practicing the art of practicing

I ran across this the other day.

fortune
Back when I liberated it from its cookie prison, probably after some orange chicken, I read it out loud and sighed. I believe John’s fortune said, as they usually do, something like, “Everybody admires you. You’re handsome AND smart! Keep up the good work.”

My fortunes are notorious for reading more like conversations with a pesky neighbor:

“Lawns don’t mow themselves.
Trees don’t trim themselves.
Leaves don’t rake themselves.
You should really try exercising and also, eat less orange chicken/read more/talk less/spend wisely/maybe go back to school.”

When I ran across the “Keep your expectations reasonable” fortune from a meal long past, I was unpacking the house…again, as we had moved…again.

I frowned. Why had I kept it? And not only had I kept it, but I packed it, then paid some guys to move it in a big truck. This wasn’t the message that I wanted framing our start in a new town, with our boys tucked away in the new schools that we’d reluctantly left the city for. Doesn’t everybody deserve to at least feel capable of doing great things? Why do the fine people of the Panda Express Fortune Writing Team think that I shouldn’t expect the very best from myself?

I let the paper sit a day on my nightstand, mingling with some hair ties and a few stray business cards while I focused my efforts on looking for one kid’s shoes, and the other’s backpack that I still have not found, probably due to my unreasonably high expectation of finding it. I was busy, and tired, and felt like I wasn’t making a dent in all the of things I needed and wanted to do. And then, when I was looking for my keys (again!), I ran across the “fortune.” But this time, instead of frowning, I felt encouraged.

Sure I still needed to find my keys, but I suddenly realized I didn’t have to be the one person on this planet that never ever loses their keys, or that freak of nature who’s never lost an entire box of their kid’s shoes. I didn’t have to feel so terrible about the inefficiency with which I was currently going about my days. I had simply fallen out of practice on life stuff.

Between the suddenness of the move; a dreamy lobster roll, cheesesteak and Dunkin’ Donuts-fueled family trip along the East Coast; and the fact that summer required me to attentively parent all day long, every day, I hadn’t written anything. I wasn’t cooking, grocery shopping or keeping track of keys with the regularity and enthusiasm I was known for. The upside-downness of this summer gave me permission, nee necessitated, that I delay most generic life business to a non-specific date in the future when everything would be calm, and settled and perfect for re-engaging in whatever it was that I used to do.

But with my renewed love of reasonable expectations, I realized that falling out of practice, meant that I could climb back in, and with regular practice, could once again manage day-to-day life business. Things will be fine; not perfect, but probably pretty OK. (Is “pretty ok” reasonable enough for you, Panda Express?)

So I practice writing. Because like piano, and baseball, and conversational French, writing takes practice, and sadly, discipline. When you practice baseball, your stats improve; when you practice piano, the music sounds better; and when you practice French, you get to have philosophical conversations while eating almond croissants and wearing a Givenchy cape. Writing success (for me at least) means you’ve forced yourself to sit in a chair for more than 10 minutes in a row, slogging through meandering, bloated, run-on sentences, tinkering with them until you hate yourself what you’ve written a little bit less. On the very best day, it means you have also somehow avoided both eating a family size bag of wavy potato chips and memorizing the inventory of Etsy while “writing.” Watching somebody (me) practice writing is not pretty.

So now instead of cooking, I’ll practice cooking. It might start with toast, and hot water for tea. But with some elbow grease and a little can-probably-do attitude, I’ll work my way back up to hot water for spaghetti, and maybe after that, hot water for linguini. We’ll see.

I’ll practice making sandwiches and side dishes and sack lunches without having to remind myself to do it, and then without having to remind myself how to do it, and then how to do it without having to totally psych myself up first.

I’ll practice groceries, which requires I find a new regular market that is on the way home from the places that I’ll go….places I don’t currently know exist, let alone why I’ll go there. With a little hard work, I’ll someday be able to run in and know exactly where I can find a basketball team’s worth of Gatorade. I’ll know which checker is the fastest, or nicest, or the best at small talk. I’ll practice buying fruit, and then two days later, I’ll practice remembering there is fruit in the house before it gets brown and squishy.

