So, today I’m forty-four.

And I’m not rich, I’m not famous, and I don’t look like a movie star. In fact, I look like a forty-four-year-old woman with three kids who lives in hurricane-magnet housing.

That’s okay. I’ve earned the face, and the body, and the comfort of not having to spend hours of my life pursuing the insane vanity of trying to look twenty. I was already twenty. I was a shallow idiot at twenty — good body, decent face, mistook being smart for knowing anything. My life at twenty was hollow; I didn’t know what I wanted, didn’t know what mattered.

I’ve earned the gray hairs that are creeping in with the brown. And I’ve gained a hell of a lot over time and through experience. I have people who love me. My guy, who makes everything he touches better, and who at least once a day amazes me and makes me glad to be alive. My twenty-one-year-old daughter, who is out on her own and a long way away, but with whom I write (via IM) for several hours most days. (We challenge each other in ten-minute bursts.) My nineteen-year-old son, also a long way from home, who remembers to call and talk regularly, and without being reminded. My six-year-old son, whom I have the daily pleasure of teaching to read and write, add and subtract, dig dinosaurs and ancient ruins, play the guitar, and so much more.

I have a few good friends, from whom I hear regularly, and to whom I respond a bit less regularly — but I’m getting better at that.

I go to work in my pajamas, and pick my own hours. Six AM to noon most days. For me, the perfect hours.

I do what I love for a living — tell stories. The stories I’m writing are mine, and they matter to me.

We have a roof over our heads, and food in the pantry.

I can look out my office window and watch the sun rise as I work. Can open the window and smell fresh-mown grass and the scent of autumn already here in spirit.

I’m in pretty good health, and working to be in better health.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. But, if today I were called to account for my time spent, and what I had made of that time, I would not be ashamed to give that accounting.

At forty-four, that is good enough.

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