This is 45

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The most recent selfie I took, this was Sunday after my trip taking a much-needed nap

Yesterday was my 45th birthday.

I don’t like making a big deal about my birthdays. I’ve never been one to believe in a “birthday month” or even “birthday week.” I have my birthday hidden on Facebook so I don’t end up having the girl I met from summer camp in 7th grade and my old college coworker, both who I haven’t seen in decades, wish me well. Also, having a birthday in the month after all the major winter holidays and having the last birthday in the same month as my daughter, my mother, and my sister… well by the time January 28th comes around I’m fucking sick of birthdays.

I usually take the day off. I take myself to breakfast, or go to two gyms so I can go on the elliptical for a half hour and watch some really terrible TV and then buy a ridiculous drink at Starbucks. Maybe get my nails done or go thrift shopping or read a book in bed in the middle of the day. This year I couldn’t do that because the week prior I went away on vacation.

When I went to LA to shoot my part of the cabi Spring 2020 campaign, I had drinks with my contact at the brand. She’s an amazing woman, she’s so good at what she does but is also so smart and kind and fun. She suggested when I came to Scoop in January as part of the contract to bring along my family. Add a few days to the hotel reservation and to the flight. Thing is, my daughter had school commitments and well, that would still be me paying for their flights and meals and travel. My sister invited me on a trip a few months prior and I had to decline because of work. Our best friend had a holiday vacation planned that had to be canceled last minute due to a family situation. I invited them to join me. We’d head to Palm Springs for a few days, rent an Airbnb, then drive to San Diego for Scoop. The three of us hadn’t traveled together in two years, it would be great.

It was good, but not great. We three came on the trip with our three personal issues and the weight of our worlds on our shoulders. We then spent two nights together in a standard double hotel room on different schedules already feeling worn on the edges from several days of travel and trying to decompress but struggling to do so. I realized how much I desperately need alone time on work trips so I can recharge and perform at my best. I didn’t get that alone time, I was not my best at the conference and I wasn’t my best as a friend. I came home wishing I could have a do-over.

That was so late Saturday night it was Sunday morning. I had no content ready for the coming week, but Sunday I spent reconnecting with my family, napping, and unpacking. It made more sense to get settled than to get a blog post for Monday. And Monday was so busy catching up on overflowing inboxes, crafting content, taking care of contracts, and getting back into the swing of things. I didn’t really think about Tuesday being my birthday until I was getting into bed. Should I sleep in? No, the best gift I can give myself on my 45th birthday is health and strength. I drank my water, put on my serums and creams, put the anti-snoring device in my nose, my anti-teeth grinding NTI in my mouth, carefully laid my curls on a silk pillowcase and went to bed.

I had a hard 7am workout. I swore plenty under my breath, but was grateful for being at a place where I can lift such heavy weights and for so many reps. At the end of the workout, I thanked my trainer for a great birthday workout. I drove home to the regularly before school chaos. Did you pack your lunchbox? Brush your hair. Turn off the freaking tablet and go brush your teeth. Five-minute warning before we go! No one mentioned my birthday.

I took my shower, threw on some comfy sweats and got to my computer. Texts from my mom, my sister, and two friends wishing me a happy birthday. I texted one friend that my family forgot my birthday and I thought it was kind of funny. Things had been such a whirlwind this month, and the past days since I returned home, I wasn’t offended. My husband came upstairs to see me laughing while texting.

“Who are you texting?” he asked. I told him. “What about?” I told him, “About how you forgot my birthday.” I almost didn’t tell him that, I didn’t want him to feel bad. But then, what the fuck, it’s my birthday and the 27th birthday we have celebrated together. It’s on the kitchen calendar. I didn’t say it in a mean way, just in a factual way. He felt like shit.

He hung up the bulletin and dry erase boards I bought for my home office a year ago. I dusted and organized while he drilled and screwed. And then we screwed, one of the perks to the two of us both working from home. And then I took a nap. I woke, he was gone, off to pick our kid up from school. She came home and sang me happy birthday, her dad letting her know the screwup on the ride home. But then she was off to her room to race through homework so she could FaceTime her BFF.

My husband made tacos for dinner, knowing it was one of my favorite meals but we didn’t have any Beyond Beef in the freezer so the “meat” was a weird mix of beans, and the only toppings were two cherry diced cherry tomatoes, one head of romaine, shredded almond cheese and a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot. Somehow he whipped together a chocolate coconut cake, put blueberries on top with a dollop of whipped cream leftover from our daughter’s birthday build your own sundae bar at her sleepover. The two of them sang me happy birthday and we watched the episode of Ellen DVRed from earlier that day. And they went to bed. But I stayed up, feeling a bit lost.

Shouldn’t I have done more for my birthday? Isn’t this some milestone age? Shouldn’t I do some well-lit selfie on Instagram discussing how powerful and strong and badass I feel at 45? Write some deep blog post about getting older, preferably with some fabulous photos from a previously-scheduled photoshoot? Coordinate with a cool restaurant or bar for a free meal with a fancy hashtag and a dozen of my influencer friends all decked out in sequins and faux fur making boomerangs of clinking champagne flutes? I just didn’t feel like it. It all seemed sort of stupid and like I was performing for others instead of celebrating me. And I don’t really feel like I need to be celebrated.

