39 years, 8 months, 6 days – & finally OK being photographed in glasses (only took 30 years!).
Today I looked at myself in the mirror and went: holy shit, I have less than four months of being in my 30’s and crossing the threshold into a tremendously powerful decade.
I said it with trepidation, yet a teeny tiny thrill. For the first time, I may just be excited instead of terrified of turning 40. Rad.
Doing a bit of googling, I realized that I’ve done 38 of the 40 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 40, with the missing ones that I have no desire to do is “move from coffee to green tea”. I think all tea except chai is gross. I hate the smell of it. Always have. But hey, my deoderant has green tea in it, so let’s say I win. The other one is a bit stickier and that’s “decide if you want kids”. I still remain a giant shrug on that one – some days it’s an absolute, other days it’s more of a terrifying commitment. But who the hell decided 40 was the deadline for kids? The under-25 author who wrote that recommendation can suck it.
I’d rather contemplate on Turning 40: Ways Every Woman Can Live in 4-D, with the list below. The headers sound either like the Bionic Woman or, um, never mind, but I’ve highlighted the ones that I think especially ring true. Whether you’ve turned 40 or it’s yet to come, I’d love your thoughts on the Big 4-0…
1. The longer distance from adolescence has made you less neurotic and more nostalgic. 2. You have mastered a recipe longer than five ingredients you can easily ready for an impromptu dinner party. 3. A longer workout is worth every minute. 4. You remember the days of conversations longer than a text message and miss them. 5. Longer sessions with your therapist and personal trainer are worth every penny. 6. Your bucket list has grown longer, not shorter, because you realize how quickly life passes and want to do as much as possible. 7. Taking longer to balance your checkbook is no longer such a priority. 8. You’ve survived forty days in the metaphorical desert, wilderness or flood, and realized you could even stay one day longer if need be. 9. You know full well that longing is a good thing and you’ve learned a few ways of mastering that desire. 10. Your life has been enriched, changed and challenged by someone who is no longer with you.
11. You’ve learned that joy is deeper than happiness. 12. When you see the deeper laugh lines on your eyes, you picture the sparkle in those lines on a close friend and no longer panic. 13. You have a deeper sense of your strengths, your weaknesses, and learned a gracious way of bridging the distance between the two. 14. Years have given you deeper energy, intelligence, imagination and love for daily living. 15. Your reservoir of internal patience has grown deeper. 16. A commitment to religious tradition is now deeper than past rebellion. 17. You’ve learned deeper empathy and what it might mean to walk a mile in the shoes of another. 18. The ability to help others has grown because of your deeper cash reserves and your desire to connect resources to real need. 19. As much as you love Fifty Shades of Grey (or even, Harry Potter) you have found a poet, novelist or essayist whose work you are drawn to deeply. 20. You’ve reached out to mentor someone younger than you to deepen her skills and wisdom.
21. You find joy in traveling far and wide both spontaneously and with long-term planning and anticipation. 22. ‘Wide open spaces’ in your weekend no longer make you nervous, but instead provide soul time and rejuvenation. 23. You can say the word ‘wider’ and not panic due to possible changes in your body. 24. Wider responsibilities in care for parents, children and others around you are not constricting, but a blessing. 25. You’ve discovered a wider capacity for humor and know laughter is a form of internal jogging. 26. Gratitude for wider viewpoints has replaced any annoyance at the differences of others. 27. A wider selection of jewelry tells stories of travels, people you have loved, and lazy weekends at flea markets. 28. A circle of close friends helps to daily widen the joy and divide the sorrow of life. 29. After a wide search on Facebook for every past flame and former boyfriend, you have said ‘hello’ and then turned to the one you are with and loved them even more. 30. You have found a wider capacity to let your yes be yes. And your no be no. And there is no longer a wide span of guilt in between.
31. By forty, you know the grace and courage in taking the high road. 32. You’ve lived into a higher calling. 33. You have a high appreciation for Ai Weiwei’s artwork and no longer do you say, “I could have done that myself.” 34. Living ‘higher’ is no longer obtained by any substance, but instead by a substantial amount of soul work. 35. You have been left high and dry, but learned that not only can you survive but even thrive. 36. No longer do you over-function out of anxiety, but you have learned to function higher out of a deepened capacity. 37. A role model in your life is no longer a place of jealousy, but instead inspires you to live to your highest capability. 38. Civic responsibility is now a high priority. 39. You have discovered a higher tolerance for those with different religious and political views, and possibly even changed an opinion or two. 40. Just as Anna Quindlen’s book title Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake suggests, as each birthday comes to pass, you can’t wait to journey numerically higher.