I’ll be 44 years old on Wednesday, in the afternoon, when the sun is still in the sky but is starting to set, before the light has faded. (My birth certificate has another hour listed, but I’m adjusting for the time difference; I was born in Los Angeles, CA, far from where I ended up in central New York.) I’m very nearly middle-aged now, according to the OED, which defines all things.
I don’t feel old, though. I don’t look back at my high school years or childhood with much nostalgia, and my 20s (into my 30s) were a whirlwind of bad relationships, bad choices. I didn’t know who I was, and I let too many other people define me, or limit me. You could say that I spent the first 20 years of my adulthood learning how to do all the things I didn’t learn as a kid–including how to go to school, how to manage my ADHD, how to be a well-balanced, emotionally healthy, and functioning adult… and that’s not wrong, but it’s not entirely right either. At least, it’s not the whole story. Before I could learn to grow up, I had to figure out what that meant to me, and that process took a lot longer than anything else.
In a way, being who I am now is pretty new to me still, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.
If you’re struggling with your own life and goals, good news kids! I’m hopeful, happier, more focused, and more productive than I was at 34, or 24. I’ve got some health issues, but I take better care of myself than I did at 20; I’m still physically strong and capable, and I’m confident than within a few years, I’ll have the shape and fitness level I want, which is more than I had at 20. (My sex life is amazing, in case you were wondering. Knowing what you like and not being afraid to ask for it is a a good thing.)
And I’m learning to tackle my problems, make changes, make amends, instead of running away. I’m learning (have learned) what I deserve, and what I have to give.
My biggest problems right now are all about money, because I’ve been in a career transition the last couple of years, and being my son’s sole caretaker means my work options are limited. But we’ve learned to live with a lot less than before (including being without a car, which broke down earlier this year). I have plans for our future that feel possible, if we can survive until then.
I have writing projects I’m genuinely excited about, and I’ve learned–lately, finally–that success for me comes from a mix of work ethic and inspiration, not just one or the other. Novels are possible from me now. Writing multiple days a week is possible now. You can expect to see a lot more from me in the near future… which I couldn’t have said at 24, or 34.
So this “getting older” thing is pretty good, and I hope to keep doing it for a long, long, time.
If you’d like to get in on my birthday (or winter holiday) celebrations, I have some Amazon gift lists and of course, PayPal is great for a coffee or helping me pay a bill. It’s instant help, & so appreciated.
My household Amazon list is here. It has things like bakeware and paper towels–it might not be “fun” stuff, but not having to worry about buying those things for myself this week reduces my stress and that’s a great gift.
PayPal is here, and you don’t need an account to use it.
If you’re looking for another way to make my life better, there’s two things I can think of. The first is to read my fiction–most of which is free to read online–and if you loved any of it, recommend it to your friends. Tweet about it, write an online review, rave about it on Facebook… whatever you feel comfortable with. Share my work. Introduce new people to my writing. It won’t cost you anything but time, and it could make a big difference for me.
A sorted, often-update, list of my fiction is here: https://carriecuinn.com/2015/01/09/where-to-start-when-you-want-to-start-reading-my-work-fiction/
(You can also find my non-fiction writing here https://carriecuinn.com/non-fiction/ )
The other thing you can do for me is to do something for yourself. Do one thing that will make you happy. Treat yourself to something nice, to a nap, to a quiet evening with a good book, even if it means leaving the dishes in the sink. (And leave me a comment to tell me what you did!)
Life is so much shorter than we think it is, and before you know it, half your life has disappeared behind you. The journey is worth it, though. I’m not sure I believed that at 34, or 24. But I know it’s true now.