I spent the other night on the bathroom floor because I like to be sick like I mean it.
Traditionally, I’m an big fan of “go big or go home” where there’s only one right answer – GO BIG, of course – but the older I get the more I’m starting to question whether I’m allowed to change my affiliation and sometimes just quietly go home. I would’ve liked that option the other night, but noooooo, I had to shrug on my bravado, zip it up tight, and GO BIG. Really, REALLY big. All night long. With moaning. And keening. Lots of keening.
Greg moved the kids to the far end of the house because he was afraid they would think I was dying.
I thought I was dying.
My body showed up, slapped me around, punched me in the gut, pushed me down and kicked me while I was there. And then I curled up in a little ball on the foam mattress Greg brought me, and I rocked myself to intermittent sleep. Between the keening.
I’m now in the phase following massive gut upset when I’m afraid to eat; a fear I will no doubt overcome soon and with great enthusiasm. Not Eating is a fun novelty while it lasts. It just never lasts long.
Now, here’s how much of that you needed to know: 0%.
But I have a point – cross my heart – and it’s this: I’M GOING TO BE FORTY.
Just like Sally of When Harry Met Sally fame.
Sally: What’s the matter with me?
Sally: I’m difficult.
Harry: You’re challenging.
Sally: I’m too structured. I’m completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.
Sally: AND I’m going to be forty.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end.
My friend, Grace, turned 10 earlier this year, and I’m about to turn 40.
It’s just sitting there.
Except “there” is suddenly much closer.
I mean, I’ve been saying I’m going to be 40 for years now; like Sally, someday. And now, someday is only 20 days away.
And I feel … ready.
I’ve never had a problem with aging, not in the traditional chase-youth, celebrate-my-annual-29th-birthday, do-botox kind of way. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of the wrinkles between my eyes or the way my boobs keep making a break for it by sliding out the bottom of my bra, but in general I feel aging is a privilege. After all, not everyone gets to do it. I honor the people I’ve lost by living this messy life with gratitude and loving my people recklessly and laughing with abandon… and occasionally by pouring a beer for Gloria while I sit crisscross on top her grave and listen to the wind which I secretly think is her voice.
There’s something significant to be said for this silly, sincere life, even though we have to age to have one.
And so I’ve spent the last year pondering What To Do for My Fortieth. To mark the years past. To celebrate the years to come. To stop – just for a little while – and be.
But all the ideas I had felt like work. Ideas like planning a family trip. Or a solo trip. Or a backpacking adventure. Or having coffee with 40 friends. Or learning to knit socks. Or sky-diving. They all sounded fun, minus sky-diving because that is infinitely crazy and also hell, no, but I couldn’t muster the energy to make the effort for any of the ideas, you know? Maybe because Homework for Five Kids currently has my “extra” time completely buttoned up. Filled to the brim and overflowing.
And that’s when I remembered my friend, Grace, who celebrated her 10th birthday with 10 Random Acts of Kindness. Her whole birthday party consisted of her mama (go, Heidi!) loading a gaggle of girls in and out of a van as they rushed around town making people smile. Leaving pennies at a wishing well and quarters at a laundromat. Delivering food and toys to families in need.
“Because,” Grace said when I asked her why she chose that for her birthday, “it’s nice to see how you can brighten someone’s day.”
That’s all. No agenda. Just it’s nice to see how you can brighten someone’s day.
In short, I want to be like Grace when I grow up.
So I spent the other night on my bathroom floor while the flu kept me awake with all the moaning. And the keening. And, when the nausea calmed down, the thinking.
About spending this life learning how to be kind.
To others, yes, and also to myself, which is often the hard part.
And it was there, on the bathroom floor, that I decided to spend the 40 days surrounding my birthday – 20 days before and 20 days after – in a state of grace.
40 days of grace, if you will.
40 days of grace to spend together. With you. Encouraging each other. Giving gifts of kindness. Being grateful. Being a mess and allowing that mess to be OK. To be enough. To be worthy of compassion. To be RAD.
So here’s how this is going to work:
40 Days of Grace starts today.
Every day, either here or on my Facebook page, I’ll post something around the theme of grace. New writing. Older posts. Blurbs. Links. Pictures. Something. Something that reminds us that we are – every last one of us – deeply, truly worthy of grace. And capable of spreading it around.
I can’t think of anything I’d like more for my birthday than to ask you to join me for 40 days of grace.