I’ll practice putting my keys and the mail in the same place every day. I’ll practice checking in on homework while still somehow conveying to my darling sons that I fully expect them to be on top of their own homework without my intervention, which goes the same for the next morning, when I ask about whether or not the homework has made it into the backpack. I’ll practice promising myself that tomorrow, we’re all getting up 10 minutes earlier. I’ll learn how to set the new shower to keep from scalding myself and also what combination of light switches need to be on for the garbage disposal to work.

I’ll practice looking out our new front window at a new view.

And before I know it, I’ll be juuuuust functional enough, because as we all know, practice makes perfect for reasonable outcomes.

You can find me on Instagram @Colleenweems

Happy B-Day America! (238 is the new 138)

HBD America

Happy 238th Birthday America! I’m sure you’re a little stressed by the fact that you are officially in your late 230’s; I can relate, I’m like minutes away from 40, (hooray for July birthdays!) and totally trying to eke the most out of what’s left of my 30’s. But seriously, you look ah-maz-ing.

How will you spend your big day? Sleeping in? Stuffing your face? Relaxing on a beach/mountain/desert/lake/prairie/city sidewalk/valley/plain/waterfall/lava field/bayou? (Man, you really have it all, don’t you?)

Listen, I know, for like, the 238th year in a row, things haven’t been easy. People aren’t getting along. Everybody says they know what’s best for you, and then we go and call the people who disagree with us, idiots.  It must be sooooo frustrating.

I know, I know….we Americans have a terrible habit of romanticizing a time in your storied history that was sweet, ideal, problem-free, and sadly non-existent. No matter when we were born, the generations ahead of us managed to somehow be gallantly noble and hardworking, while simultaneously screwing stuff up. Things have somehow been getting both better and worse since the beginning of time – I’m sure your other country friends like England and Japan would agree. (BTW, so happy everybody’s back on speaking terms).

Compared to a lot of other countries, you’re practically a baby, and it seems like yesterday when you were just 13 itsy bitsy colonies. You may still have your youthfulness, America, but you’ve been around the block; you’ve got street smarts. You went from 13 to 50 (but you wear it well), and you’ve had wars and boom times, depressions, reality television, and you’ve produced your fair share of heroes and jerks. You’ve been through the Whig Party, the Old West, The Roaring 20’s, 90’s grunge, and whatever it is we are doing right now.

But hey, guess what, you don’t need to think about that today! You’ve got another big, exciting year ahead of you! And that’s what’s so cool about you America – you’ve kind of always been about the future – the possibility of what could be. You should be flattered, that all those folks saw your potential years ago, and fought for it. George Washington and his buddies didn’t start a revolution so everything could stay the same forever and ever. The United States of America came to be out of the desire for change, freedom, progress, and yes, the dream that you would one day realize your full potential.

You were unique and different from the get-go, and we celebrate you for it. We’ll eat hamburgers, get sunburns, and tear up a little at the fireworks over the golf course/river/baseball stadium/fairgrounds/cul de sac/bridge while we think about how great you are, just as the founding fathers would have wanted. (Remember your bi-centennial? That was crazy.)

You’re beautiful America, and don’t let Canada tell you otherwise. Happy Birthday!

 

xoxo

Find me on Instagram @colleenweems and on twitter @fulcrumchron

ice cream

My Curated Life. (curation courtesy of Amelia Bedelia)

In the unending assault on our regular-people lives, I’ve noticed that we are now expected to find the time, money, energy, creativity, and ideal lighting to lead not just a happy and full life, or even an organized life, but a curated life.

The goal of a curated life is beautiful simplicity – the reward of having been carefully intentional about who, and what we’ve allowed into the space we occupy. Everything is just so in the curated life; it’s clean and tidy, pastel and breezy, and somehow always in soft focus, with just the right amount of whimsy. Raspberry lemonade is served there.

Sure I’ve been sucked in to wanting this too. I would love to wrap myself in a cashmere blanket and drink Oprah’s new chai tea latte, and read the latest book club selection while bathed in the most flattering lighting that would make me look young, yet wise… pretty, yet approachable… smart and worldly, and the teensiest bit carefree. That moment’s the goal, man, it is. But alas, it’s just a moment. Eventually I would have to bring in the mail and clean the bathroom.

