Friday, March 18, 2011

As young as you feel (or act).....

With the exception of 21, birthdays which bring you to an age ending in a 1 are not exactly milestones. Milestones would be the ones ending in a zero, the ones signifying a decade passing...30..40..50..60.. Or the ones ending in 9, bringing the "I'll stay 29 forever" mentality. In fact, the namesake of my junior high school, comedian Jack Benny, made a whole schtick out of being 39. So much so, that our team name was the 39ers. Seriously, google, it, in Waukegan, IL there is such a school, my father taught there for much of his career, my brother and I attended.

This picture is of me, yesterday, on my most recent 1 birthday, a birthday on which a friend tweeted "no way you were as cool then as you are now". The weeks leading up to this birthday had caused me to acknowledge the change in me over the last couple of years. And to reflect on the birthdays before.

I was excited about turning 30. At that time, I'd just been promoted to my first true management role. 30 felt like a good transition, an age to take me away from the uncertainty and indiscretions of my 20s. Five short years later, everything had changed. 35 was a tough birthday. I cried much of the day. Was at a miserable place in my life - unhappy marriage, feeling stuck in my career, obese, health problem after health problem. Unable to see a bright future. I felt old, really old.

In hindsight, attending a school where I was a 39er, seems to have been karma for me. Set up a bit of fate.  Not in the "I'll lie and say I'm 39 forever" sense (tho' it has crossed my mind), but in the idea of challenging conventional age wisdom. The point where I started to get it right. The age I got re-married. Not too long before my 39th birthday, I discovered I was pregnant. Was going to have my first child. An unexpected surprise, but one I am thankful for each and every day. I don't have any memory of hand wringing or fear over turning 40, was probably too far into the sleep deprived world of the mother of an infant to care. Never really thought of it as a milestone.

Seems like the next few years passed in a blur. Career moves by both my husband and I moved us around a bit. I got settled. Maybe too settled. Slipping once again into a life by rote. Comfortable, yet increasingly uncomfortable. Sedentary. Health issues creeping up as my weight crept back up. Slowly coming to the realization that if I continued down this path I would not be able to keep up with my son. That my health, my weight was affecting the things I loved. Many of the activities I enjoyed, visiting amusement parks, gardening were becoming harder and harder. Unable to do horseback tours or ziplines, because I was over the maximum weight limit. Beginning to avoid or dread activity. Knowing this 39er was about to be a was time for a change, time to once again challenge conventional wisdom around age.

Heading towards my 49th birthday, I changed. As my weight went down and my fitness up, I gained back confidence in myself, in what I could do. At 49, I finally got scuba certified, entered and completed my first half marathon (and my second), began to re-discover the joy of cycling, bought a road bike, learned the empowerment of fitness.
Turning 50 didn't slow me down either.  This was the year I truly began to believe the mantra "you're only as old as you feel". That being fit not only changes your health, it changes your life and how you see things. Opens up so many more possibilities. 50 was the year that being active became a part of who I am. Another half marathon. Renting bikes while on vacation, trying mountain biking (and getting my first couple of battle scars), while Kiddo learned to snowboard, I re-learned how to ski.
Here's to 51....the year I will complete a triathlon, run a couple more half marathons, finally run my first 5k, continue to learn to mountain bike, continue to bike commute, hopfully, try a zipline or two. Continue to set an example of a fit, active lifestyle for my son. Continue to bring activity and fun into my family's life. Maybe inspire a person or two. But mostly, relish the freedom and agelessness being fit provides me.


  1. Volunteered with a woman who is 85 today--I would have guessed 65. I like myself a lot more now than I did when I was 30, and I want to keep getting things right. Happy belated bday!

  2. Fabulous post Kim! Happy Birthday!

  3. Monica who I suspect is close to an age peer of mine, who I admire for her cool, young taste in music and the bike commuting she does to class... And much, much younger Amy who thrills me with her journey to fitness and health...I am so blessed to have "met" both of you through the "internets".

    Monica we need to spend a bit more time hanging out. Amy it is nearly criminal that we live so close and haven't met IRL. Need to correct that!

  4. Kim - What a great post! :) I'm turning 30 in a couple weeks and am definitely struggling a bit with it. You gave me some great perspective when I needed it most. Thanks!