In party stores across the country, there is a section of the store that is relegated to black and white tones. The party favors are canes and old timer glasses and the decorations say, "Happy 40th, You're Over The Hill."
Today is my 40th birthday and I'm not sad. I am not lamenting my life so far because, statistically speaking, it's half over. I'm not thinking it's all downhill from here, I am hoping it is instead. Sometimes, the hardest part is getting up that hill.
As a kid, I used to head over to my elementary school where there was a sledding hill. It was really just a drainage ditch, built to handle the runoff for the neighborhood rainwater, and it seemed as gigantic as Mount Everest. Kids would fight in the bottom of the bowl like an inverted Thunderdome and if you were chicken, you had a long way to run to get out.
It seemed like it would take forever to climb to the top, especially in deep Chicago snow. At times, my legs would get heavy and I felt I couldn't go on. Sometimes I stumbled or lost my footing. Despite the slow, methodical march up the hill what awaited me at the top was the promise of a thrill.
The great thing about getting over the hill is the run down the other side. The cool breeze running past your face, the speed, the elation; the promise that if you held on long enough, you could glide forever farther than anyone else. I'm all about enjoying those moments on the other side.
Yes, I am looking forward to the other side of the hill, to being over it and seeing just what is waiting for me on the other side. Like a water slide with a long climb, the journey there can be tedious, but if you don't take the time to enjoy the slide, it will be over before you hit the bottom.
It's already been a journey up the hill. In my 40 years on Earth, I graduated college, became a well-respected teacher, have been lucky enough to be married to my best friend for 11 years and have three beautiful kids I get to stay home with.
I started a blog which lead to four TV appearances and a viral post, became a freelance writer for a website and founded a dads group in Philadelphia. This year, I was elected to a board position at The National At Home Dad Network and even visited The White House!
The best part of all of it is being surrounded by people that love me and that I love back. Life is what you make of it and no number stands in the way of that. So, when someone you know finds out it's your 40th birthday and they try to tell you "You're Over The Hill," just tell them: Yes I am. I'm standing at the top of that hill and looking down, and I am ready for the thrill of my life.