Here it is.
Forty has arrived.
It’s my birthday today and I’m forty.
For whatever reason, I was scared of forty, but this is the age of enlightenment for me. I think maybe it’s because I have lived a lot of years in my four decades on earth, and out of my experiences have come life lessons and discoveries that now color the way I live.
Forty years. That’s a lot of moments, miracles, and mysteries.
It’s a lot of love, and also a lot of tears.
Forty is here. I remember when forty seemed like eons away. It feels as though I just turned thirty, but only for a moment, because somehow I blinked and ten years had magically passed.
The lessons I have learned, some welcome and some painful, have made me who I am today.
I have more wisdom at forty. It a culmination of years chasing kids, navigating a marriage, and making lots and lots of mistakes. I know things differently now. Things that I didn’t realize before, and they shape the way I live in a way that changes the minutes in my day. Because the years go by quickly. And time is a priceless gift.
Here are a few of the things that I have learned in my old age that are worth sharing.
- Drink coffee. Every day. I have a friend at work who drinks decaf. Just, no. There is nothing else I can say about coffee except that it must be consumed. Please drink it. That is all.
- Know who your people are. In the age of social media, we have “friends” all over the freaking place. They might be incredibly kind, caring individuals, or fabulous acquaintances, but my dears, it is likely most of these friends are not your real peeps. Who can you call at two a.m.? Who offers their shoulder and advice when you need it? Who are the ones who are going to trudge through the storm with you, even when they don’t need to, just because they love you? These are your people.
- Time is precious. This may sound terrible, but I have learned to become selfish with my time. I want to spend the hours that I have doing things that matter and being with the ones who I do life with. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever attend social events or celebrations. It does mean that if I have two hours in the middle of the week, I want to spend it with my family, or a good friend, or with my volunteer team at church. I don’t say yes to every wedding, shower, or party invite. Because if I did that, I would look back on my life and regret not spending time doing more of the things that I loved. And hanging out making memories with my husband, children, and loved ones.
- Exercise is for health. The secondary effects of fitting your middle-aged behind into some cute skinny jeans is a bonus. I don’t really like working out. It takes time and there are days when I just want to watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and eat chocolate instead. But I exercise almost every day. For my physical and mental health. Get some fabulous tennies and also, try yoga. It’s amazing. Namaste.
- Food is medicine. Changing the way I think about food has been essential to maintaining and improving my health. Yep, like a mentioned in a previous post, I am going to eat cake. But, I sort of have this 90/10 rule. Ninety percent of the time I eat really healthy. The other ten percent of the time, I eat crap. Because ya gotta have fries. And cheesecake. Eating healthy food is a must and leads to enhanced health, a stronger immune system, and overall, an improved sense of well-being.
- Wear what you want. I love that everything is in style. Because I am going to wear whatever I want. My daughters actually inspired me in this area. They are super funky, artsy, and sophisticated – all at the same time. And they look crazy cool in their Stones t-shirts and flip flops, or silk tanks with denim and booties. They rock it. I am inspired by their confidence and comfort in their own skin. So, I said to myself, if they can do it, so can I. I no longer care what other people think about my clothing. I’m going to wear ripped jeans one day and a preppy v-neck the next. Because I can. Just do you. It’s incredibly freeing.
- Do what you love. I am not naive to the fact that we need to earn a living to pay the bills. But if you cannot stand your job, take time to find a new one. Go back to school. Learn a new trade. Make time for your hobbies. Work for the life you want while working the job you have now. Confucius said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Our passions breathe life into our daily work and help shape our career paths. Don’t find yourself at the end of your life regretting never having taken a risk to change your career path. God has given you gifts, talents, and dreams. Ask Him to lead you to wherever it is He wants to plant you so you can truly bloom.
- Get what you pay for. I was out for dinner a few days ago at a Mexican restaurant and ordered a fajita bowl. Since I am a vegetarian, I asked for this dish without chicken, and asked to change the type of rice it came with. The rest of the bowl was supposed to consist of black beans, corn, and sauteed bell peppers. When my dinner came, the rice was not swapped. So I sent it back. When it arrived the second time, there was one strip of bell pepper in the bowl. One. So I sent it back again. This might sound picky, but it’s not. I worked for that food. I am already paying for chicken that I won’t even be eating. So, whether it’s clothing, food, or even a service, if it’s not what you were promised, ask to have it corrected.
- It’s ok to speak up. Friday I was talking to a co-worker who had just gotten her hair colored. Her colorist had suggested she go darker than usual, but when my co-worker left the salon, she was unhappy with the result. Now she’s walking around with hair she can’t stand. Do not, I repeat, do not make this mistake. Go back and add some highlights. Never walk around with hair, or a mindset, or a relationship, or anything else that makes you feel gross. Ever.
- Get a good therapist. Y’all, we’ve got issues. Lots and lots of them. And if you think it’s everyone else that has the problems, you need to get in there now. Like yesterday. Get thyself to a therapist. And when you work through your junk, go periodically for maintenance. It’s totally worth the time and money spent. Trust me.
- Give yourself grace. You are an imperfect vessel, and you will always be so. Learn to accept the things about yourself that are fixed, and commit to growing in the areas that need tending. But in the process, give yourself grace. Don’t beat yourself up for failing or not changing fast enough. Your life is a constant evolution. Alice Abram said, “In life as a dance, grace glides on blistered feet.”
- God is always good. All of the time. No matter how I feel or what’s going on around me. Seek God and get in His word. Make time every day. It will change the way you look at and approach life. Trust His promises and watch Him show up in your day. He will. He does. Every time.
You guys, I’ve decided that forty’s alright.
I’m not scared of forty anymore. It’s all good.