I flip through my photos, and they don’t look like the gauzy, aspirational snapshots that aim to demonstrate what a curated life looks like.  My photos make my life look like it has been curated by Amelia Bedelia.

No matter what filter I put on the pictures of my life, there are extra people in the background, or stacks of books and papers and wayward shoes, and the vacuum propped up in the corner. My kids’ clothes are wrinkled, or my neighborhood is stubbornly showing its dreary fog. My hair is messy, and my billowy top combined with the unflattering lighting, and weird slouchy way I’m standing makes me look five months pregnant. We’re not just talking basic photography mistakes – these images have captured the moments of what my life is really like. The people I love, in the place that I am, surrounded by everything else.

My husband John took this photo of our family walking down the street on a regular evening. Yes, my youngest is dressed like Indiana Jones, and as we noticed later,  “mob life” is written permanently in the concrete:

 


mob life

Here’s the photo I took of John and I at a beautifully scenic beach, before I thought to turn the camera around and include the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge:

beach

If you have somehow managed to curate out your long and boring commute to work, the cereal boxes from the top of the fridge, the stomach flu, and the pets who shed, congrats. Maybe you’ve placated your child with a charming handmade rag doll instead of 1000 pink plastic unsightly toys. Maybe you’ve somehow stopped accumulating mail, church bulletins, school newsletters, and annoying neighbors and family members. But probably not.

We all want the perfect moments, but let’s try to remember they are perfect, in part, because they are fleeting. Those Instagrammable vignettes are strung together by gooey, messy life stuff; stuff that is simply uncurateable, whether you are rich or not, glamorous or not, parent or not, lifestyle brand guru, or not.

Some days are loud and messy and packed with people, graffiti, and circumstances and surroundings we can’t style, or control. Those are the days that give us wisdom, and experience, and fun stories for cocktail parties. (Trust me, nobody wants to hear about that time you read a book and drank tea while looking amazing.) You will be thankful for the messy days, because when you’ve put them all together, they will have accounted for almost the entirety of your life, and realize we’re all closer to achieving the mob life, than the curated life.

 

In case you’ve forgotten, or haven’t stumbled on this gem from the 70’s, Amelia Bedelia is the hapless maid and star of the Peggy Parish children’s books of the same name. Amelia makes sponge cake from sponges, and serves corn kernals to Mr. and Mrs. Rogers as their “chicken dinner.” She is both hilarious and frustrating, but even after 40 years, her butterscotch cake still looks delicious.

Find more of my mob life phots on Instagram, @colleenweems, and on twitter @fulcrumchron

The Impostor at Trader Joe’s

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I think we can all admit that at some point in our lives, we’ve felt like frauds; impostors who don’t fit in, and who though surrounded by people, are totally alone. We worry that if our secret were to get out, the jig would be up and everybody would finally see that we really don’t know what we’re doing after all. We can feel like this at work, at school, at parties, in church, at book club, browsing art galleries or anywhere sports is involved. I’ve felt it in all of those places; but for sure, I’ve felt like an impostor every time I’ve stepped into Trader Joe’s.

If you’ve not been to a Trader Joe’s market, it’s a dazzling almost choreographed circus of grocery shopping. The atmosphere is festive and tropical. The employees are friendly, chatty, and seem happy to be there, wearing casual tropical tees and box cutters on their belts. It feels like everybody else, customers and employees alike, know each other, though rationally, I’m fully aware they don’t.

Trader Joe’s is not a chicly curated organic grocery experience stylized to placate the most discerning hipsters or foodies or hipster foodies. The chain has been around since the 50’s and the customers are diverse in every way, and from what I’ve seen, utterly devoted to the place. Our closest Trader Joe’s has a line of cars that stretch for a block waiting to get into the little parking lot that is overseen by a lovely lady charged with managing all those Subarus, and pointing out the parking places, and then smiling and waving goodbye to you as leave. This morning I saw a guy peddling away from the store on a bicycle modified with so many grocery holding attachments, I was worried that once he got going down a San Francisco hill, the weight of his loot would not allow him to stop.

