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How I'm Spending My 40th Birthday

I get to celebrate a milestone birthday this week, and as I stand on the brink of my 40th, I'm reflecting a lot on the life I've built. I have personal and career achievements, as well as financial goals that I'm proud of, but that's not what comes to mind during these reflections.

For many of us, especially women who are juggling the demands of career, family, personal growth, and motherhood, the pursuit of financial stability can often take center stage. We strive to climb the corporate ladder, build our businesses, and secure our financial futures, all while trying to balance the myriad responsibilities that life throws our way.

Three women jumping with joy into the snow.

Something I'm grateful for at this point of my life is the ability to see my priorities clearly, and to honor those who support me in pursuing them. While financial security is undoubtedly important, there are zero-cost actions that I've been able to take that have not returned dollar amounts, but have allowed me to expand in a way that has produced immensely positive mental, physical, intellectual, and yes, financial outcomes. The relationships we cultivate matter.

That's why, for my 40th birthday celebration, I've chosen to forego the lavish parties and extravagant gifts in favor of something that epitomizes the values I hold dear: community (and an outdoor challenge!). Instead of throwing a birthday bash, I'll be embarking on a sunrise hike with the village of moms and friends who have been my pillars of strength and compassion for the past several years.

I'm coming off of a busy week and I know that a 4am Saturday wakeup call isn't enticing to me or any of my adventure buddies. The weather is changing this week, so instead of a crisp dawn making way for a warm morning, it will be cold and breezy, maybe with a bit of snow. I'll be second-guessing my decision as I roll out of bed, but I know I won't regret it. I'll be joined by tough women who will have cursed my name when their alarm clocks buzzed, but will surround me with smiles, hugs, and cinnamon scones.

I've asked my friends to join me this weekend because our gathering will represent for me the essence of what it means to live a fulfilling life. It's a celebration not just of another year gone by, but of the bonds we've forged and the support we've given and received along the way. Of the hard work we've put in, while still stopping to celebrate and soak up the joy we can find even in challenging days.

In today's fast-paced world, it's all too easy to get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth and external validation. We're bombarded with messages telling us that success is measured by the size of our bank accounts or the number of accolades we've accumulated. I absolutely play by this book. I want to live a rich life of experiences and objects that I desire. Truth be told: I'm indulging in a trip to Costa Rica next month to be with these same women. I won't stand here and say that money can't buy priceless experiences.

But as I stand here on the cusp of 40, I can't help but feel grateful for the things that I desire that don't cost a dollar: the laughter shared with friends, the shoulders to lean on during tough times, and the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a loving community.

So to all the women out there who, like me, are navigating the complexities of life in pursuit of financial stability and personal fulfillment, I urge you to remember the importance of community. Yes, set your goals, work hard, and strive for success, but never forget to nurture the relationships that sustain you and give meaning to your journey. There's no price to pay for those relationships, but the cost of not having them is one that you can never recoup.

When I put one foot after another forward on this new decade of my life, I'll do so with a renewed appreciation for the richness that comes from building a life filled with love, laughter, and the unwavering support of those who matter most. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Here's to 40, and to the community that makes it all worthwhile.

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