Day 4: Relinquish control for happy times

Today started with an email in my inbox that read ‘Reminder: Your turning 40!’  Uh.. yeah… I know!

It was a reminder email for the party, but it was a bit of a shock to see so straight forward.

I went on with my day, which was a continuation of my red carpet treatment for my big weekend of parties.

Today… my first ever spray tan, which seemed harmless enough.

Never mind that I had to strip down to nearly nothing in front of a complete stranger in a tiny room and let her spray me in places very few have seen.

The entire time I kept thinking to myself ‘this is ridiculous’, the things we do for the sake of beauty.  The voice in my head started to drown out the gal doing my tan.

She was rattling off care instructions worthy of a cashmere sweater…. rinse tonight… wash tomorrow but only with a mild soap ‘NO fragrance or alcohol!’, don’t shave for 3 days, pat dry, don’t wash your hands… what?!

The list went on and on, there were so many rules I couldn’t keep up with them.  Then… she told me my cats may want to lick the spray tan off me!

What in the world did I get myself into?  Am I going to wake up in the middle of the night with the 2 little guys going to town on my arms?  I determined the whole thing is very strange, but worth doing for special occasions.

There is absolutely no way this is something I could ever do on a regular basis… it’s too high maintenance.

On the drive home from work I decided I’m happy about the weekend festivities, and I realize why this year is different.

Because I gave up control of it, so I have no expectations in my head.  Whatever happens will be great because I don’t have it all worked out.  How in the world did it take me 40 years to figure this out?!

Crazy!  40 may not be so bad after all!

The birthday cards are starting to roll in too.  Today I got one from my mom and dad, filled with beautiful sentiments.  You know your parents love you but it’s so nice to hear they are proud of the woman I have become.

It’s definitely my turn to have another good birthday, and I’m certainly due… bring it on!

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Day 5: The countdown is on… bring on the wine

I can’t believe I am 5 days away from my birthday.  This is absolutely insane.

I’m in full blown birthday mode… ready for the next transformation.

Luckily I had a hair appointment lined up for today.  I went in looking for a bit of a change.  Nothing too drastic.

I had been warned by everyone.  The Cheerleader said ‘you don’t want to do something that’s going to make you feel ugly… hold off!’

The Pixie echoed those sentiments, but I had to do something.

I walked into the salon and looked at my hair guy ‘can we do something different with the cut?’

He replied ‘what do you want?’

I said ‘I don’t know… maybe some long layers?”

His answer ‘that’s not going to work.’

Me: ‘um… ok…. is there anything you can do?’

He just looked at me.  I pleaded with him ‘I don’t care if it’s minor, it’s all psychological, just do something to make it different!’

He agreed, and we settled on angling the sides a bit…. although ‘I’ve had it done before’ he said.

I didn’t really care.  I just wanted a different look no matter how minor.

When I left the salon I promptly put the top down on the car and took advantage of our fabulous night.  Savoring the landscape on the drive home.

I have to say I’m in full blown party mode right now.  In 48 hours I’m going to be on an overnight wine tasting trip with some fabulous women and I can’t wait.

It’s the one part of the birthday I’m looking forward to more than anything, which is a bit odd for me.

I’m not exactly the first one to offer up a girls trip, but if there’s wine involved I’m all in.  And I know this group of girls will be drama free and that’s what I’m talking about.

So bring on the birthday…. or at least the parts with wine!

Day 6: The last supper?? Nah…

I woke up thinking I may be meeting the Sweetheart and her husband for a potential low key set up.

I pulled out a fuchsia top, white pants and cute gold flats.

Mid-day I got a text saying they couldn’t get the guy they were trying to set me up with to come, he was out of town, but they were still meeting for happy hour.

As much as I wanted to meet up with them, I held off, because I also had an email from Mr. Wonderful’s mom.  She wanted to get together before my birthday.

I have to admit I was kind of happy knowing I didn’t have to try to impress a boy tonight.  I have dingy brown with gray roots shooting out of the top of my head, and I just wasn’t feeling it, so I emailed Mr. Wonderful’s mom back to tell her we were on for happy hour.

I chose a swanky place serving tapas, light bites with wine were perfect for our get togethers.

