A letter about turning 49.
It feels like I just wrote my letter about turning 39. I remember being nervous about my 40s, but also excited because for the first time in my life it felt like I could really become me again. I don’t know how we happen to lose ourselves in the journey, but if I’m honest, I did. I was lost under expectations and boundaries that I felt were unbreakable as well as the fear of rocking the boat.
My 40s changed all of that, honestly.
It was the first time that instead of worrying about what others thought I began to worry about my own heart. I stopped denying my own dreams and stopped worrying about rocking the boat.
I learned to step out of comfortable and embrace new things. I moved across the country, wrote two books (well three, but the third won’t be published until this fall), got remarried, watched children graduate, fixed my finances, and ran 1000 miles in a year.
But all of that stuff?
That’s the result of a whole bunch of mental work.
It took me admitting I couldn’t do it all myself. So I found an amazing counselor who challenged me and pushed me and worked with me.
It took me realizing no one could make me change other than myself. I know that might sound odd, but the only person that creates change is the person who wants the change. None of my friends could make me change or do hard things — it was me — deciding to take that step, to call the creditor, to write the book, to lace up the shoes, and then to do it.
It meant that talk meant nothing without action. I could no longer say, “Tomorrow I’ll do that….” because somewhere in the middle of my 40s I realized that saying tomorrow is essentially putting things off forever.
I realized, once again, that life is short and fast and wonderful and you better tell those you love that you love them. Many people, peers, friends, and people I knew from afar died during these last ten years. And every time I came face to face with mortality it made me appreciate the breath in my lungs. It made all of the excuses that would slow me down lessen and it would motivate me to live my life with courage, bravery, and intentionality.
So many lessons, honestly. I didn’t even know what to share or how to begin.
Lessons on aging and money and love.
Lessons on letting go and expectations and seeing the good.
Lessons on kindness and hope and speaking up.
Lessons on friendship and family.
All of these lessons go back to the heart, in a way. They go back to living aware and awake and alive and unapologetically myself.
The 40s have been wonderful, honestly. But they’ve also been hard as I’ve had to come face to face with my own preconceived ideas about aging and beauty. I’ve had to be willing to look at the wrinkles that have appeared and to realize they are essentially a gift of getting to live as many years as I have. I’ve learned to not judge and to take care of myself.
The strangest thing is that sometimes I’ll look at my eyes staring back at myself in the mirror and they are the same — the eyes of me when I was nine, nineteen, twenty-nine, thirty-nine, and now forty-nine. And now, for the first time, the wise words of my grandmother, who died a quarter of a century ago, are starting to ring true. She simply said, “I feel so young still inside.”
So now, now in my last year of being in my 40s I just want to fully open the door to my own personal cage and tell myself, “Fly, girl, fly. It’s your time. Your now. Fly.”
So this year, this year where my word is confident, it’s also the year of being willing to fly. To step out and to not have the foundation fully underneath me but to trust that the last decade of work has prepared me to not fall, but to fly.
That’s the lesson of the 40s.
It’s the dedication to self, the chiseling out of the things that don’t serve the heart, the diving into passions, the trying new things, the laying of foundations so that the heart can soar.
For all of you that have stuck with me the last ten years (and some of you have been with me for fifteen – since I started writing) — I’m grateful. And for all of you who are newer, I’m so grateful you are here too. This space is sacred to me and one of my greatest gifts in life is being able to share my heart with so many of you and to be an agent of change. I hope my honesty inspires you to look at your own life, to really see your intrinsic value and to know that you can do hard things.
Fly, my friend, fly.
Life is short. Life is wonderful.
This is your shot.
You are worth living with vibrancy and fully alive.
ps…perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was I no longer wanted to live life on the sidelines. As many of you know I ran a 5K on the morning of my birthday. I ran a great time for me (9:05/mile) and finished well. But, that didn’t matter, because I made myself embrace uncomfortable. I ran in pouring rain, poor conditions, and ran for everyone I knew who no longer could run. At about mile 2 the tears poured from my eyes – tears of gratitude for another loop around the sun and tears of excitement for all that was to come. This picture was taken seconds after crossing the finish line.