Yesterday I turned 40. It was a birthday that was anticipated with some anxiety and a lot of dread. Not because I'm depressed, but because I'm sentimental. My 30's had passed with many dreams achieved, but some that never came to pass. Most people don't think of their lives as exactly what they had hoped, but rather as a compilation of all they didn't see coming. Life has a way of just happening when we aren't paying attention. Not that we don't try our hardest to fulfill all of our heart's desires, but we don't always get to choose. The truth is I woke up on my birthday kind of expecting sadness. Sadness for years I can't get back, sadness for ships that sailed before I reached the dock, sadness for hopes that never got off the ground, and a doomed "this is it."
Instead, I woke up and a wave of peacefulness washed over me and I thought "this is it." This is my life and I have a whole new decade in front of me with much to look forward to. To be 40 is to accept I probably won't be a runner, a concert pianist, a knitter, a tea-drinker, or a high-rise dweller. Though I know it's never too late. I don't love the beach. I will never have an all-black wardrobe. Instead I run libraries, enjoy listening to classical music, take amateur photos with a professional camera, live in the coffee capital known as the pacific northwest, and always choose the pop of color. I love open fields and beautiful vistas. I love stripes. I think cream in my coffee is one of life's greatest pleasures. I love stationery. And monograms. Did I mention I love stripes? I am so much more than the dreams of my imagination that I've held onto since I was a girl. And now there is a clean slate before me for new, exciting experiences.
I've been given an incredible gift. I didn't ask for it, but here it is nonetheless. The gift of time to listen to my inner voice, contemplate my choices, be intentional. So, I spent the day at Mount Angel Abbey. A place with quiet gardens, a library designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto , a chapel, and glorious grounds. What a beautiful place, just an hour away. It felt like another world. OK, it was another state, but that's the benefit of living on the Washington/Oregon border. Just one hour and you can be here.....
And there I realized. My ship hasn't sailed. My ship has come in. And I'm ready to embark. Onward.