I don’t mind being 45. In fact, I think it’s a pretty fabulous age. All around me, friends are getting sick, parents are getting old, loved ones are dying. I am thrilled to be on this planet for another year, and in good condition. I am surrounded by love. I just went on a badass trip to California with two dear friends and then attended a conference for a brand I think is amazing where I was featured in their catalog, their marketing. My face was on a banner on a street light outside the San Diego Convention Center for goodness sake. I am blessed. I am happy. I have a good life. But I just don’t feel like showing all this off on social media.

It’s 12:09 am, officially no longer my birthday. It’s another day, one where I will be extra exhausted because, well I am up at 12:09 am and my alarm goes off in just a few short hours. I have a post for Wednesday, a post for Thursday, two other posts half done. I could take off tomorrow and do a birthday do-over. I could take myself to breakfast, get a pedicure, wander through a book store and get a latte and take a nap. But honestly, I’d rather get some tasks scratched off my to-do list so I can go to bed calm, and at a reasonable hour. Because it’s okay to be 45 and find the greatest gift to be having a life that may not be worthy of social media, but a life that makes me feel secure and happy and loved.

Since I have an archive of the past 15 years of my life on this blog, here are some birthday archives:

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I enjoyed this post a lot more than one where everything was perfect and curated. My favorite part was the two separate screwings. Made me laugh right loud here in my office.

    I’m 65 and all of us are doing fine. go you! xxoo

  2. Happy Belated Birthday, Alison! I echo others (and myself, commenting here, so many previous times) that I love hearing the real story of your birthday. Forty-five is an awesome age–especially when someone is working as deeply as you are to be your best self.

    I had to chuckle at your experience of your family not remembering. When I turned 60 a few years ago, it was the day before the school year was starting–and all but one of my co-workers forgot it was my birthday on that stressful day. To make matters worse, my mom had broken her hip a few weeks before and I had to actually take more than half the day off to go with her to the post-op appointment; the process was phenomenally slow and aggravating. In the end, I had to just laugh at how ridiculous our expectations can be of a “significant” birthday. What is really significant is LIFE, and how we choose to live it every single day.

  3. Thanks for such an honest and relatable post (as always!) Happy birthday and P.S. your skin is GLOWING in that photo at the top!

  4. Happy birthday, birthday twin. Sounds like we had a very similar experience. My family chose to celebrate Saturday (because tuesday birthdays kind of suck, don’t they?) and it was *sort* of fun…but we did swimming lessons for kiddo, and then–help me, Chuck E Cheese for a schoolmate’s birthday party. And then a family friendly cabaret brunch. Tuesday came with a Happy Birthday in the morning, but not much else–and yet I’m left wondering, “should I care?” Surviving another trip around the sun, being healthier and stronger is something to recognize every day.

    If you come to Seattle ever, I guarantee plenty of “natural” moisturizer–we’ve had 29 days of rain so far, straight.

  5. My oldest son’s birthday is December 26. It’s a terrible birthday but I realize it’s not the worse time….that would be having a birthday in mid to late January! You’ve done all the festive partying, you’ve decorated and un-decorated, you’ve settled in for the longest quarter of the year, you’re surrounded by influenza that you might catch even though you’ve had the flu shot…I appreciate your honesty about being overwhelmed. Full disclosure, I would have been a little (meaning a lot) more bitchy if my husband forgot.

  6. I turned 43 on the 23rd of January and it was a bit of a non event too. My son turned 6 a week earlier and I was a bit tired from organising his celebration, that I wasn’t up for doing it all again for me. Birthday fatigue! I appreciate your honesty in this post – I totally understand!

  7. Happy Birthday, Alison. I think it’s a great gift to appreciate our ordinary days. When it takes very little to make us happy and content, then it’s easier to be happy and content more often.

  8. Love your candor! Thank you for being real and sharing it with us. And, if you don’t like having a birthday in January, celebrate your half birthday at the end of July!

  9. I had a milestone birthday on the 23rd – 65. I’ve never been bothered by age, still feel no more than 40 and honestly, no different than I’ve ever felt, but for some reason this number started bothering me almost a year in advance. Birthdays have never been a big deal in my life but I felt like this one needed something special. I scheduled a decadent spa getaway for myself that had to be scrapped when an unexpected big bill happened. A friend offered her little getaway home in a cute town a days drive away and as the time approached, I found myself wanting to go less and less, and cancelled. The week of my birthday arrived and I still had the days off planned but nothing on the agenda and I wasn’t able to come up with anything special until I asked myself, what do you like the best? So I scheduled myself an extra shift at my beloved volunteer gig (humane society) followed by a leisurely spin around my favorite plant nursery. The day was nothing special but I woke up to birthday wishes from my nearest and dearest, spent time in two of my happy places and found that 65 was just another day and that’s ok.

  10. Happy January birthday. I feel this entire post so hard. Usually my birthday has been me doing mom things…traveling somewhere so my son can participate in something fabulous while I schlep hear. This year was the first one in many years that I didn’t have to do this. We went to dinner, watched the sunset over the Bay. And it was perfect. Here’s to leaning in to the next chapter of life. The one without the mom chaos and more comfortable clothing.

  11. Happy Birthday. Sorry the day wasn’t what you would have wanted, and that the Cabi trip wasn’t all that you wanted either. but at least you’ve learned 2 things, for you, combining business and pleasure isn’t the best answer, and even thought its on the calendar, it never hurts to drop hints about your up coming birthday

  12. “Because it’s okay to be 45 and find the greatest gift to be having a life that may not be worthy of social media, but a life that makes me feel secure and happy and loved.”


    & get that sleep. You know what they say: you need a vacation after you get back from vacation.

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