One day recently, while taking my usual walk in this infernally hot Texas summer sun, in my delirium I decided that from this year's birthday going forward, I am going to name my years for the things that I want to accomplish during that year: you know, like The Year of Living Dangerously, or The Year of Going Nova, or the Year of Making Like A Sea Slug -- whatever feels right at the time. I figure it's good to have goals, right? So I've been thinking about what this upcoming year is going to be.
I hereby christen this year: The Year I Become A Woman of A Certain Age.
I've always loved that phrase "a woman of a certain age" -- it's so deliciously vague, don't you think? There's no real definition of what age you have to be to be "a certain age"; and on thinking about it, I decided it doesn't matter: for some, "A Certain Age" might be 24; for others, it could be 94.* For me, I've decided it's going to be 43. I've also decided that "A Woman of A Certain Age" means the following:
- She has figured out her own Different and her own Beauty, and knows how to rock it without feeling the need for a push-up bra, a miniskirt, stilettos, fad diets or Botox.
- When called on for emergency karaoke, she knows all the words to an entire throw-down song. The cheesier the better.
- She has officially and forevermore given up the vanity goal of "looking as beautiful as possible," opting instead to spend the same amount of ridiculous, dogged attention she spent all those previous years to a new, different vanity goal, "feeling as healthy as possible." Because she's finally figured out that she wasn't put on this Earth to work toward some weird goal of attaining some commercial construct of "pretty"; but rather, she was put here to live her life.
- She knows how to make at least one beverage or main course or dessert, without the need for a written recipe, the taste of which will make a grown adult weep in ecstacy.
- She has become confident enough to say "no" when she knows that saying "yes" will make her feel like a tiny bit of her soul is dying. She knows that saying "no" in these situations isn't impolite, it's honest.
- She knows the difference between (pick one):
(a) a good wine and a bad one;
(b) a good whiskey and a bad one;
(c) a good rum and a bad one; or
(d) a good chocolate and a bad one.
(Extra points if she can tell the difference between all of the above.)
- She can quote the opening sentence of at least one book of classic literature. I mean, why not?
- She knows at least two raucously funny jokes, one clean and one dirty. She knows the appropriate time to tell each.
Now, to be clear: I don't have all of these down yet, but I'm working on it. In fact, this will be the year that I do it.
Now, for my birthday wish: today, on my 43rd birthday, I wish that all of you who have read this post will go out in the next 24 hours and do something really nice for yourself. It could be having a great meal, taking a perfect bath, reading that book on your nightstand that you've been meaning to read, booking that holiday you've been tempted to book or just lying in the sunlight for 30 minutes. Whatever it is that will make you happy today, please go do it. In fact, I beg you to go do it. I'd love to think that on my birthday, people all over the world are ensuring that they're having a great day (and if you share your plans below, I might even clap my hands in glee).
And with that, have a great weekend, everyone. And have a great day.
* Turns out there was a psychotherapist, Dr. Lillian Rubin, who did have a definition for "A Woman of a Certain Age." The devil in me loves how she thinks.
Image: Self-portrait on the eve of my 43rd birthday, photographed with my Nikon D300 and my 24-85mm lens.