I just recently hit a milestone and turned the big 4-0.
It truly is hard to believe. I remember my mom turning 40 and while it seems like it was so long ago, I remember thinking that 40 was so old. Surely, I would have everything together by the time that happened to me?
Turns out, that isn’t the case. I’ve accomplished a lot and learned a lot in the past 40 years, most of which since I turned 30. It is funny how that happened. I left high school and college thinking I was worldly and had a grip on my life. Then three babies, career changes, international moves, losing family and friends, the good, the bad, and the unimaginable all happened since turning 30. Everything I thought I knew changed.
I’m not saying I have everything (or most things) together. My hair is usually a mess and not in the trendy messy bun way. My house is always too cluttered. I live in a country where people show up to school drop-off in normal clothing while I am always in workout clothes (or spandex, as they like to tell me).
However, as I hit my 40th birthday, I realized I have learned a few things above and beyond style and fashion:
I’m too old for cheap wine.
My dad is a major wine aficionado and he constantly talks about finding the perfect $10-15 bottle of everyday wine. I used to think this was ridiculous. Why spend $15 on a bottle of wine when you can get three $5 bottles? I’m not going to bother to point out that a hangover with small children is just me asking to be ambushed. It also turns out that the function of wine has changed. While we may have been able to take down several bottles of the cheap stuff years ago with the sole purpose to enjoy the effects of the wine, I now only want to open something good so I can sip it while enjoying an evening with good friends or family. It is true that less is more.
Skincare products are important.
My teenage self never would have thought that I would now spend quality time (probably while sipping the good wine) researching various skincare products. For instance, all eye creams are not equal. I’m not saying you need to buy the most expensive options out there or even sign up for a lifetime membership from your favorite skincare direct sales friend to get the best (although maybe that is the best option for you). You do need to find what works for you and keeps your skin looking healthy. Drink a lot of water too! In case you missed it, here are a couple of my favorites for face and lips. I can’t prove it, but I feel like I am happier in my skin at my 40th birthday than I have ever been.
Just stop it with the photo filters.
Seriously moms – who do you think you are fooling? Embrace your 30 or 40 or 50-year-old skin and body. I have friends I don’t even recognize in pictures because they look so different. I was recently looking at the cutest picture of a baby near mom and dad’s legs. Dad was wearing slacks and shoes and mom had on a little skirt and heels. As I was admiring the photo, something caught my eye. Mom had tried to edit her thighs to make them look thinner, but the line wasn’t quite even so a chunk of her leg was missing in the picture! She edited out those strong legs that carried her through pregnancies, rocking babies, carrying toddlers, etc. to alter the picture. It made me think. Why are we presenting ourselves like this on social media? Why create an unrealistic image of our lives for others? And what are we modeling for our children? They can see that we don’t look like the picture in real life. Do you really want to demonstrate to your children that we aren’t perfect just the way we are?
Self-care is more important than I ever realized.
When I was in grad school, I could exist on coffee and very little sleep. I didn’t think twice about staying up really late studying or working on a paper and then getting up early to work out, only to spend the rest of the day in class or in a clinic. It just wasn’t a big deal. Three kids and a lot of years later – I am starting to realize that I need to take care of myself or everything suffers. Occasional nap? Yes, please. Take the afternoon “off” to sit at a coffee shop and read? I’m grabbing my book. Find the time and money for a massage or regular date night? Absolutely. It is easy to get sucked into giving all of the time and not take care of myself. I have learned that I need to be a priority too. For my 40th birthday, I gifted myself a day away from home with a book and a facial. It was wonderful.
Drama is best left for reality TV.
I remember someone telling me in middle school that those things that girls do that hurt your feelings won’t last forever. Eventually, everyone grows up and is nice to one another. Well, guess what? That is a huge lie. Women can be petty, jealous, envious, exclusive, etc., no matter the age. And guess what else? It still hurts when you are on the receiving end of it. The truth is that some women never outgrow that behavior. But I have learned that I can remove myself from it. I don’t need to be part of any crowd anymore. I just need to find the people who love and support me, the ones who are there no matter what. In moving every few years, I spend a lot of time (desperately) trying to find a group. It is rarely the group I think it will be, but I don’t have to settle for anything less than what I am looking for.