I’m not young, I was born in 1954 (a month late and I’ve been late ever since). In 1992, I reached the age of 38. Thirty eight, with the big 4 -0 right around the corner.

At the age of 38 I was the mother of six children, my youngest just a year old, married to their father for 16 years, and unaware that I was about to be a divorced mother with six children. I was in my second term on the Board of Trustees of Rim of the World Unified School District in Lake Arrowhead, CA, and I’d owned several small home-based businesses over the past 15 years but I’d never had to earn an income. I wasn’t the bread winner. I didn’t have a college diploma. I was President of our church’s Stake Primary (regional) in San Bernardino, California and supported 15 wards (congregations) nearly 200 leaders and teachers, and more than 1,000 children between the age of 18 months and 13 years of age. I was a busy lady, scattered, unfocused, but busy and happy.

And I was skinny.

And then life changed. Divorce happened. Utah became our home. I became the primary source of income for me and my kids. The world of dating opened up, followed quickly by failed (terrible, abusive) relationships – this is a chunk of my life I wish I could erase, and to be honest, have mostly forgotten in some brilliant “protective brain” kind of way. I found work, then left it. I became a realtor and excelled, but it was too much time away from my children on weekends and at night, so I walked away. I lobbied the California legislature for school facility funding and legislation (yes, I was still living in Utah, but hired by a CA entity to represent them in Sacramento). I moved back to California and uprooted the kids again…and again…and again. No plan in place, but surviving.

And I was still skinny.

And then I met my husband, we began the bumpy road of a combined family and now, 20 years later, we are happier and more in love than ever; working together to help others who are in need through the 501c3 nonprofit 10,000 Beds. We’ve dealt with financial success and hardship, parental highs and lows, ex-spouse issues, angry children – young and old, and adjusting to each other’s very different personalities. We’ve had to compromise and sacrifice and yield, we’ve even had to be apart at times, but in the end, we made it and we are stronger than we could have imagined.

And skinny is a thing of the past.

And I now have a 38 year old son, as of today. His older sister beat him to this age a few years ago, but today his birthday really made me think. Thirty-eight years. That’s a long time.

My 38-years is summarized above, but his 38 years is very different. The father of four, married to the love of his life, an attorney by training and education, and the owner of a successful tech company. Thirty eight years ago we didn’t even use the word tech.

My path has been winding, haphazard, often taking turns based on survival instinct more than strategic planning. His life is the exact opposite. Ordered, planned, prepared for, outlined and implemented on schedule.

I’m the gypsy, he’s the homebody. And he’s skinny; rides his bike everywhere.

So what’s the difference? Certainly life and what it dealt to each of us is part of it, but the key difference, I believe, is self-control. We are both successful in our own rights today, but I am nearly 64…he is 38. There’s a more than 25 year difference in the timing of his success and mine.

So what’s the skinny on the age of 38? It’s not really about that exact age, it’s about any age. And any stage of your life. Whether you are employed or unemployed, in recovery or not, skinny or fat, college-educated or experience-educated, tech-savvy or pencil-preferring.

My message today is about self-control…the ability to set a course, and adjust when life makes it necessary, but to stay that course and not let anything get in your way.

“Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.” James Allen

My son learned this lesson early, I learned it late. Part of it is because I wasn’t ready to focus, part of it was because I hadn’t found my passion, part of it was because I didn’t care that much – I was too busy and frantic in survival mode simply trying to make ends meet, do the best I could do as a scattered, damaged, working mom, to just get through each day.

I’m grateful my son doesn’t have to live his life the way I did. At 38 he’s accomplished so much; at 38 I was just beginning.

Take control of your life. Choose a course and follow it. You can do this. I know, because I finally did it, it just took me forever.

What are you doing to make 38 a great birthday for you? Or 64 for that matter? Or 50? Or 22? Start today, don’t wait.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re skinny.

“If you learn self-control, you can master anything.” Anonymous

Happy birthday Kurt. I’m so proud of you.

Jean Krisle is the CEO/Founder of 10,000 Beds, Inc. a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is recovery. We are currently #OnTheRoad4Recovery to elevate awareness, change perceptions of recovery, and connect with partners new and old. You can support 10,000 Beds by making a contribution today to help provide scholarships for those without resources seeking help for addiction.