, I'm freer than I ever have been. I no longer have to weigh every decision in terms of how it affects family. I'm getting used to making decisions just for me, and I think I like it. With the changes in the economy and the change in my age, I'm also free from feeling like I have to stay in the sales oriented career I had for so long. Everyone is adapting to a very different market place. I'm just being trendy. After the aforementioned illnesses and economic changes, I'm also free from such things like savings, investments and retirement funds. Kris Kristofferson knew a thing or two when he wrote that freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.
What I haven't lost, in fact, what I've gained in my forties has been a sense of my own strength and worth. I quit defining myself by what I do for a living. My personal value is the same regardless of the job I hold. That's been a real gift. I know that I can keep going through very hard times and come out with my sense of perspective, sense of humor and inner peace relatively intact. I've learned that a lot of things that I used to think were my responsibility actually fall into someone else's lap.
This time last year, I was reeling from the loss of my husband, going through multiple tests to find if I had a life altering chronic illness, my daughter graduating from high school a year early and losing my job. I look back now at what happened in a two month period, and I'm not surprised that I went maybe more than a little nuts this last year. But I came through it. I've joked that birthdays at my age are survival awards. This year, it's true, and I'm actually rather proud of myself. That's a good way to begin the next year of my life.