29 and 11/10th’s

Or perhaps it might be easier to just say . . .

Easier, but not nearly as kind.

Yep, I’m turning 30, people. Watch out.

I don’t know what it is. In my head, I see my birthday going something like this:

Okay, maybe I don’t have a law degree, own a snazzy off-white blazer, or work in an office full of colleague executives, but you get the idea, yes? A birthday should entail exorbitant amounts of doting, the culmination of one’s friends in the same room, compliments in which people specifically bring attention to my lack of crow’s feet and frown lines. And a cake — preferably a rainbow-chip funfetti cake.

But somehow my birthdays usually end up looking more like this:

Party for one?

As ridiculous as it sounds, birthdays can be tough on people. The matter is entirely arbitrary; however, for most, they bring all sorts of vast, abstruse introspections rushing to the surface, calling your attention to all the should have, could have, and would have’s, and illuminating in the ugliest light all that you have not achieved. This is of course is not the actual birthday’s fault, because, let’s just be real here, the day before and the day after one’s birthday are filled with just as many shoulda, coulda woulda’s.

But there is something about the actual day. It begs for our full and compliant attention; perhaps snarls is a better description. It curls a crooked finger, beckoning, glowing red eyes full of malice and schadenfreude, luring you into a pit of self-loathing and despair.

How silly.

Silly, yes, but for some it doesn’t make it any easier with an accurate label. We are who we are, feel what we feel, for no other reason than the same reason that the dawning sky turns gray one morning and pink another. Some will relish their birthdays. Others will despise them. Many will fall somewhere in the middle. That’s where I am, I think: the middle. Maybe leaning a hair more toward despise than relish.

Which is why I stopped having them. Parties, not birthdays. If I found a way to do that, I wouldn’t be writing books; I would be tapping people on the head with my pink, sparkly wand.

“And to you, old crone, I relieve you of your laugh lines.”

“You, noble sir, I give you back your hair.”

“May you be hemorrhoid free!”

My mother-in-law’s sweet Lab — she’s pushing 13 — breaks my heart every time she attempts to lift her arthritic body off the carpet. It has come to the point where one of us has to assist her into the standing position, to which she then wobbles and vacillates out the backdoor and onto the lawn, hind quarters trembling, to try and relieve herself. Seriously, I can’t even watch, lest begin the waterworks.

I’m just going to say it. “GETTING OLD SUCKS!” Hair falls out where it shouldn’t, grows in places it definitely shouldn’t, joints stiffen, memory fades, appendages sag, and on and on. On the outside, it is pure hell. I have no reservations in saying that, because it is true. Aging is tough.

The parties, though? Those are not tough.

I have a couple amazing people in my life who expressed an interest in celebrating my 30th year on this planet. And rather than be a boob about it and whine and complain about all the reasons I don’t want a party, I acquiesced. Ashamed, I come to you and admit that, since making such promises, I have both whined and complained. The closer Friday comes, the more I just want to call the whole thing off, buy myself a Costco size box of Lucky Charms, and fly to Switzerland (except the part where I fly to Switzerland. Planes = *shudders*)

And since there is no one else here to do it, this is where I give myself a pep-talk.

** The part of Cara will be played by Cara. Additionally, the other part of Cara will be played by Cara as well.

“Listen here, Cara.” *slaps a cheek* “Quit being a brat. Rejoice in that you have lived 30 privileged, blessed, healthy years. You have way more than most, are loved richly by a few, and remain to be part of the small percentage of humans who actually get to do what they love for a living. Need I go on? Or are you getting the picture?”

“Jeez, Cara . . . all I said was that I didn’t want a party.” *makes mopey face*

“Don’t want a pa– Are you kidding me?! You’re trying to justify your stink face and griping by telling me you’re put-off by the idea of people wanting to celebrate you?”

“Well, I just–”

“No! I’ve heard enough! Lock it up, sister. I’m sick of your complaining.”

“You don’t need to get testy, all right?”

“Oh, I think I do, fool. I think I need to get testy all up in this place.”

“Why are you suddenly speaking gangster?”

“I don’t know. It just happened.”

And . . . SCENE!

As you can see, I ran away with myself there, but hopefully my point came across somewhere around the middle.

Fending off those voices that scream you’re getting old is a real thing. Most of us would say we are our own worst critics. This is a sad truth, but it’s one we need to be aware of. If not, we are subject to believing the lies that we are somehow less important, less special, less capable of achieving our dreams and hopes, simply because three hundred and sixty five days have passed. If anything, we more learned, more attuned with who we are and who we want to be.

