Birthday Challenge

My 49th birthday is in three days, which means (big gulp) my 50th birthday is in 368 days.  This is not something I have been looking forward to with a dance in my step and a song in my heart. As my 49th birthday quickly approaches, I am reminded of how when I turned 29  I felt the same way about turning 30 the following year as I do about turning 50 a year from now…dreadfully unhappy.   Turns out my dread at turning 30 was for good reason.  Soon after my 30th birthday, I developed debilitating headaches that were so painful, there were days I wished I would not turn 31!  It was horrible.  My doctor’s diagnosis was “cluster” headaches (similar to migraines, but not); my self-diagnosis was “oh, my God, I’m 30”, headaches.   It would appear that my diagnosis may have been correct, because shortly after I turned 31, these awful headaches subsided and have not returned (this would have made for good medical research had I thought about it at the time).  I tell you this story not to share my medical history (as colorful and fascinating as it is), but to share how I believe my negativity approaching my 30th birthday was a contributing factor in the manifestation of these headaches and I don’t want them (or something worse) to return, so I have devised a plan…a challenge, if you will…to face the impending 5-0 head-on (no pun intended).

My plan came about after reading a poem titled Spring Giddiness by Rumi (don’t fret if you haven’t heard of him…I didn’t know who he was either until recently).    There is a line in this poem that says “Let the beauty we love be what we do.  These poignant words are what inspired me to create my year-long challenge.  I imagine right about now you are bursting at the seams anticipating the reveal of my challenge…drum roll, please…here it is:  For the 365 days between my 49th and 50th birthdays, I will set out to accomplish 365 things I have either never done before or things I love to do, but don’t do often enough. This is not a daily challenge, it is a year-long challenge, and if I complete 365 things, I win (my challenge; my rules).  I decided to challenge myself so that when my 50th birthday rolls around (God willing) I will look back on the year knowing it was not filled with dread, but that I filled it with the beauty of new things and the celebration of things and people I love.   Imagine all the new stories I will have to share and the hundreds of additional reasons I will have to kneel and kiss the ground.  It is exhilarating to think about.

It sounds like a good plan, right?   I agree.  However, before you start envisioning me out on safari or skydiving, I must confess these are not the type of things I will be doing  (maybe for my 80th birthday). My plan does not involve anything remotely close to that.  It involves discovering the beauty in simple things (i.e., a book of poetry, a new food) and important things (i.e., nurturing relationships, giving my children more freedom, stepping out of my comfort zone, faith-building and strengthening, and self-discovery).  Some may find this plan boring, but not me.

I invite you to join me on my journey as I share some of the memorable moments here and update periodically on my progress.   I feel motivated to follow through with this plan and complete the challenge, because, since coming up with it,  I hear a soft, gentle whisper telling me the end result will yield the greatest of gifts (and I love a good gift)..so bring on 50 and Happy 49th Birthday, to me!!!

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