I woke up this morning pretty much like any other. The alarm sounds, we hit snooze for 10 minutes, cherishing every last second of cuddliness before the second alarm, and then the forcing of the feet to hit the floor, stumbling crusty eyed into the washroom. Face wash, pee, brush teeth and so the day begins.
Turning 40 is kind of like New Year’s Eve. It’s supposed to be a big deal of some sort, but when it finally comes and there are no miraculous, life changing events, you just feel disappointed.
I’m not sure what I expected to happen today. I knew there’d be lots of facebook Happy Birthday messages and some face to face wishes. I knew I’d be looking forward to sushi and some great company at supper tonight, but on a deeper level I have been conditioned to believe something – bad or good – would happen.
I’ve read a bunch of things about turning 40. They include predictions that your eyesight fails, memory falters, and that you become somehow more wise. For me, halfway through day one, I believe my eyesight is still 20/20, my memory has been crap for years so no change there, and I don’t seem to have acquired a new outlook or any profound wisdom.
I have been trolling the Internet for interesting things, quotes, epiphanies on turning 40. Here’s an example of what I found:
“The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary”
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.”
“Mental powers peak at 22 and start to deteriorate at 27” (Depressing!)
“Somebody told me the other day that "Life does Not begin at 40. Life begins when the last kid moves out and the dog dies."
(Not sure how relevant this is, but I’ve got a year and a half till the last kid moves out and the last dog we had, found a new home years ago.)
I then found a site with a woman’s list of “The 40 things every self respecting woman must have by the time she turns 40.”
Thought I’d check out how I measure up:
THE TOP 40
1.) Peace of mind (and a piece of property) – I hope a boat counts as a piece of property.
2.) A will – does it have to be updated? I wrote one when I was 27…
3.) Willpower – I hope dieting doesn’t count here, cuz if so, I’ve failed miserably and I don’t see any miracles happening this year…
4.) A savings account in your own name – Got it! Had one of those since I was 14 though…
5.) A mammogram – can I blame living in Ghana on NOT having this done? Wow – it’s my birthday and I feel guilty now… will add this to my TO DO list…
6.) A manicure (not to mention a pedicure, a facial and a massage--all on the same day) – gonna book one of those! I have an excuse now ☺
7.) A set of matching luggage – I paid an unfathomable amount for a set last year and never use them together…
8.) A ticket to some exotic place to unpack it – Grenada – no ticket yet, but the boat is waiting… so I’m ok on this one.
9.) A great hairdresser, gynecologist and stockbroker – NONE of these….
10.) A passionate, fiery, unforgettable love affair – I’ve been living one of these for the past 8 years!
11.) A little black dress that makes you look five pounds thinner – definitely need to go shopping. I’ve never had one of these. I might have had little black dresses over the years, but none made me look thinner.
12.) A sense of humor, style and purpose – Humour sometimes, style.. um…., purpose – I purposefully live toward a life of freedom, adventure and relaxation.
13.) A selfish streak – shopping must fit in here somewhere…
14.) A spiritual foundation that gets you through a very bad night without going crazy – I struggle with this one, but I know my little boy shines through for me on those brutal nights.
15.) A facial foundation that gets you through a very long day – living in Ghana this would backfire into a sweaty pool of peachy pudding on my collar!
16.) A good bra - I’ve got a few – for every type of shirt (which is no easy thing, wearing a non-standard size you can’t find in any North American store! Thank the universe for British bra sizes!)
17.) A good spa – well there is one I’ve been to in Accra, but the masseuses and pedicurists are known to cause damage at times…
18.) A library card (used often) – this must be old. I’ve got the Internet!!!
19.) A credit card (used sparingly) – Yes on both accounts. I don’t believe in debt.
20.) At least one person in your life who says: "You call, I come” – got a few of those. Lucky me!!! You know who you are – and THANKS for being there!
21.) Good body language (multilingual!) – I think I’m pretty good at this. I used to know how to flirt too, but that was long ago ☺
22.) A broken heart and the knowledge you can survive it – been there, definitely survived and came out better the other side of it.
23.) A cause celebre (domestic violence, infant mortality, save the whales--your choice) – I find myself getting worked up over gay marriage rights…does that count?
24.) A personal relationship with a higher being – I believe it’s all inside, just not always easy to find!!!
25.) A personal trainer – I wish!!! I always convince myself these are the reason Hollywood girls looks great, and I get wobblier…
26.) Selective amnesia ("What Saturday morning meeting?") – I have this without trying.
27.) Gall – Yup.
28.) A good skin-care regimen – Lux soap and water? Maybe I should be doing more?
29.) The ability to converse on any subject without benefit of concrete knowledge or access to facts – working with mostly men in the Telecomms industry has made me a pro in this area…
30.) A shocking secret – I’m sure I’ve got a few, but with my failing memory, I’ve forgotten them!
31.) A pair of silk pajamas – whoever wrote this does NOT live in the tropics. Birthday suit suits me fine.
32.) A lifetime membership in at least one organization dedicated to uplifting women – I prefer to surround myself with women who I admire.
33.) The phone number of someone who is good with their hands – I have one of these in-house!
34.) At least one drop-dead, don't-speak-to-me-because-you-know-you-don't-know-me gorgeous photo of yourself – This is why I love photoshop! What wrinkles??
35.) A friendship that has stood the test of time – if by the test of time you mean since we were 5, then yes!!!
36.) One last chance to tell the guy you were crazy about in your 20s who treated you like cigarette ashes on the floor what you were too dumb to know when he walked out with your heart in his hands: "Thank you, thank you, thank you." – I’ve done this and man it felt good.
37.) A soul mate – when I was 32 I found mine and never looked back.
38.) Faith, hope and a good fantasy – these are always within reach.
39.) A dream – definitely have one of those!
40.) A plan to make it come true – Grenada, Shiloh, we’re coming!!!
So, as I make my way through day one of the rest of my ‘over 40’ life, I reflect on the things I’ve done, those I’ve chosen not to do, and how I have faced the life that’s come my way.
I’m happy and that has to count for a lot.
I don’t feel so bad on this supposed milestone day. Afterall, most people I went to school with (not surprisingly) turned 40 this year, and they still seem normal! They are surviving, thriving and getting on with life.
Even famous people turn 40 this year – ones we still find hot like Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston.
I think life is about taking what’s thrown at you and sifting through it. Taking the things that you like and throwing back the rose creams… I’m hoping that each year I get better at doing that.
It’s also about standing up, standing out, asserting yourself for yourself and no one else. Whether you want to be rich and famous or a good knitter, or something in between…
Life is the journey and the journey is all we have.