My birthday passed uneventfully a week ago. I had the usual flurry of cards, well-wishes and gifts from family and friends, with the question of where to go for my birthday dinner and how to spend my birthday weekend. Somehow, though, I found this birthday more challenging than prior birthdays.
Earlier this month, I reflected on my eventful 10 years here in Cambridge on my trip to the RMV to renew my license. On one hand, I’ve got an ace in the hole—so much to be thankful for—I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to before I turn 40—married to a wonderful husband, with two kids, cozy home, and a flexible and satisfying career.
Still, last week I found myself feeling restless inside. I was grumpy after getting a couple of spa treatments mid-week (my birthday special treat: massage and facial). Partly because I was suddenly offered the “anti-aging” treatments (oh goodness), but partly because I’d come home to a couple of fussy kids, and I would feel all that relaxation slowly fading away.
Then on my birthday itself, I decided to take a break from work and go shopping. I grabbed a latte, parked by the Boston garden, and walked down Newbury Street on a brisk sunny spring morning. I let a saleswoman fawn and gush over me while trying on Burberry trench coats the price of a good compact car. And then I went home a few hours later, feeling more refreshed then I did after all those spa treatments, ready to tackle the rest of my day of preschool pickup and an infant naptime routine.
I realized what I need most is the gift of time. In all my doing, recently I had forgotten to pencil in something along the way…unstructured time for myself. Not finishing errands or even getting a massage—but rather, just the luxury of sipping a latte, enjoying the morning sun, and wandering, without any particular goal in mind.