So, yeah, I turned 40 with much fanfare and planning. June has decided to be mostly grey, but man, I shined this past weekend.

Chris did not realize I was turning 40 this year. I was shocked. “You mean all the talk of my birthday seemed normal to you?” I asked. 

Ok, so I love birthdays. When given a chance, why not celebrate yourself? Forty loomed large, though. I have a small problem in my life. I am not always sure of what I want. I attacked this milestone with so much thought. How exactly did I want to celebrate?

I had no idea. I had to reach back and think of Helen Butts, prophet and college friend extraordinaire. My junior year she mentioned a few friends were traveling back to Cleveland for Thanksgiving with her. That was the trouble with going to school in your home state. No one ever invited you to her place for holidays because you could always go home. But, Helen read the want in my face. I so wanted to travel to the mistake by the lake city. “Nancy, I know you want to go with, but I am not going to invite you unless you ask me. You have to ask for what you want,” said Helen. 

I asked. She invited me, and I had a great time in Cleveland. And I learned a huge lesson: you have to ask for what you want in this lifetime, or your desires may never manifest themselves into reality. I was a Midwestern girl. Good lord, you could not even say yes when someone offered you a coffee refill. No, you were not hungry and you were not to be seen and heard at the same time. Ask and you shall receive is not a Minnesota commandment. 

This one idea is on the top ten list of things I must teach my kids. If you don’t ask, girls, it is really hard to attain what you really, really, really want in life. This goes hand in hand with another golden rule: you actually have to know what you want. Why do I not know what I want so much of the time? Maybe it’s hard to hear myself when I multitask, or the kids are screaming “MOM!”, or I was taught not to want too much.

Life is hard, folks. Or maybe I just think life is hard. Lately I have been sitting and practicing hearing myself. What do I want? Well, comfortable jeans, nachos, and sparkly things. Red glasses. It took a long time for me to realize that it is not that difficult to buy red glasses, especially when insurance is paying for them. (OK, now my insurance no longer pays for glasses, but I have learned to save money.) 

Beyond all of these material things, what do I want? I want to be surrounded by the people I love. I finally told Mary Fran that I wished she could come for my birthday but I knew she could not do that. “Why can’t I come for your birthday?” she asked. 

“Well, you are busy and you are already traveling in June,” I replied. 

She disabused me of this entire notion and came to Seattle for my birthday weekend. 

I thought and thought and planned four days of birthday bliss, from eating out, to hanging at Top Pot Doughnuts with my kids, to a spa day and finally to a moms cocktail night at my favorite frou-frou bar. It was more than excellent. It was perfect elation, love defined, and blessing after blessing appreciated. Thank you friends. Thank you universe. Thank you, Nancy, for figuring out what you want and then asking for what you want. Thank you Helen Butts, for showing me the way so long ago at dear old Macalester. Forty is fabulous, folks.

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