I have recently turned another year older, and this time it has made me rather contemplative. I’ve spent the last several weeks scrutinizing my life; my relationships, my accomplishments, my losses, and the plain old reality that time marches on, we get older and eventually we die. This birthday has definitely brought forth my existentialist angst.

One of the lessons that my recent grappling has brought to light is that there are certain aspects of each life that simply cannot be changed. I cannot change, for example, that wrinkles happen and hair patterns change. I cannot change the family nor the country that I was born into. I cannot change my genetic code. I cannot change the essence of the people around me – not my husband, nor my kids – as much as I wish I could at times.

Strangely, this realization has brought forth not a sense of bitterness but a sense of letting go and of peace within me. After all, if I truly can’t change these things, then why bother fret about and fight them?! I actually can accept that the appearance of youth is illusive, which allows me to embrace my wrinkles and grey hair, rather than scorn them. I can accept that I was born into a lower-middle class family and am Canadian (which has always been a source of pride for me) and ensure that I share the privileges that I have with others. I can accept that I am who I am and give up the unrealistic standard of woman-hood that Hollywood and advertising present – whether physically, emotionally, with regard to career… In other words I can accept that my definition of success for my life is what counts, nobody else’s. I can look at my husband and kids, quirks and all, and love them deeply, with gratitude, that they are in my life. I will never have a perfect marriage nor perfect kids, and if I can accept this reality, then I can accept them for who they are.

Having said all of this, there is plenty that I CAN change in my life, although that is for another blog. This birthday has inspired me to begin to look at acceptance; to accept that there are plenty of things I cannot change, to find what those things are, and to stop fighting against them. I’m reminded of the first part of the wise Serenity Prayer, spoken in 12-Step groups, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”