BABY STEPS AND THE BIG 4-0


In less than a week, I will turn forty. 4-0.

Yes, I was born in the 60’s. I was born before man walked on the moon. I was born before “Houston, we have a problem,” was ever uttered in space and I took my first breath sometime in the middle of the Vietnam War. I was born before Sesame Street ever hit the airwaves, before Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy’sbefore Woodstock. The Beatles were still a group.

One of my first vivid memories is of Richard Nixon on tv. We had thick, olive green shag carpet that not only had to be vacuumed, it had to be RAKED. I remember sitting there on the floor with my brother, watching the President speak.

When I think of all the technological advances that have taken place in my lifetime, I laugh. I took a typing class on a typewriter and had to make corrections with liquid paper and chalky white strips and learned layout and design the old fashioned way. I developed FILM from my camera in a darkroom and edited the pictures with chemicals and cotton swabs. So many things that kids take for granted now… and I’m certain there are things I take for granted that my parents and grandparents once gazed at in awe.

AND I WALKED UPHILL TO SCHOOL… BOTH WAYS…IN TEN FEET OF SNOW IN SUBZERO TEMPERATURES.

My life has been a series of baby steps and giant leaps forward. How far I’ve come. How far I have to go. While leaps are exhilerating and gratifying, it’s the baby steps that seem to have covered the most ground in my life.

When I watch babies take those first awkward, off-balance steps, I am reminded of how determined they are to take those steps and the chubby baby hand clapping and drooling five tooth grins that follow the accomplishment as if to say, “Look at me! See what I did! Let’s celebrate!”

Two baby steps forward… and then, after that first triumph comes another big fall, cut chin, bruised eye, and screaming or tears. Then the baby gets up…and tries again and is soon running and grinning as if to say, “look at me now!”

I now stare 40 in the face and I’m still taking baby steps. Yes, I also run, leap, skip and jump, but most of the time, I face life one tiny, awkward off-balance step at a time. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if, on my journey to a healthy life, I decided to stay on floor after tripping over one of my toys or an object someone who was supposed to know better left behind in their wake. If I’d given up going forward after a setback, I’d still be miserable and unhealthy and on a much quicker path to being aged and miserable rather than aging gracefully.

I have arrived at this milestone as a photonegative of the person I once was, but I am not finished, nowhere near the finish line. My prayer is, as I enter my forties, is to be braver and maybe take more leaps than baby steps. I feel like I’m so far behind, having just cleared the fog and realized there is a small mountain to climb, when so many have already ascended so much higher and moved on to cliff-diving or climbing Everest. For them, just one more challenge to conquer, one more “Look at me! See what I did! Let’s celebrate!”

I did start the ascent this year:

I’d just like not to have the bottom fall out of my stomach when I look down, but at least I know what that feels like…a baby step. I still have so far to go.

I’ve heard it said forty is the new thirty. I don’t think I’ll look back, though, and try to reclaim that time of my life. The thirty-somethings can keep their decade. For someone who has had to fight as hard as I have to survive, I will wear forty as a badge of honor.

While hope anchors me, courage must pull me onward, stretching me farther than I ever believed possible. I will be able to take bigger steps that way and not pull so many muscles when I leap… awkwardly.

Welcome, forty. Look at me now!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Meg says:

    May 40 be the best year yet, Shae.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You go almost 40 year old! May it be a year of always going forward!Love ya! Miss ya!LMS

  3. GW says:

    Ah, heck, how’d I misplace your blog, Sharon? I just found ya again and added it to my Google Reader. Speaking as a 41-year-old, I can say that 40 is definitely the new 30. 🙂

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