milestone birthday reflection

photo credit: Sofiya Levchenko on Unsplash

I celebrated my 60th a few weeks ago. I don’t feel a lot older, but I took full advantage and enjoyed the special festivities. My family all came together for a few days of getting away for island and everglades bike rides, beach relaxation, and dolphin-filled sunsets. Our time together has given me hundreds of photos and treasured memories.

I was also gifted a video collage summarizing encouraging, funny, and love-filled greetings sent by family and friends from all over the world and all my decades of life. I wept as I listened to the kind words and remembered the special moments when my life intersected with all those special people. I will re-watch that video many times.

The video prompted me to think about the years gone by and then to reflect on the last decade.

I’ve heard it said that we (way) overestimate what we can accomplish in a day
but (way) underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.

I think that phrase must be only more true when thinking about a decade. This year has been crazy, but it will likely not have the same intensity of impact when considered as part of the entire next decade.

I decided to take some time and reflect on the last decade. I looked through my calendar and photos, and wow, much has happened in my previous ten years. I made lists in my journal and drew out the more impact-filled events on a timeline to see a visual layout.

A sampling:

  • Completed MA in Global Leadership
  • Moved back to the US after almost 20 years living in Mexico
  • Grieved final goodbyes to all of our parents
  • Downsized and bought our “empty nester’s” townhome
  • Traveled to Canada, Chad, China, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey, UK, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe
  • Ran 1/2 marathon
  • Gained and lost a son-in-law (divorce)
  • Wrote and spoke on Unhurried Living
  • Children graduated from college – moved closer and farther away
  • Began to live with less toxins and more sustainability
  • Purchased first smartphone, Vaio & Surface computers, Apple watch
  • Started a blog 🙂

There are lots of changes in that list – fun times, travel, accomplishments. Lots of pain, weariness, grieving. Somewhere in those ten years, I watched the movie “Inside Out” and learned the profound truth that joy and sadness sit at the same table. I am learning to be ok living in that reality.

Some of the experiences were mine; some were primarily others’ stories that affected mine. We don’t live in an isolated bubble. When we love and care deeply for others, their journeys weave interdependently into ours.

I have learned much in these years. I have new passions, new concerns, new ways of doing things. I am healthier and more involved in the well-being of the world around me.

I am not the same person I was ten years ago – not even close. My eyes are open to things I never wanted to know. My heart is tender to people I never considered before. I am broken in ways I never expected and also more resilient than I could have hoped or imagined. I am grateful for those changes, but I have paid a steep price for that growth.

I am more aware of my fragileness and the short time I have left on this earth. I am more intentional about how I spend my time and how I treat the people God brings across my path. I sense a genuine urgency to invest my energy and past experiences well – believing that tomorrow is not guaranteed – I only have today for sure – and I want to treasure that time.

Reflection has been good for my soul. It brings me gratitude and perspective and wisdom. I trust the scars and precious memories will guide my future choices and next steps. I know only too well that not everyone gets to celebrate this milestone, and I am very thankful for the years I’ve had.

What have you done to reflect and process a past year or decade?

16 thoughts on “milestone birthday reflection

  1. Terry, I’m so glad God arranged for me to get to know you and be among the MANY impacted by
    your love and life! And that impact continues! Love YOU! 💕

  2. Great reflections! 60 was a surprise birthday for me – first because I never thought I would make it (cancer) and second, because I realized I was the oldest on my team! (I had been before 60, but then we were all in our 50’s…) Thank you for the contribution you have made in the lives of so many!

  3. Terry, again, such beautiful writing. I too have reflected at milestone birthdays, but I loved your looking at just the past decade. In a little over a year, I’ll be owing that for my next milestone. Thanks for sharing with such an open heart.

  4. This made me want to cry. It was beautifully written and such a good reminder of how often the joys and sorrows are intertwined in this messy life of ours. I loved reading about your last decade. I often reflect on my last year on my birthday, but I’m inspired by your blogpost to reflect on this last decade my next birthday since I’ll be turning 40. Thank you, friend! May God grant you a beautiful decade ahead!

  5. Reflection is SO good for the soul–especially when you’ve impacted and loved on so many people, as you have. I loved that movie, “Inside Out”, and Joy and Sadness working together to make a whole person. It is what we have in this world of brokenness and hope. But celebrating you is a joy and a privilege for my heart–you’ve impacted me with your contagious enthusiasm, your zeal for life, your incredible authenticity, and your passion for speaking the truth in love. You make life fun, Ter! Always!

    • Awww – you are such an encourager, dear friend. Thank you! And THANK YOU so much for being part of my wonderful birthday video. I will treasure your words for all my years to come! I love you.

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