The First Of Many 39th Birthdays…

Friday was my 39th birthday. Many have wished me a happy “first 39th birthday,” as it seems to be the one many want to hold on to.

I admit, I do get a bit caught up in the numbers. I usually start calling myself the next number at least 6 months in advance, to get used to the sound of it. I started doing this when I turned 29. The thought of being 30 was incredibly disturbing.

You always hear that you start to fall apart after 40, but honestly, it was 35 that did me in. Maybe it was the third child, but whatever the reason, after I turned 35, my health started to deteriorate and the scale became very stubborn. I can only imagine what will happen once the big FOUR-OH has come and gone.

I admit, the thought of turning 40 is daunting. I am holding onto 39 for as long as I can. But today I received a card that put everything into perspective.

I have a dear friend. She and I met and hit it off during our college freshmen orientation, and it turned out that our dorm rooms were on the same hall. We were close all through college.

A year after we graduated, she was my matron of honor.

A year after that, I received a dreadful phone call. She had been diagnosed with cancer — Hodgkins Disease.

I was horrified. I remember the day that I went with her to look for a wig. We both ended up on the floor, howling with laughter, ’cause that’s how we roll. But there was nothing funny about the cancer. After many months of treatments, it seemed as though she was cured. At the five year mark, she got a clean bill of health. We rejoiced!

When I got home today from the beach, I found a birthday card from this dear friend in my mailbox. In it, she reminded me that her 15th anniversary of being cancer free is coming up. She encouraged me to look at every birthday as a blessing even though the number may seem daunting. After all, each year we are given to spend with our loved ones is the greatest gift of all.

This year I spent my birthday with my family at a beachside resort. Of course there was the typical bickering and nonsense, but we were together and healthy and happy. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.

So I joyfully celebrate my 39th birthday, and I look forward to turning 40 next year. I will embrace the number and rejoice in one more year with my husband and my parents and my friends and most of all, my children.

Here’s to many, many more!


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25 Responses

  1. What a beautiful life! Great way to spend your birthday – surrounded by the ones you love dear! Have an awesome journey to 40 this year. It’s not as bad as it sounds, especially when your kids are growing and maturing and becoming such incredible little people at the same time. You will barely notice the days passing. Capture the moment. You are one incredible lady and I am sure it will only get better, like fine cheese and wine, aged to perfection! 😉

  2. Happy 39th birthday! And congrats to your friend being cancer free for 15 years!!!! I love friends who always make you feel better with a new perspective on things!

  3. Happy birthday! I will admit to forgetting how old I am, but I know I’m unusual that way. Your friend is right – each and every day is what is important. Enjoy yourself!

  4. Congratulations! I hope your years is everything you could hope for. 39 is great, 40 is even better :-). I as apposed to you, hang on to my number till the day of my birthday, and then I embrace the new.
    I do understand what you are saying though. This year I turned 44 and for the first time, I don’t particularly like the sound of it.

  5. I love that your friend made you see life differently. I love that you were there for her in her time of need. Every year I realize that girlfriends are so important and so needed as we get older, even more so than when we were little girls looking for “extras” in our makeshift parade of the day.

    My health started on downward slope at 35-36 and then continued down til 39 and by my 40th birthday I was beginning to feel so much better I was astounded. My body is a different shape than I am used to after struggling with my health so intensely but ya know what? I have this friend Jo-Lynne who talk me how dress differently and even be ok with my imperfections.

    They say 50 rocks more than 40 and believe it, cuz let me say 40 and 41 and 42 have been an absolutely fantastic ride!!

  6. Happy Birthday! Haven’t you heard that 40 is the new 20? Lol! Numbers have never bothered me – and I’ve never felt as old as I am (42). The 40’s are fabulous! 🙂

  7. Oh Jo-Lynne, I look forward to being 39 and then 40, because I feel like I am in that “awkward stage” and I just want to have myself together already! Truly I thought we were the same age- you wear your number well. 🙂 And I am so thankful for your friend. I recently lost my friend to Hodgkins a couple weeks ago and she was only 30. Every day is a gift. Love you.


