Five Things I Realized This Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday!

And for the first time ever, I’m actually embracing getting older…or rather, embracing the new chapters that come with age.

That, and I’ve finally accepted that I can no longer pass for an 18-year-old ingenue in acting auditions.

But I realized a few things this weekend, as I fought feeling old and out of my prime…

1.) Our time on this earth is a privilege, and getting older is something that sadly, not everyone is guaranteed.

I think this one speaks for itself. The news is full of too many tragedies. Cherish every moment we have here with friends, family, loved ones.

2.) Always forward, never back.

This is something that I’ve definitely thought about a lot since getting married. But the fact is, yes: everything that I’ve been through has shaped who I am and instilled in me the values and life lessons that have made me the woman before you. But there’s a difference between respecting that time for what it is, and dwelling there.

The fact is, if I were to dwell on pain or guilt from the anorexia in my past, it would be robbing my husband of the right now. It would be stealing the joy of the present and the future we’re building together. So always forward, never back.

3.) Bodies Change, and That’s Okay

Here’s the long and the short of it: our bodies change as we grow. For women, our hips widen, gravity has its effect on things…and frankly, our body is not going to be the same as it was when we were in high school. And that’s okay. There is beauty in the grace that comes with that acceptance. It took me a long time to develop gentle self talk, but life simply is no fun when its spent beating yourself up over how you look. God made us uniquely beautiful: His masterpiece and work of art. And that goes for all body sizes, shapes and ages.

4.) Priorities Shift, And That’s Okay

It’s interesting to examine where I am today, and where I was just even 10 years ago…which, I know…seems to contradict my second bullet point. But it’s true: ten years ago, I had been living in NYC for two years, and my priorities were: friends and acting. In that order.

And ten years — and a lot of hair damage later (thanks to consistent straightening…) my priorities have definitely changed. Now, my husband and our relationship with Christ through our marriage is my number one priority. Followed by our families, friends, and how we can best show up for the people in our lives that we care about.

I value quality time with loved ones over a wild night out on the town. I value building a home and a life with my husband. I value activities and conversations that strengthen our faith. And I value being strong and healthy to one day bring children into the world.

Perhaps this stems from and older, more-seasoned lens through which I view the world. But that shift in priorities is a welcome change.

5.) God’s Plan For Me Does Not Have a Time Limit

There is no expiration date for God’s plan for us. Just because we’re getting older doesn’t mean that God can’t use us, or that we’ve run out of time to complete whatever we thought our mission was in life. God’s plan for us evolves as we evolve. It changes as we grow, and it grows with us.

His plan will look different for different seasons of life, but God can always find ways to use us to do His will and His work.

And I pray that hopefully not too long from now, God will put motherhood into His plan for me.

Who knows — maybe even by my next birthday πŸ™‚ I do love an August birthday…

What are some things that you’ve learned as you’ve grown up?

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59 responses to “Five Things I Realized This Birthday”

  1. This glorious world ever gives us both sides of everything. Simply so we can see the beauty beyond it all…in ourselves. Great post dear lady, and loved the recipe πŸ˜€β€οΈπŸ™

  2. Happiest of birthdays, Caralyn! 🩷🩷🩷 Wonderful post. I am still struggling with some of this, even now in my 60s. Your post was helpful and spot-on!

    • Thank you Paula!! πŸ™‚ I am so grateful that God is so patient with us πŸ™‚ Hope you’re having a great week so far! Hugs and love xox

  3. You are so right. Time is so precious; we need to look forward to our future and not behind us. One of my favorite quotes is from Pope John XXIII when he counseled us not to consult our fears but our hopes and dream, and our unfulfilled potential. I’ve paraphrased here, but I agree with that forward movement. We lose the joy of now if we dwell on the past. Caralyn, you are truly blessed. Thanks for sharing your story. It is encouraging.

    • Thank you Jenny! Gosh, thank you for these kind words. Amen to that. And wow – I love that quote : no need to consult our fears…boy there is so much power in that! thank you for sharing your heart! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Steven! Amen to that! Those reserve bottles from way back in the cellar πŸ™‚ hehe Hugs and love xox

  4. That’s an excellent list of insights on aging, Caralyn. You covered a lot of ground. I have very little to add to it, but you asked, β€œ What are some things that you’ve learned as you’ve grown up?” In my 84 years, I’ve learned more than I can list here … many are the same as your insights: bodies change & that’s Okay; priorities change – that’s okay, too; focus on the love of our spouse and relationship with Jesus is essential to our happiness and marriage longevity. But the other lesson I learned that has helped me live in Christ-like humility is: at our workplace, we are not indispensable. Don’t overestimate your importance there! Put your job in perspective and never let it take first place over God, spouse, and family! God bless you – and belated Happy Birthday! πŸŽ‚πŸŽπŸŽ‰

    • Hi Jan! Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection! What profound insight: and boy are you right: we are not indispensable at work — and to not let it take priority over God and family! this is such great advice, especially right now when bills and mortgages and HVAC system and roof repairs are pressing for the need to be top spot in our lives. Thank you friend, and i hope you have a wonderful week! Hugs and love xox

  5. Happy birthday, Caralyn! I enjoyed your post. Have you considered letting your hair be curly again? It looks beautiful in the picture you shared. Embracing the grey in my hair was a huge part of accepting my older self. I was pleasantly surprised by how how much better it looks than what I could imagine when looking at the grey in my part against my darker colored hair. Admitting who we really are is scary, but liberating. It’s acknowledging that God knows what He’s doing after all!