So . . . when those pernicious voices begin to creep up on me, I’ll take it one gracious step at a time. I’ll remind myself that I am worthy, that I am beloved, and that age really, truly is nothing but a number.

That, and I’ll bust out my lightsaber and go all Princess Leia on their a$$.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

70 thoughts on “29 and 11/10th’s

  1. Well, Mollusk Girl, considering that I am forty years older than you are, I can’t really sympathize with your plight. But, then, age never bothered me at all. I had trouble remembering how old I was … three years younger than my husband. That’s how I kept track. I can tell you that your best years are ahead of you. By thirty, we really don’t know much. 🙂 Hang on! It’s still uphill for you! Enjoy that birthday celebration.

    • Maybe not sympathize, but empathize. As you said, age has never bothered you much. How wonderful! To be free of such an inconsequential neuroses is a wonderful blessing indeed. My generation has, for whatever reason, found a way to capital on insecurities, and thus our televisions, radios, and billboards are governed by endless tips and gimmicks on how to “stay young.” I do my best to turn the other way, to not be sucked in, but it is everywhere.

      Truth be told, my plight has more to do with the celebrating than anything else. I have yet to know or understand what aging really means, though I watch those I love do so with poise and grace. I simply don’t want to have the whole world rotate around me for an evening. I would rather avoid all the fuss. That’s all.

      I’ll do my best. Thanks, George. I’m so glad you dropped by today. 😉

      • I feel precisely as you do about the celebration thing. I hate it too. Now that I have officially declared myself a hermit, I no longer have trouble with folks trying to celebrate with me! 🙂
        Your work is amazing, Cara. You write so very well, you know. I didn’t know you’d written a book! Where have I been?

      • Hermitting myself — at least until August 4th — doesn’t sound like half a bad idea, George!

        Thank you . . . that means a great deal to me, I hope you know. Ha! Well, it was a long time in the making, but yes, it’s complete — minus a bit of fine-tooth editing. Where have you been? Oh, I suspect taking beautiful pictures, writing great posts, and making new acquaintances with people all across the world. 😉

  2. Happy almost birthday, to YOU! I am amazed at how accomplished you are both as a woman who knows herself well, and as a writer pursuing her dream, at such a young age!

    Party, schmarty… Just think of it as a fabulous evening with friends and those you love most! Enjoy every minute of it all! 🙂

    And though it is a bit cliche, life, much like a fine wine, really does just keep getting better with age!

    • Thank you, Shannon! Your words are kind, and fall on appreciative ears. 😉

      I promise I will do my absolute best to not be cranky and complain!

      Oh, I am counting on it!

  3. Cara, go celebrate for one day/evening! I understand about not wanting the attention but be grateful for it. I can faintly remember turning 30 many, many moons ago. You have done so much to be proud of in a short 30 years! Enjoy! Cheers!

  4. Happy Birthday Cara. Give it another 5-ish years and you won’t be so fazed by the numbers. Despite the downside of which you provided the icky details, you will one birthday give yourself the best prezzie of all – to not give a rat’s… about your age or anything else much. It will all be grist for the mill. Until then enjoy your birthday, the party (suuuuccckkkerrrr 😉 and the coming year 🙂

    • Thank you, Ella. 😉

      Oh, I certainly hope so. But I’m not so sure. I think much of that stems from your mother; how she aged and what she thought along the way. I was raised by a beautiful woman who paid close attention to her skin along the way. I find myself doing the same and wonder . . . Beauty, I believe, is skin deep; but voices say otherwise and I must purge them from my sensitive mind!

      Ha! I am the sucker, aren’t I? Oh, well, at least a sweet one, right? 😉

  5. The birthday parties and gatherings that I’ve dreaded the most, almost lost sleep over for Pete’s sake, invariably turned out to be some of the best moments of my life. So keep dreading Friday, Cara, get a little queasy in the stomach and be irrationally short-tempered with your husband – you too might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!

    Happy Birthday!

    P.S. If you have a crappy time, make sure you get a foot rub and breakfast in bed the next morning!

    • I like your thinking, Elisa . . . on both ends. Who knows what Friday will bring. I shall keep an open mind AND a queasy stomach. 😉

      “P.S. If you have a crappy time, make sure you get a foot rub and breakfast in bed the next morning!” Michael! Did you hear that?