  8. As one on the other side of 40, your 40’s are when you realize that you don’t have to be right, publicly, and the drama is mostly a waste of time. And yeah, it’s harder to stay in shape, but so worth the work. Who wants to go into their later years with all kinds of health problems because they didn’t want to spend the time taking care of themselves?

    Oh, I saw the tweet about the categories. This 43 year old hasn’t figured out how to respond yet. Just wanted to let you know all my categories disappeared recently, and then the next day they were there. Probably an issue at the host. And, yes, I did go a little crazy until I realized that I couldn’t get the categories to stay, and I didn’t feel like making a phone call. 🙂

  9. I have loved my 40s so far. I have to say that the first few years of this decade have shown me a new side of myself and opened my eyes with a new perspective on life – so much less drama, so much more comfort in my own skin. It just gets better. Happy Birthday, lovely lady…

  10. Happy Birthday!! 39 is just a number and you are only old if you feel that way. I actually forget how old I am most of the time – I like to think that I am still 25 (LOL!!!).

    Great picture of your kids!! Looks like you guys had a great time.

  11. Wishing you a belated happy birthday! While I dreaded turning 40 in the months leading up to my birthday, I have to say that it’s been strangely liberating since! I’m now 42 and am enjoying celebrating each birthday with a gratefulness for all I’ve been given and an appreciation for those I’m sharing my life with.

  12. Looks like you had a wonderful birthday celebration! And I want to say a huge thank you to your friend for that perspective on life and getting older. It brought tears to my eyes as I read that- it was such a blessing to me. Happy Birthday!!

  13. I like the way your friend thinks. And you too. 🙂 Sounds like you had a great day, surrounded by your beautiful family. Just as it should be! Enjoy this year, I”m sure it’s going to be fabulous, just like you! xoxo

  14. My advice for turning 40 (I’m turning 50 next month): lift weights. Like never before, your body will refuse to keep excess weight off unless you build muscle. Cardio alone will not cut it. I gained weight all through my 40s and couldn’t get it off and keep it off until I started lifting weights in November. Now it’s relatively easy. Building muscle is the key. Happy 39th!

  15. Don’t forget to remind hubby about 40 being a big present b’day;-) Glad you had a good b’day. The pic of the kids is fantastic.

  16. happy, happy birthday weekend! I have to tell you in all honestly my 4o’s were my very best decade, hands down, honestly! 😉 embrace what is ahead of you, i assure you it is gong to be the best time of your life. enjoy <3

  17. Jo-Lynne – I always say “age is just a number” and didn’t mind 40 at all! This yr is 42 and “your friend” is very smart (not b/c I know her either). The best way to face all birthdays is a celebration of where we have been and a prelude to out next destination. Enjoy every minute and make special memories with your family!

  18. What a beautiful post, Jo-Lynne. I love your optimistic view of aging…and the way that you choose gratitude intentionally.

    Happy 39th, friend. I’m proud to know you.

  19. Beautiful post! You certainly put everything into perspective for me. Happy 39th Birthday!
    I’m almost two years past the big 4-0 and it’s not so bad. When I am turning 50, I will probably stress… many important decisions to be made by then. Hopefully I am organized by then, and by then, will have decided what I want to be when I grow up =)

    Nah, just kidding. My bucket list is huge though… massive.
    I will be terribly busy until at least 80!

    All kidding aside, I don’t worry about my self but rather, wonder whether my children be situated by the time I am 50. My income will probably be less flexible, leaving me less capable of helping them through financial difficulties. Will I be able to retire? Will I even want to? I find myself getting nervous about the decisions ahead, but the age…. not so much.

    Love your blog!
    check out my friends blog: https://www.kellymacdonald.org/

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