Today is my 40th birthday. As you know, I have been preparing for this day for quite some time because I think it is a big deal. I didn’t think too much about turning 30 a decade ago, so my excitement this time around is a sign of growth that I celebrate wholeheartedly. Besides taking the day to pamper myself and get my picture taken, I wanted to share with all of you the 40 things I am grateful for after four decades on this planet.
I think one of the main reasons I’m welcoming turning 40 is because I’ve had the privilege of seeing life from older to younger, through living with both my grandmothers as a little girl, teenager and young woman, I was able to experience a Benjamin Button life of sorts. Growing up with older women gave me a vantage point, a lens to look at life from a different angle. One of the main things that it taught me early in life was how brief and precious our life on this planet, and the importance to find joy in the everyday things.
Another thing I believe has given me the desire to celebrate my four decades of life is my love of telling stories. I really want to leave a record for my children to read into how my life was as a girl and throughout the time I wasn’t a mom. This desire has allow me to really think about my experiences and the many blessings and challenges I’ve had during my life up until now.
I feel privileged to have the means to create this record and also to have the awareness of the many wonderful things I have experienced. Of course, my life hasn’t been a fairy tale as there have been struggles. However, there has been so much magic, so much laughter, so much friendship, and so much love that I couldn’t possibly focus on the miss-haves, the losses or the pain. I choose to celebrate the beauty and the gifts I have been awarded.
While I’m sharing the 40 things I am grateful for, there are many more things that I’m thankful for that didn’t make it on this list, this is just the top list. Of course, it couldn’t be a top 10 or top 20 for obvious reasons.
Here Are The 40 Things I am grateful For At 40
- My three children. Growing up I was one of those little girls who dreamed about being a mom. At age 14, I told my grandmother that if I wasn’t married by the time I was 28, I was going to have a baby. She was in disbelief that at such an early age I had the desire to have a child out of wedlock. Even in my wildest days as a single 20-something woman, my friends would laugh and think I was crazy because I knew I wanted to have three children (if they were triplets, even better!). I am beyond grateful that I have the opportunity to be a mother to three healthy and loving children that give me so much more than I could ever imagine.
- Mamá Amparo. When I was 13 my grandmother used to say that the only thing that worried her was that she would die and leave her poor son unattended. To that, I’d always replied “but Papi is 40 and I’m only 13, what about me?” She will immediately replied: “I’m not worry about you girls, you already can fend for yourselves!”. Mamá Amparo was in my life until I was 35 and there are few things in my life I am grateful for than having been her daughter. She was a constant of love and support throughout my life and the best teacher on how to be a mom.
- My partner. Those who have met my husband know that we are a perfect example of the ‘opposites attract’ physics law. I am very grateful that our paths crossed and that we have been able to create a partnership that some still don’t understand, but that is based on mutual love, respect and common goals. Having someone that supports me and nurtures the independent woman I am is golden. Of course, more than one of the top 40 things I am grateful for, this is one of those in the top 5.
- My family. Something that truly fills my heart is to belong to my own Brady Bunch. We are all opinionated, loud and strong-willed, but we all value the strength that a strong family bond provides. We’ve been through many ups and downs together; and we have grown stronger and more united. I love them and feel fortunate to have been born within this crazy, fun bunch!
- My friends. There are people that have been a constant throughout my life, angels who have guide me and support me. I’m fortunate to have amazing friends, those who have been with me most of my life and those who came to my life in recent years but have been crucial in providing a safe haven in the hardest moments I’ve experienced. Definitely one of the top 40 things I am grateful for at 40!
- My career. I must confess that when I chose to enter the communications field and the school of journalism, I was not 100% sure of my choice. I was just 15 years old when I made that decision, after all. However, becoming a journalist, a writer, a storyteller has been one of the most fulfilling things in my life. I cannot imagine being in a field in which I cannot communicate, speak, train, teach and tell stories.
- Health. Growing up, I was often sick and spent a good part of my childhood in very long trips to the doctor. Since my teens I have been very healthy, even when I haven’t been the nicest to my body at times. As I approach a new decade and get older, I’m grateful to have health and the awareness to preserve it through good habits and choices.
