This long-awaited landmark. I’ve been thinking about this date for two years or so now, wondering where in the world I’d be, wondering what I’d be doing. You’d think at this age I’d have some of those things figured out, settled.

I’m 40 today. I’ve been thinking of myself as 40 for a while, but at the same time holding the knowledge that this actual date, this actual birthday, feels like a really big deal. I don’t really have plans, other than lunch with my boss and wearing a purple scarf Gimli brought me back from Afghanistan. I’d kind of like to get a hair cut, and a nap would be nice if I could fit it in. I wonder if anyone will get me a cake?

There are silver strands in my hair that weren’t there a year ago.  My face is dark from the equatorial Andean sun, and the lines seem starker and clearer than they did just a few months ago. I’m still breastfeeding, although both my kids are in school. My weight seems to have stabilized at a level I feel comfortable with, for my age. I wear no makeup, no jewelry except for my wedding ring. I don’t shave anything (but I do tweeze my eyebrows).

Next Monday I’m doing a goal-setting exercise with my life coach (who continues to be awesome). I’m really looking forward to that. I ended up making new year’s resolutions of sorts last year at my birthday rather than January 1, so it feels apropos.

I find myself thinking over the past decade – all the twists and turns that took place in the last ten years. When I turned 30, I was working at an intercultural youth-serving organization in Virginia; I quit shortly after in order to do some work with my husband’s university, leading a group of 30 students on a semester-abroad program. That experience was so emotionally taxing that I went into a significant depression for about six months afterwards. I was also sad that at at 30 I hadn’t yet had a baby although we didn’t start trying until I was 32. Then came three years of experiencing infertility, in the midst of which I began and then quit yet another job at another youth-serving organization. I started grad school again, pursuing the PhD in Anthropology (that I’m still working on). I had two babies while in this program. then my husband quit his university job, we moved to Albania, and two years later took this joint position in Colombia, where we find ourselves now.

So in ten years I’ve been a social service program worker, unemployed writer, university instructor, grad student, infertile, pregnant, stay-at-home mom, and now I’m back in the field that dominated my 20s – international development worker.

I wonder what roles and revisions the next ten years will bring?


6 Responses to “Inventory”

  1. sharah Says:

    Happy Birthday! Wishing you a wonderful day full of good things!

  2. St. E Says:


  3. St. E Says:

    Ugh…I did not mean that ‘bah’.

    Happy Birthday. 40 surely is a big milestone.

    And that has been 10 years of a crazy ride!

  4. St. E Says:

    Do you have a deadline for thesis submission?

    • Elizabeth Says:

      oh dear… I don’t even know the answer to that question…
      I talked with my supervisor and she encouraged me to block out “sacred” time every week, and once a month take 3 days away to focus entirely on writing. That’s the only way it will get done!

  5. Rachel Says:

    I hope your birthday was wonderful!

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