    • Thank you so much Linda! Great question! So I actually HAVE thought about it…and for the last 4 or 5 months before the wedding I went “no heat” — and even now, I only straighten it for acting job shoots and the OCCASIONAL social engagement. But I’m really trying to get it back to a place where it can look that vibrant curly. Right now, only the crown of my head (aka the new growth) is super curly like it used to be, and the rest is just limp and damaged from the decade of straightening the living daylights out of it day in and day out. So hopefully it CAN get back to that place agin. You’re right — that is LIBERATING! He really does know what He’s doing! thanks for your kind words! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Alice! πŸ™‚ I truly appreciate that! I’m trying to get it back to being that healthy so it will curl πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great week! Hugs and love xox

  6. I started seeing a cardiologist MANY years ago, because heart disease runs in my family. When I told my doctor about my exercise regimen, he told me it’s impressive. Then he smiled and said, “you do realize you’re just trying to outrun your genes, right?”

    Here I am in my mid-60’s, scaring myself every time I walk past a mirror. I’ve gone from a buff young buck to a fat old man. Apparently my genes had a meeting, took a vote, and decided they’ve had enough of this health cr*p and are taking over. I can either get bummed out or say “Oh, well” and get on with it. I’m happier for it.

    • Hey Jeff! What a thing to hear from your doctor!!!! Yikes – I wonder if he was just having a bad day… Either way, I definitely think we can get too bogged down with striving after this or that — I certainly can relate to that! There is beauty in the freedom from the weight of that striving and pressure. I’m glad you’re happier! You deserve that! πŸ™‚ sending hugs!

      • I’m so happy for you that are have been throwing off “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” as Paul wrote to the Hebrews! You’ve come so far that it just brings a huge smile to my face! Hugs to you also!

    • Thank you so much my friend! God is good, and I’m grateful for another year around the sun! Hugs and love xox

  7. Happy Birthday πŸŽ‚ πŸ₯³ πŸŽ‰ Caralyn! A fantastic post that puts things into perspective. Every day matters. Enjoy it to the fullest. I am older. I went through a lot of stuff. Now. I changed my lifestyle. Healthier diet and exercise. I am in the best shape that I’ve been in 13 years. I worked my ass off the past few months. I fit into old jeans. It’s proof age doesn’t matter. You can do anything if your heart is right.

    • Thank you so much Derek! You’re so right about that – every single day matters, and should be enjoyed to the fullest! And wow, that’s amazing!! Rock on, my friend! That is really something to celebrate. Yes you can! πŸ™‚ Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Ian! πŸ™‚ I know! The first of the rest of my birthdays! πŸ™‚ hehe Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Curtis! Very grateful to God for bringing me to where I am today! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Tonya! It’s been a great birthday weekend, that’s for sure! hope you’re having a great day! love you, my beautiful friend! xox

  8. Happy birthday, Caralyn! Life is worth celebrating. I celebrate God’s faithfulness and blessings in your life and marriage. Your birthday posts is an eye-opener. I love it! The Almighty God be with you now and always, amen!

    • Thank you so much Julius! Amen to that — life is SO worth celebrating! what kind words – thank you. God is so good! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much my friend! God bless you as well! He is good! Hugs and love xox

    • thank you so much Kenneth! hahah — good! If I never admit to it, it doesn’t really count, right?? hahah justttt kidding! πŸ™‚ hope you have an awesome afternoon! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Ivan! I appreciate that! Very grateful for another year around the sun! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Rachael! no, it definitely doesn’t! it’s a gift! have a great afternoon! Hugs and love xox

  9. Hi, Caralyn. I enjoy reading some of the wisdom of many of your commenters as much as your blog. Bullet point #1 brings to mind a quote I occasionally use for a “signature” on emails: “Don’t complain about growing old β€” many, many people do not have that privilege.” Earl Warren who passed away at 83.
    Another is, β€œAt the end, only two things really matter to a man, regardless of who he is, and they are the affection and understanding of his family.” Admiral Richard Byrd

  10. Happy birthday! I’m an August baby as well and my birthdate introduced the month, being it’s on the 1st. Hmmmm, I am way past your cherished prime, but I have fought for too many years the age battle. I was less accepting and went kicking and screaming. On two occasions have I allowed my gray to show and one of them is now. Not that I have tons. Physically, I have kept fit, for two reasons. Mother had Alzheimers and Dad had cancer, so it’s more in the interest of keeping my brain and body healthy, which I will continue to do. I associate mostly with younger people and seldom with those near or around my age, unless… we are like minded. There are people who are just waiting to die and I will not be that person. Whatever I can do to encourage and impact someone positively and spiritually, I will continue to do. Pretty much as you have been doing. I turned 77 and my kids probably have children your age. Nonetheless, I wish your life the same blessings.

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