It’s me — the 40-year-old version.

She doesn’t look how I imagined she would. Yet, she is still beautiful.

My life doesn’t look the way I had imagined either. Yet, it is still blessed.

I didn’t expect cancer to shift the earth beneath my feet. I didn’t expect COVID to bring the world to its knees. But I did expect God to get me through it all.

So, I am here.

I didn’t check off every item on my original 40 Before 40 List or my updated list either. Yet, I am so proud of all I did accomplish in my 30s.

I ran. I walked. I taught. I wrote. I spoke.

I learned how to better love my husband. I learned how to better love myself.

My husband and I bought our first house. And I bought a brand new car, too.

I started See Jane Write and eventually became my own boss. I inspired women and girls to write and live lives worth writing about. I hope I inspired them to be the authors of their own lives, too.

I beat cancer with style and grace (and tears and prayers and cuss words, too).

I cultivated community and filled my life with the kind of friends who don’t simply post “Happy birthday” on your Facebook wall, but send you heartfelt messages that bring tears to your eyes.

Friends who say things like, “Your commitment to teaching women and students how to express themselves through writing is an act of liberation that would make Harriet Tubman blush.” And things like, “I also discovered Wonder Woman is Black and it’s you, but don’t worry, I won’t tell.”

I have the kind of friends who danced to Beyonce songs in a birthday video since we couldn’t party together.

Birthday Affirmations

I have the kind of friends who write and send me affirmations for my birthday, affirmations so good that I have to share. This morning a friend sent me these affirmations to declare:

  • I am here because I belong here.
  • I am worthy without condition.
  • I have all that I need.
  • I am blessed.
  • I am deserving.
  • Love finds me.
  • Success finds me.
  • Joy is my default.
  • Praise is my position.
  • I am the Beyonce of my life.

So, it’s me. The 40-year-old version.

I am proud of the life I have created. And I’m excited about the life I will create.

I am proud of the woman I have become. And I am excited about the woman I am becoming.

I am here.

Birthday Journaling Prompts

Of course, I spent the morning journaling. Here are some prompts you can try when your special day rolls around.

What am I most grateful for today?

How is my life different from the way I thought it would be at this point?

In what ways is my life better than I had imagined?

What do I want to accomplish in this next year of my life?

What kind of life do I want to create before my next milestone birthday?

Happy journaling!

PS — If you want to get me a birthday gift, please make a donation to my birthday fundraiser for the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation instead.