As usual, we had a great conversation filled with laughs, and catching up on her world travels and my future adventures.

As I left, I felt a sense of nostalgia about seeing her.  The tea leaf reader predicted my life will change dramatically in the next year and that makes me a bit sad, especially paired with the potential setup.

The tea leaf reader said I would find love as early as May 19 based off my astrological sign.  That’s so soon, just over a week away.

Sometime in the near future I will have another family to include in my life, while it will be wonderful to make that addition, I don’t want to ever lose sight of my connection to her.

She represents so much of who I am as a person today based off my relationship with her son.  He taught me what it meant to be truly loved and that is priceless.

That connection is as powerful to me as the influence my family had on making me the person I am today.  The person who stood by the man I loved regardless of the circumstances.

I’d be lying if I said I also didn’t feel a bit of a catharsis leaving this last decade behind.  Sure it has been filled with some of the most amazing memories of my life.

I have single handedly knocked 3 things off my bucket list, and found true love, but there have been many heartaches to go with them.

You take the good with the bad, that’s for sure, and I will never forget any of this.  I have grown up so very much these past 10 years.

It’s crazy to even think about my carefree life 10 years ago.  I had it so good, and didn’t even realize it…. except for the jerk I was dating at the time.  That was bad… but I learned from it and here I am today.

A grateful woman with so much to offer and give to the people I love.  What an amazing journey I am on…. with amazing people beside me

Day 7: Surprise acceptance

Now I’m really in the home stretch.  Now is the time to put the finishing touches on the weekend festivities and get ready to celebrate… not to mention celebrate the last few days I have left in my 30’s.

At work I was pleasantly surprised with a gift of beauty products from LATHER.  The smell as I as opening the box was amazing, full of fresh, clean scents.

They products were absolutely perfect, from the cucumber and ginseng facial mist which will be great at the cabana, to the moisture magnet for stressed skin.  Somehow I feel like I am going to have stressed skin in the next week.

After work I headed back to the store to try on a different size of the same dressI bought for the big party.  Ok, so I may be a bit obsessive, but I want this birthday to be the best it can be.

The dress is a bit ‘off’ so I had to try the other one for good measure, and it worked.  It was better than the one I purchased originally so I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I just made the birthday a tad bit better.

On the way home I stopped at the grocery store to make a special meal for the night.  It ended up being pasta, reminiscent of my failed trip to Italy.

All in all I think I’m coming to grips with entering this next decade.  Not that I’m happy about it, but I’m starting to accept it and that’s what matters.  Acceptance.

Day 8: D-day

Today is D-day… literally ground zero for the year.  It is the day I have dreaded for 3 years, if I can get past this day I’m in the home stretch.  I’m one week away, and I’m home free.

Besides being in the final countdown, it is also the anniversary of Mr. Wonderful’s death.

For the past 2 years it has been a horrible day, one I have looked forward to with dread, but this year is different.

I think it’s partly due to my attention being focused on the big birthday, which in this case is a welcome distraction.

I didn’t make any plans for the day, I’ve learned it’s best not to, unless they are with his mother.

Since yesterday was a long day, I decided to sleep in and slowly wake up with a small pot of coffee.

Surprisingly enough I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to take my former intern Giggles up on her offer to get together for an early dinner.

In between the coffee and dinner, I called my mom.  This year held special meaning for me because of the significance of the day.

Three years ago my mother was by my side when I said goodbye to the love of my life.  I know she’s my mom and I don’t have to thank her, but I am so very grateful she was able to be there for me.

To say it was a difficult situation for her to walk into would be an understatement.  She had never met anyone but Mr. Wonderful, so she walked in to a hospital full of loved ones and had to face the unthinkable.  Yet she didn’t flinch.  She was there for me and that’s all that mattered.

I can never quite find the right words to express myself to her, so I always try to find just the right cards to convey what I’m feeling, especially this year when it all falls on the same day.

After my call, it was off to dinner with Giggles… the perfect ending to the day.

She is so full of energy and life it was a great way to distract my attention, although not completely.  I ended up telling her my life story, whether she liked it or not.

She was so sweet, so empathetic, and compassionate.  It was great to have an unbiased ear, and I think that definitely helped.

