Turning 45 is a weird event

“Forty-five is the eye of life’s storm. The emotional drama of growing up is behind you, the physical perils of aging are still to come… it is easier to be grateful, and fearful. You are an expert in more things than you care to be and you realize that most of your life has been of your own making. You come to terms with how many moments, days, months have been squandered. You vow to do better, you know that you won’t.” —Emily Mendell

As my 45th birthday approached, I wanted to commemorate it by doing something associated with the number itself. With several ideas floating through my mind, I hoped to settle on something less time consuming than visiting 45 new cities, yet more substantial (and less of a health risk) than eating 45 cupcakes.

Forty-five is a weird age. On the upside, my experience so far has been weird with a side of, “Hmm, this isn’t so bad.”

I should be able to find a better word than “weird,” but this basic word covers it. Looking from the outside in, this milestone is not “young.” It can’t be, because in my extended family, for instance, the “kids” are in their 30s and they keep having kids. Alternately, looking from the inside out, it can’t be “old;” old couldn’t possibly feel this young.

Most of it must depend on where an individual is standing in their particular story. Some might have hit their peak at 25 and discover things coming after that point feel slightly “less than.”

Another may top their peak later, like one of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd, whose first best-seller was published when she was 53. If the former is the case, it could be a long haul. If it’s the latter, that’s potentially a great thing, once the plausible feeling of “wasted years” is reconciled.

I do understand why this age—maybe the entire 40s decade?—can be prime time for mid-life crises, career flips, and other big, desired, unexpected, inevitable tweaks. I have been a believer, or at least hopeful, that there was truth in the great cliche of “with age comes wisdom.”

Wisdom is a big word, though, and a lot to ask. Is wisdom learning more facts? Is it figuring out how to raise people to be decent people? Is it learning more about your craft or job in order to do it better every day? Is it being more accepting and tolerant? Is it softening around the edges in order to do that?

If any of those are true, I’m not convinced a certain is a prerequisite for any of them.

There are always uncertainties but I do feel I’ve picked up some knowledge, even if it’s fleeting and circumstantial. Like how some things get easier with years, while others seem more fragile. Health and general OK-ness for ourselves and the ones we love aren’t guaranteed and we know it. They’re gifts, and that’s all they are.

For some of us, 45 is having kids who are trying to figure out how to make their own way and we feel an excitement for them. We’re hopeful. We’re nervous. We’re proud of the love we put into raising them. We’re worried it’s not quite enough.

So what is a good way to commemorate this not-young, not-old birthday? Who knows. But I settled on combining things that resonate with me right now: health, discipline, calm and restoration. I skipped the cupcakes (well, mostly) and did a yoga practice every day for the 45 days leading up to my birthday.

Life changing? Nope. But it kept my old-lady tendinitis at bay, reminded me to stand a little taller and conditioned me to breathe deeper.

I also chose that because of the word “practice.” There’s no mastery, no finish line. You start, you do your best to slowly work through inflexibility, you fall over, cuss your imbalance, stand up and try again.

And then you try again.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ven­tures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.