I was born in the 1970’s. I don’t remember much of the 70’s, but the 80’s and 90’s were a great time to be alive. We wore cut offs and tank tops, rode bikes all over town, and drank pop without worrying about the sugar content or chemicals. Ignorance truly was bliss. I have given full appreciation to those blissful years, but as I am aging, I am beginning to recognize that I have learned so many things about myself. I am grateful for the perspective that has come with new decades.
When I was nearing my 40th birthday, I received quite a bit of unsolicited advice about how wonderful and enlightening the milestone birthday was. I was still wiping bottoms and planning preschool play dates on my days off work, so I hardly felt I was wise enough to be entering into this new decade. Since 40 is the new 30, I felt like it was an amazing decade of enlightenment that I should embrace and would thrive.
Now that 44 is just around the corner for me, I am solidly in my 40’s. I have pondered and reflected, and I don’t know how much enlightenment I actually have achieved, but I sure hope to have learned a few things that will make my entrance to middle age a little more pleasant.
Exercise may be good for your body, and you don’t have to like it, but that is ok. I get up way before the sun comes up most days, but even though it is part of my routine, I really don’t like to exercise. It is something that is beneficial for me, but I still don’t think it’s fun. I realize it’s OK that I don’t love the exercise itself, but the benefits are too great, so I keep on going.
I still care about what people think about me, I just respond a little differently. I have had friends say that when you reach 40, you stop caring what people think. Not this 43 year old. I still care deeply what my boss, my friends, my family, and even my acquaintances think of me. I have transitioned to still caring what others think, I just have added the question for reflection for myself, “Why do I care what they think of me in this instance?” I am more thoughtfully responding to situations so that we all end up happy.
Variety doesn’t have to be the spice of life. I am always up for an adventure, but I really thrive in the familiar. I have found myself with a capsule wardrobe before I even knew what it was. In my younger days, I remember planning out my outfits so I wouldn’t wear the same thing from week to week. However, at this point in my life, I get decision fatigue when it comes to daily decisions, and I really couldn’t care less if I wear the same shirt in the same week. I have a few statement earrings and special occasion outfits, but for the most part, I have streamlined my wardrobe to have fewer options to reduce my stress.
Write everything down. I mean everything. Anything from my kids spirit week days to work project due dates are all fair game to be forgotten. I have to write it all down, but the key to remembering is to check my calendar. In fact, I have literally forgotten what I was going to write several times already during this short post.
Wear sunscreen daily. If it weren’t for my prematurely gray hair, I could pass for younger than I am. I can mostly give credit of my skin to genetics, but daily sunscreen and moisturizer can slow those fine lines and age spots from forming.
Do the next right thing. I have entered in to the Sandwich Generation age of life, when I have found myself caring for my aging parents and my growing children. During a health crisis for my parents 5 years ago, I started telling myself to do the next right thing. There were far too many decisions to be made, so making the easiest decision first helped get the momentum going and turn the tide on our circumstances.
Gotta have Faith. No, I am not talking about George Michael’s iconic 80’s song. I am talking about my trust in God. Since I have been married, we have faced unexpected job loss, financial stress, miscarriage, family deaths and other health struggles, but let’s face it, parenting is the biggest hurdle we have faced. Without my Faith in God, these struggles would have been too overwhelming to overcome.
While middle age may seem like something that is to be dreaded, like the middle seat on an airplane, I am viewing it like the middle part of a pan of brownies, the most desirable part of all. I still have a lot to learn about aging gracefully, but I am thankful for the many lessons I have learned along the way, however I have traded in pop for sparkling water and searching for all of the brownies I can find along my journey.