I just had a birthday. I turned 44. And I'm wondering when I started to refer to myself as "old". It was somewhere around 42ish, though I think it had less to do with age and more to do with my daughter's eye-rolling and sighs of "Mommmm" at my attempts to be cool or, heaven forbid, funny. Perhaps bustin' a move to Ke$ha in the car is pushing it. But I don't feel old and I don't really think I'm old. My "old lady" remarks are generally attempts at self-depracating humor. However, isn't there a bit of truth in every joke?

As kids, we are encouraged, sometimes shoved against our will, to try new things. College exposed us to LOTS of new experiences, educational and cultural of course. Maybe in your 20's you were "finding yourself". But somewhere along the way we got kind of boxed in - the same job, same house, same friends, same routine. None of that is bad, per se, but where's the excitement of trying something new?

As I approached the big FOUR-OH, I promised myself to seek out opportunities to try new things. To stretch myself out of comfortable, safe places. I wish I could report that I found my inner singer, painter or chef. I didn't. I'm pretty much still the same 'ol me. But I have taken a pottery class ( I made 17 variations of a nut bowl/ashtray). I've run a marathon. Built a house. Done the Marine Corps Mud Run. Navigated the streets, metros and trains of New York, London and Paris with my children, especially impressive since the only French I know is French toast and French fries. And perhaps most challenging of all, I went back to work after 14 years of staying at home. My next endeavor is horseback riding. Seriously.

It's all about stretching. Just a little. Stretching your dreams, your lives, your faith. It keeps you young.

By the way, having that 44th birthday in Paris cushioned the blow...just a bit.