Guys or gals, old or young, artsy or corporate or retired, every customer to me looks like they know what they are doing. I’ve been there countless times and continue to have so many questions. “What’s bulgur? Is this healthy? Or at least healthier than other stuff I buy? Is it obvious how hard I’m having to think right now? These other people don’t look like they are thinking at all. Are they on to me? I can’t stand out that much; I’m dressed casually, but not too casually; I have a well-worn Trader Joe’s disposable shopping bag. I’m here at 10:00 am with all of these other people. And by the way, how are so many of us out on a school day?”

I’ve done my fair share of grocery shopping both as an adult learning to read labels, look for bargains, and control myself in the potato chip aisle; and as a kid when already long grocery runs with my mom were inevitably lengthened by the fact that she seemed to know and chat with everyone in the store.

At Trader Joe’s, my old crutches have been stripped away – I don’t see most of the brand name items I’ve used all my life, or at least heard of all my life; or if we’re being honest, the ones for which I have seen the commercials 39,003 times. And with so few of the brands I’ve come to rely on, there I am facing all kinds of new and mysterious stuff I’ve blissfully ignored, until now.

Where I miss my Raisin Bran Crunch, there, somehow is a jar of Hearts of Palm. I can’t find a Pepsi, but I do see Kefir. What’s Kefir? Do I need this? What do I do with it? (And this is from a girl who spends A LOT of time on Pinterest.) I’m reminded aisle after aisle about just how little I really know about food. And maybe about life.

I grip my cart tightly and grab a bag of Olive Oil Popcorn (delicious) and Triple Ginger Snaps (super delicious), tomatoes, and a 10 lb. loaf of bread. I’m confident with my familiar choices, but I know they are pedestrian. I feel certain that if you asked any of my fellow shoppers about Alkaline Water or Yacon Syrup, they could tell you what it is and how to use it. I see the Cold Brew Coffee, Speculoos Cookie Butter, Chia everything, and Pomegranate Vinegar, but walk away defeated. The store’s circular, The Fearless Flyer, probably explains it all, but perhaps I’m not fearless enough of a flyer to read it.

I wrap up my trip where I feel most at ease, in the frozen foods aisle surrounded by little frozen pizzas and hot dog pastries, tiny tacos, small dumplings, adorable chicken pot pies, mini meatballs, itty bitty feta bites, and not-so-little samosas. I’ve been known to put all of these appetizers together to create one global mish mash of a meal that requires multiple oven temperatures, and wildly different cooking times, illustrating to me that these items were not meant to be prepared for the same meal, let alone as the entire meal. (The adorable little things in very similar boxes can take anywhere from 12 minutes to 55 minutes to cook, which results in a two-hour, sweaty, math heavy, “no fuss” meal.)

Recently, I left my comfort zone and bought coconut oil, which according to the folks on Pinterest, is the most amazing product of our time. While, I haven’t had the guts to smear it through my hair as a conditioner, or across my skin as a moisturizer as suggested, I have taken the leap with a Pinterest recipe and created a delightful little snack that is reminiscent of fudge. A HEALTHY (?) SNACK THAT IS LIKE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE!

Maybe I’ll tell my fellow shoppers about my coconut oil success next time I’m at Trader Joe’s, which might score me an invite me to one of their customer club meetings.

 

For you recipe fiends out there, here’s a variation of the oft copied recipe that’s floating around Pinterest: Take 3 Tbs peanut butter, 3 Tbs coconut oil, a teensy dash of sea salt and a squeeze of honey. Mix it up. I pour it over a wax paper lined pie plate, and toss it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then you crack it apart with a knife, throw the uneven pieces in a freezer bag, and eat it whenever you want. Although yes, it reminds me of FUDGE, just a couple of pieces of this stuff makes for a delicious, guilt free, and filling snack.

 

Find me on Twitter @FulcrumChron and on Instagram @ColleenWeems

 

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How to Amp Up Your Decision Making: The Regular Person Draft & Upfronts

A common question you might be hearing from sports enthusiast friends or cohabitants over the last couple of days might be  “who’s on the clock?” Or, maybe you’re wondering about the outcome of that petition you and seven like-minded enthusiasts signed to save that critically acclaimed and brilliant but under-appreciated TV show. (Not nerds… enthusiasts!)

