HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

“Compromise for what?” -Eartha Kitt

Mood forever. Picture taken by my best friend, M. Southards.

I am 41.

I am now almost half of my grandmother’s age, and 1 year younger than Dorothy Dandridge was when she died. I am also the age my murdered cousin would have been had he just listened.

Had he just listened.

For this completed trip around the sun, I am more confident than I thought I would be, and yet more resilient than I thought I had to become! I am writing more, tolerating less, and aware that the person I make my life with cannot be intimidated by my light.

I have decided to proceed with getting my MFA, at my dream school: New York University! I am raising daughters to negoitate the world, and not just survive it.

At age 41, I refuse to shrink. Why should I?

I am learning to own every space I am in, because my presence is a present! My talents in any situation are assets, and I refuse to have anyone around me that desires me to shrink or be mediocre!

I have been gifted with more opportunities to be great, trusting God in a way I’m sure will leave legacy, and in a relationship that both strengthens and scares me. Part of me believes that I cannot be a wife again because the vulnerability it would require—I don’t believe I can. Yet, I cannot help but to want that again.

I have decided before at the completion of my divorce, to keep my maiden name. The crazy thing? I have to ask the state for that privilege to ask for what I was born with back! As I started writing new work, I began hyphenating my name. The ex didn’t give me the name I needed to move in the world, not really.

My father did.

The only man who could ever be bold enough to tell me what to do!

I am learning that joy is a choice. Daily. Sometimes hourly! My good girlfriends (whom know have crossed into the realm of ‘grown’) tell me how fabulous these 40’s are–and I am glad I listened! As I reflect on the 4 previous decades, I am in awe of God! I am in awe in a way that proves just how fragile life is, and the times when I thought not being in the world was the right answer.

This birthday is more than cake, more than presents–it is readjusting my crown. It is realizing that I deserve everything I have earned…every joy, every achievement! I am now at the point where I can look at the woman in the mirror and tell her, “We made it! Let’s see how this ends up.”

I will not just exist, I will live.

Happy Birthday to me.