- Awareness. Being a lover of movies, I’ve always wished that at some point in my life I would be a very wise woman like some of the characters we’ve seen Meryl Streep portrait on the big screen. While I recognize that aging has made me wiser, I know that to acquire wisdom is a process that takes time. Like I said last year, wisdom is not a given quality; it is rather an acquired attribute that involves time, thought and awareness. In my 40th birthday, I am grateful for my newfound awareness that allows me to seek knowledge and better myself, to continue on this journey towards a happier life.
- Technology. The wonderful gift we’ve been given to live in the era of connection, to nurture our relationships with those we love that are geographically far. For me, technology has provided also a new way to develop professionally, to combine my passions and my expertise to give back and to do business. I’m grateful that in my 40s we have connectivity and I that I’m technologically savvy to reap all the benefits it has to offer.
- Co-sleeping. For all the moms out there that have chosen to co-sleep, you know not only the benefits for the kids, but the amazing bonding experience that it provides. Growing up I co-slept with my grandma and my father, out of necessity as we had to share room and a bed many times. In my case, I chose to do it because of the bonding for my children and ended up loving to have that connection with them. As we get ready to transition our last kid out of our bed, I’m grateful for 8 years of love and bonding through co-sleeping.
- Good conversations. I love talking and having good conversations with friends and loved ones. Now that I’m a busy mom of 3, I treasure those conversations when I have the time to engage in it. Looking back, it seems like it is all I used to do in my 20s with my friends, and I loved it. At 40, I’m really grateful when schedules aligned and I can have a good conversation with someone.
- Laughter. I love to laugh and having a good sense of humor is one of the things I like about myself. I’m really grateful to have laughter in my life, especially the laugh of my kids and all the silliness around me as a mom of three young kids.
- Sunshine. I jokingly say that I’m related to Superman because I get my power from the sun. As a caribbean woman, a Dominican, I love being under the sun and living in North Carolina I get to have more sunny days than grey days. That’s one of the simple pleasures I’m thankful I get to enjoy.
- The Beach. When I lived in the Dominican Republic I made a point in going to the beach every week. After moving to the US I haven’t have that luxury and I cherish every time I get to go and enjoy the ocean. Now that I live in NC, I am grateful to have the ocean closer and having the opportunity to visit every summer.
- Traveling. I love to travel and throughout my life it has been a constant for me. Before I was an adult, I used to travel around the Dominican Republic and after turning 18, the opportunity to travel internationally opened up. I’m grateful to have the means to travel for pleasure and the opportunity to travel for work that it’s always fun and enriching.
- Music. Like sunshine, I feel that music gives me life. I could tell my life in songs and I listen to music that makes me reminisce about moments and experiences and relive them again. The connection I feel with the stories told in songs is something really special to me and I’m thankful to have such a profound relationship with it.
- Movies. Without being an artist myself, I’m grateful to have the sensitivity to experience and enjoy the arts deeply. Going to the movies is one of those things that brings me joy, lets my imagination fly and moves me to laughter and tears.
- Being a tomboy. While loving the arts and being very sensitive, I happen to also be a tomboy who loves sports and it’s more comfortable in jeans and without makeup. I’m grateful for the freedom to be who I am and the places it has taken me.
- Pictures. When I decided to document my life digitally I realized how fortunate I am to have had a father who loves taking pictures (and now video). I love pictures, being in them and taking them, because it helps me look back at those moments we cherish. Through pictures I can see my babies when they were still babies and I can also show them how I looked when I was a baby myself. To me, that’s priceless!
- Being Dominican. Most people would agree to be proud and thankful to be from where they are from. I’m one of those people. The reason I’m so grateful to be Dominican is that easygoing Caribbean trait that allows you to look at life at a slower pace and with a lot less seriousness. Being able to let go and not stress about simple challenges in life and also to have grow up in a culture of happiness, of people who get close and interact with less formality.
- Having hot water. If I think about it, I’m truly grateful to simply have water as I had to walk miles to fetch water when I was a kid. Going back to the hot water topic, the fact that I just open the faucet and I get warm water at will is still mind-blowing to me. During what we considered to be cold nights back in the Dominican Republic, I used to warm the water in a pot on the stove and then prepare my warm water in a bucket to shower. At 40, it is all about the simple pleasures and having hot water it’s definitely one of those!