Amidst the flurry of the overlapping NFL Draft, and the television Network Upfonts that have kept me on the edge of my narrow seat, there are currently anonymous people making very public decisions about things that I perceive to have a bigger impact on me than they actually do. You know what? We all make decisions every single day that impact more parts of our lives, than whether or not The Goldbergs got renewed (which, thank God, it did. That show is genius.). Perhaps, we just need to look at how our typical days unfold with a new dynamic perspective – one that adds the excitement and suspense our days so richly deserve.

I present the “Regular Person Activity Draft & Upfronts” based on the big decisions I, a regular person, had to make on a regular day.

A coffee stop after dropping the boys at school?

Cancelled. I did not adequately prepare, and could not be seen in a San Francisco coffee shop in my morning commute pajamas clothes.

 What’s for lunch? Soup? Or a hodgepodge of weird things from the fridge?

I think we all saw where this was going. With the second pick on this typical 2014 day, Colleen selects…. The Hodgepodge of mis-matched finger foods. I was able to create my own KFC Double Down with just sliced salami and swiss cheese. I found half an iced tea I didn’t finish last night. There was exactly one scoop left of peanut butter in the jar anyway, and that banana had about 45 more minutes left before it would have to go into the freezer bag of “smoothie bananas.” (A Pinterest idea I actually use.)

Take a walk or do the laundry?

Coming as a complete shock to everybody, Colleen selects….. Take a Walk. I have new Nikes, and if that’s what it takes me to get to want to take a walk, so be it. Also, my walk takes me here:

walk

 

Let the teenager take the bus with his friends after school? Or pick him up?

Again, in a surprise turn, Colleen…….. provides the .75 fare and the kid takes the bus. I would have had him live Tweet his ride home for me if I didn’t want his phone stowed for the duration of the ride – as the recorded bus guy wisely reminds riders, “keep your eyes up and your phone down.”

Cleaning the closets?

Cancelled. This process is more effective when the kids are around so they can tell me which pants they outgrew overnight.

Sorting recipes?

Cleaning the desk?

Taking care of overdue calls and emails?

Cancelled! Axed from the lineup, all of them!

Sitting in front of the computer and glumly staring at pages and pages of false starts of writing projects?

Renewed.  It had been a while since I’ve done this soul crushing activity, and I was just starting to feel too good about myself anyway.

Nail color: Berry Naughty? A list? Right Said Red?

Colleen selects…… Berry Naughty. Despite the dumb name that was almost too embarrassing to type here, the beautiful color is just dark enough. Too early to tell if I’ll make a strategic trade for Right Said Red.

reds

 

Fifteen minutes to kill: Magazine or Book?

Colleen selects….. Magazine – New York Magazine, the December 2, 2013 Gift List issue, to be exact. This is the year I WILL get caught up on the magazine basket. Two days ago I finished the 2013 Time 100 issue, shortly after the 2014 Time 100 issue arrived, so I’m well on my way.

The day’s terrible distraction – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter?

All outstanding choices, but Colleen selects……… Twitter, to fill the need for real-time updates about the fate “on the bubble” comedies and dramas that have spots reserved on the DVR.

T-shirt or sweater

Colleen selects……..with sad face and a sigh…….sweater, almost always sweater.

(For those of you who have better stuff to do, which is just about anything, the Upfronts are when the networks present their fall lineups to advertisers, often canceling beloved shows, infuriating rabid fans everywhere. And just in case you have all the stuff in the world to do and you didn’t know, the NFL draft is when football teams select new players, and then you furiously Google the kids your team picks. Welcome to San Francisco Jimmie Ward!)

Find me on Instagram @ColleenWeems, and on Twitter @FulcrumChron

Words to Live By: Quoting our Way to Confusion

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We all need a little inspiration sometimes. We crave encouragement and reminders that everything’s going to be ok.

