40 Days To 40

My 40th birthday is coming up fast. I share some thoughts on the last decade, the hysteria of growing older, and my mission for the years ahead.

40 Days To 40
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Tomorrow will mark 40 days to my 40th birthday. Naturally, it’s a good time to reflect and consider the next half of my existence. 🙂

It’s a bit jarring to think I am on the cusp of (what I hope to be) the halfway point in my life. 40 has always been a confounding life milestone because it’s so often represented, especially for women, as the point that tips you into being “over the hill.”

I am no longer the youngest person in the room for business meetings. I am older than all of the professional athletes I watch on television. I am old enough to be nostalgic about entire clothing and pop culture eras and to (unfortunately) see some of them come back in style. I’m old enough to be mystified by kids these days (or, really, TikTok) and to have never heard of many top-charting music artists. I am not often ID’d and feel a little delighted when I am.

I feel a strange duality of not quite being what you would consider young but not yet old. It’s an odd middle ground that I am at once anxious about and grateful for. One will supersede the other depending on the day (or how much my back hurts😂).

The Hysteria of Getting Older

The anxiety of aging reminds me of a quote I recently came across from the excellent Michael Sheen, where he said,

“Getting older is a struggle. I always feel that just under the surface of acceptance and enjoyment of the ageing process is a terrible hysteria just waiting to burst out.”

That hysteria bubbles up in an aging body's many aches, pains and tweaks. It’s found in:

  • The new wrinkles and darker circles (and all the eye creams Sephora can send me)
  • The clothes that don’t quite fit the same (I blame the fashion industry)
  • How my body responds to caffeine (none after noon, or there will be no sleep)
  • The increased risk of injury for even the most innocuous activities (sleeping, reaching into the laundry machine, getting out of the car… they all have terrible potential)
  • The need for 9 hours of sleep (I better be in bed by 9:30 if I want to function the next day or have multiple days of recovery if I stay out too late)
  • The significantly reduced energy levels (2 social interactions a week, max, for no more than a few hours).

That hysteria is mixed with feeling unsure about appropriate attire for someone my age and the endless battle of making the “healthy” choice versus ALL THE CHEESE. It’s seeing the people around me age and remembering just how “young” we all used to be. And, most challenging of all, worrying about what the future holds as my MS advances (I couldn’t think of anything funny for this one, but it’s a thing).

Falling away and becoming

But even with all those chaotic feelings, there is also a pervasive feeling of becoming

  • Becoming more settled in the life I want.
  • Becoming clear on what matters to me and what doesn’t.
  • Becoming more of the person I want to be.

A character in a sci-fi series I read a few months ago said,  

“Growing older was a falling away of everything that didn’t matter. And a deepening appreciation of all the parts that were important enough to stay.” (Naiomi, Tiamat’s Wrath by James S. A. Corey)

When I read it, it struck me, so I tucked it away only to remember it while writing this article. It’s made me think about the things that have fallen away for me, the parts that have been important enough to stay, and perhaps, most of all, the things that have yet to fall away that I’m still working on.

A selfie from June 4, 2014 (my 30th birthday) with Toby.

The hard and wonderful of the last decade

As I look back at the last decade, I can say with no exaggeration that it was a doozy. 😅 I experienced a few more Hard Life-Changing Things than perhaps was reasonable, but of course, there were more than enough Wonderful Life-Changing (or even just day-to-day) Things, too. It’s all relative, I suppose, and all of it, good or bad, has added up to the person I am becoming today. 

Many of the major events of the last few years are chronicled in this blog, but of course, there are many from earlier years that are not. While I considered listing all the things that happened in the last ten years, it felt too big. I think it’s enough to say that the hardest ones were centred around illness and loss, and the wonderful ones were centred around love and connection.

I can say with certainty that I am different from the young woman I was at the beginning of my 30s—not entirely, of course. The core of me is still there, but I would like to think I am a better person—more patient, more thoughtful, more self-aware, and less easily moved by the whims of others. A little more sure of my place in the world.

At the very least, I have five sweet tattoos I got over my 30s, and I am on my way to being one rockin’ old lady. 👵🏻😆

This is a photo my husband took of me a few days ago (in the dwindling days of my 30s 😉) at my MIL's 70th birthday party. It was about 8 p.m., and I was ready to pack it in and go to bed!

What I know about what’s to come

When I think about the future, I often have an old Doris Day song run through my head, 

Qué será, será
Whatever will be, will be 
The future's not ours to see 
Qué será, será

I can’t know the future any more than you can, but what I do know is there are challenges ahead. As sure as the sunrise, there will be more hard things. But I will face them just as I faced all the ones before, with some tears and some trepidation, but with the benefit of a bit of experience and the people I love at my side.

I know I am still becoming, stripping away the things that don’t matter and learning to appreciate the parts of myself that are here to stay. 

I know there will be even more wonderful things. I have an awesome life. I have awesome people in my life. Be it a day, a year, a decade or many decades, I am excited for the adventures to come.

My mission for 40 and beyond

My mission for the last 40 days of my 40s, the intrepid end of my 30s (and beyond), is to continue to live an intentional life.

It’s to appreciate the lessons learned in this chapter and take the ones I need into the next.

One of those lessons is to celebrate things! I get to celebrate turning 40 with three of my favourite people on a big trip to Europe. My husband and brother-in-law (his twin) turn 40 eight days before me. With my sister-in-law (one of my besties), we will kick off the next decade with a bang. 

I am grateful to be turning 40 despite and because of all the things that come with getting older. I’m not quite over the hill 😅. I have a few more scars and wrinkles, but I’m (mostly) happy with who I am.

I’m looking forward to who I will become. 

Some reflections for you

When is your next significant milestone (or even a tiny milestone)?
Have you taken any time to reflect on what’s been and what’s to come?
Who are you becoming?
How are you going to celebrate?

If you are feeling overwhelmed and don't know how to calm your chaos, I can help get you back on track!