  6. Happy birthday Cara! I agree with Shannon – with such talent and calling at your…ahem…young age, you have many wonderful years ahead of you. Enjoy your day, party or no party, and ignore those pernicious voices. Lies, all lies!

  7. Well my dear…I wish I had read your blog before I sent out your birthday card today, I think I would have said a couple other things now realizing your “middle” stance on the subject 😉 LOL!

    Love the post and I feel you. (I was rolling on the floor with your self conversation…in my head I was even reading in a gangsta accent!) My husband, Phillip, recently turned 40 and I thought to myself, “No way I am married to a 40 year old man!!” I am not far behind him though, I am 36 and so I am not sure why I think such a thought. Perhaps because my hubby looks REALLY young, stays in good shape and I sort of feed off of that so I never really see the age thing. I could say the old cliche things but I won’t…truth is it’s all about how we roll with it. So smile, enjoy it and relish in your company of friends and loved ones…I’d bet my life you are a delight to be celebrated! Cheers to you!
    Much Love,

    • Oh, you shouldn’t have! But I am so glad you did! 🙂

      Confession, I do love a good celebration; it’s the “afraid no one will show up” part that gets me. As we both very well know about the other now, after last night’s Facebook fiasco, I was a HUGE nerd all through elementary and junior high school. I would have parties and no one would come. And so that fear stuck with me, to this day! It’s silly, but what’s happens to us in our youth tends to linger long after it should.

      Anyway . . . I am so delighted, and am waiting in great anticipation to receive your card. Thank you for thinking of me!

      YAY! Okay, can I just say that I was wondering whether or not my humor came across in the post. There I was thinking I was hilarious, and not a soul was agreeing with me. You were the only one to say it made you laugh, so thank you for that! Best present I’ve received so far. When we meet, we should make up a gangsta handshake. 😉

      Your husband does NOT look 40 and you do not look 36. Truthfully, if I am being very honest, you look like you’re in your late 20’s. You’re a gorgeous woman and I suspect will only continue to age with grace.

      Thank you, Ninali. So blessed to know you, my friend! And secretly I am wishing you could be here to celebrate with us. Now that would be the best present ever!


      • I hope it was a grand success, I am sure it was. I wished really really hard to be there but I guess you’ll just have to settle for a delayed b-day hug in September. I do hope we have a chance when we get there. It is going to be a whirlwind though with so many things going on…plus my sister-in-law’s photographer backed out on her and guess who she has asked the honor of? 😯 My tummy is in knots…I don’t want to screw up…I am not a photographer but I don’t want her to not have any memories. So I am busy looking into renting some lenses and another camera to capture the event and practice before the big day! But I do think we could make it happen. 🙂

        …and BTW you are too kind…my mother has aged very well, I can only hope that I follow suit!

      • As much as I would have LOVED you being there to celebrate, a delayed hug in September would be . . . awesome! I can work around your schedule, as it sounds like you will be very busy. When the date comes closer just let me know what day you’re thinking you might have an afternoon free and we will see if we can make it work. I hope so!

        Oh, Ninali! What a blessing you are. I can hardly believe you are second-guessing your abilities as a photographer. Then again . . . I constantly think I am a poor writer and could be much, much better, so I suppose I do understand. Maybe even too well. But, let me just say it: you are incredibly talented! I mean that. I am not shooting pixie dust up your keister. 😉 You take the most gorgeous pictures. And in fact, after seeing your collection of work, I would have hired YOU over another photographer, easily. I hope you embrace this opportunity, because I have every assurance you’re going to make this day very, very special for all involved.

        Already looking forward to meeting!!

  8. Man, I always felt like people sounds finally take me seriously when I turned thirty. I still stand by what I said to a friend last night: remember when we were kids and thought we’d feel grown up at sixteen? Then wet turned sixteen and thought we’d feel grown up when wet went to college? Then we went to college and felt like we’d feel grown up when we got our first job, or got married? Then we did that….
    And so I’ve decided you’re only as old as you feel. Which means some days I feel sixteen, some days I feel forty, and most days I feel like I’m still twenty-two and the world is my oyster, full of possibility. May this birthday have you feeling younger than ever.

    Happy birthday, friend!

    • Edit beginning to read: I’ve always felt like people MIGHT START to take me seriously WHEN I turn thirty. Stupid auto-spell.

      Meaning I’m jealous of you getting to where I want to be!

