Say it loud, say it proud! Listen up world…I. AM. 40.

June is my birth month.  I grew up celebrating my birthday on June 19th.  What a great date. My favorite month and one of my favorite numbers. (Admitted possible chicken and egg scenario here.)  I shared the same birth date with my now deceased and beloved grandfather. My mother once told me that when my grandparents (on my father’s side) first heard that my parents were going to adopt a foreign-born child, my old school Italian grandparents were not pleased. When they learned later that I had the same birth date as my grandfather, their position was somewhat softened. It was not until I was 33, in 2004, when I traveled to Korea to finally meet my Korean family, that I learned my true birthday is June 11th. When I first learned this, I thought it made a lot of sense because it made me even more of the through and through Gemini that I am. Initially, although I was not planning on going through the hassle of legally changing my date of birth, I wanted to celebrate my birthday on the 11th. For a couple of years, I tried. It never felt quite right to me, nor I would venture to guess, to my family but I was determined. It only made sense. Your birthday should be celebrated on your date of birth -yes? As many things do, the answer to this birthday issue was resolved for me once my babies were born. I decided, in order to avoid confusion and just because it felt more right, to go back to celebrating my birthday on the 19th. And so I do. With an inner acknowledgement on my own part on the 11th.

Birthdays are interesting. Like all of life or, at least, in mine, there is an ebb and flow we have with our birthday. As an adopted child growing up, birthdays were one of the most painful reminders that I was, in fact, adopted; that I was separated from my birth mother. The disconnected, lonely feeling that many adopted people grow up with, was the most intense for me every year on June 19th. It was the day and time of year when I would wonder the most, is she thinking about me? Does she remember that today is my birthday? Does she hurt for me? Does she miss me? These feelings went away after finding my birth mother in 1993. Yes, she did think about me and not just on the day that she labored to bring me into this world, but on everyday.

After finding my Korean mother, birthdays, finally, became a celebration for me. The twenties and thirties were fun and exciting! (Well, once I was over the shock of turning 30, then they were fun. Oh youth!) What I’ve come to learn, is that our twenties are pure ego-driven good times. Our thirties are for reconciling the fact that our life is not necessarily the way we thought it would be at this point and that that is ok! My guess, is that the forties are for truly embracing this belief. Life is not exactly what I thought it would be at this point but so what!

Like most American women, I struggle with this getting older thing. A few months before my birthday this year, I realized, that for the first time I cared about people knowing my age. I did not want to admit that I was (soon-to-be) 40. This is all vanity, of course, but I really, truly struggled with it. (Which is why I am forcing myself to proclaim it loudly in the title of this column.) One of my Gemini twins is clinging to the hot young thing I was in my younger days. (And to prove it, she has bought just about every potion, lotion and cream under the sun that promises a more youthful appearance!) My other, more grounded, wanna-be/Buddhist-leaning Gemini twin realizes that age is just a number and somewhat inconsequential.  This twin recognizes that my life may not be what I always imagined it would be by this stage but that I am blessed with a healthy, beautiful family with whom I truly love spending time. To an extent, we are privileged and I humbly acknowledge this fact. There are many doing much better than us financially speaking but we are whole in our love and laughter with each other. It is impossible to place a value on this type of wholeness, there is no ability to quantify it. Love is.

And so, this past June 19th, I awoke very early in a designer-beautiful home in the Bahamas to an awe-inspiring tropical storm. I got up before my family and before my sister’s family and sat on the porch watching and listening to the rain and thunder, smelling the sweet jasmine in the air. As my six senses over flowed with a sense of calm and gratitude evoked by the transcendence  of the storm, I spoke out loud to the Universe. I gave thanks for my life, this new decade, my family and friends. And I asked the Universe for continued support in helping me be the best person that I can be.

Say it loud, say it proud. Listen up world…I. AM. 40! And I am fabulous!