Let me tell you that I am over the moon grateful, excited and delighted to be celebrating my forty years on this planet. I am proud of where I am at this point in my life. I am grateful for my achievements, my personal and professional growth, and I will just come out and say this, too, that I am pretty happy with how I'm ageing. This is just the start of my reflection on turning 40.
Is it okay to say all that? It should be. It best be!
Let it be the refreshing and truthful statement of self-love, loving kindness, and gratitude that we too often liberally spread and share to those we love, but too seldom offer to ourselves.
Ageing has become such a gross thing in the health world – and most everywhere else, really. It's become something to dread and work against. Somehow being 'healthy' has become synonymous with agelessness or youth in the way of physical appearance. Health, along with beauty and wisdom and everything else, evolves continuously. To resist this evolution forces upon ourselves the self-criticisms that set us up for ongoing struggle. Why nurture that? Why is it easier for us to celebrate our supposed flaws (usually reserved for social media as #vulnerability, #authenticity or #realtalk clickbait), but are too shy or humble or self-conscious to celebrate the infinite number of things we do and are that makes us truly incredible?
I don't even mean publicly. Too few of us will even dare to do this privately in our own minds.
I look around at women my age, friends from long ago, who are getting their lip injections, fillers, skin peels, eyelash extensions, hair extensions, nips and tucks and lifts. Why? We are not past our prime. We are dead center in the middle of it. I might even suggest we are only getting started. At 40 we reach a new level of power and confidence and I am pretty sure if we decide it to be so, it will only grow.
If our 20s are about figuring it all out, and our 30s are about putting whatever it is we figured out into action, let's stand tall and proud and make our 40s about celebrating the amazingness we are today. Wait – scratch that. Can we celebrate the amazingness that we are today, no matter what our age? No matter what the outside expectation is of us?
Yes, my body has aged since I celebrated my beach body. It has aged with life's experiences of growing older, of having a baby and, perhaps most trying for me, navigating my way through ongoing challenges with sleep since having my son.
But I have also achieved every single goal I set out to achieve. (Or at least the ones I remembered to keep working towards – I can't remember the goals I forgot about, or ended up not mattering enough to pursue).
You may recall a post I wrote on my 35th birthday explaining why I hadn't yet retired. My goal had always been to retire at 35 but when I hit that milestone, it felt like everything I had been working on and working towards was just getting rolling. It was an accurate feeling.
In that post, I wrote the following: "I want to inspire you to live a life that never has you waiting for the workday to end, clamouring for a weekend, or counting down until that holiday escape. I want to do more to light that spark of inspiration in you that makes you never want to retire either."
I have worked tirelessly to do that for my readers and my students, and for me, too. I am still not ready to fully retire, but I have retired somewhat since I wrote that in 2014. I now work half the hours that I used to. I am at a place of financial freedom that allows me to do only the work that I really want to do, and this I have worked extremely hard to achieve.
I have worked for and designed my life with specific intention, and the result has landed me right where I am today, living what I consider to be the life of my dreams. It has taken me forty years to achieve this, and each and every day has been part of the process.
We think of a dream life where everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time with our long youthful flowing locks (free of grey hair of course) just blowing in the breeze of our easy life. It never will be.
Life is always happening and evolving around us, as we happen and evolve, too. If we believe that our dream life is void of the realities of everyday life, then it will always remain just that – a dream. It will always be just out of reach, and we will be forever caught in a cycle of working towards tomorrow while injecting the veneer of youth into our lips and foreheads today. It doesn't work that way.
It is a broken pattern to keep believing that happiness will one day come if we could just look younger (or stay young!), earn more money, take fancier vacations, work ourselves to the bone at jobs we hate so we can keep buying stuff we don't need, to keep up with everything we're told we should want.
There is something beautiful about accepting what is. About making do, working with what we have and where we're at today, rather than working for what we think we need for a future version of ourselves. There is something special about not being in a constant state of want – specifically, wanting things to be different.
Where media might make us feel that we should lean in more, I am proudly, confidently and gratefully leaning out. I am by no means going away. I am just continuing to learn how to stand tall and proud of exactly where I am today, as I am today. The evolution outside and within will only continue, and adapting and navigating the shifts as they come with equanimity is the only requirement.
What would it be like to actually be more present in our life every day? To actually take time and love the person we work so hard to be in the world of our making? This can only be achieved by being more present in any given moment, which as a direct default invites us to be mindful of where our energy goes in any given moment.
It's about how we can come out from under that burden of pressure and expectation.
As I roll into my 5th decade of life, I truly feel free of any expectation of what I should be or need to achieve. To be honest, I feel like I've made my point. I have achieved what I set out to do. Everything else is just a bonus.
Here I am, turning 40-years-old and I continue to explore new directions for work outside of my school, and help support you in finding answers to the big questions that challenge the paradigms of our times. Your questions are mine, too.
Here on this blog, since 2008, I have brought you along as I work to discover the true experience of limitless possibility, of living the lives of our dreams. This will continue.
It doesn't require more money, or more time. We don't need anything except a deep breath and enough awareness to just appreciate the moment. Pay attention to the moments. They are the rewards for the efforts we make every day.
Happy birthday to me. Thank you for being part of this special world and for being a part of the positive shift we are creating together.