Age is a number, so the saying goes. But it's also a real thing, and something I have thought about many times during the months leading up to my 40th birthday. Our stay here on earth is finite. I've become painfully aware of the changes occurring in my body- the extra gray hair that mocks me in the mirror, my perma pooch--stomach muscles loose from housing my two beautiful boys through two pregnancies. Laugh lines around my eyes that have turned into deeper creases. Suddenly putting on liquid eye liner has become somewhat of a sport. I know I'm blessed. In my life I've found love, we got a dog, had children, and bought and sold our first house. Are all of my best years behind me? I've wondered more than once. I am scared to get old- I've never done it before.
I was so busy paying attention to the unwelcome changes in my body, that I couldn't focus on the beautiful and wonderful changes occurring in my heart and my mind and in my real actual life. It's impossible to focus 100% of your attention on two things at once, I know- I've tried.
And up until this past Sunday, December 15th, the actual day I turned 40, I was dreading it. 39 still started with a 3, and it was safe. I hung onto my thirties with two clenched hands. Fear of the loss of my young. Young is beautiful and carefree and I wasn't ready to pass to the other side of that, but I had no choice. I took the jump into 40 and it took the actual crossing to realize how important of a milestone it truly is. Not everyone has the luxury of life, and the ability to turn 40. And I sat in silence many times over the weekend and contemplated the fact that this can actually be a good thing- if I just open myself up to it. And suddenly my perspective switched because I was able to focus on the goodness part- with all my 100%. I was able to feel my blessings as I sat in Church on Sunday, and it was impossible to hold my tears inside. This is 40 and I am so lucky.
These are the lessons that 40 has taught me. 40 is everything and not any one single thing. 40 is young and old. Mature and childlike. Laughing and tears- sometimes simultaneously. 40 is learning and teaching. Confident and unbearably insecure. 40 is yelling and whispering, curse words and sweet nothings. 40 is happy, scared, restless, confused and content. Broken and indestructible. It's the acceptance that things are always falling apart and always getting put back together too- and always on Life's time line- not mine. I used to think we were one or the other with everything in Life. 40 taught me- we can be everything all at once. We are always learning, evolving, changing. Age enhances the good things that were already there blooming inside us- if you open yourself up for it. If you embrace mindfulness and wholeheartedness. Connect with and make peace with sadness, restlessness and fear.
40 is investing in humanity, recognizing our differences and our strengths. 40 means I have the ability to look inside, know how I'm really feeling, and even have hard conversations when I need to. 40 is giving others the benefit of the doubt, without letting them to use it as an excuse to treat me poorly or make me feel bad. Time has helped me become much more confident that I am choosing the right way for me, but having the ability to see that often times- there is no one single right way for everyone. At 40, I know to look at people in the eye and put down the phone every time I check out somewhere. I know how to be a good friend. I know it doesn't matter what you think of me- I just have to pay attention to how I think of me- and I could stand to be a little nicer sometimes.
At 40 I make a commitment to continue to be a student of the world. I am listening, feeling, paying attention, reading and always learning. I will never know it all, and I will probably even have to relearn many of these lessons I write about now. When I am learning, I feel alive with hope and wonder. Sometimes that is the very definition of young, hope and wonder- not a number. I'm going to make the right choices when I can-but more importantly, when I don't, I'm going to move on. I will remember, the right kind of learning often involves a little bit of pain. The pain of failure, making mistakes, looking stupid, and taking longer than I'd like to understand what I'm supposed to learn.
I look around and see lessons everywhere, even at the amusement park where we visited while my parents were in town, visiting from Missouri...
My two sweet boys, who happen to have autism- have taught me the world over. These boys are the best learners I've ever met. They approach everything with wonder, joy and an openness to learn.
My husband teaches me to be calm. And watching him parent is incredible. Marriage has been hard for both of us in the past few years, but we are committed to learning new things and making it work together.
The way my son, Greyson approaches Life teaches me daily. He shows me that when you find something you love- it's okay to jump for joy.
He approaches some things quietly and subdued...
And then slowly explodes into joy.
He teaches me that when you are scared- it is sometimes a good thing. That it's going to be okay-- and you just need to hold tight to the people you love and enjoy the ride...
And keep your feet firmly planted in who you are.
My boys teach me to search for wonder, even when you are just going around and around and around, doing the same thing over and over again.
Greyson and my Mom.
Parker and my Dad.
To make myself feel better, I google'd Fabulous and Forty, searching for celebrities over 40. I found I was in some great company- Cameron and Gwyneth, Heidi Klum and Kelly Ripa- but then I thought about it- They better look damn good. They have people to make sure of it. I get to be this fabulous all on my own.
So this is 40. It's taken alot of hard work to get here.
Maybe my body has seen and left it's prime. So what? That's all a part of the journey. My heart, my head, what I believe in, and my ability to embrace what is- is better than it ever was before. 40? No problem, I got this.
Visit me on Facebook and say hello.