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Janelle Capra Headshot

41 and Now What?

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"Forty-one and having fun!" I said aloud while driving my daughters to school.

"Oh mom, that is embarrassing," giggled my oldest daughter.

"Forty-one and getting it done!" I gestured a large "check mark" and smiled as I glanced over my shoulder to gain the approval of her little sister.

"Mama!" They both yelled and laughed in unison.

"How about 41 and..." I ran out of time as I pulled up to their school to let them out at morning drop-off. Oh how I love our mornings together in the car, where conversation is open and anything and everything is shared including the new girl at school, their latest recess game, favorite music of the week and yes, dancing in our seats! These days, baby brother joins us for the morning drive, and he too adds in his own commentary. Always laugh out loud, funny!

Yes, I treasure our morning drives together before school. It wasn't too long ago that my husband and I would have to trade off on taking the girls to school in the morning. My work schedule would sometimes have me up before the sun to promote the latest fundraising event on early morning television or facilitating an all day event that started at the crack of dawn or attending a conference out of town. But now, as CEO of my own public relations firm, I set my hours and I am grateful for the extra time I have to take my girls to school. I make it my goal to help start their day with a smile, an encouraging word or just a laugh. Trust me, not everyday is something to treasure, but I try to find the "treasure" in every day.

January marks a new year and also my birthday month. Yes, I am one of those people that gets extra pleasure out of promoting that one should not just celebrate his or her birthday, but the entire month! My husband especially likes to tease saying, "My wife books her birthday plans out three years in advance, so try now to get on her calendar for 2017." He's not entirely wrong. I do like to plan my birthday month, as it is truly the one time of year when I allow myself to completely enjoy what I want to do! And, shouldn't we all have at least one day or better yet, one month a year when we put ourselves first? So I make it a habit during my birthday month to schedule my yearly doctor exams, dental cleanings and any other "examination" including taking time to mentally renew, refresh and recharge. This year it included a weekend getaway with some of my girlfriends to spend time at the spa, go to dinner and enjoy a night away from "Mommy!" My friend called it my 40th Birthday Remix, since my 40th birthday was taken hostage last year by the flu. We had a great time just being us, the women we've known before marriage, kids and career. We also had a thought-provoking conversation at dinner with some 20-somethings. They were intrigued by the fact that we were out without husbands, kids and could still have a good time. One of them even said, "You all are like us in 20 years!" Okay, honestly that felt like a kick to the gut, but she was right, most of us at that table are 20 years older and for me turning 41.

Yes, I am 41 and... now what? What do I really want to do this year? What can I let go of? What should I do more of? These are the main questions that float in my head. That's it, my head wants to answer these questions with: grow my business, make more money and sign up for more boards and networking groups. While my heart and more importantly, my soul answers quietly with two simple words: let go. I can't believe that I still struggle to find the right balance between raising my family, growing my business, giving back to the community and taking care of my health. Taking care of me! What a concept. Why do we struggle with putting ourselves first? I guess it comes with age and experience. Or maybe like all parents tell their kids, "practice makes perfect." I'm not striving for perfection, but I am striving for permission to allow myself to put my health first, for me and for my family. It's a careful dance and one that doesn't come as easy as dancing in our seats on the car ride to school.

So this birthday girl has one wish or better yet, one resolution this year: Let go of what weighs me down so that I can hold on to what brings me joy. Yes, I am 41 and exercising my right to let go! Now that's a birthday month wish worth making and sharing others!

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