Who knew turning 40 could be so fabulous? That’s not what was going through my mind the weeks and months leading up to my 40th birthday! I have never been one to put much emphasis on age and have never been embarrassed or sad about celebrating any of my previous birthdays. Why was this birthday so different? Why was I having so much anxiety about turning the big 4-0? I mean, what is so terrible about that number anyway? It got me thinking…..
I have had one heck of a 40 years! It has been happy, sad, good, bad, rocky, smooth and just about everything in between. I have many friends who tell me I could write a book about my life. I guess because of all the weird and surprising twists and turns and the way I chose to navigate through them all. I don’t tend to think of my life as that interesting. It is just my journey. Just mine. God put everything in my path, good and bad, and it’s just my job to live everyday doing the best I can with the life I have been given. And guess what?? I’ve had a pretty darn good life! That is when I decided on the theme (you know I have to have one) for my birthday! “Life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey!”
When I first told my sister, Emily, about my theme idea, she responded with a less than eager, “Now what?” After giving her some insight into why I chose this theme and what I wanted the weekend to represent, she completely embraced the idea. Only once did she say, “Now, you don’t want this to turn into a Dr. Phil show.” Haha!! No, I absolutely DID NOT want that! I wanted to invite just girls, which was a bit of a struggle for me. I guess when you turn 40, you think you’re supposed to spend your birthday or vacation with your family. Inviting kids, spouses, parents, all sounds so much more mature and grown up than “girls only.” But, let’s just say the invitation was very well received by all of my girlfriends who were all secretly dying to get away from all of the previously mentioned potential guests. I gave them an excuse to get away! Don’t we all, as women, need that sometimes? With my guest list consisting of childhood, college, and present friends, it was now time to plan the weekend. I wanted it to be about reflection, about recognizing their own life journey and for me, celebrating the role that each of my girlfriends played in mine. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen, but just hoped at some point during the weekend, the opportunity would present itself. My sister, with the help of another friend of mine, Faith, decided to design all of my decorations around maps (to represent the journey) and the beach, since that was where we were staying.
911 East Arctic. That was the address of the oceanfront beach house(compliments of my sorority sister, Jessica) where we would spend our weekend on Folly Beach. Of course, we all thought the 911 address was completely hysterical and hoped it was not a sign for the weekend to come? The anticipation grew and as the weekend drew near my phone was being bombarded with text messages of excitement. I felt like I was 21 again! I never went on Senior Trip or Spring Break in my younger days(nor did any of my girlfriends for that matter), but this sure seemed like exactly that! I was pumped!!
The day had finally come for our celebration weekend to begin! I made my way out to Folly and met Jessica and her sister, Missy, at the house, who were the first to arrive.
After a brief initial room assignment check, we were all in our bathing suits heading out to the beach. The weather could not have been more perfect! All signs of rain forecasted earlier in the week, were long gone, and beautiful sunny skies and temperatures in the 80’s (in October) greeted us. It was looking like God was granting me a “shower free” weekend! Yippee!! We weren’t on the beach long when loud thumping music and a horn blaring could be heard from our beach house driveway. It was my sister, sister in law, Lacey, childhood friend, Andrea, and college buddy, Brandywine, all arriving from Kentucky (Brandywine made the drive from St. Louis and jumped in with them for the rest of the ride down). What a crew!! I believe they were bumping to Funky Cold Madina! Haha!!! That song surely gave away our age! After getting (or should I say, dancing) out of the car, they presented me with my official weekend cup, which read, Forty isn’t old, unless you’re a tree, written on the sides with puff paint. They all laughed and so did I. Apparently that was a project on the 9 hour ride down. They also gave me the nickname, Spruce (after a tree, of course) that I was to be called all weekend!
As more friends trickled in over the next few hours, our house was plenty full of “thirty something” year old females waiting to let loose and unwind. Even my friend, Kat, who was 7 months pregnant, came equipped with 400 or so pillows for her one night stay! Another friend, Corina, came knowing that the next day she would have to work a double shift at work! It was obvious that nobody was letting this weekend go by without participating in some shape or form. It was so great to see all of my friends throughout my life all under one roof, laughing and talking and getting to know one another. What a blessing this was!
The next morning I was the first to wake up and for those who know me, that is a rarity. I immediately put on my bathing suit and headed out to the beach. It was such a peaceful moment, nobody out there but me. I took that moment in. I also talked with God. Every second, every step of my life, I am grateful. Not just for the good times, but also for the hard, not so easy, times. I have much to be thankful for and this weekend with my friends is definitely one of them!
Slowly, one by one, all of my girlfriends ended up on the beach with me that morning, even my friend, Stephanie, who had arrived that day! Someone brought out a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s and between that and the cups of coffee, we were all beginning to wake up from our sleep deprived evening. As I looked around the circle, remembering fond memories with each of my friends, I thought to myself, “Now is the time.” I ran back up to the house and grabbed my notes (yes, I did prepare) and my gifts and excitedly strolled back to the beach. As I sat down, I told my friends that I had something I wanted to share with them. I told them about how I decided to have my weekend theme be, Life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. “Oh no, it’s gonna get emotional,” one of my friends replied. I’m not one to get too “mushy” so I’m pretty sure I threw some of them off with this one. I explained that each one of them have played a part in my life journey. From age 2 to 40, someone in that circle impacted my life in some way. I went around the circle and shared two words that represented who they are to me and why and gave them each a bracelet with the inscription; The Journey is the Reward. It was very emotional and each and every one of us cried. A lot was shared in that circle that day on the beach, by everyone, and I knew instantly, that the purpose of my weekend had been fulfilled!
We spent the rest of the day and evening enjoying our time together and laughing so much that our sides were beginning to hurt! I swear I have not laughed so much in my entire life! It was such a great time! As evening fell on our last night, I went to pick up my son, Isaiah, and bring him to the house. His Aunts, Emily and Lacey, and the rest of my friends couldn’t wait to see him! As I rolled around with him on the bed tickling and laughing, I couldn’t help but think what a perfect end to a perfect weekend!
40 isn’t so bad! In fact, it’s just the beginning!