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What 41 years have taught me

Thursday, February 6, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

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Nearly two years ago I woke up on my 40th birthday in the tiny town of Chagcharan, in the mountains of Afghanistan and wrote:

Yesterday was my 40th birthday. I woke up thinking of all the people who I’ve loved who didn’t make it to 40. I was at once sad and deeply grateful to be alive. Is this what aging feels like?

A lot has changed about my life since I was last in Afghanistan and when I think about those changes, I realise we don’t always get the choices we thought we were going to get. Or the choices we were raised to expect we would get. But we get other choices, choices that we might never have anticipated.

They are not easy. And not always what we thought we wanted. But those other choices are life. And I’ll take as many more of them as I’m given.”

Today is my friend Susannah Conway’s birthday and with her usual grace and wisdom, she invited me and some of her other friends to mark the day by writing about what ageing means to us.

To me, above all else, ageing means I’m still here and for that, I’m grateful.

Ageing also means learning what my body knew all along, and this is what four decades in this body have taught me.

Marianne_Port_5x4_smlI am stronger than I realize. And more fragile than I like. I can endure pain with courage, and be reduced to tears by a virus. I carry my memories in my cells, and I am constantly being born anew. I hold tight to fear and resistance. I breathe deeply, and let go.

My legs will carry me farther than I think I can walk. My heart will keep beating even when it is broken. My feet will find the path. My hands will sooth a crying child. And write a story that will make you cry. And pour you a glass of wine, and brush your hair, and stroke your cheek, and hold your hand. I will chop wood. And carry water.

My 42 year old body understands the wisdom of rest, the beauty of stillness, the power of touch, the importance of dance. And that there is only this. Here. Now.

I am here. I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am brave. I am scared. I am alive. And I am grateful.






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15 Responses to "What 41 years have taught me"

  1. Sarah says:

    Beautiful words, Marianne! And very reassuring (turning 41 this year!) x

  2. Susan Tuttle says:

    Your words are such poetry and speak a truth that I can feel deep within. Thank you for sharing this amazing post! I am feeling so positive and inspired.

  3. Julie Daley says:

    You are deliciously soft and powerful and alive. Thank you.

  4. my god, we are connected and still here. DAMN STRAIGHT!

  5. Beautiful, Marianne. Thank you for these words.

  6. Beautiful and true! Here’s to life, and here’s to you!

  7. traceyclark says:

    Yes. Thank you so much for this. Love you so.

  8. Teo Drake says:

    Marianne- I, too, am grateful that you are here.

  9. We are still here *deep exhale* yes. that’s the gift, absolutely. Thank you for this, beautiful xo

  10. Stephanie says:

    Lovely post Marianne, you make me appreciate my four decades too 😉 xoxo

  11. Bella says:

    This was beautiful to read.
    Thank you.

  12. Lynda says:

    Hi Marianne,
    thank you for those words. My body will be 52 this year, and wholeheartedly agrees with yours! Rest. Stillness. Touch. Dance. To have access to these things is truly wonderful, and deeply nourishing.

    Om shanti.

  13. Mike' says:

    Happy Belated Birthday…let’s continue to celebrate ourselves and live life in constant remembrance of those who have passed on. I say look in the mirror and marvel over our bodies….things may not be where they used to be, however, I stand in the mirror naked as often as possible and I am so grateful for legs to walk on and feet to dance with. Ashe’

  14. Jo says:

    Your post reminds me to check in with myself and my own ageing. Thank you.

  15. kristen says:

    Love this…embrace it all, girl.

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