Today I turned 42. How the hell did that happen?! I look at my 12-year-old daughter, listen to her sing her favorite songs, watch her giggle with her girlfriends, and hug her as she cries over a boy, and it seems like just yesterday I was that girl.

Birthday Cake

Fortunately — or maybe unfortunately — I still do those things, but on a different level. Get me with my girls, and I can be as goofy as any 12-year-old. Put on my favorite tune, and I still sing with abandon (when no one is listening, of course). And I still shed tears over men who were once boys — and I guess sometimes still act like boys. But now I have my life experiences to guide me, reassure me and keep me going, whereas when I was 12 there were so many unknowns and fears.

I would never want to go back to being 12, nor would I want to relive high school. Those years are just too tough — girlfriend fights, boyfriends (and breakups with those boyfriends), parents who drive you crazy, battles with your sister, school. And when one thing goes awry, you think your world is coming to an end. You don’t trust that there will be better, happier times. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s and 30s that life calmed down, and I began to feel comfortable with — and to accept — who I am.

Now that I’m in my 40s, my life has entered another tumultuous time. Certain aspects of my life make me miserable, and it’s time to make some difficult decisions and changes. The difference between my unhappiness now and the unhappiness that I experienced as a 12-year-old is that now I know there can be happiness again. My life is not coming to an end. I can make my life better, and I’m looking forward to what that life will be like once I make it through to the other side.

And today, my birthday, I’m going to enjoy all that is good in my life and push aside the bad. I’ll deal with the bad later. The bad stuff will wait for me–and then I’ll kick its butt and tell it never to return.

(This post is dedicated to my friend Renee for inspiring me to write in my blog again.)