In May, I did it. I went “Over The Hill” and turned forty.
Whatever that means.
When I was younger, turning 40 seemed like such a terrifying milestone. Party decorations tended towards all black, accented with bifocals, canes, and walkers. As if life was over. As if by turning 40, you really were teetering on the edge of that mortal coil.
People really did seem old, then, too. Frumpy. Settled. Staid. Maybe it was just the adults in my experience, but there was a definite dread of the “middle-aged” decades as if things were just coming to an end.
For me, getting older is an adventure.
I loved turning thirty. I was able to bid goodbye to my painfully awkward high school days and the fumbling era of my twenties, where I struggled to find myself and my place in the world. I embarked on a career, bought a house, entered into a bad marriage and subsequently found the strength to end it and move on.
I was also insecure, unsure and steeped in a lot of self-doubt and dislike. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and afraid to speak up for myself.
It took almost thirty years for me to learn how to stand alone on my own two feet and to trust in and love myself.
That was something worth celebrating.
In my thirties, I became a partner in a solid marriage, and then a mother. I left a career, moved to a brand new city and established a new life. I started a blog, tried my hand at baking cakes, learned to paddle board and ran a marathon. I learned to go to the movies by myself. I ran six miles alone in the hilly woods at night as part of a trail relay and camped for the first time. I traveled, with my family, with my husband and even alone or with friends.
Guys. I dangled upside down from two pieces of silk hanging from the ceiling of a warehouse and lived to tell the tale.
And so on a beautiful night in May, surrounded by some of my favorite people in this world, I was proud to commemorate this fortieth trip around the sun.
For me, 40 symbolizes so much opportunity. It’s not about gray hairs or crow’s feet (Hey. Hair dye works wonders and I am not ashamed that I’ve laughed so much it’s evident on my face). In these last few months, I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, taught my son how to paddle board and kayak, and took him zip lining at his request. I’ve seen a musical on Broadway that shook me to my very core, and have thrown myself into volunteering to help make a difference in the lives of my son and his friends and peers.
Some days I’m tired. Some days my anxiety ramps up a little more than I would like. Sometimes, I have to ease up on my workout because my wonky hip is being extra wonky. Sometimes I just need to sit down in a quiet space and take some deep, cleansing breaths. Those are prices I am willing to pay in exchange for the chances to do great things.
I have plans for this upcoming decade. I’m going to learn to surf and try skiing for the second time since I was a child. We are going to take our little man on an RV trip to the National Parks of the western states. We will visit Alaska on a cruise. I want to chip away at my goal of running a race in every state. Heck, I may even start working on a novel again. Because what do I have to lose?
As far as I’m concerned, 40 is freaking phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what’s next.