20 Thoughts on Turning 40

71861-fabulous-40-beverage-napkinsOver the years, I have read so many lists by so many writers with their insights on the 40 years they have lived and what lessons life has taught them. I will be honest- I never thought I would write one. But I am feeling a bit nostalgic. Maybe it’s my old age. Or maybe it’s because I have actually picked up a trick or two on this journey into (God forbid) middle age. So, I appreciate you indulging me as I share some thoughts on what I have learned over these four decades as I dance happily out of my 30’s and join the 40 club.

1. Be yourself.  When you have been shuffling along this mortal coil for 40 years. It’s time to embrace WHO you are and waste not one more moment worrying that isn’t enough. You are beautiful. You only have one opportunity in this life to love the person that you are.

2. Be unapologetic.  I don’t mean that you should never apologize; I mean that you should be able to act how you want when you want. Like what you like. Say what you feel.

3. Change on a dime. Who said that you couldn’t completely change something about yourself? I am living proof that you can do something drastically different. If you want to lose weight, make today the first day. If you want to go back to college, grab those reigns and make it happen. If you want to redo your bedroom, get that project underway.

4. You don’t owe anyone anything. Of course, you owe it to your spouse to be faithful and you owe it to your children to be a good parent, but stop feeling as though you need to “people please” your way through life. People will either love you for who you are or not. Stop trying to sway them with your actions or feeling guilty about things.

5. Nothing older than a few weeks ago matters.  So often, we are defined by the stories of what happened TO us more than we are defined by who we ARE. We’ve all been hurt and hurt others. We all have the scars to prove we have been through battle. Don’t let the narrative of your suffering be what propels you. Release what is holding you back and embrace what is in front of you. When you feel tempted to recall a past pain, remember this rule and see if that doesn’t change how you look at life.

988_4172400(2)6. Stop waiting on people to change. It’s not happening. The only thing that you can change is your own behavior toward others. The desire to change someone is a losing battle. Stop fighting it. Sometimes, we have unrealistic expectations of others and we need to find patience. Other times, it’s the best thing you can do to walk away. But stop waiting.

7. Be authentic. Please. Please do this. Be who you are. Be honest. One of my favorite lines in the movie, The Family Stone, is when the character Luke Wilson plays, “You have a freak flag, you just don’t fly it.” Fly it.

8. Know your friends. If you have to ask yourself if someone is your friend, they are not. Be smart enough to know that a friend who talks trash to you will talk trash about you. It’s time to have better expectations of your circle.

9. Love your friends. People who check in on you when you are going through a rough place, who call you just to say, “hi” and let you talk, and who always have your back are your tribe. Focus only on building those relationships. Those are the people who matter.

10. Cut the drama. If someone in your life is always in the middle of a crisis, cut that person out. Watch how peaceful life becomes when your time isn’t held hostage by the emotional baggage of others. It’s healthy to protect yourself and concentrate only on what is happening under your roof.

11. Do something new. Challenge yourself to keep growing. Join a group that forces you to meet new people and do new things. Dare yourself to try something you would never have considered. It’s the only way we grow.

12. Make a vision board. Stack up some magazines, grab your scissors and glue and some poster board and get to work. Find things that inspire you. Make goals for the year and hang it somewhere you can see it all the time. And then keep your eye on the prize.

13. Cherish your parents. And grandparents if you are still lucky enough to have them. Who knows how much longer your parents will still be around? Call them. Invite them over. Ask them for their stories. Love them up.

14. Find a road to faith or peace. No matter what you believe in, try to believe in something more out there and that there is a lot more to life. Explore the faith you have.

15. Be a believer all the time. If you believe in something, live that truth every day. Support those around you in finding answers they seek and be compassionate toward others. Not everyone has walked the same path. We have to stand for what we mean all the time, not just when it is easy.

b35a36b2d7c3553050c38f13da61822216. Don’t worry about haters. Whether people disagree with your religious views, your political views, your personal life, who you love and how you live, remember that other people’s opinions are just that. Stand tall and proud behind what defines you.

17. Volunteer. At your school. In the community. Do something that ignites your passion but also gives back.

18. Ignite your passion. This brings about another good point. Start having better sex. Do it now. Don’t even wait another minute. If you aren’t having good sex, start by figuring out why and work together to fire up the sparks.

19.  Adore your spouse. People should be able to feel how much you love your spouse radiate from you. It’s not enough to assume people know how we feel. We need to remember to find the romance and laugh with our partners. We need to build them up and give them credit for how hard they work to make your life together great, whether that’s staying home or working outside the home. Respect your teammate.

20. Stop beating yourself up- you are a great mom. We always feel like we aren’t enough. We feel like we are going to screw it all up. We think that we will never measure up. But the truth is that in every hug, in every lunchbox, in every minute of homework, your love pours forth. Give yourself a break. Everyone loses their patience. Everyone has days where they go to bed questioning everything that happened during the day. You are amazing. Be proud of the mother you are. They love you even on your bad days.

And that’s where I leave you with this list. I could have gone on, but these are some of the most important things that I have learned in these short four decades I have been around. I know I am not perfect (and fairly far from it) but I know these words are true- I do the best that I can every day to be a good wife, mother, daughter and friend. And that’s enough. The best we can do is the best. I can only hope that this new journey brings me closer to the woman I am supposed to be. Maybe I am weird, but I am looking forward to 40.

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Kelly Yale

Kelly Yale

Kelly Yale has written for many parenting websites and wrote a weekly column for Charlotte Parent called “Diva Mom” for many years. Kelly created Modern Parent in social media several years ago and is excited to relaunch a new Modern Parent website. When she isn’t working as the Marketing Director for a mortgage company, she plays wife to Matt and mom to Ryan & Josh in Charlotte, North Carolina.