Monday, August 22, 2011

Go Slow: The 40th Year

"I'm beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." 
- Laura Ingalls Wilder


When I entered my thirties I was so excited. That was the decade of life when everything was going to come together. All the uncertainty and instability of my twenties would be left in the dust while I crossed the threshold into a more confident and assured stage of life. The perfect combination had been struck between making long strides forward while still being physically young enough to thoroughly enjoy them.

The promise of the 4th decade of life played out beautifully in many ways. I finished a PhD, survived a heinous graduate experience and fulfilled my dream of becoming a veterinarian. I married my very best friend, survived the death of my mother and dove headfirst into the uncharted (by me) waters of motherhood. I moved to a new city, started a new chapter and built friendships that have sustained me. The part where I would feel confident and sure has been partially true - I suspect that I will always struggle to some degree with insecurity but it has been better.


What a powerful decade it has far! Yesterday I turned 39 years old. Looking back at every wonderful thing that has happened over the past 9 years makes me more determined to finish off this decade well. In the coming year I hope to become a mother again, my husband will finish training and we will move again to create a life in the place where our children will grow up. The place they will forever refer to as 'home'.

Just as I have enjoyed this empowering decade, I have also accepted that it's OK to slow down a bit and savor it. I am no longer motivated by a deep need to be the biggest, fanciest fish in the pond except when it comes to my personal relationships.  Rather, loving my family and friends, doing right by my clients and patients, and being a generally good person is just fine to me. That is my current definition of success.


Where my thirties played out to be more-or-less what they were promised to be, I suspect that so will my forties. It would seem that as my 40th year of life begins I have a decision to make:
1. Embrace the mental programming has led us to believe that after 40 we are 'over -the-hill'.
2. Go with the newer vision which claims that the forties are the new thirties!

I don't buy it that once I hit 40 the downward spiral is set in motion. So I'm imagining what the next 10 years will look like. Luckily, I have a whole year to cook up something good. For others who have been here or who are here, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What do you imagine for the next 10 years? What do you want to do before you turn 30 or 40 or 60?

10 Lovies: said...

firstly, i love that last picture- and the one of her looking back up at you from the bottom of the stairs. SO sweet.
thirdly, you're, apparently, two weeks older than me so i can play a bit: my 30s were by far the best years of my life even though they included some of the most trying hardships (for me) to date. as i close in on turning 39, i don't really have any fears of 40 b/c my 30s were that good overall and i know who i am, i love who i am, i love who i am with and i get to experience my 40s with the loves of my life. what more could i want? ;)


Kristel said...

Love this! I think you should be a professional writer on the side. I 100% agree with your definition of success. My definition of success has recently become something close to that, as I've given up the big house and the fancy car, but gained oh so much more. Finally, before I turn 40, I'd also like to become a mother again.

Anonymous said...

My life was stagnant until I was 35. I hardly had relationships and it was as if things changed drastically at that point. So while career wise I'm not where I want to be (at 41), I feel that my 40s have been positive and I look forward to the future. And, FWIW, I got married at 38 and had Little Man at age 39.

Ty's Girl said...

As I am quickly approaching 40 (I think that is the first time I have said or written that!), I also feel like the 30's were incredible. I know the 40's will be even better. Nothing better than watching my kids grow and love my husband more every day.

Hi! I'm Aitch said...

Beautifully written and very thoughtful. It's such a terrible cliche, but we all need to slow down and appreciate our gifts. I mean, we live in effing paradise, but how often do we think of it that way?

Happy 5th decade!

Judy said...

I look back now at my life and think that each year ( even the "bad" ones) were good in so many ways. I guess the greatest thing is to just be glad to alive to face whatever life dishes out to me next.

Amy said...

I'm 43, and more content than I've ever been. I don't miss the storms of my twenties and early thirties at all, and I love that I don't feel like I need to be a rock star anymore. I feel beautiful in a really human way, rather than in that heavy-maintenance, shallow kind of way.
For me, the forties may not be the "new thirties," they're just the forties. And that's fine. :)

Silje... said...

Nice blog you have :) Have a nice day!:)

YaraC said...

I'll be 39 in February so I'm right behind you. While I would physically love to still be in my twenties, my life has gotten better and better as I have gotten older. I can only hope that trend will continue in my 40's. My family will be complete, I look forward to things like kindergarten, school days and just seeing who my kids become. I look forward to being able to refocus on my career a bit, perhaps even finding a new direction. I really just look forward to every day.

Carla said...

I turned 40 in May and feel "at home". My 20's were a blur, and my 30's were an emotional roller coaster. I feel like now that I have my own family (hope to add one more)that I can finally stop and just "be". As much as you can "be" while chasing a toddler and maintaining a home and a career. But - I don't feel like I have to keep chasing after something to make me whole....I know who I am. Some of my friends may interpret that as not having ambition, but once you find your internal peace and your heart within another person (or people), it's time to stop and foster that, feed it, keep it growing. I'm babbling....but I'd never change my 20's or 30's - even the hard parts, because all of those experiences formed and shaped me. I couldn't just "be" if I hadn't gone through those life experiences first.