Facebook and Pinterest are ripe with quotes and sayings scrawled out in all the coolest fonts, like old timey typewriter, and ransom note squares, and curly cursive. The backgrounds are stark white, or beautiful sunsets; maybe you’ll find the silhouettes of a couple enjoying a Ferris Wheel, best friends talking on a pier, or a deep-thinking cat sitting in front of a rainy window.

Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been able to hoard these gems, or “Words to Live By,” as I’ve unoriginally named my hoarding place. Other people call their collections “Quotes” or “Inspiration.” Maybe we save them because we need a kick in the pants, a giggle, and a gentle or not-so gentle reminder right now, or because we know we’ll need that stuff later. I share them because I can’t possibly be the only one who needs to hear this stuff, and because they balance out the 45 chicken recipes and cat jokes I’ve also just shared.

As thoughtful adults we contemplate and fret about all sorts of things: faith, love, friendship, exercise, prayer, joy, fear, determination, worry, hope, style, jerks, humor, loneliness, failure, success, perfection, perfectionism, action, inaction, creativity, dreams, forgiveness, competition, adventure, and kindness. And a lot of interesting people have said a lot of interesting things on every one of these subjects.

What I realized in perusing the collection of quotes I’ve amassed is that if we were to sit in a room with Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, Solomon, Dr. Seuss, Elizabeth Taylor, Paolo Coelho (whose work I’m now afraid to read because it might just overwhelm me with my how inadequate I’ve been in making the most of every day), Rumi, Marilyn Monroe, Unknown, Anonymous, Henry Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Coco Chanel, we’d walk out knowing this, more or less:

We’re going to be ok, and we’re better than we think we are. We’re not imagining things, there really are legions of people out there trying to hold us down and tell us that we’re not good enough; but with a little gumption, we will prevail. Karma’s coming for our jealous, and surely wounded naysayers.

It’s paramount to care what other people feel, as long as we don’t care what they think, but really nobody’s thinking about us that much anyway.  

Don’t ever be afraid to fail, or speak your mind, as long as it’s kind, so be sensitive, but not too sensitive. Don’t be so hard on yourself, even though your mild laziness, self-doubt, and fear of the unknown are keeping you from realizing your dreams, which makes you your own worst enemy. Rectify that immediately because when it comes down to it, we’re in competition with ourselves, and with everybody, while at the same time nobody, because we all have our own path and should blaze our own trail, and maintain a healthy independence while keeping in mind that we are part of the delicate interdependence that is humanity.

Stuff is not important, though it’s possible for us to be best friends with jewelry. Outward appearances mean nothing, and style counts for a lot.

Time is short, so hurry up and slow down.

Don’t give up, but surrendering is ok, because that’s letting go. Take a nap, go for a run, smell the roses, climb a mountain, swim in the sea, clean the office, but leave it messy because that’s good for creativity. Pet a dog, encourage a child, have faith, and tell everybody you love them while you have the chance. Love freely, but protect your heart, and for goodness’ sake, get out of your comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens.

Now go out there and show the world who’s boss…who’s a boss that is willing to be a cooperative, supportive, and equally important member of the team!

 

 

You can find me on Instragram@ colleenweems, and on Twitter, @FulcrumChron.

And just for fun, here’s a good one: “Everything’s going to be okay in the end; if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” — Paulo Coelho

The Zero Years: Hitting 40 (or 30, or 50) and Hitting Reset

40 outfit

I was sure this outfit made me look 20

When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine what the adult version of me would look like. The only image I could picture was a generic brunette woman in high heels, miraculously free of freckles, holding a stylish clutch in one hand, and the upturned collar of a plaid blazer with the other – an image I probably borrowed from a model in a 1984 Spiegel catalog. I think I thumbed through the catalog’s pages and picked a future Colleen with just as much thought as it would have taken to decide upon the high-waisted, poly-blend, machine washable day-to-night stretch slacks that Colleen was wearing (slacks available in brown, black, crimson and navy).

But now, here I am – the adult Future Me; I’ve finally caught up with myself and am admittedly more excited to see what my kids will look like in 10 years, than what I will look like.

