By Megan Wirts
My best friends and I all turned forty years old this year. A milestone we all have actually been looking forward to despite what the world may have you think about women and aging. Many of my friends and family that have seen age 40 come and go have told me this is my “power year”, and I am here for it. A dear friend of mine has a tradition in their family where they give a speech when it’s a milestone birthday starting at age 13. She encouraged me to write my own speech this year and we each read them outloud to our families. Here is what I had to say…
When you are a child, your entire world is your parents and family. You know nothing but them. Then you go to school, meet friends, see new places, learn, read books, and start to become your own person. You begin to make choices for your life. Along the way you blend all the things you are taught and you create your own path. Sometimes you fall into old patterns and do as your ancestors before you did. Sometimes you grow up and see the generations of trauma and brokenness and decide to break that cycle.
I was born into a cycle of fear. That is not to say I wasn’t loved, I know I am loved, but the truth is I have been scared most of my life. I was afraid to speak up, to disagree, to not please, scared of the dark, thunder and lightning, too much wind, getting lost or being left alone, among others. Most of those fears I have overcome, but not all. I am still afraid of many things, but the most important fear I have let go of is the fear of who I am.
I'm not afraid of her anymore. I love her now. It took me almost 40 years, but I love myself enough to say it out loud now. I spent countless years hating and fearing my body and mind. Most of my life I spent trying to change it all to fit the mold that the world told me it needed to fit. Years of fearing that my body will malfunction, get too big, get too wrinkly, be too hairy, or be not enough of anything. Fear of losing my mind and fear of losing my voice. I have feared my own thoughts and instincts to the point of not trusting them, causing me to worry over every decision.
Now, after a lot of work, yoga and therapy, I love my thick powerful thighs that hold me upright. I love the stretch marks on my belly that remind me of the way my body carried my babies. I love the hands that create delicious food, hold the ones I love and can type these words. I love the voice that comes from my guts. I love my creative thinking and ability to make others laugh and feel joy. I trust that I know my body and I know what it needs. I love that I can sleep soundly when I put my deaf ear up and my good ear against the pillow. I love that I can walk again even if it is with assistance. I love myself enough to let that love pour out onto everyone around me.
The scars that I carry both inside and out are the cracks that the love and light shines in and out of now. Those are the places that I used to try to cover and shield and now I feel no more shame inside this body. Our body is the one thing we have when we are born and when we die. I choose to love every inch from the tips of my toes to the hair on my head, from the depths of my heart to the recesses of my mind. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a day where I cringe at the way I over-share when I’m nervous or have a bad hair day, but every day I will try to show myself love. Sometimes love is binge watching the Golden Girls and eating cheesecake. Other days it’s walking two miles and dancing in the kitchen. Love is a balancing act.
As we age not only does our body change, but so do our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. The things our parents told us to be true aren’t always true. (Hello Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny!) As we age our world view grows due to experience and education and that inevitably will change us. We take bits of what our parents, our friends, teachers, grandparents and the world in general shows us and we get to decide which parts we keep. That’s the beauty of being a human that gets to grow older. We get to choose our path and the people that are in our lives. That’s what I love most about turning 40. I get to choose my family. I get to choose my future. I get to choose how I respond and react in each moment.
Birthdays are a great time to reflect and reminisce and they are an excellent time to dream of the future, but it’s most important to look around and take in the present moment. If growing older has taught me anything it’s that time is a thief. The moments are fleeting and are soon just a memory. Instead of dwelling on the past, I want to embrace today and flow with whatever changes may come. I want to be the flow. To flow is to change.
And change is the only thing that is constant.
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