I turned forty a few weeks ago and had an unexpected birthday guest, Covid. The very first thing I did on my birthday was wake up with a fever and chills and confirm that Rona got me. I had done so well avoiding the plague for 2.5 years, but my winning streak came to an abrupt end.
Two weeks later, I’m still coughing and fatigued. I’m trying to dig my way out of the piles of laundry and tissues that I’ve amassed.
In preparation for my big birthday, I reflected on what turning 30 felt like and of course I adopted the mantra from 13 Going on 30, “Thirty, and Flirty and Thriving!” What I had imagined 40 to be, “Forty and sporty and thriving!” quickly morphed into “Forty and snotty and surviving” as my birthday plans drastically changed.
But there can be goodness even in times where I’m just surviving. I have been blessed with numerous people who call to check on me and ask what supplies I need. I’ve termed them Porch Fairies. Often times during my quarantine period, I’d receive a text that there was something at my front door. Gatorade, food, medicine, bath bombs, or something just to make me laugh was dropped off by friends and family members. These Porch Fairies shifted my perspective from just surviving, to thriving. I am thriving because I am not alone. Thus far, forty has not been what I expected it to be. I didn’t expect to start a decade with 10 days of zero human interaction. I didn’t expect to be sick on my birthday and miss out on festivities. And I also didn’t expect to be the recipient of such an outpouring of kindness. This is what makes us thrive: community, togetherness, kindness, and empathy. It gives us the energy to keep going.
Maybe I could reimagine 40 in new ways, not as middle aged or over the hill, but as standing at the top of the mountain. Life has been full of climbing and effort for the past two years especially for me. I’m doing my best to remind myself that the best view comes after the hardest climb.
I remind myself (and you as well) to be proud of how hard you’ve fought to get to the very step that you’re on today. Effort has gone into this climb called life. Don’t let anyone question to minimize the blood, sweat, and tears that life has demanded of you as you’ve walked through unexpected changes in terrain.
Keep climbing, friend. And take some time to enjoy the view.