The arrival of Future Me has been on my mind for a couple of reasons. Not only does this week mark the one-year anniversary of the start of my saga with an incapacitating mystery brain illness and its iffy-turned-outstanding prognosis, but also, and more alarmingly….people born the same year as me have started turning 40.

We, the 1974ers, have been standing here holding our breath, waiting for our turn to jump into the 40’s abyss…an abyss I’m guessing smells like coffee, wine, car wax, chia seeds, and New Year’s Resolution gym sweat. We’ve already made our way through the 30’s abyss that was rife with kale, other wine, Black Fridays, parenting tips, and 5K’s.

I’ve been watching people gracefully handle their Zero Years– whether it’s 30, 40, 50, 60 or beyond – and how they choose to handle the new beginning the Zero allows them. They take a big trip, have a party, or sign up for a marathon. They write about it, too. They soul search, make a decision, change their hair, change their career, make a resolution, let go of something painful and, if all goes well, see the Zero for what it really is – a privilege.

We’ve made it! We’ve made it and the Zero rewards us with a chance to reset. Maybe we’ve been clinging a little too hard to that 9 year, but when we get to the Zero, it’s not an end, it’s a beginning; it’s a relief, and it’s a big deal.

Sure, 40 marks the beginning of getting to say “20 years ago” and still refer to a time in our adulthood. We check a different demographic box on the survey. We remember our parents in their 40’s when we thought they were so old. But now we know – they weren’t old, we were just young and dumb. It’s time to accept the reality that the NFL won’t be drafting us, and we might not get the chance to give the Academy Awards speech we wrote when we were 10.

But maybe we’re finally kinder to ourselves, and to each other while still enjoying the youthful luxury of expecting the best from ourselves, and each other. Maybe we’re still (or again) struggling to figure ourselves out. We’ve amassed actual life experience, and pray that it lifts us up instead of weighing us down. We’ve made mistakes, and we’ll make more, but maybe we’ll lean on that experience, and make smaller ones and fewer of them. Hopefully the Zero brings the wisdom that we’re not alone in this – whatever our “this” is.

It’s nice to have the company, and maybe in an inevitable moment of weakness, when we are comparing ourselves to each other and evaluating who’s accomplished what by when, the Zero will help us remember that not one of us is doing it exactly right, or exactly wrong. We each have sweetly unique stories to tell, augmented by all those Zeroes. I remind myself of this every day – when I’m feeling a bit lost, or unsure, or uppity.  I reminded myself of this when my husband woke up on his 40th birthday, and somehow looked younger than he did the day before.

Let’s help each other greet the next decade warmly so we can move on to the next thing like “make dental appointment” and “take up the bass guitar,” and let’s be happy we made it all the way to Zero.

Happy 40th to all my fellow 1974 babies. By the way, 1974 gave the world a lot of stuff: “Happy Days,” “Good Times,” “Little House on the Prairie,” Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Stephen King’s “Carrie,” and Carl Bernstein’s “All the President’s Men.” 1974 brought you Leonardo DiCaprio, Jimmy Fallon, Elizabeth Banks, Christian Bale, Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, Lark Voorhies and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (that’s most of the “Saved by the Bell” cast right there), Ryan Seacrest, Amy Adams, Nelly, Cee Lo Green, Victoria Beckham, Derek Jeter, Lil Kim, Steve Nash, Carrie Brownstein, Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz, Alanis Morissette, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Jenna Fischer, Mekhi Phifer, Bear Grylls, Jewel, Da Brat and Hilary Swank. You have 1974 to thank for “Blazing Saddles,” “The Sting,” “The Godfather: Part II,” “Chinatown,” “Young Frankenstein,” ”The Conversation,” “The Towering Inferno,” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” In 1974, Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s timeless hit “Takin’ Care of Business,” was released as were Steve Miller’s “The Joker,” and Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” Don’t forget Connect 4, the Magna Doodle, Post-It Notes, the Rubik’s Cube, Hello Kitty, Dungeons & Dragons, liposuction, the Heimlich Maneuver, and Richard Nixon’s resignation. 

40 bakingI got my 40-year-old lady haircut when I was 12.

You can find me on Instagram at colleenweems,

and Twitter @FulcrumChron