I turn 40 years old this month.
I can tell I am nearing my 40th birthday, because the F’s I have to give are rapidly drying up. Most days I am FRESH OUT. I also notice that my body aches more, my face looks a little older (still, no F’s) and my 12-point sleep routine is locked in. Eye mask, weighted blanket, eight hours.
I’ve heard wonderful things about your forties. As in, you really stop caring about what other people think and start taking true care of yourself. That you can watch your kids start to grow older and how fun it is to watch them learn, succeed and become fully formed humans. I see all of these things and it is thrilling.
This is a stark contrast to simultaneously being reminded of my own mortality and our short time here. Recently, I’ve seen a handful of folks around me who died unexpectedly and left us too soon. A former client, an alumnus, and an old friend. Losing a friend with my same name, my same age who left behind her own family has me in grief and recalibrating how I am feeling about life. No one told me about this part, but I suppose this is what my forties is as well.
When we lose people we love unexpectedly, it is human nature to catalog all the things that we could have, should have or would have done to keep that person with us. And in most cases, there is nothing anyone could do to have changed the outcome. I have done my best to remind myself that. Which means, well, what CAN we do then?
I have concluded that for most of us in most cases, there is one main act we can take. The best we can do is to love on our people, and love on ourselves.
This week, as an act of loving on my people, I am reaching out to some of my friends who might need some love. Including the ones who appear to have it all together. I will do my best to let others know, “I see you. I love you.”
As an act of loving on myself, I am listening to my body and what I need. I am unapologetically no longer going over capacity. I am telling someone when I am struggling so it no longer exists only in my body. I am purposely accessing joy, even amongst sadness (usually in the form of loud music, singing and dancing). And of course, I bought some new boots on sale.
I have worked on some big life projects, taken some big leaps, and frankly, much of it hasn’t turned out the way I planned. While I believe in my bones they turned out just as they were meant to, I can’t help but keep wondering which door is actually my door. If it wasn’t that door, which is it? It is not lost on me that my “go-to” mechanism has always been to highly control my work and environment around me. That has always worked pretty well. I’m finding the bigger I go in my Big Work and the closer I inch to my forties, it doesn’t work anymore. Which means the only thing I have left to try is to let go. To walk forward into the big scary things without hitch in the step or hesitation. That’s the door. And frankly, I don’t always feel like opening it. Loving what is and releasing the need to try and control things is counter to how I’ve spent much of my life.
I always love doing an end-of-year reflection and new year planning. The last two years the planning part has gotten thinner. The reflection part larger. I am most committed to the “how,” with only a few key priorities as the “what.” In 2023, my phrase for this year is “keep going.”
I’m in the messy middle of some things. No place out but through, can’t stop here, this would make a shitty ending to the story. Better press forward.
Forward is forward. Slower than planned is still progress. I haven’t lowered my expectations, I just move towards them at the pace that my body agrees with. And if you know anything about me, NO ONE is going to tell me how to live my life. I don’t take direction well from others.
I suppose this resembles something like being more present in the moment. Not a bad side effect.
The hardest thing I have ever accomplished is to choose myself. To trust my gut. And I am out here doing the damn thing. Just in time to blow out a fireplace of 40 candles on that cake. (Well, we don’t blow our germs on cakes anymore, but I intend to eat the whole cake myself anyways).
Better press forward. Keep going.
And in case you needed a reminder today… I see you. I love you.