Pity Party Pep Talk

Today is my birthday, a fact that I can’t escape, a truth that I can’t deny.  I should be celebrating, kicking up my heels.  After all, there will probably be a few well wishes, a little attention and, if I’m lucky, a small slice of something heavenly that is devoid of all nutritional value, laden with sweet, sweet sugar and slathered in oh-so-decadent chocolate.  (Oh, God, I hope so!)

And I survived last year’s birthday–the “bad one,” the one with black balloons littering my office, colleagues joyfully spouting insults on my behalf, and an AARP membership invitation waiting in the mailbox.  After all that, this birthday should be easy, right?

So why do I feel such an overwhelming urge to throw myself a big ol’ pity party and wallow in misery and despair?  Could it be that I have suddenly come to the harsh realization that I am (it pains me to even say it) OLD?

Yeah, I think that might be it.

Old.  I don’t want to believe it; I don’t want to accept it.  How is it even possible?  Wasn’t I thirty just a few years ago? When I go to sleep at night and dream beautiful dreams about someday walking the beaches of Cabo San Lucas (with Brad and George–Clooney, not Costanza–vying for my attention), I don’t see myself as old.  In fact, this is the me I see in my dreams:

Okay, I’ll admit that I have quite a vivid imagination (I know, I know, my legs will never be that long), but a girl can dream, right?  Unfortunately, the next morning when I wake from those beautiful dreams and grudgingly glance in the bathroom mirror, this is the reality staring back at me:


Who is this old woman–this impostor–masquerading as me?  I swear she wasn’t in my mirror last year at this time, and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t even there last summer.  In fact, I don’t think I noticed her until a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve been doing everything I can to make her go away–eating her recommended daily allowance of oatmeal and fruits and veggies, crunching her abs and biking her buns off, coloring her gray hairs back to their almost-original blonde state, exchanging her old lady shoes and droopy socks for black leather boots and leggings–and yet, this morning when I looked in the mirror, dadgummit, she was still there.

Happy birthday.

Okay, that’s quite enough.  It’s time to call off the pity party (no one else showed up anyway).  SUCK IT UP (that’s what you always tell your kids to do), and count your blessings.

You’re still alive and kicking, right?  So get over it and be grateful–growing older is a privilege denied to many.

You’re only as old as you feel, and since you don’t feel a day over 45, that’s how old you can be now (because I say so, and I am the boss of you).  So what if you’ve already been 45 once before?  It’s just a number, and if you keep crunching those abs and eating those veggies, it might someday even be a believable number (and if you, sweet reader, find that laughable, keep your chuckles to yourself–it’s my birthday, remember?  At least for this day, let me have my fantasy!).

You’re lucky, really.  You actually like the smell of Ben Gay and the taste of oatmeal.  You still have your memory and your teeth, and your knees and hips are the ones God gave you.  What more do you want?

One of your favorite authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson, had some pretty cool things to say about aging (he must have known you would someday need his sage advice):

  • “The years teach much which the days never knew.”  Would you really want to be young again and forfeit all the hard-earned wisdom the years have provided?  No, no, no (well, probably not).
  • “As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.”  Whatever your face and body have lost over the years, your compassionate heart has found ten-fold.  (And no one can prove otherwise.)
  • “The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing.  The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.”  Now, that’s sweet music to my ears, Ralphie dear.

So throw on your sweater dress, strap on your leather boots, slap on a great big smile, and greet this day–this year–with enthusiasm and delight.  After all, it’s your 45th birthday (and somewhere, there’s a piece of chocolate waiting to help you celebrate!).

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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17 Responses to Pity Party Pep Talk

  1. rhonda newton says:

    Happy Birthday, Karen! You always make me smile! Or cry or something! What wonderful talent and wit you have! Hope this is the best birthday!

  2. Janet Taber says:

    Now that you’ve tossed out all the negatives associated with being a year older, I hope the rest of your birthday is filled with NOTHING but positives!!!

  3. Kathy says:

    Happy Birthday, Karen! You are not getting older… just better. ( Really!!) You are one of the most intelligent, beautiful women I know.

  4. A very happy birthday to you.

  5. Julie says:

    Happy, happy birthday!! (And thank you for sharing the sugary goodness that infested your office.) A few points…….

    1. If I were to guess your age, I would guess SEVERAL years younger. And yes, it would be totally legitimate, because I believe in your powers to see through people sucking up. Tis a good power to have. Not quite worthy of Justice League status, yet quite valuable to you principal types.
    2. Age is just a number. If you’re feeling all math-y, you could say you were 7.14 squared years old. That alone should scare the general population from further contemplation of your age.
    3. Seriously, you WERE rockin’ the boots today!! I whole-heartedly approve. =)

    • Yes, I have the power of “sucking up” detection, but the beeper has never gone off in your presence–such an activity would certainly be beneath you. Therefore, I am inclined to believe you! And you raise an interesting point with #2–if I just tell everyone I’m 7.14 squared years old, I wouldn’t have to lie and most people still wouldn’t know how old I am–but would they then guess older or younger? If I accept the truthfulness of #1, then I have to assume they are going to guess I’m younger than I really am–I win! And thanks for complimenting the boots–they have come to symbolize my quest to recapture the glory days of my youth (you know, back in my 40s!).

  6. emjayandthem says:

    Work those boots .. and whatever else makes you feel like the fox you surely are. When I’m feeling similar aging angst I channel my inner Sophia (Loren … hey a girl can dream) and giggle at how she snazzed up those Grumpy Old Men in the movie by the same name..Happy Birthday! Cheers! MJ

    • Thank you! I’m lovin’ the boots and all the attention they get me–and those who think I’m just a silly old woman for wearing them are at least too kind to say so! I saw Suzanne Somers on TV last week, and even though she’s still a little dingy, at age 64 she is lookin’ hot–I may have to start channeling her!

  7. bronxboy55 says:

    Sorry I missed this until today. I hope your birthday was amazing. And I’m pretty sure you could fool most people into thinking you’re at least fifteen years younger! (Assuming you stop using words like “dadgummit.”)

  8. Oh, honey, you’re just a youngster! I mean, we’re just youngsters! And, like he said … BB55 had it right about you fooling people into thinking you’re 15 years younger. If anyone guesses otherwise, those leather boots are good for something in addition to making a fashion statement!

    I’m sorry I missed it 😦 and I hope it was WONDERFUL 🙂

    • Thank you so much–what a tremendous ego booster! It was a great day, despite my early misgivings–and yes, I have on more than one occasion threatened to use the boots as pain inducers!

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