The Top 10 of Turning 40

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Holy schnickes! I was born on Mother’s Day in 1976. Ironically, this Mother’s Day is gifting me with a MAJOR milestone birthday. By the end of the week, I will turn FORTY. Assuming the fetal position. Despite the baby girl banging her piano guild pieces on the ivories behind me, having a meltdown over not getting one piece perfect and talking to me nonstop in between songs, I’ve been reflecting and asking myself some serious questions. Uh Hum…

Where did the last 10 years go? Are my best years behind me or ahead of me? Do I even have 40 years left?  Eek. Will my metabolism, hormones and the planets ever align for me to be able to lose those last stubborn pounds? What can I do to improve on being a wife, mom, servant, daughter, friend, slave labor for my kids, etc. Will I ever have the time to write those science fiction, end of the world, conspiracy theory, spiritual realm books I’ve been wanting to? Heck, will I even have time to write 3 blog posts this week?

Should I get the stomach muscles fixed? If I wait until I’m over 40 I officially become a blood clot risk based on age alone. Hmm. Maybe I should just have it ALL fixed while I’m in there. My mother will say I’m vain. MAYBE I AM. Guilty. But I’ve worked so hard and there is absolutely nothing else I can do to fuse surgically altered abdominals that were DESTROYED by pregnancies. I need to bring in some income. Maybe work that street corner. Ha! KIDDING of course. Life is so expensive. I’m going to need a new car soon. The baby daddy and I are going to have to put THREE kids through college. Ka ching to the ching ching. I need to call and get the dog a grooming appointment. Those clothes in the dryer need to be folded. Where did the dog go anyway? Is she relieving herself in my HOUSE?! Probably.

Sigh. Focus is a substantial challenge in my older age apparently. However, I am an amazing multi-tasker and, as my three year old keeps grabbing my left arm away from the computer, I vow to complete this blog with only my right hand typing away!

The cons of getting older are obvious. Let’s not focus on the negatives. Besides, that’s what facial cream and hair dye are for. What are the pros of turning forty? Well, for me, I have a Top 10.

#1 – I KNOW WHO I AM. The whole SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) may change as I get older, but for the most part, I “get” myself. Give me a room of strangers to meet and I come alive. Put me behind a desk with mundane tasks with no social interaction, zero creativity and lame goals and I die a slow death.

#2 – I’M LOSING PATIENCE WITH EGOS. I am a people pleaser to the core. I genuinely LIKE people and ENJOY doing for others.  I have spent most of my adult life in sales and customer service roles. I should hold a degree in having patience with egos. However, if I get attitude or encounter someone that thinks too highly of themselves, I am finding it much more easy to WRITE THEM OFF. I used to makes excuses for people as to why they were acting ridiculous. Not so much anymore folks. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

#3 – I CAN SAY NO.  This is a major change. HUGE. Remember, us people pleasers have such a difficult time doing this. I recently threw my hands up in the air and said “NO” to multiple volunteer responsibilities. Why? To focus more on the family responsibilities. When the things we say “yes” to cause us undue stress, disappointment, rejection and even heartache, then why keep trying to make our extra time investments into something that don’t enrich our lives? I still enjoy volunteering at my kids’ school though. I may say “yes” to more of that in the future but mama needs to sleep for a couple of years first.

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#4 – CAREER GOALS HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER. I worked full-time with babies #1 and #2 and there is NOTHING wrong with being a working mother by the way. I labored hard for those promotions and that fat pay check. Once I reached those goals, God prepped me for the fact that I would have to choose another path. It was such a difficult decision for me. For example, I remember being at dinner with the baby daddy in Arizona after Auburn won the National Championship game in 2010 CRYING over this one issue, AFTER the 2010 National Championship. Our waiter thought I was a wacko for sure. My head was telling me “You are a dang fool to walk away from that money.” My heart was screaming “You can’t be everything to everybody. At least you have a choice. Choose to give your family 100% of you.” It took me three years to adjust to the transition. After baby #3, I’m plenty busy, thank you very much! Not saying I won’t ever be a “working” mother again, but I am where I need to be for this season.

#5 – MORE LIFE EVENTS EXPERIENCED. In my 30’s, the hubby and I lost loved ones (expectantly and tragically), experienced deep betrayals, birthed a liter and, consequently, grew up quite a bit. Wisdom is worth a few gray hair and wrinkles.

#6 – LOWER EXPECTATIONS FOR OTHERS. Sounds crazy right? A couple of years ago, I realized that the majority of my frustrations with certain individuals was that I was expecting them to behave a certain way.  Those that place high expectations on themselves, unfortunately, tend to do the same with people they encounter. Expect people to behave the way they always have or less than you would want them to and life is not quite so disappointing. There you go. Wrong or right, it has helped develop a more positive outlook on life.

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#7 – I ENJOY MY FAMILY MORE. Although my kids drive me bonkers on most days, they are who I spend most of my time with. I am more focused on capturing the moments, those moments I missed chronicling when they were younger. For example, when my toddler gets naked in my front yard or terrorizes innocent insects, I shall whip out the Smartphone and post it for all the world to see. My oldest is already ten years old and it happened very fast. An important goal for my forties is to ENJOY them and the baby daddy, no matter how many stressors fire off simultaneously.

#8 – DO WHAT YOU LOVE. I am learning that a healthy parent is a happier parent and a more content person can more easily show kindnesses to others. Over the past couple of years, I have made time for fitness and, most recently, exercised a creative outlet with writing. It takes time, dedication and experience and I doubt I will ever have Kate Hudson’s waist (WHO is her plastic surgeon?!) or be as successful as Suzanne Collins, BUT I am spending time doing something I love for myself.

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#9 – FORGIVENESS IS A PROCESS. You know when people hurt you to your core and there is not any evidence of true remorse? Yeah, good times. It’s a party. I have learned that all of that “forgive and forget” business is straight up BOLOGNA. Of COURSE you don’t ever FORGET.  But staying angry at someone darkens your own soul. I don’t have to “like” someone but I must move beyond hating, regardless of the offense. Besides, there are much worse offenses others have lived through and chosen to love. Who wants to have something worse happen to learn the forgiveness lesson, right?

#10 – NURTURE TRUE FRIENDSHIPS. Mathematically speaking, most women outlive their husbands. Not that I want to think about THAT but in all seriousness, my forties will be spent nurturing those golden friendships. The ones that know who you are and love you anyway, those that let you tell them the same story over and over again just so you can get it out to feel better and the people that make you a better human being.

In conclusion, I think turning 40 changes your perspective about TIME and the VALUE of how that time is spent. Half of it may already be gone, some of it was wasted on the insignificant and one wants the remainder to matter for good.  Time becomes more precious and something that you don’t want to flippantly waste. I will say “yes” to those things that are good and right and “no” to those things that leave me banging my head against a wall. All in all, 40 CAN be the new 30, with a little appearance alterations and a lot of wisdom application that I didn’t have 10 years ago.

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My birthday blowing of the candles wish is for the rest of my life to count for good (and to age VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY SLOWLY). 🙂