Forever 31

Forever 31

Could this be happening? I really feel like I should go do something daring and adventurous…

Like right this moment…

I mean this is the end.

Don’t you understand? I can never go back.

I suppose I could run around outside in the dark and yell at the top of my lungs, “Im still 29!”

Forever 29!!

Long live my 20’s!

That would be fun and is sure to give me a rush.

Or maybe I’ll just mope. Just sit on the couch and be tired like old people. After all, I’m practically there…old, that is.

It was the Eve of my 30th birthday. And I was taking it rough. I reflected back on my 20’s as they slowly faded into my memories. I savored those final moments. The next morning, when I woke, my worries of getting old were affirmed when, for some reason, I couldn’t move my arm. I thought to myself, it’s happened. I can’t even get out of bed. I wasn’t sure I was ready to face the reality of the day. The reality of actually turning 30.

Luckily, I snapped out of it pretty quickly and was ready to celebrate being at the top of the decade again. Any excuse to eat cupcakes, get discounts and presents, and have my 2 year old tell me happy birthday constantly was worth it; even if it did mean I was getting older. (Now, I know what you’re all thinking…30 isn’t old! Well, the fact is…it’s older than 29)

So, I was gearing up to ride some roller coasters at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, because well, I wanted to feel young again but they were all closed down. It was like a ghost town. Although it was sunny and quite mild in climate, they were closed for the “winter season.” I just rolled my eyes. “Come on, it’s my birthday, let me ride one.” Instead I enjoyed more of a slow paced birthday. I guess it was fitting, since, after all, it was foreshadowing the years to come: slower paced. As I reflected over the past few months leading up to my 30th, I was becoming more and more aware that I was in fact showing signs of getting older. For example, My husband and I would decide to enjoy a quiet evening by watching a movie, only to spend 30 minutes finding the “right one” and then falling asleep within the first 20 minutes. We’d stumble off the couch out of a dead sleep, and say, “Good movie, eh?” I used to always be a night owl, but clearly something was changing. I found myself still referring to children (now adults) who I used to babysit, as little kids.  “What?! So and so can’t be in college, I used to babysit him!” I often woke up to new wrinkles and dark circles around my eyes. What are those, I thought? After 29 years of no cavities, I had cavities!! I always prided myself in my oral hygiene and lack of cavities, but those days are long gone.  What was happening?!! I started having one of those little floater things in my eye, and of course, my prediction was that it was a detached retina….I mean they warn you about those floaters…clearly that’s what was happening…my retina was becoming detached. Thankfully, my hearing and my sense of smell are still impeccable. If there’s a stink, I can sniff it out. If you’re whispering 2 rooms over, I will hear you. So be warned.

Well, here I am a year later, and boy, have I grown up! I’m turning 31!!!!!! We made it through that rough year of 30.

I remember thinking when I was in elementary school and would see the older high school kids walking through the halls on the other side of our Christian School, that I would never be THAT old. Yeah, I’ll get to junior high, but not highschool. I really thought that—forever in elementary school. Well, of course I did reach high school, and apparently I didn’t become much smarter, because I had similar thoughts about ever reaching the end of college. Once I was in my 20’s, I thought yes! Now to just be in my 20’s the rest of my life—Forever 21! It’s a long time before 30 will ever be in my thinking.

This year I am turning 31, and I think I’m starting to catch on. It goes fast.
Growing up, birthdays were always a big deal in our family. We got to choose where we wanted to go out to eat for our special birthday dinner, and my parents always had something special planned for us. I, more often than not, always wanted my mom just to make one of her good home cooked meals for my birthday.  The ones with all the sides, the salad, the rolls; the whole works. What can I say, she’s a great cook! She would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want to go out somewhere special?” Of course, she would happily make the birthday dinner for me, but now I understand a little more how much extra work all that cooking took! My mom always made these beautiful birthday cakes for us, too. They were masterpieces in our eyes.

Little Karlyn Birthday Candles

Each year it was something different. When we reached certain “milestone” birthdays my parents would have a special event planned for us. For me and my sister, when we turned 13 we went out on a date with my dad to a nice restaurant and shopping afterwards. I remember the exact restaurant and booth we sat in on our date when I turned 13. It was Mountain Jacks. They would bring a small lazy susan of salad with all the different toppings. I always loved turning that little thing around to whichever topping I wanted. When I turned 16, my parents surprised me with a flight to Detroit with one of my girlfriends. It was my first time on an airplane.  We went shopping and I got my ears pierced.

When you’re a kid growing up, birthdays are the day you wait for all year long. You cannot wait for the presents, and cake and ice cream. They are special. And I am thankful I have such fun memories from my childhood birthdays. I love that now I get to create those special memories for my own children.

But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve started thinking about my birthday a little differently. I will always love a celebration, a surprise, a special meal. That’s just me. But really those things don’t matter as much as what celebrating another birthday really means. I view my birthday as a gift more than anything. Not a gift that comes in a box, but a gift that I can use to give back. It is the gift of another year of life. Another year to meet someone new. To invest in relationships. To see what God brings into your path. Another year that God has allowed me to learn and grow. Another year to reflect on all the goodness God has blessed us with. Most of us have experienced some type of loss in our life. Some we have lost have been very young. Some have been older. But, no matter the age, we understand that  life truly is a vapor. We are not promised today, tomorrow, or our next birthday.  I joke about “getting old”, but really I am thankful I am getting old. With each year God gives me, I pray I become more selfless, more intentional, and more Christ focused.  It’s true what they say, the older you get the more you realize how little you really know.  And to have another opportunity; another year, to draw closer to Christ, to read a book or two, to glean wisdom from someone older than you, to share special moments with your family… that truly is a gift.

Yesterday I turned 31, and it was a wonderful day with friends and family. I started my day with my cup of coffee and took my time getting ready for my adventures. With the hope of more kids in my future, I know I won’t always have an opportunity to “take my time” getting ready and go out shopping. So, I know this is a birthday gift in and of itself. While daddy and Hudson went on their own adventure, I was picked up by a girlfriend, and we headed to Santana Row for brunch and shopping. I must say, in my old age I have actually grown less and less fond of physical shopping. But don’t get me wrong, the occasional shopping spree with girlfriends will always be a fun pastime. Brunch was delicious, and although I literally could not eat another bite of anything, the birthday dessert they brought me was fun and exciting!

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The weather outside was absolutely perfect, but really, when is it not perfect here in Northern California? We hit some of our favorite shops and enjoyed what all girls enjoy doing: trying on hats and sunglasses!

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Later, I was met by Ricky and Hudson and we headed to Santa Cruz to watch the sunset. We walked a little downtown before we hit the coast.  The views from the cliffs above the ocean were simply amazing. In the short time we have lived here, we have visited these lookouts quite often, but I never get tired of looking down into those amazing waves crashing against the rocks. For a moment, you slip into another world that is just you and those waves. I love to take in those moments.

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It’s as if God is right there at my fingertips, and I can reach out and touch Him. The beauty of His creation is so overwhelming it takes my breath away. What better way to end my birthday than being with my family, looking at this beautiful masterpiece come to life?

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My 20’s were good, but I think my 30’s will be better. I’m stocked up on the wrinkle cream, I’m eating healthier, and I’m going to bed earlier (well, sometimes).  This is sure to be a good decade. I think I’ll stay in my 30’s forever….besides, 40 is a long way off!

Now, if you really want to talk about getting old, just talk to my husband! (He’s 7 years older than me!) 😉

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