On the Occasion of My Forty-Fifth Birthday

As luck would have it, I found myself sitting next to the ocean on my 45th birthday.

Typically, the sound and smell of the ocean unravels the knots in my belly and brain; it does a better job of easing my anxiety than any pill or beverage I’ve tried. Not on my birthday, though. Nope. Not even the ocean could push through my pondering of this question:

How do I want to spend my 46th trip around the sun?

Possible answers to that question turned into a sort of resolution-ish thing, which I did not enjoy one bit. Let me be perfectly frank: I don’t have a terrific track record when it comes to resolutions. Or even a halfway decent record.

Eat better. Fail. Exercise. Fail. Write something every day. Fail. Lose 15 pounds. Succeed for a little while; then fail. Get published. Fail. Make progress toward minimalism. Fail. Keep current on my YouVersion Bible reading plan. Fail. Help develop a tiny home community for people without homes. Fail. Save more; spend less. Fail. Train for a 5K. Fail. Read at least 12 books this year. Fail.

You get the idea.

As I sat on the beach, wrapped in my favorite, falling-apart quilt, I endured several torturous minutes of “I suck,” which, to be clear, is not a nice way to spend a birthday. But then, as the sun crested the horizon, an entirely new resolution came to mind. It’s a good one, too:

I’m going to cut myself some slack.

There’s a fair chance I’m going to fail at this one, too, but it’s by far the most liberating idea I’ve had in quite some time. Maybe ever.

I haven’t worked out all the details just yet, but I know one piece for sure: No more scale. I have a bad habit of weighing myself every morning. If I’m a pound or more up, I get super-sad and eat like hell. If I’m a pound or more down, I celebrate. By eating like hell. This is clearly not doing me any good at all, so I’m done with the scale and its stupid, judgmental numbers. When my clothing choices become limited to either the black elastic-waist pants or the gray ones, it’s obviously time to take better care of myself. I don’t need a scale to tell me that.

This is not, by the way, mutiny against the American culture’s absurd standards of beauty (although they are absurd). I just want to feel comfortable in my favorite jeans again. Plus, having a stroke isn’t one of my life goals.

(I don’t really have life goals. But if I did, that wouldn’t be among them.)

(Ugh. I’m 45. Shouldn’t I have life goals developed by now? What the hell is wrong with me?)

(I’m not great at cutting myself some slack.)