44 … Simultaneously Fabulous and F***ed Up

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Happy birthday to me!

I stopped making a fuss about my birthday sometime in my 20s when it was no longer feasible, reasonable or acceptable to celebrate for an entire week.  Thus, last weekend when I turned 44, it read like most of my Saturdays in February — an early morning workout at home followed by a partner workout at the gym, two basketball games before a quick lunch and two more basketball games, family dinner with my guys then home by 9PM.  The birthday bonus: My mom drove down from NY to take us out to eat … and she brought cupcakes and presents.  Yeah, my mom rocks!

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A little sad, but true.

I’m not one to get upset about turning a year older, yet when someone asks how old I am, it takes me about six months to answer correctly.  Not out of duplicity or embarrassment, just habit.  Remembering a new age/number takes me awhile.  The truth is, I’m glad I’m not younger.  I like being in my 40s.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin now … and my jeans, too.  I’m healthier, stronger and can do things that I couldn’t do 10 years ago — hell, even 5 years ago — like, bench press over 100 pounds and deadlift over 200 pounds.  I can even do a handstand!

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Learning new tricks in my 40s — check me out!

Despite kicking ass in my 40s, it’s far from all roses all the time.  There are definitely some armpits mixed in that make 44 feel old, such as:

  • having to scroll waaaaaay down to find my birth year online
  • being called “ma’am”
  • having to pee as soon as I stand up
  • forgetting why I entered a room, opened the cabinet or opened a drawer
  • needing my glasses to read anything and everything
  • not being able to hear when people talk (but thinking a TV volume over 7 is deafening)
  • wrinkles!
  • needing to dye my roots every week and a half
  • having to check for chin hairs (thanks, early menopause)
  • fighting a slower metabolism (thanks again, early menopause)
  • being too tired to stay out past 10PM
  • catching myself singing along to Hall & Oats and Lionel Richie in the supermarket
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Seriously, which is it?

But grooving in the grocery store and plucking chin hairs doesn’t make me wish for younger days.  I really like being in my 40s.  I may be older and have more gray hair, but I’m also wiser.  I know what (and who) I like and what (and who) I don’t.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I don’t care what other people think because I’m no longer trying to impress anyone — including myself.  I’m learning to embrace my imperfections and celebrate my Type A-minus personality in order to become a better version of myself.  I know I’m a work in progress and 44 is just the mid-way point.  I may not be looking forward to turning 50 in six short years, but if I can make it through early menopause and puberty with two boys, I can handle a silly little number.  Besides, I’ll probably keep saying I’m 49 anyway … out of habit.

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– LJDT

Playing Favorites … Thank You, Harper Lee

I don’t have favorites.  My kids used to ask me all the time:  “What’s your favorite color?  Your favorite food?  Favorite flower?  Movie?  Song?  Band? …”  Their inquiries were relentless, but my boys know better than to ask anymore.  Not because I told them to stop asking, but because my answer is always the same:  I don’t have favorites … Although, some days I do prefer one child over the other, depending on who’s pissing me off less.  Just keeping it real, people.  Don’t judge.

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Truth!

But as I write this, I know that I’m lying.  I do have a favorite.  A favorite book — To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I read it for the first time when I was 11 or 12 — a little young, given the theme, but my dad (an English teacher) knew I could handle it.  I watched the 1962 movie adaptation with Gregory Peck soon thereafter (also phenomenal) and it only cemented my belief that To Kill A Mockingbird was the best book in the whole wide world.  It still is.  The story, the characters, the language, the message … It was so artfully written, so realistic, so engaging and so insightful that despite the fact that it’s setting, characters and conflict were paradoxical to my own childhood in every possible way (Long Island, NY v. small town Alabama, 1980s v. 1930s, girly girl v. tomboy, etc.), I could relate to it.  I could understand and empathize.  I admired Atticus so much that I considered naming my first child after him.  Atticus, or possibly Scout.  Ultimately, neither name was chosen for either of my kids, but that’s a different post for another day.  Back to the book.

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The greatest novel of all time.

There’s another reason why I love this classic so much, beyond its academic excellence.  It’s because of my dad.  To Kill a Mockingbird was/is one of his literary favorites, too.  Sharing his love of this book makes me feel connected to him.  In some ways, I see him as Atticus and me as Scout (I guess that makes my sister Jem and my mom Calpurnia!), but it’s more than just a father/daughter association.  Our bond over the love of this book, it’s characters and it’s message is unifying on a different level.  It’s cerebral.  It’s mature.  It’s ideological.  It’s special.

Harper Lee died this morning, peacefully in her sleep, at the age of 89.  She gave the world a literary classic that will stand the test of time.  She gave me my one and only favorite — and a bond with my father that I will always cherish.  Thank you, Nelle Harper Lee.  Rest in peace.

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Eloquent and colloquial at the same time.

– LJDT

My Lenten Promise … “At Least” I’ll Try

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Christian humor at it’s best.

Wednesday was the first day of Lent.  For my non-Christian readers, Lent is a holy period of fasting, praying and almsgiving.  In layman’s speak, it’s the 40 (or 46, depending on how you count) days when Christians are supposed to give up something they love for the weeks leading up to Easter.  I usually give up chocolate and cursing … By day #3, I fail.  But not this year.  This year, I’m doing things differently.  This year, I’m going to eat as much chocolate as I can and curse all I want because instead of abstaining from these physical vices, I’m going to focus on the intangible.  This year for Lent, I am giving up my negative attitude.  For the next 46 days, I will be Positive Lauren.

I’ve given this a lot of thought (after all, Lent is a time of reflection).  I know I should probably eat fewer dark chocolate covered almonds and swear less, but truth be told, I really don’t want to and my disapproving disposition is a much bigger sin.  Simply put, I complain too much.  I can be pretty negative at times … and by at times I mean often … and by often I mean usually.  It’s not that I’m unhappy or ungrateful, just mostly overwhelmed — which is kind of ridiculous, considering I have it pretty easy compared to others.  But I do tend to err on the side of pessimism instead of optimism, and that needs to change.  So from now until Easter, I am focusing on the positive.  I’ll be keeping my glass half-full, looking on the bright side, finding the silver lining, blah, blah, blah … Oops, that was probably a little negative.  Oh well, it’s a work in progress.

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That Eeyore was one smart ass.

I wish I could say that I’ll stop complaining overnight.  Go cold turkey and all that.  But I’m a realist, so my plan is to reduce the bitching little by little and temper my criticisms with the phrase at least.  For every gripe I bemoan during Lent, I will pause and add “at least (insert something positive here).”  My grandmother used to call this “offering it up.”  It’s a way to remember that things could always be worse.  A way to see the bright side.  For example, Wednesday morning when the superintendent robo-called at 4:57 AM to announce a two-hour school delay, my response was, “Sh*t, now I have to miss boot camp!”  But then I  remembered my Lenten promise and quickly added, “At least we all get to sleep in a bit longer.”  See?  Silver lining … Although truth be told, I was still a little bitter about missing class that day.

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A wise “Grandma-ism.”

Hopefully, over the next 40-someodd days, I’ll be able to squelch the surly thoughts before they leap from my lips and the phrase at least won’t be necessary.  Hopefully, feasting on positivity and fasting on negativity for a few weeks will become a habit.  At least I’ll try …

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– LJDT