- Focusing on what matters. In the last few years I’ve experienced a shift in my thinking and started to look for more meaning. I’ve discover that bliss comes from knowing you are doing exactly what you need to be doing, by living based on your values by being aware and intentional. At 40, I’m grateful to be actively working on that, on leaving behind the things that don’t serve me to embrace those that give me peace and joy.
- Being a caregiver. Caring for my grandmother during the last years of her life was one of the hardest and most humbling experiences of my life. It gave me a deep look into our humanity and the need we have, as humans, to care for one another.
- Afternoon walks. Love those lazy afternoons where we walk as a family around the neighborhood.
- Having YOU. Pouring my knowledge, opinion, experiences -and lately- my life with all of you is a privilege I don’t take for granted. I’m grateful you are out there, on the other side of the screen, reading and supporting. You made the journey of blogging feel less lonely, as often it can feel. I want you to know, that I’m genuinely grateful for your company and the privilege of having you as a part of my story. ¡Gracias!
- Hardship. As weird as it may sound, I’m grateful for the hard moments and the struggles I’ve experienced for they have given me perspective and appreciation for the blessings I enjoy today.
- Being a provider. As adults, the ultimate test is having to provide for others, children, parents or other relatives. I’m grateful that I have been able to be that person because it means I’ve had, and continue to have, the resources to support others.
- Home cooked meals. I was raised on the home-cooked food my grandmother used to prepared. As an adult living in the United States, I know it is a privilege to enjoy and give my children fresh meals, cooked at home, thanks to my mother.
- My parents. The fact that my mom and my dad are alive and well is something I celebrate. Having the opportunity to experience a relationship with my parents as an adult fills me with joy, and I’m thankful for that.
- Intimacy. After having loved and experiencing heartache, I’m grateful to be in a relationship with true intimacy. Enjoying the inside jokes, the moments of parenting that only the two of us can appreciate and knowing things about each other no one else knows.
- Healthy children. There is nothing a mom appreciates more than having healthy kids. I’m no exception!
- Growing up outdoors. I’m grateful for the childhood I had with open doors, playing outside and coming and going freely. I would love my children to experience that one day, but I’m happy that’s what I had as a child.
- Courage. Not everyone can be courageous and those who do, can’t necessarily do it every time. I feel gratitude to have been in the presence of courage, to recognize it and to practice it. I’m grateful to continue to work in my awareness and be willing to be courageous when feeling like giving up.
- Being daddy’s little girl. Being one of 6 daughters my father has, I’ve always loved being daddy’s little girl. Bonding with him over baseball and sports in general, having heated discussions about Dominican politics or defending feminism to a traditional Dominican macho. Grateful for all!
- Embracing change. During the amazing ride that has been these four decades of life, I’ve always been someone who embraces change. This has allow me to navigate difficult times and feel joy about the journey.
- Sisterhood. As most of you know, I have 5 sisters by blood. However, life has given me other sisters in the amazing women friends I have in my life. I’m grateful for them all and for the sacred bond we share in our womanhood.
- Coconut. It might sound silly to be grateful for coconut, but to me there is a deep connection to my identity and my roots through coconut. Because Mamá Amparo, being from the south of the Dominican Republic taught me the best recipes with coconut, and the endless memories of my life in which coconut is at the center of meals, my African roots, the best aromas and the most sacred moments.
- Love. For having so much love in my life through those I am related by blood, and those with whom I shared the beautiful bond of friendship.
- The pursuit of happiness. I’m grateful to know that I’m part of a bigger picture, that somewhere there is a God who allows me to be here, to have these blessings and that I can, and should, pursuit to be happy, to be joyful and to be the source of those things to those around me.
- Unapologetically me. While I’ve always being independent and outgoing, I can definitely say I feel more free today. Accept the fact that not everyone is going to love me and know that the love relationship I need to be more in-tune with is the one I have with myself. I’m grateful for that awareness and the freedom that comes with it.
Phew! I know this is like the longest post ever and I won’t judge if you don’t read it completely. However, it is my birthday and I wanted to say these things out loud (a.k.a. publish online for everyone to see) so I can celebrate my life on this day. Also, I’m hoping one day, as my own children turn 40, they can read this, look around and find many things they are also grateful for.
Happy Birthday To ME!