Not too long ago, you would have caught me saying things like, “The group was mostly older people, like in their 40’s. Forty is like when you start dying your hair blue or silver to cover all your grays.” Or muttering something ridiculous like this to my friends, “I can’t wait to be old and not care about what I look like so I can eat whatever I want. You know like when I’m 40.”
Well, I’m now 40, like in 10 days.
And I do care about what I look like.
I have no intention in dying my hair blue.
I can’t eat whatever I want because in actuality my metabolism is even more worse off then it was before.
But in all honesty, I like being 40!
In fact, I care enough about what I look like that I decided to treat myself to a makeover, well not really, it was more like I got a new hair do. A “wild” hair do! But I definitely didn’t want blue hair.
My few hours of wearing blue hair on Halloween night was enough to last a life time and realize that it’s just not my color.
Anyways, I was wanting something fabulous and feisty for my 40th year, so I decided to go with blonde highlights. I haven’t dyed my hair in at least 6 years and the last time I did, I ended up with lots of reddish orangey tints in my hair that I did NOT ask for. I ended up going back to the salon to have her dye my hair back to my natural color and left with even more of a problem. Needless to say, this experience left me not ever wanting anyone to touch my hair.
Yesterday, I mustered up the courage and I walked into the salon. The stylist asked what I wanted, so I showed her a picture and she looked a bit unsure. Everything inside of me wanted to run out, so I started second guessing myself. She had no idea that I was already on the brink of not coming in for my appointment. It was raining and thundering so I was going to use that as an excuse, mostly for myself. But I knew if I didn’t go now–it would never happen. She asked me again and I said–YES do it! I know my new do is not wild, but humor me. This is a picture of it after I washed it.
Last night, I wasn’t feeling so fabulous, I was feeling pretty apprehensive with my new “wild” look. Especially since after we left the salon the first thing my 4 year old says in his sweetest voice, “Mommy, your gray hair looks beautiful. It’s like shiny silver.” By the time I got home it was dark outside, so my hair looked dreary and silver in the awful bathroom lighting.
I kept telling myself, it looks fine, it’s not silver looking. I mean who wants silver hair when they turn 40. I want to hide my grays not add to them. This morning I practically jumped out of bed and ran to the mirror in hopes that my hair did not really look silver. I’m happy to report, it was not! Thank God, my hair did not go from blue to silver in a matter of a week.
So, this is my birthday month and I’m turning 40 in 10 days–November 17. I don’t feel old, like one of my preschooler students once shared–“When you’re that old, you’re like 100.”
I’m actually not sad, just in shock. I can’t believe I’ve lived 40 years, crazy. I’ve lived 40 crazy, beautiful years filled with God’s smile upon me, His hand guiding me and protecting me through the journey. I wish I could tell you I’ve done everything I’ve always wanted.
But if you know me at all, you know I’m not someone who sits around letting my circumstances dictate my life. Thankfully, I’ve had God, family and friends (sometimes even strangers) cheer me on along the way and sometimes even join me. This is me parasailing!!!
I’ve had so many wonderful, adventurous experiences that have enriched my life. I have swam with penguins in the Galapagos Islands. I’ve rappelled down a waterfall. I’ve given birth to 3 amazing boys. I’ve parasailed over the Pacific Ocean in South America. I was the first Hernandez in my family to graduate from college and get a graduate degree. I started a non-profit organization. I’m happily married to the man of my dreams–tall, handsome, deep ocean blue eyes, honest, hard-working Southerner who wants to honor God. I even founded the first Latina Scholarship Pageant in South Carolina.
At the beginning of this year around February, I started feeling this unexplainable longing, a stirring for more.
More of God.
A longing to fully be present in my life, a deep need for connection with those beautiful people God has blessed me with. I’m not sure if this is typical for people, before they turn 40. I was not having a midlife crisis but it was more of a genuine deep longing for life and groaning for God. I found myself wanting to be fully present before God and to others in genuine love and care for them.
By the end of the school year I decided I wanted to focus on some key things. I was coming out of some hard couple of years, new job titles for both me and my husband. Homeschooling and being on duty 24/7 with no time for myself. In the midst of that self-doubt, marriage strains, parenting hardships as we tried to figure out how to help one of our boys who was having some issues… I had gotten to the point where I had “let myself go”. Not in the wearing my pj’s all day sense but more in the “me” was lost adrift the busyness of life.
The phrase “get back to the basics” kept popping in my head. My heart stirred for simplicity. I wanted more joy, laughter, moments to just sit and be. I longed to feel His presence stirring and prompting me, like He did in college and my younger years.
So, I sat down one cold summer night, as I stared at the grandiose Andes mountains out of my window and I wrote. The words that he so gently unraveled like knotted up thread before me were things like: courage, peace, shame, roots, family, connection, joy, authenticity, gratitude, prayer, truth, worship, friends, and hope.
I went to bed feeling a bit confused and somewhat overwhelmed. But I knew this journey of discovering and gently unfolding each one of those threads; sifting and cutting through the knots, would take years. I was willing to follow. After all, I can only give my boys what I have. I want to unfold joy. Gratitude. Authenticity. Peace. Shame. Courage… for myself but also for them.
My hope on this journey is to live and love with my whole heart. The lovely thing is within each thread, I can find faith, family and friends weaved carefully, intricately and ever so deeply.
So, I decided to focus on these things that I lost at some point in the midst of the piles of laundry:
- Prayer and learning more about it and practicing it. As well, as teaching my boys more prayer.
- Journaling and processing more of my life.
- Art. Do more and find ways to incorporate it more often into my life through photography, painting, drawing, scripture art journaling.
- Scripture memorization.
- Self-care–eating better, sleeping more, saying “no” more often.
- Find out more about my family tree and history.
How will our children know who they are if they do not know where they came from? ~unknown
- Smile more. I’m such a task oriented person this is hard for me to remember.
- Read all those books on my to do list.
- Write a book.
To fully live we must embrace the small miracles of the moment. ~A. Voskamp
- Being present.
- Being real.
Hurry always empties the soul. ~ A. Voskamp
We all have patchworks of experiences that make up our story–just like the vast Andes mountains hovering over me. Each of those experiences–make us who we are–strong, loving, sinful, brave, grace-filled women seeking to love and cherish our families and honor our Lord in the midst of it all.
I desire to live the rest of my years not defined by my title of mother, wife, past accomplishments or experiences, giftedness or personality… but in the truest sense of who He has made me to be–His daughter.
Living begins with the longing that stirs way down deep, underneath the noise, the activity, the driveness of our life. But it is not always comfortable to acknowledge such longing, and the direction that such an admission takes us is different for all of us.