40 Days of Grace

I spent the other night on the bathroom floor because I like to be sick like I mean it.

Traditionally, I’m an big fan of “go big or go home” where there’s only one right answer – GO BIG, of course – but the older I get the more I’m starting to question whether I’m allowed to change my affiliation and sometimes just quietly go home. I would’ve liked that option the other night, but noooooo, I had to shrug on my bravado, zip it up tight, and GO BIG. Really, REALLY big. All night long. With moaning. And keening. Lots of keening.

Greg moved the kids to the far end of the house because he was afraid they would think I was dying.

thought I was dying.

My body showed up, slapped me around, punched me in the gut, pushed me down and kicked me while I was there. And then I curled up in a little ball on the foam mattress Greg brought me, and I rocked myself to intermittent sleep. Between the keening.

I’m now in the phase following massive gut upset when I’m afraid to eat; a fear I will no doubt overcome soon and with great enthusiasm. Not Eating is a fun novelty while it lasts. It just never lasts long.

Now, here’s how much of that you needed to know: 0%.

But I have a point – cross my heart – and it’s this: I’M GOING TO BE FORTY.

Just like Sally of When Harry Met Sally fame.

Sally: What’s the matter with me?
Harry: Nothing.
Sally: I’m difficult.
Harry: You’re challenging.
Sally: I’m too structured. I’m completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.
Sally: AND I’m going to be forty.
Harry: When?
Harry: In
eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end.

My friend, Grace, turned 10 earlier this year, and I’m about to turn 40.


It’s just sitting there.

Except “there” is suddenly much closer.

I mean, I’ve been saying I’m going to be 40 for years now; like Sally, someday. And now, someday is only 20 days away.

And I feel … ready.




I’ve never had a problem with aging, not in the traditional chase-youth, celebrate-my-annual-29th-birthday, do-botox kind of way. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of the wrinkles between my eyes or the way my boobs keep making a break for it by sliding out the bottom of my bra, but in general I feel aging is a privilege. After all, not everyone gets to do it. I honor the people I’ve lost by living this messy life with gratitude and loving my people recklessly and laughing with abandon… and occasionally by pouring a beer for Gloria while I sit crisscross on top her grave and listen to the wind which I secretly think is her voice.

There’s something significant to be said for this silly, sincere life, even though we have to age to have one.

And so I’ve spent the last year pondering What To Do for My Fortieth. To mark the years past. To celebrate the years to come. To stop – just for a little while – and be.

But all the ideas I had felt like work. Ideas like planning a family trip. Or a solo trip. Or a backpacking adventure. Or having coffee with 40 friends. Or learning to knit socks. Or sky-diving. They all sounded fun, minus sky-diving because that is infinitely crazy and also hell, no, but I couldn’t muster the energy to make the effort for any of the ideas, you know? Maybe because Homework for Five Kids currently has my “extra” time completely buttoned up. Filled to the brim and overflowing.

photo 5 (15)

And that’s when I remembered my friend, Grace, who celebrated her 10th birthday with 10 Random Acts of Kindness. Her whole birthday party consisted of her mama (go, Heidi!) loading a gaggle of girls in and out of a van as they rushed around town making people smile. Leaving pennies at a wishing well and quarters at a laundromat. Delivering food and toys to families in need.

“Because,” Grace said when I asked her why she chose that for her birthday, “it’s nice to see how you can brighten someone’s day.”

That’s all. No agenda. Just it’s nice to see how you can brighten someone’s day.

In short, I want to be like Grace when I grow up.

So I spent the other night on my bathroom floor while the flu kept me awake with all the moaning. And the keening. And, when the nausea calmed down, the thinking.

About life.

About aging.

About Grace.

About spending this life learning how to be kind.

To others, yes, and also to myself, which is often the hard part.

And it was there, on the bathroom floor, that I decided to spend the 40 days surrounding my birthday – 20 days before and 20 days after – in a state of grace.

40 days of grace, if you will.


40 days of grace to spend together. With you. Encouraging each other. Giving gifts of kindness. Being grateful. Being a mess and allowing that mess to be OK. To be enough. To be worthy of compassion. To be RAD.

So here’s how this is going to work:

40 Days of Grace starts today.

Every day, either here or on my Facebook page, I’ll post something around the theme of grace. New writing. Older posts. Blurbs. Links. Pictures. Something. Something that reminds us that we are – every last one of us – deeply, truly worthy of grace. And capable of spreading it around.

I can’t think of anything I’d like more for my birthday than to ask you to join me for 40 days of grace.



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14 responses to “40 Days of Grace”

  1. Please keep writing more lines like this…

    “I’m not a huge fan of the wrinkles between my eyes or the way my boobs keep making a break for it by sliding out the bottom of my bra”

    Because sometimes grace is disguised as laughter 🙂

  2. My 40 is out there too, and at the rate the last few years have gone by I’m sure it will be here tomorrow!
    But the grace, that’s something I definitely need to do today…
    Also, the boobs sagging out the bottom, yeah, I’m there already. 😛

  3. What an awesome idea! I have more than 6 months to plan for my next birthday, and I am so going to do the random acts thing.
    BTW, Beth-you are a much better sick person than I, even with all that keening. We had the stomach thing last week, and rather than thinking about grace and all, I just simply want to DIE when I’m sick. So kudos for that.

  4. Just sayin’, you are the one who will be blessed. For my 54th birthday this last February, Rick and I left church and spent the next 4 1/2 hours doing 54 Random Acts of Kindness. The most unexpected was picking up a homeless guy that was walking across town (we knew him) and taking him to his destination. He talked our ear off for the next half hour. Roger needed that time and we were blessed to let him talk.
    The most funny was watching a guy “steal” the quarters we had put in the car wash change machine, and then driving around the building “catching” him, or so he thought, and gave him a coffee card for a local coffee stand. His face was priceless.
    Have fun these next 40 days and don’t be surprised when you are blessed by our Father in Heaven. Happy 40th.

  5. Happy nearly birthday! I am in the same boat, turning 40 next. And while I do moan a bit about getting older, and can’t quite figure out how my kids got so big (seven seems like a big number at the moment!) I am greatful for were I am, and what I have achieved in life so far.

    It is sobering to think of those people I know who haven’t had as long, who have died young, or are suffering through terrible illnesses – cancer really sucks, especially when you’re a kid.

    So yes, we should all embrace life, enjoy every last bit of it we can.

    And there is still time for new beginnings, new challenges, new opportunities. After dreaming of writing stories for years, I am about to publish my own kids book – scary and completely out of my comfort zone! But I decided that I couldn’t put it off for ever, so I’m doing it. Might be a complete flop, but at least I know I have made the effort!

    I love the idea of a period of Grace, lovely concept, and the world would be a better place if we could all do the same.

    And my nearly seven year old (7!) is a Grace too 🙂

    Here’s to ageing disgracefully!

  6. One month from tomorrow I will be half way through my 40s. I am loving this decade of life! But, that does not mean it cannot get better. What a great idea Grace had! I think I need to take inspiration from both of you and find a way to make 45 a gift, too.

  7. LOVE this idea! And welcome, it’s great on this side, though I only just got here. It’s very….comfortable like a favorite pair of slippers.

    Ok – my husband’s awesome surprise party really helped the transition. An outdoor BBQ that turned indoor when it started to hail in June. Lots of friends and good beer and visiting. GREG are you listening?

  8. What a wonderful gift! I will watch for your post each day.I loved being 40 and 50 and 60 and 70 and I’m sure I’ll love being 80 too. You know where I learned about Grace? From Niece Denise 🙂 Awh, love that girl.

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