I am always interested to hear stories from other women about turning 40. Remember fifteen years ago, we were all telling the birth stories from our most recent baby. Now, I hear more turning 40 stories – or even turning 50 stories. And there is a common theme among the hundreds of stories that you’ve shared with me – freedom.
So today, I’m thrilled to share with you Becky Eanes story of turning forty. Becky is an amazing author and advocate of positive parenting. (You can read more about her at the bottom of this post.)
I recently turned the big 4-0. Age is a funny thing. I remember my parents turning 40 and thinking they were ancient. There were “over the hill” balloons and all that. I couldn’t imagine being so old but suddenly here I am, and I don’t feel old. Well, not mentally anyway. My back aches a lot and I creak when I stand up. My hormones are out of whack and I have lines in my forehead that make me look permanently surprised, which probably comes from raising my eyebrows a bajillion times at my kids.
The days of my youth have gone by. In my 20s, my eyes were brighter and I didn’t sprout gray hairs, but I’m ragged and worn a bit now. I’ve been loved real good. Like the Velveteen Rabbit or a child’s favorite lovey, my body shows definite signs of wear, but I can look in the mirror and smile because I know I’ve meant the world to two little boys. Growing older is really a beautiful thing, but of course, it all depends on your mindset.
This is What Turning 40 Feels Like
There is this mental shift that I’m experiencing that is really difficult to put into words. I don’t feel older. I feel freer. I’ve always had an old soul, and I suppose now it finally feels at home in my “old” body. I feel settled in. Just as I spoke about a psychological metamorphosis in motherhood when little children become big, it seems to me there is also a kind of personal metamorphosis that happens around 40, except I have emerged from my cocoon with batwings rather than butterfly wings. Not cute, furry bats, mind you. Arm jiggle. There’s sort of a comfort in my (more dimpled and wrinkled) skin, though, that I didn’t feel in my 20’s or 30’s.
This midlife thing is actually pretty cool, in many ways. I can go to bed early now without an excuse. There are no party invitations to have to decline. While it’s true that hairs are sprouting in odd places, I can’t really see them without glasses, so it doesn’t matter anyway. Losing weight is harder but I care less. I figure my time to enter modeling is long passed anyway, so I eat the cupcake and life is good. I know who my real friends are, and while I don’t have as many as I used to, I know these girls are the real deal. When you’re 40, you don’t have time for fake friends.
Related Post You May Also Like: This is What a Successful Midlife Crisis Looks Like
No More Time For Drama or Lettuce Diets
You realize at 40 that you don’t have forever. You’re not invincible. Time is borrowed and it’s always running out. There is no more time for wasted dreams, keeping quiet, toxic people, drama, lettuce diets, people-pleasing, or settling for less than you deserve. So, you sit down and start writing that book you always wanted to write. You speak your mind because you no longer care what everyone’s opinion of you is. You know your voice is just as important as everyone else’s. You let the people go who drain your energy because there’s only a small reserve of it as it is. You rise above the petty, immature stuff of your youth and it feels good to be on the open high road. You make more time for the things you enjoy and the people you love because it’s all a little more precious now somehow. You’re 40, and life just got real. You ain’t playing no more.
Age is a gift. Turning forty is a gift. I intend to live Act II and, after that, my final act, with purpose, enthusiasm, and with joy. I do not choose to sit here and wait to die. I choose to keep on dreaming, to keep on growing, and to keep on living my life to the fullest. Maya Angelou’s words are an inspiration to me in this stage of my life. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Related Post You May Also Like: Find the Courage to Accept That You Are Enough Just As You Are
Three Tips for a Purposeful Life After Turning 40
As my children head into the teenage years, my role is changing. What isn’t changing is my need for purpose – to feel like I matter and have something to contribute to the world. Here’s how I’m finding purpose in this new stage of life.
Find Something That Creates a Spark
Notice I didn’t say find your passion. If you know what “your passion” is, great! But looking for the one purpose and passion you were meant for can not only be daunting if you have no idea what that is, but it can also make you miss out on lots of joy. You don’t have to save the world. Just find something that makes you feel happy, something that creates a spark, and do it!
Choose Your Busyness Wisely
It’s not always bad to be busy as long as you’re busy doing things you enjoy and things that fill you up. If your busyness is draining or keeping you from doing the things you actually enjoy because you are keeping everyone else happy, it’s time to take control. If your busyness is a hustle for worth, it’s time to take a pause. Your value is not tied up in the brownies you made for the bake sale, or your ability to run the carpool. It’s not tied up in how many emails you answer or products you sell. Not in how many steps you take or how spotless your house is. You’re valuable because you’re you. Hustle not required.
Design a Life You Love
If it’s sucking the joy out of you, it needs to change. Carefully choose who and what you let into your life. The choices aren’t always easy to make, but we do have a choice as to how we design and live our lives. For me, this looked like cleaning up my newsfeeds to be positive and uplifting and spending much less time scrolling through them. It looked like turning off the news. It looked like buying a new bike and joining a new group. It’s taking more trips and surrounding myself with goodness. What is your vision?
For more strategies and inspiration like this, check out Rebecca’s new book, The Gift of a Happy Mother: Letting Go of Perfection and Embracing Everyday Joy which was just released!
Rebecca Eanes is a bestselling author, the founder of positive-parents.org, author of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond; Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide; The Positive Parenting Workbook; and The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting as well as a contributing editor to Creative Child Magazine and Baby Maternity Magazine. She contributes regularly to Motherly and has been featured at Psychology Today, Mind Body Green, Maria Shriver, The Gottman Institute Blog, Boston Parents Paper, Brightly, and more.