Lessons On Turning 40I was having dinner with a friend the other night. We were talking about our kids and how old they’re getting. Then he jokingly said, “we’re getting old too, we’re half way in, half way out.” I couldn’t shake his comment and it got me thinking. I had a moment of panic and my chest tightened at the thought of being (at least) half way out. Where have I ended up 40 years later? What have I learned?

Here’s 20 honest things I’ve realized about life on turning 40:

  • Life is messy.
  • Not every story has a happy ending.
  • Relationships, whether it be romantic, friends, or family, may not always last forever.
  • But, you never know who you don’t know yet. I’ve been blessed with 8 soul friends that have come into my life in the last fifteen years. Who have I yet to meet? It’s so exciting to dream about when and how kindred spirits will come into my life.
  • People, often people you love, will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself. You will also surprise yourself. And the kindness of people will surprise you.
  • Trust your gut. It’s always right.
  • As the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want…you get what you need.”
  • Tragedies and hardship do open new doors. Ironically, the best things in my life only happened because of some of the hardest times of my life.

There are loose ends in life won’t be tied up neatly, shattered relationships I can’t repair, and puzzles whose pieces will remain lost. Jennifer Grant, excerpt from When Did Everyone Else Get So Old?

On Turning Forty

  • You learn the value of a real hug, a real cry, and a real friend.
  • Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but you will be able to sleep at night.
  • You will survive more than you think you can.
  • Life isn’t always fair. Even if you’re a good person, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win the lottery of luck.
  • Having children will change your soul in ways you can’t imagine. Your heart will grow a thousand time bigger than you ever thought possible.
  • People will die. No, it is not likely that you will die with all of your loved ones on the very same day as I hoped when I was a child.
  • But, people will also be born that you can’t even imagine. There are sacred souls you haven’t even met yet.
  • Holding the hand of a dying loved one is walking on holy ground. It is one of the rare moments in life that you can feel a certain in-explainable presence around you. A sort of quiet strength. A feeling there is something greater than yourself and it is just beyond your reach. The Edge of Glory, by Lady Gaga tells the story of her grandfather as he passed. “I’m gonna run right to, to the edge with you …I’m hangin’ on a moment of truth. Out on the edge of glory and I’m hangin’ on a moment with you. ” If you’ve never heard the acoustic version of Lady Gaga singing The Edge of Glory while playing the piano you have to check it out. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Holiness isn’t just found in churches.

Anne Lamott puts it so beautifully:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

  • Life will go on no matter what, it always does.
  • The years go fast, they really do.
  • Life will not always make sense.
  • After loss, “you learn to live again” like the Foo Fighters say.

Now what does all of this mean for how I’m going to approach the next half of my life?

On Turning Forty

Here are my goals. I’m going to turn this into a printable checklist for you soon!

  • Make a bucket list.
  • Try and create as many happy memories as you can.
  • Pretend your eyes are a camera. Zoom in and focus on the little, simple, beautiful things around you.
  • Take time to really think about what you want for your life. Dream big.
  • Un-apologetically ask for what you want.
  • Laugh easily and smile often.
  • Don’t wait for tomorrow, next month,  next year, or retirement to do things. Not everyone today will have the gift of a tomorrow.
  • Learn a skill that you always wanted to do. Try woodworking, learn to play the piano or make pottery. We have Youtube now.
  • Remember that whatever you are doing today will become a memory. Why not make it a happy one?
  • Don’t take life too seriously. Serious is boring.
  • Try to have a belly laugh once a day.
  • Don’t be afraid to make big changes and take chance, whether it be a new hair color or moving to a new state. You can always change it back if you’re not happy.
  • Just dance. Who cares what you look like?
  • Be in photos. Because again, who cares what you look like? (Growing pains for me on this one!)
  • Don’t pack away your memories of loved ones in a box. Instead, why not carry them in your heart like a well-loved, tattered blanket. Share their stories with your children and wrap them in the warmth of memories.
  • Use the good china, eat by candlelight for no reason, celebrate the ordinary with sparklers. Spread glitter. Give at least one compliment a day.

I Am Worthy

  • Sit in the rain. Get soaked. Remember, it’s only water. Water is healing. Water is holy.
  • Actually play with your child. Being a child is fun, remember?
  • Keep your friends close and treat them well.
  • One of the best questions I’ve ever heard came from The Abundant Mama. “What do you want your motherhood legacy to be?” Whatever that is, do that.

She serves champagne with pizza and eats take out on china. -Kate Spade, Bella Grace Issue 15

Yes, this is what turning forty is.

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