It’s with mixed feelings that I arrive here. I recognize that it’s simply a number without much meaning, other than what I attach to it. And yet, it’s always seemed a monumental cross-over.
On the evening of my 24th birthday, I wrote a letter to my future self – as I lay sprawled across the dingy carpet of my basement apartment with Sarah MacLachlan’s Surfacing in the background. I’m not sure it was specifically intended for my 40-year-old self, but that’s the image that I have in my mind.
At the time, I was desperate to know how it all turned out.
And so, as I celebrate this birthday, I’ve decided to pause and take stock – and, in response to my younger self’s questions, this is 40:
- I still don’t have all of the answers, but I know much more about my capacity to be with whatever is unresolved. And not have it crush me.
- Sleep – it’s a blessed thing and too often compromised.
- I am not interested in success for the sake of success anymore. I am interested in challenging the limits I hold for myself, including what I believe that I am capable of doing (and the value I place upon that.)
- Frequently. Interrupted. Conversations.
- I feel surprised at the outwards signs of my aging, as if time ought to have stood still. And yet, I know that aging gracefully is about embracing new definitions of beauty, rather than holding onto the standards of youth. (And I suspect this won’t be easy.)
- I am learning to be more patient with myself – and to take the long view.
- I am drawn to people who are kind and willing to open up and be vulnerable. And especially those who have an inner feistiness – and sense of humor.
- I haven’t conquered my insecurities, nor do I believe that I ever fully will, but I have more perspective and compassion around them.
- Motherhood: it’s the best part of my world.
- I am stronger than I’ve ever been physically and this makes me feel mighty good – regardless of whether or not it’s visible to anyone else.
- I have a lot of empathy for my parents’ parenting mistakes. I didn’t get how easy it was to screw up – until I had kids.
- I am grateful for ordinary days, when the world is right side up and my heart is light. I’ve cried with far too many friends who have suffered tragedies that turned their worlds upside down and inside out.
- Things that no longer bother me (or at least a lot less): bad haircuts, being turned down, feeling jealous, the number on the scale.
- Things that do: insincerity, solving technical issues, losing my temper with my kids or husband, and unnecessary drama.
- I am still more defensive and stubborn, at times, than I’d like to be. But I am less defensive about these things.
- I feel deep sadness and regret for some friendships lapsed, and yet compassion for my younger self who saw no other way.
- And I know that, with true friendship, it is never, really, too late.
- I often go to bed at 8 pm with a good book – and consider this a lovely night.
- I would not get by without my tribe of women – who back me up, help with (and love) my kids, cheer me on and remind me of how much we need each other. Especially now.
- I’ve carried a baby – in my belly or on my hips – for nearly eight years now. And I am grieving the end of that sweet, sweet chapter.
- And I reserve the right to change my mind.
- Sometimes, my husband drives me mad. But he’s always my home.
And that about sums it up. Much love. xo.