As a child, I never understood why adults were so dismissive of their birthdays. And then, somewhere along the way, I became an adult myself.
This year is a milestone birthday for me. Or perhaps a mid-milestone birthday, as I’m halfway between 40 and 50. I’m at the age where a birthday no longer marks the exciting steps taken away from birth. Instead, it is a step towards an eventual death.
But markers are just arbitrary placements in time; a time whose length none of us knows for certain. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned well during my life it is that time only ever moves forward. Birthday or no, every day edges us forward toward the end. Instead of apathy or anger, I’ve chosen to focus on living every day to its fullest.
When I realized that my 45th birthday would fall on Thanksgiving, just as my 40th had, and I’d be the big ol’ turkey yet again, I decided to put some goals into place. And in my typical style, they weren’t small goals.
First, I decided to focus on my writing more. I wanted not just to get my novel redirected and going again (I quit the first draft after 30,000 words because I absolutely hated the direction it took), but also to enter poetry and/or stories into contests. I wanted to have a bio for all of my editing jobs that included some awards or publications.
Second, it was time to lose the weight that had steadily become one with my body for a multitude of reasons. Third, I needed to grow my business just a bit more to meet a financial goal I had.
As I look back from the vantage point of 45, I’m proud to say I accomplished all three goals.
It’s been an interesting, and amazing, year for my personal writing. Although my poem, “Unless You Know,” did not get accepted to the one publication I submitted it to, it did get shared hundreds of times, and was featured in the URJ daily email and on its blog. Another post of mine was featured on their blog as well. The poem was also “discovered” on my blog by the director of Atlanta’s Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum, and she asked to feature it at their annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration. Not only did I give my permission, but I flew there to read it along with Holocaust survivors and their families. It was an experience of a lifetime and, although I tried to put my feelings into words, I will never adequately explain what the experience meant to me.
Add to that the news, just a couple of weeks ago, that the first 50-word story (including the title) I’d ever written won the Scottish Book Trust’s monthly 50-word contest. Although a small start, it is a start nonetheless. Because this blog is named challaandhaggis to denote my pride in my Jewish and Scottish heritages, it was 100% fitting that my writing would be recognized by a Jewish organization and a Scottish one before the year was out.
My Facebook friends know all about Goal No. 2. In July, I decided the quickest (and cheapest) way to get in shape was to use my bicycle that was sitting in the garage. I’ll admit it—the first time I got on it, I was as nervous as a toddler. It has been years since I was one with a bike; back about 30-plus years when I helped my brother with his paper route. I started with one lap around the neighborhood, which is a little more than a mile. I decided to ride 4-5 times a week and add ½ mile every week. My end goal was 10 miles. I hit that goal in mid-October, and added 1 mile for good measure. Between the riding, 1200 daily hits to a punching bag in the garage, and joining Weight Watchers, I lost my desired 15 pounds. Now, I plan to maintain it, especially because I feel more like myself again.
My third goal has nicely taken care of itself. Some days I actually have too much work, but I never complain. It’s such a joy to be working, not just for myself, but at something that I enjoy. If writing is my passion, editing is like breathing. Just today I had somebody ask if can proofread his book. Nobody knows what the future brings, but for now, my business is just where I want it to be.
So, there it is. I should be bitching and moaning that I’m turning 45. But the truth is, I’m pretty darn happy, as well as content. I’ve got a tribe of writers who support me, friends who sustain me, and family members who love me. I really wouldn’t change a thing.
On to my next goal: That darn pesky novel. Stay tuned!
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