      • LOL! I got you girl! I knew what you were trying to say. 😉

        And you are so right about everything. I can remember, vividly, that longing, wanting, desperate hoping to be older and more mature, feeling as if once I arrived, I would be complete or whole in some way. A lie! The grass is not greener; unless we spray paint it, ha!

        Thank you, Christy. And for the record, I take you seriously. 😉

  9. Happy birthday! I hope it’s a good one. Sending you a virtual cake with lots of chocolate and multicolored sprinkles.

    When my birthday month rolls around, I like to do one small thing each week to celebrate. Sometimes it’s going to a movie, buying something (like a new book or CD) for myself, things like that. It’s fun.

    • Thank you so much! At the very least, I am looking forward to a morning off; just sipping coffee, snuggling up with my puppy and good book, and hopefully eating some delicious food with the people I love. 😉 Now that doesn’t sounds so scary at all!

      Ooo, I am liking your celebration method. I may just have to espouse that for myself. Hm, now which book to buy . . .

  10. I hope you have a great birthday! I think birthdays do get a little easier as we go along in life. Reading your post brought back lots of memories of my past birthdays. Well said! Now birthdays are just kind of shocking to me. They keep coming faster and faster. I keep telling myself that it is better than the alternative!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann!

      And I hope you are right. Not only do I want to age gracefully, I want to mature gracefully, too. Glad I could take you down memory lane. 😉

      LOL! Yes, certainly better than the alternative. Pack each day with as much life as you can!

  11. Oh Cara, there is so much to comment on here. Aging does SUCK! My heart breaks for my parents, they are getting so frail and childlike. And your poor 13 year old lab, it’s just so sad! Not to mention I will turn 50 in October, yuck! I think I’ll get my first tattoo in defiance of that milestone. In your face 50!

    I am not at all comfortable being the focal point of a celebration either. It’s so much more fun to lavish the attention on someone else.<– see what I did right there? 😉 Let your friends and family spoil you for one night. You'll have a great time and your family and friends will get the delight of pampering the one they love on her 30th birthday.

    Love you!


    • Watching parents grow old is painful. You can’t help but hurt for them, but also see a mirror of what’s to come; the inevitable. And so I try to run for no reason, sing silly songs at the top of my lungs when no one and everyone is looking, and laugh as much as possible. I want to live, and only afterwards, do I want to die and go on home to be with my Lord and Savior.

      Oooo, a tattoo, you say? What kind of tattoo do you want? And where? I have three and I love each one.

      50? You are aging so beautifully! On that video, you looked no more than 40. Must be that glowy complexion. 😉

      LOL! Yes, I see what you did right there. Just you wait! Your time will come!

      Oh, I will try . . . it’s makes me squirm just thinking about it, but I will try!

      Love you, too!

      • Lol! You are so kind! I feel like I am still 40, but I think the glowy complexion was due to it being 95 degrees and we had just hiked up the side of a mountain. 😉

        To tattoo or not to tattoo, that is the question. Sticking to my Texas hippie roots I was thinking about a bluebonnet and indian paintbrush on my shoulder. I like pretty tats. I love your sunflower!

      • LOL! Sweat will do that to you. Well, it looks good on you. 😉 Not everyone sweats pretty.

        I like your tat idea, and it sounds like it would mean something to you, which is always important, seeing how it will be on your body forever. 😉
        Thank you, me too! I am already thinking about next one. Warning: they are addictive!

  12. Happy near Birthday! I was listening to someone who counseled elderly people. Some would say, “I never accomplished anything special.” She would say, ” You survived.” We forget in this often challenging planet, thats an accomplishment.

    • Thank you, Susan!

      Wow. That certainly stops you short and makes you think, doesn’t it? No, I can’t say that I have ever felt that surviving was much of an accomplishment; but I suppose she is both accurate and astute in making that statement. And I would go even further to say “in one piece.” So many of us survive, but usually it’s bits and fragments — what’s left over after we’ve given too much of ourselves in too many of the wrong ways. I am thankful for friends, for family, for God and His protection. I am blessed!

      Happy Thursday to you!

  13. Hsppy Birthday! That’s the thing about not working outside of the home. You pretty much celebrate these days only once. No fresh faces. But you could always decorate anyway. Invite neighbors over. The neighborhood kids even. 🙂

    • Thank you! You are so right, Totsy. Over the years working at home has become somewhat of a source of discontent, only because I feel like my whole world exists inside my bedroom. I am an outgoing hermit? Fortunately, we have a few good friends we see regularly that keep me sane. And there is church, too. Thank God! Both literally and figuratively. 😉

      You know, I am not above trying out your suggestion. I’m heading over to facebook to see who’s ready to party.

