Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life


Meditating on Forty, and So Many Other Things

I meant to blog last week, when I had the great fortune/misfortune of turning forty.

The truth is, 40, so far, feels great. When I turned 39, all I could think about was aging, death, and my lack of success at baby-making and publishing. Then again, I was grappling with Shirley. This year, though, my birthday felt different: what a celebration, I thought, of having lived forty long years (the life span of the camel, hippo, and rhino, according to this handy website). I went for a long, beautiful walk in the Berkeley hills with a new friend, had lunch with two old friends, had a pedicure all by my own damn self, then took Marc to community meditation before cocktails and dinner. L. brought me chocolates. One friend brought wine; another, cake. What bounty, I thought, and what good fortune.

Well, this was 35, but you get the idea.

Well, this was 35, but you get the idea.

A friend told me a while ago that she was looking forward to forty because at forty, our expectations change. “You spend your thirties trying to please other people,” she said. “At forty, you can do whatever the hell you want.”

Another friend who reached forty a few years ago said she thinks her anxiety is better in her forties. (Let’s hope my experience is similar.)

My mom told me she wished she’d looked as good as I do at forty. (Wow! Thanks, Mom. Actually she doesn’t know this blog exists, but I am thanking her in the universe.)

Of course, my old eggs aren’t exactly crowing over the birthday, and I noticed when I made an appointment at a new fertility clinic that past 38, there are no money-back guarantees (ha! What a concept). So that was sobering.

But on the other hand I learned that Alice Munro didn’t publish her first book until she was 37, which is pretty close to 40, right?

And, best of all, I’m going away for the weekend with Marc. Where I plan to get a massage. And eat $1 oysters from a raw bar. And walk on the beach. And sleep a lot. And make out. And meditate.

And reflect on where my life is going, and where it has been.

Blessings, peeps.



Faithfully meditating. Faithfully, five mornings a week, showing up to the zafu and…thinking too much. Then doing the Pema Chodron routine and gently saying to myself, thinking. Focusing on the birdsong helps, too, but it’s fleeting. This morning it occurred to me that it could be like this for six months, a year, two years, five. All the thinking. Then what? One day I reach Boddishatva, then Enlightenment, and cease to overthink? (I can hear my husband chuckling.)

Sometimes the thoughts are needling; more often, petty, small needs to run over and over some logistics in my mind. Because I suffer from anxiety, I have real trouble with routine changes. And so a lot of this morning was spent trying–trying!–to create space for today’s different routine: the early-morning visitor, a different work schedule for me, the arrival of my parents this afternoon, Lex being done two hours early. Breathe. Birdsong. Thinking. Thinking!

Lex taking the time to smell the flowers.

Lex taking the time to smell the flowers.

I loved Amanda’s post Turning Nine. I loved it because yesterday (routine change), I was home with Lex all day and did not feel that awesome contentedness that Amanda writes about. We did “medium” (this was reported to me by Lex at the end of the day), but I confess there were many moments when I felt unsatisfied, or he did, and I also hollered significantly at one point (because we were driving down 880, which may be the Bay Area’s sketchiest highway, when a size-ten purple Converse sneaker whacked me in the side of the head). And of course I was thinking about this, this morning, too. Every day with a 3.5 year old I resolve to do better than “medium.” Breathe. Thinking. Thinking.

I think I found the practice at the right time in my life.