A few weeks ago, I reached a milestone: my fortieth birthday.
Forty is often approached with a dose of dread. The multiples of ten are growing and we’ve hit that period known as middle age: the beginning, we fear, of a long, downhill slide.
But for me, forty has another meaning altogether. Having survived a surgeon’s devastating mistake when survival was far from a given, and having dealt with the long-term health consequences every day since, I am filled with gratitude simply for being alive. I couldn’t feel more blessed to be surrounded by my beautiful family and friends who stood by me through my darkest days, held my hand and made the light on the other side all the more brilliant. I write the surgeon’s devastating mistake and its consequences in my memoir On the Way to Casa Lotus.
True, the days when I could rock a bikini are long gone, due not to age but to the multiple surgeries that permanently destroyed my abdominal muscle tone. True, I can often feel a sudden onset of fatigue, like a weighted blanket draping over my body, not because I’m getting older—though I am—but because our adrenal glands, tiny but powerful, wield a profound influence on our physical and emotional well-being and I live with only 40% of one adrenal gland.
But I live. I am here to tell the tale, and to celebrate that miracle. And forty is a blessed reminder of that fact.
If, like so many others, you have mixed feelings as you approach milestone birthdays; if you find yourself dissatisfied with your aging image in the mirror and wishing you could turn back the clocks; remember what you’re grateful for. It might take some practice, but start, quite simply, by making a list of blessings.
My list? My three beautiful children. My husband, Eduardo. My parents, siblings and nephews. My home. My art studio and my friends. The moments I spend with the people I love, the laughter we share, the lessons we learn from our tears. These blessings multiply each and every day.
And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here fulfilling dreams such as publishing my memoir, On the Way to Casa Lotus, and sharing my joy.