Forty-One: An Appraisal

This Monday I turned 41 years old. It came as a bit of a surprise. All my life I've felt a particular age, usually not my actual age, and it's always been younger, as if I got stuck. For example, I felt 34 for at least three years after I stopped being 34, and I think the one before that was 27. This is the first time I've gotten ahead of myself: I feel like I'm about 44, and I keep being surprised that I'm only 41.

It has been a rocky year. My last birthday was marked by picking up my family from the airport in Saskatoon, and picking up my mother's ashes from the crematorium on the way out of town. Then we stopped for burgers at A&W.

This birthday was marked by sharing a traditional memorial feast for (and with) our ancestors with good friends who also lost a grandparent on July 31. We had burgers.

In between, my year was rocky but not devastating. It took a few months for the gloom to lift after my mum died. I think I started to feel better in spring, as one does. I still have moments of mistiness when I think about her and all that I lost when she died, but they are much fewer and briefer than they were. I'm inspired by the idea that I honour my mother's memory better by living my best life than by becoming lost in grief.

My focus this year has been on finding ways to love and accept myself better. This is embarrassing: shouldn't I have figured this stuff out by now? I'm amazed at how the journey of self-discovery continues as we age; I used to think that at some point a person would figure themself out and could get on with life secure in their self-knowledge… why are you laughing?

I keep on discovering new tidbits about myself: I'm bad at fighting. I'm terrified of angry people. I spent my childhood hyper-alert for negative emotions and feeling responsible for the emotions of others, and those tendencies bog me down to this day in my important relationships.

(I consider it a personal triumph that I am no longer bothered by the anger of strangers or acquaintances. Well... not bothered much, anyway.)

I continue to love editing. The work itself is immensely satisfying, even when it's frustrating. I still have to pinch myself when I remember that I'm getting paid to read! It's a childhood dream come true.

I enjoy being my own boss and setting my own hours (even though I don't make much money). The routines and structures of invoicing, tracking time, keeping file folders and checklists, are satisfying and soothing.

There is some upheaval on the parenting side of things, but that's for another post on another day. Nothing bad — just change.

So: I'm comfortable in myself. My career and my children are on good trajectories. My marriage is rock-steady. I think forty-one is going to be a good year.

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