This is making my upcoming birthday a little bit of an Everest. I'm turning 40. As in I had to click the clicker thing on the elliptical machine *five times up* to get to my current age. I know I'm still technically 39 but I'm trying out 40. It's weird. Uncomfortable. Too big. Airy even. Like I'm standing at the bottom of The Grand Canyon blindfolded trying to find my way up and out. It's scary down here all by myself.
But aha! I take off my blindfold and see that I"m not alone at all. There are some crazy cool cats down here with me. The 40+ crowd has me intrigued and lately I've been paying more attention to the good that can come from it than the bad.
The Good in 40
- You value kindness over tenacity. While determination is still a good thing, by the time you hit 40 you see none of the success means a thing without heart. Where this is heart and success? There is always a domino effect. Good way leads on to good way. The results magnify beautifully for generations to come.
- You cut to the chase. Small talk is nonexistent. Once you've established you like someone, they pretty much know at what age you lost your virginity after your third conversation. (Not telling but I'm locking up my daughter until she's 24.)
- Skirts and drippy silver earrings are fancy. Nobody expects you to wear anything clingy or even somewhat revealing. Not even your significant other. Doesn't mean you can't rock some cleavage every now and then but long maxi skirts aren't just for fortune-tellers anymore.
- You see the light. You might not always behave like you see the light but you have it locked in your scope most of the time. That yellow Gatorade your 5yo just spilled all over the garage? It's juice on concrete. Grab the hose, no bigs. Those new half moon eye-wrinkles you see in the mirror now when you smile? They make you look like your father, it's all good.
- You prioritize joy. Snapping pictures makes you happy? You strap that Nikon on your shoulder like you're Jane Goodall collecting data from the forest. Writing fills you up? You sit your butt down every chance you get to tap out your thoughts and watch them show you how you feel. There might not be more than today to experience joy. At 40, you get how important this is.
- You push away fear. By now I've come to understand that worry is a beast but fear is a bully. Once you've established a working relationship with fear, you're fluid. If you shut down and let it overpower you, you're letting fear have its way with you. And its way is usually keeping you from new experiences. When we first moved here, I was really afraid of driving across the 30-some mile causeway bridge. I white knuckled it the first time, noticed pelicans the second time, and played "I Spy" with my kids by the third. There are fun things across that bridge - uptown, downtown, excellent music, delicious food... I'm not about to let fear keep me from the original Cafe du Monde.
- You never go a day without feeding your soul. Chocolate and snuggling dogs is mine. What's yours?
- You have the kind of confidence you dreamed of in high school. I call myself an introvert. That's only a half-truth. The other half is that I'm also an extrovert. I don't let that one out so much because everyone needs a secret up their sleeve when there's an awkward pause in conversation. Being 40 is like one tall gin & tonic. I have lost my inhibitions. While I'm not swinging from chandeliers and spilling red wine down your blouse, I'm also not shrinking into a corner wishing I had the audacity to speak. 40's gift to you is audacity. And it's so much fun.
- You adore your friends. I have about five text windows going all day long from friends scattered about the country. Learning where they're running, driving, going out for Date Night, or cooking for dinner brings me inner peace and sisterly calm. My friends keep me grounded and allow me to be my cursory, ballsy, irreverent, sappy self.
- You do your thing without apologies:
- You need your family. It's been over a year since I've seen my mom, dad, and brothers. I feel them missing. I'm beginning to fade away a little without them. I get to see them this summer, however, so will hopefully spend time slowing down the clock a little while that's happening.
- You know when you've said enough.