By the time dinner was over I realized I had made it through the day… seemingly unscathed through the help of unsuspecting friends.

Day 9: Thankful

I started and ended the day with reminders that we should never take our health for granted.  Even if you have nothing, you still have your health, and when you don’t have your health life can be very very tough.

After a late night… this morning came very very early.

I woke up at the crack of dawn to walk with the BFF and her group in a fund-raiser for the arthritis foundation.

Looking around and seeing the young kids with arthritis was heartbreaking.  It is bad for anyone, but to see children suffering is so unfortunate.

We met, we walked, we ate… a good time was had by all, and then it was time for me to bolt.

I had an appointment with a friend who is also a stylist.  She donated an hour of her time to me for a birthday present, and we were shopping for accessories for the birthday dress.

We hit the jewelry store first and found a cute pieces to wear, then the hunt was on for the perfect bag.

We knew what we were looking for, but we just had to find it.  We started with the discount stores, and went from there.

There was Charming Charlie, H&M, then it was off to Ann Taylor Loft, White House Black Market, Banana Republic, J Crew, and the list goes on… finally we walked into Ted Baker and there it was.

It was perfect…. exactly what we were looking for, except a bit more than I was planning to spend, but what the heck.  I’ve been splurging on the birthday for a while, what’s one more thing right?

Besides this one I’ll get quite a bit of use out of I’m sure of it.

I was excited with the purchase, that the outfit was complete and I could check one more thing off my list.

Then it was off to meet some friends at a benefit to raise awareness for bone marrow donations.  They were asking for cheek swabs to gather DNA for potential matches.

As much as I appreciate and am thankful for being healthy, I have an extreme aversion to the medical world.  I step it up when I need to but if I can avoid it, I do.

This was one I couldn’t get around…. so I gathered the guts to fill out the paperwork and get swabbed.

The swabbing wasn’t what concerned me, it was what comes afterward if you are a match I have concerns about, but perhaps I should have been concerned with the swabbing.

When I went over and grabbed the giant q-tips I was ok, but as I started rubbing the inside of my mouth I felt myself getting nauseous.

I thought maybe it was all in my head, but when I walked back over to the group one of the girls said ‘are you ok?  your face got white as a ghost and we were concerned for you.’

I told her I was fine, but then started to remember passing out at the orthodontist after getting spacers when I was a teenager. I chalked it up to a strange coincidence and drank a beer.

Only a week left until my birthday and perhaps I should be thankful for being healthy and not concerned about changing the first number in my age.  There are certainly worse things in the world, and I should consider myself lucky…. and I do in so many ways.

Day 10: Surprise reunion

As I was driving in to work, I called Mr. Wonderful’s mom to fill her in on the birthday plans.  She informed me she was back at the hospital.

My heart sank.  We are just a few days away from the anniversary of Mr. Wonderful’s death and she was in the same hospital, on the same floor, in the same wing where it all went down 3 years ago… this time with her husband.

This surgery was planned and there was no great concern for his safety outside of the usual risks of surgery, but it didn’t matter.

I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes.  I still have a hard time driving past the hospital let alone being inside at this time of year.

I admire her strength and courage, and my heart was with her all day.

The show was a bit rough, but I received a pleasant pick me up when it was all over when I saw a text from a former co-worker who was in town for the weekend.

We were able to meet up for a little lunch, and mini-reunion.  As we walked back into the building, all four of us, together again it was a nice feeling.

We laughed about old jokes, songs, and videos… it was as if time stood still.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time, if ever before… it was odd but nice.

After work.. it was off for more girl time.  We planned to meet up at a spa night, which was a bit like an adult slumber party.

We ended up taking goofy pictures, putting tinsel in our hair and drinking cocktails.

As I enter this new decade it’s a little weird to be embracing my feminine side.  I’m a bit of a tomboy at heart, but have found myself really appreciating spending quality time with my favorite gal pals.

Which is probably why I chose to continue on the girl time path for the evening.  The small group of us walked to a nearby restaurant for some food, and wine.

We had a great and compelling conversation between the Cheerleader, the Pixie, myself and a few others.

I don’t know if I have ever spent this much time with girls and enjoyed it.  What a difference a decade makes.