      Hope you are well!

  14. First happy birthday!! Second 30 is a wonderful age old enough to know better and young enough to act like you don’t. Trust me I was there twelve years ago. I wish I embraced it. 52 really sucks. It’s Saturday so I guess you’re all party out. Hope it was fun.

    • Thank you, Kim. It was an interesting weekend, and while there were certainly some wonderful moments, I am glad things are getting back to normal around here. Beyond that, I am embracing 30 as you suggested, remembering that I can be both naughty and nice. 😉 All things in moderation, yes?

  15. Wait til you hit 50…and have someone asking you why you are tweezing your chin…there is no outward beauty in the aging, generally speaking, but I am finding that I do kind of like the sparkle in my gray hairs–kind of like natural highlights–but the joints and the other things, well suffice it to say I would happily do without. Nonetheless, I hope you thoroughly enjoy your 30th year. Thirty was a great year for me…remember it fondly with what memory I still have 🙂 !

    • LOL! Tweezing my chin? Well, I have already shaved peach fuzz above my upper lip, so by 50 I think I’ll be ready for the tweezers. 😉

      Oh, I like the way you think of your gray hairs — “sparkle.” Yes, that is a perfect description.

  16. Cara-

    I am so sorry that I am belated in wishing you a happy birthday! But, now that I am getting a chance to read your birthday saga, I am greatly amused. This is probably because, as you know, i just had a birthday, too. I can completely relate to all the pressure that seems to come on that specific day, and while it may be a spectacular day, it never seems to live up to all the hype. I also loved reading about your counter to your negative voice! It reminds me of an exercise I do with my patients, ha. You have some healthy skills, girlfriend 🙂

    So, did you celebrate your special day with your friends? No matter what you did, I hope it was a day in which you felt loved, cherished, and special.

    Xo- Amber

    • Thank you, Amber!

      Yes, it was somewhat of a saga, wasn’t it? LOL. While the Hubs went above and beyond to ensure a special, memorable day, I can say with full certainty that I am happy the festivities have come to an end — mostly, anyway. We do leave for a quick getaway tomorrow, so that will be an extension, but a very relaxing one!

      Ha! Do I? Maybe I should look into counseling. 😉 Maybe it only works on me . . .

      We did celebrate with friends! The shindig took place at my parent’s place in Dana Point. They have a gorgeous home that really we couldn’t replicate with a venue. Originally, it was a couple’s deal, and I had a small, quaint affair in mind, 12 couples in all. But, with it being summer and all, one couple was out of town, and two of the wives were unable to make it. It still ended up being a wonderful event, spent with some incredibly warm, generous people. 😉

  17. With a beautiful heart like yours Cara, keep on sharing, keep on moving forward, there are some who never had the chance to reach their 30th! You are still blossoming and your touch is always an amazing one through your words. It is wonderful to share your space at any given time! Happy belated birthday, you will find your life will only get better as long as you keep sharing the loveliness that is you! God bless my sister!

    • Wendell,

      Thank you for these words. I plan to do as you say, moving forward and allowing the works God has planned for me to come to pass. I hope I do this with both grace and humor and kindness.

      Blessings to you!

  18. Once again you leave me teary eyed from laughing so hard. Ah… age is but a number Cara. You are a brilliant writer and an incredible young woman with a gigantic, fabulous future ahead! Wishing you a happy belated birthday friend!! This is going to be a great year for you. 🙂 Wishing You Many Blessings!

  19. Happy belated birthday! I hope you had fun 🙂 Aging does suck but I have a good feeling that you’re going to age gracefully, beautifully and continue to be a wonderful light for those around you.

  20. I’m obviously late to the ‘party’! Hmm, the quandary of aging. But in Him there is no quandary – it is always a celebration of life from His perspective – no matter the earth years. Even when life seems to be snuffed out too soon – it is life itself that has incredible miraculous value. So Cara, even though belated – I rejoice with Him over your life, you made in His image, and the unfolding of fullness of life for you/in you/through you!

    • Thank you, Nancy, for this lovely birthday wish. 30 certainly started out with a bang, I can say that for sure. I also suspect He is at work, doing great things in me and through me.

      Much love to you,
      ~ Cara

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