Monday, September 6, 2010

40 Going on 14


Soooo—today I turned 40. Yippee. And while I am bemoaning the fact that yes—I did just enter another decade and (sniff) left my thirties behind, I’m not totally upset. Why not? Well, frankly I don’t look forty. And I definitely don’t FEEL forty. Actually most days, I feel twenty. Or seven. Or, well, most of the time—I feel fourteen.

My writing BFF and I have this running joke that we are sooooo 14. Half our convos rest on the YA novels we’ve read or written or are writing and we joke about our real life Brent Wilchers and Reilly Hunters. Or we’ll chat about how my professor last semester droned about Single Value Decomposition Theorem and my mind giggled with thoughts of STD every time he said SVD (Yes - I am such a dork).

I can be the biggest overgrown adolescent at my high school. In fact, one of my wonderfuls turned 18 this summer and told me that now he “gets to be a big kid like Mrs. Miller”.

It’s weird. Some of my absolute closest friends are in their late twenties. One of my fav people in the world to talk to—is 18. In fact, I talked to all three today and my heart sung with each text I received.

So what’s the secret to my fountain of youth?

How do I look, feel, and stay young?

Well, of course I…

• Eat right
• Exercise ALL the time
• Drink three full servings of milk every day
• Get a good eight hours of sleep every night

BAHAHAHA—okay… I do NONE of those things (and I totally should), but man, they sure did sound good as I wrote them. Hmmm.


Here’s the real scoop on the secret of my youth

• PLAY—I have a six year old and an eleven year old so this is ea-sy. And while sometimes I grimace when my son asks me to play Yoda to his Anakin, I jump in and chase him around the house and have imaginary light saber battles… and okay, I really sound like a nerd here, but it keeps me young. And my daughter—I beg her to go outside and pass the soccer ball with me. I think I get more exercise than she does.



• WATCH—I watch GLEE and ICarly and High School Musical and Phineas and Ferb and… yes—I’m a big dork, but I watch shows with kids and about kids (PS-they’re fabulous!) and I FEEL like a kid. When Schuester’s glee club performs another Journey medley, I’m belting it out at the top of my lungs with them. Or when Chad and Troy and the rest of the HSM cast dance to What Time is It?, tables are cleared in the living room cause, dude. I have to dance too!

• BE AROUND KIDS—I teach the fourteen and up category… all day. Then I come home to a middle-grader and a first-grader. I’m around kids 24/7. How can I not act like one?

• CREATE—kooky monster stories for your son EVERY night or crazy games like Survivor Calculus and Slope Bingo so that math stuff is not so bor-ing.

• MARRY A KID—Marry someone who shares your love of roller coasters and Jimmy Buffett or who still runs around the soccer field with his players. Or who convinces all the freshmen there’s a swimming pool underneath his high school. My husband can be as big a kid as I am.

• DANCE—okay, so I really do exercise. I’ve been dancing since I was four and when I tap out my frustrations at Dance Theatre or in my living room, I feel AWESOME. And young. And totally like I could dance all night long. And sometimes I do.



• SEE—a Breakfast Club poster on your wall at school every day. Seriously the best movie ever. And when I hear Simple Minds, Don’t You Forget About Me, I’m in total teen zone.



• LISTEN—I crank up the radio when My First Kiss (K$sha and 3OH!3—awesome!) comes on and I rock out to Def Leppard and Katy Perry on my iPod. And while you may not think eighties classics and top forty are the shizz like I do, find what makes you feel young. And listen to it. All. The. Time.

• READ—I’ve always had a voracious appetite for books and there are some really phenom adult books out there (and I read them). But I just find young adult and middle grade stories much more enjoyable and way more compelling. And seriously? They’re about kids! They’re fun and they’re fresh and deal with real-life crap that real-life teens deal with. And while I won’t profess to vicariously re-living my high school days through reading about them (okay, maybe I do a little), their stories make me feel young. Make me want to jump into the pages of Harry Potter and play Quidditch or woo Heath away from Zoey (House of Night) cause she’s a freaking idiot. I immerse myself in kid lit. It’s fun. And again—makes me feel YOUNG!

• TALK LIKE A KID—okay I’m not saying cuss like a sailor here or interject “like” in your sentence fifty times (um… talk to my daughter), but kids really do say the darnedest things. And while the lingo does help me stay in touch with my inner teen (for writing purposes), frankly I like saying things like “whack” or “whatever” or “I seriously heart you.” Or “my snark-o-meter’s off the chizz-ang”. Okay—I totally made that one up. But it’s fun! And honestly, some of that is so ingrained; I don’t think I can talk like an adult anymore. (JK—I totally can)

And finally—the number one thing that makes me feel like I could scale twenty sets of monkey bars

• WRITE—when I hit my mid-life crisis two years ago, I started writing. And every time I sit down to play with my imaginary friends, I immerse myself in this world that is totally happy and wild and free and REAL. It’s FUN. And I feel like a kid. When my darlings are side-jumping the twenty yard line to avoid doing a face plant or experiencing their first kiss or coping with the death of their best friend or fighting with their besties, I’m sorta experiencing that stuff too.

The other day I started a new novel. I wrote for two hours and soared away with the most incredible high ever. If you could bottle up my energy after that round of fun, I’d be the next best thing since Starbucks Frappuccinos.

But here’s the best part about being 40 going on 14. While I may act like a total twit at times, I have the wisdom and experience that age brings with it. I haven’t experienced everything in 40 years, but I’ve been through A LOT. Stuff that helps me relate. Stuff that makes my writing more real.

As Hannah Montana would say, “I’ve got the best of both worlds.” And I embrace it. Age, dude. It’s just a number. And to be all cliché and crap, I’m like a fine wine. I just get better with age.

So that’s what I do to stay all young and stuff. What do YOU do?

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