Seize the (Birth) Day!

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

-Unknown-

34 years old. T H I R TY F O U R ! I can remember when I turned 19 like it was yesterday – it was the blackout of 2003, if you can believe it, and all I wanted to do was go out with my friends and celebrate – but everything was down because of the outage. I can remember thinking “19 years old… I can do anything and everything I want –  buy booze, smoke cigarettes, and be on my own – finally!” I was the exact definition of  young, and wild, and free. I also can remember seeing people who were older than me – probably in their early 30’s – and thinking “HOLY SHIT those people are ancient !!! 30 YEARS OLD ?! Grab your cane and dentures, life is all downhill after 29!”

Ah…young Jacqueline. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and give her a big, huge hug… and a lecture. Because for me, life only got better the year I turned 29. Since then I’ve gotten married, had the courage to try out for and cast as the lead in a musical, tightened up my tribe that surrounds me so I had the best support system possible, and had a couple of beautiful, happy babies. Life has only gotten better for me as I’ve gotten older, and I was always one who thought that aging meant becoming weaker, tired, and boring. I was brought up with a lot of talk about age being a bad thing in my household, so it was ingrained in me to hate the concept of getting older. But once I was able to get out on my own, learn some lessons about life and blossom, I realized that age is truly just that – the number of years you’ve been on this earth – and not at all the definition of who you are as a person.  Who the hell said that you have to be someone specific, or stop trying to do something you love just because of the amount of times the sun has risen and set in your life?! That just sounds silly. Society has us trained to think that wrinkles and creases our faces are a bad thing – when really, each smile line on your face is a sign that you’ve has so many good times in your life – a reminder of the beautiful memories you have experienced so far, and many you have to come.

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The best birthday gifts of all.

And lets not forget one of my very favorite quotes, which I put at the top of this post: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty or sad, but remember – there are so many people who lost their lives way too early, and didn’t get to experience aging like we do. Children who don’t get to become adults, and parents who don’t get to see their children grow up. There are so many sad cases where young people lose their battle with a disease, or lives are taken in an accident. Life can change in the blink of an eye. With each year that passes, I remember the ones who have lost their lives too early and realize how lucky and grateful I should be to have mine. To complain about getting older is complaining about a gift that so many wish their loved ones could have experienced.

So I chose to embrace getting older. Yes, my back is sore – from picking up my two beautiful babies way too much. Yes, I’m getting wrinkles – my friends and I have had too many laughs to count over the years. Yes, I’m getting white hairs – the beautiful sun has shone down on the top of my head far too many years not to have a few. If you’ve taken nothing else from this post – chose happiness. Chose to see the good in today. Choose positivity; even if you see the glass half empty, there is still time to fill it back up. All I want for my birthday this year is for you to make the choice to live your life to the fullest, no matter what your age, and live with a grateful heart. And chocolate. I never turn down chocolate.

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