My birthday is coming up and it’s a “big” one. I’m turning 60.
My younger friends ask how I feel about that. Since I love my birthday, I’m happy. I’ll be in Wellfleet where I’ve spent almost all of my “big” birthdays – 5, 10, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50 and now 60.
My older friends tell me their 60s were a great time. Since I’ve found that each decade has been more rewarding than the last, I’m excited. Of course, I wish my knees let me run every day, but I’m good with two long(ish) runs a week.
Figuring Out Who I Am
I remember turning 30 and thinking I was finally a real grown up. But, when I see myself in pictures from that time, I see someone who wasn’t sure who she was or what she wanted. And I feel compassion for her. My 30s were both amazing—all three of my kids were born that decade—and hard. My husband traveled five days a week for work. If I continued my intense corporate job, we would’ve needed constant childcare. So, I left work I loved and stayed home. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being with my kids. There was so much joy watching them play and grow. But, in bed at night, I felt off. I felt flat and lonely and like I wasn’t living my life. Honestly, I struggled.
Fortunately things changed. My husband, Chip, left his crazy job. That made space for me to both work and be a present mother. It was tiring, but I loved it. I turned 40. My mom told me that her 40s were some of her favorite years because she really found herself, her footing, her role in the world. I was hopeful and celebrated my 40th as a precipice for self-discovery. By the end of that decade, I felt I was leading a life that I chose. That agency brought me energy and creativity.
Finding My Life’s Work
My 50s have been a continuation of self-discovery. I found my life’s true work—helping my clients to use their written stories for connection to others and themselves.
Not to say this decade has been easy—learning how to run a business is hard yet so rewarding. And doing what I love and having more time to savor life feels wonderful.
There has also been sorrow in watching my parents struggle with their health. 60 is my first birthday in a very long time that they will not be here in Wellfleet to help me celebrate. Being here, in a place we all love, brings back memories of all the traditions and fun and stories. I know I will always have those, even when my entire family isn’t here. Writing down stories about our times has helped me keep memories and the people close. And sharing these stories with my kids has filled me with gratitude for the time I have had here with my extended family.
The Gift I Want Most
But getting back to my birthday (yes, it’s all about ME)—what I want is what I’ve always wanted on my birthday. To be surrounded by people I love, to be in nature, to eat local and delicious food and to watch the sun set over the bay.
I also want something I give to my family on their birthdays.
I want a letter.
I want to hear their memories about our time together. These letters don’t need to be long, just about one or two special times, just me and them. I want to read their stories and be transported back. I want to read about their dreams for us. I want to feel the love that we share and have shared, our whole lives together. I’ve asked and received these letters before and they are a gift more valuable than anything they could buy. You can read more about these letters here.
I’m also asking for a gift from myself. I’m writing a letter to me.
I know that writing this letter will help me discover and embrace who I am right now. It will help me recognize my strengths and my weaknesses, help me reflect on and understand my struggles and my triumphs. I will have a better idea of what I want next and how I want to feel. And through that discovery I will launch myself with resilience and joy into this, my 7th decade.
For me, birthdays are a time of self-reflection, but you can do this kind of self-exploration anytime. Write a letter to yourself answering the questions “What do I love about my life right now?” and “What do I dream of in my life?”
Whether you want to write a letter to yourself or a loved one, sign up for my Deepening Connections e-book.
I’ll show you step-by-step how to write Legacy Letters so that you can create a deeper, more meaningful, and lasting bond with any of your loved ones at any time.