Age Is Your Destination, Not A Number


Yesterday I turned 45.

This is significant as it marks a halfway point in my life, since there is a distinct possibility that I could see my 90th birthday. My grandmother, who has smoked pretty much all her life (only finally quitting two years ago), who likes to start every phone call with "I wish God had just let me die last night," and then talk about all the negative things that happened over the course of her lifetime, has just celebrated 90 years.  Which makes 90 sound like so much...well, if you are her, not fun and not young.

But then I also watched the news and saw a brief story about Ida Keeling, who at 99 just set a new age-group world record of 59.80 seconds for a 100 meter dash.


And trust me, my birthday yesterday, while filled with lots of loving and kind comments (especially appreciative of all the ones that included "you don't look any older than 29" or some variation of that theme), it really was a day like any other.

A day that included an early morning marathon training bike ride, lunches for kids, signing paperwork handed to me at the last minute, washing a load of laundry, talking with my colleagues at RESULTS about group expansion work and anti-poverty advocacy initiatives, cleaning up some cat ick, having lunch out with my spouse, sitting in my car reading a book waiting to pick up my daughter, attending a group meeting to talk about ONE's "The Power Project" campaign, shopping at the grocery store...

It's not always about where the sunrise is, but
the fact that you get to experience one that matters most
Well,  I think you get the picture.

It was an exercise in the ordinary.

And I loved every minute of it.

Because the way I see it, every single day that we are able to get our bodies out of our beds, walk around, have coffee, cuddle with our cats or our kids, see a sunrise, drink a smoothie, go for a run, meet with loved ones and friends, talk and share about issues we support and believe in, make a phone call to someone who we've been meaning to talk to, get a phone call from someone who you haven't talked to in a while, ... THAT'S what is worth celebrating.

The exercising of the ordinary.

The fact that we can do all those things, without having to think twice about doing them, is what matters.

Because, despite what so many people seem to think, that I live this life extraordinary with superhero status, the truth is that it is the ordinary which is the sum of our whole and what helps us when we are faced with the out of the ordinary, to be extraordinary. Trust me, I want nothing more than to stir it up and make the world take notice that it's time a change takes place. But I also know that at 45 (even if a few someones think I look 29) I have aches and frustrations which sometimes I get far too focused on forgetting all the rest. That:

  • I have to hold books further away to read the print and need glasses and am vain enough to just hold the book further away than buy the darned glasses. 
  • I fight depression and still wrestle with grief and guilt over the death of my mother.
  • I have swollen ankles. Like Fred Flintstone swollen and am living in flip flops when I'm not in running shoes. I have thigh muscles that feel like they are on fire. Yes, this girl is on fire. 
  • I have calf muscles that get so tight I sometimes can't point or flex my feet, no matter how long I use the foam roller or how hard I press. 
  • I have more grey hair than can be counted (which thankfully a good black and white filter can hide).
BUT none of that prevents me from getting up, walking outside, and taking a look at the sunset. To exhale. To know that if I'm fortunate, I will wake in the morning and get an opportunity to start fresh and try to do my best, again. To focus on compliments rather than complaints.

And celebrate it all.

The taste of strawberries and cream. The smell of sunscreen. The feel of sweat rolling down my neck after a run. The sound of laughter at bad jokes. The sight of a sunrise on a city street.

45, no filter, as "I myself am made entirely of flaws,
stitched together with good intentions"

So tomorrow morning, as I sit on my couch, sipping coffee, groggy with sleep, with every inclination to pull up a blanket and listen to every fiber of my being saying just be still, go back to bed, let someone else do it, I will not stop. I will exercise the ordinary. Because someone is me. I will get up and celebrate it all. I will practice all the self-care that I can. I will use all the ice in my house to soak in after my long run on Saturday. And every day that I am able I will get up and do it all again, because it takes a lot of ordinary people to make extraordinary things happen, like finding a cure to Parkinson's (as I'm asking my friends to do via my Michael J. Fox Foundation fundraising page).

I was asked yesterday what I have learned in the last year. I've learned, as Lou Holtz said, "if you're bored with life, if you don't get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don't have enough goals."

So, I woke up today with a goal.

Choose to live the next 45 years, keeping track of the hurt, the frustration, replaying the moments where I "could have been a contender" and find myself at 90 always playing out the bitter rather than savoring the sweet.


Choose to live the next 45 years (plus), striving to reach a point where I'm mentally and physically healthy enough to run a 100 meter dash fast enough to set a new world record of 59.79. Because you don't have to beat that record by minutes, just by a second.

A goal to live if age is a destination, not a number. I know which goal I choose.
What's yours?

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