A few months ago I celebrated my fortieth birthday. Unlike turning 35, I wasn’t concerned about getting older instead I embraced the change and welcomed the big 4-0 with opened arms. I was excited, I must admit, because I’d heard that 40 brings new opportunities to get life right and the boldness to forgive yourself when you can’t.
In the midst of my excitement, I decided to share a piece of what makes this new start in my life so wonderful. So brace yourself, here’s a peek at what the first thirty-nine taught me:
- Connecting and staying connected is worth the work. As we get older, we often get consumed with the redundancies of life which leads us to isolate ourselves. Our families and our jobs create immediate needs that we feel we must focus all our attention on. We cut off people we care about because we don’t have time and we fail to nurture new relationships unless they help us in addressing our immediate needs. But it is important to stay connected. Pencil in time to catch up with your friends and family. Go out for drinks or coffee. Knock on your neighbor’s door to make sure they are okay and meet someone new. Staying connected pulls you away from living an isolated life. And giving and receiving love and support is the life-line for spiritual and emotional wholeness.
- Ridding your life of unhealthy relationships is tough but life-changing. As much as we need to stay connected, we also need to learn from our interactions with others who and what is worth investing our time and energy into. Life exposes us to many characters. Some are good, healthy and nurturing and others drain us of the power and energy to get things done. Conduct an honest assessment of the people in your life and move away from those who keep you consumed with their issues without considering your needs. Relationships are give and take. If you are doing all the giving, at some point, you will be depleted. So seek healthy relationships and see your life improve.
- Your health is definitely your wealth. Last year I lost 30 pounds. Surprisingly, it was much harder to lose the weight than I thought it would be. I spent weeks learning to live on between 1200 and 1500 calories per day. I cut my dairy, sugar and bread consumption to next to nothing. I learned to love the bland taste of water and ate more protein that I had in years. And let’s not talk about carbs. I ate them sparingly, if at all. My journey may seem extreme but it had to be. I was determined to get my weight under control and in the end, I was beyond elated with the results. Hard work and dedication does pay off. I’m healthier, my self-image is better and I’m finally more conscious of what I eat. Life is good.
- Success has to be strictly defined to be properly pursued. All my life I wanted to be successful. It was the one thing that drove me to go to college, to pursue my career, to publish my first novel and to work hard at every job I’ve ever had. Being successful at whatever I did was worth the journey until I began to evaluate what true success really meant to me. For some, success is having a high-ranking title and earning wealth. For others, it is doing something meaningful and worthwhile for the greater good of mankind. But no matter how big or small, YOUR definition of success should drive you.
For me, success is finding peace and happiness in all my endeavors in spite of titles, money and power. It is waking up early on a Saturday morning and writing something beautiful that no one will ever see but me. It is looking at my image in the mirror and loving all that God has created. It is sharing myself with those I love and learning to move away, gracefully, from those I can no longer support. My definition of success is finally achievable and that’s the best lesson of all.
- Dancing is mandatory! My biggest fear of getting older was losing what I call my passions for living. When I was 15, a person turning 40 seemed old, but now that I’ve reached that age I realize just how youthful I am. Forty feels like the new twenty. All my passions are still there. Actually, I am more passionate because my vision is clearer now. I still love loud rap music and dancing until dawn. I still chase lightning bugs and butterflies and I giggle like a young girl and flirt (with my husband). And, most importantly, I am still in heavy pursuit of all the wonders of life.
I hope the next forty years will be filled with opened doors and new opportunities to put all my life lessons into play. I am looking forward to expanding my consciousness in ways only age and grace will allow. But because of the first thirty-nine, I am even more excited for the ride and well-prepared for the journey.
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