"Welcome to my year of aging youthfully."
This is what I typed in response to one of the birthday wishers on my Facebook timeline on Wednesday. (Remember when we called it a "Wall"?)
"You are finding the key to aging backwards," my childhood friend Debbie Levine Herman wrote.
(I fully embrace the world of Facebook. I view it as a gigantic community bulletin board and LOVE seeing posts no matter how trivial or silly and count on them to keep me up to date period.)
In the past I haven't handled my birthday so nicely. Even last year my birthday wish was for it to come and go quietly and quickly.
Like my father, who's in the same camp, I've told friends and family that if they cared about me they would not acknowledge my birthday. Ok so my husband, Bob's, an exception since he is particularly talented at jewelry gift giving and it would be a shame to waste such an obviously well-developed skill.
"You know you can remove your birthday from your Facebook profile," Kevin McGuinness, my physical therapist, mentioned to me last year, when I advised him not to say a word as the day was approaching.
"Hmm," I said. I know that.
In How to Age, Anne Karpft uses a visual to depict our lives as a collection of tree rings. Think being 16 and 17 all at once as if when you turned 17 you began to live your age 17 with the benefit of having lived your age 16. It's not as if we leave our youth behind, it's that we take our youth with us as we add another ring. Karpft's idea is that we live all of our ages at every age.
Bob's stepmother called to wish me a happy birthday and apologized for not getting my gift in the mail.
"You don't need to send a gift," I said. "I've been 49 at least 5 times. I can use the one from last year."
Don't worry I'm not going shopping at Zara anytime soon.
But when I'm out West skiing next week, while I'm not interested in racing down the mountain, which might have been a goal a decade ago, I plan to welcome standing at the top, with my tips pointing downward, and freaking out.
That's a moment I've lived before.
I had so much anxiety leading up to my triathlon last spring, and I'm thinking part of that is because it's been too long since I've willingly put myself in harm's way.
The thought of skiing is scary, but I remember enjoying it when I was younger. It was scary then, too, right?
I don't think it's about being more fearful as we age. My take is that we leave behind the memory of conquering fear as we add more rings to our tree. We leave our youth behind.
Next week I'm taking my age 25 with me. Rocky Mountain, bring it on.