#40iscoming and I need a toolkit

Hate reading – or just miss me? Audio version here:

I’m going to be 40 in just over two months. That doesn’t surprise me. I always thought I’d end up turning 40, if I was lucky enough. But there’s something about this number that I’m apparently supposed to dread. I’m supposed to pretend that I’m turning 39 for at least five more years, and possibly have a nervous breakdown on my birthday.

I know some version of that is probably around the corner, but so far the main thing I’ve been struggling with is this: I’m almost 40 and I actually look my age. I’m going to be 40, looking 40. For some reason most likely related to narcissism, I probably imagined I’d end up 40 but look 25, and I was pretty surprised when things didn’t turn out that way. And this isn’t some fishing exercise to get those of you who know me in real life to say “no, you don’t look your age at all”. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m still pretty cute, if I do say so myself–for a 40-year-old. This is fact, even if it took me a while to accept it. There isn’t even mild surprise when I tell people how old I am–if anything, some of them seem surprised I’m not older (true story, and it sucks just as much as you imagine). I’ve even had the experience of going to a dinner party where all the women were a few years older than me, but looked a few years younger. They were former models, but still. I wasn’t thrilled. Turns out that the blue eyes and curly hair I inherited from my dad came as a package deal with a tendency for that curly hair to go grey prematurely and for fat to flee my face almost as stubbornly as it clings to my thighs. But maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, because it means I’m less likely to try to be in denial about the #40iscoming situation.

So what do I do now? Go all-out on Botox and fillers for my 40th? Nope. (At least I don’t think so, but if I start looking permanently non-plussed, you’ll know why.) For now, I’ll probably just wear lots of white and baby blue and make sure I only take selfies in dim lighting. And maybe avoid parties with models. But here’s what I do want: to figure out how I go to 40 and beyond staying, you know, spring minded about life. I need a toolkit to help me be excited about what’s coming next, instead of melancholy about what’s already past. So for the next two months or so, I’ll be working on my toolkit, and sharing it along the way unless I get too lazy or self-conscious. Suggestions welcome.

To start with: here are some things I already know work, so they’ll be the first steps on my #40iscoming hike (I decided it’s a hike, not a journey):

  • Exercise, especially if you can make it fun (wish someone had told me years and years ago that exercise is so good for your mental state, I might have done more of it growing up!)
  • Gratitude, and actively seeking out things to appreciate, to enjoy and to love. I’m doing my gratitude Advent Calendar thing on Instagram again, except I don’t call it gratitude because some people are allergic to the word – I don’t blame them, it’s becoming so overused it might end up as toothache-inducing as “#blessed”. I think I’ll call it “happy marbles” instead. And you know the greatest thing? The more happy marbles I list, the more I can think of.
  • Self-compassion (I know, I know, gratitude you can just about handle, but you draw the line at self-compassion. This is crazy New Age isht. I know. Bear with me for a few seconds. Breathe. Now try to say “May I be safe. May I peaceful. May I be healthy. May I accept myself as I am”. Too much, too soon? No worries, we’ll get there).
  • Brene Brown (yes, it’s still me, the likelihood of a post not mentioning BB is minimal. Did you know she has a new book out?) I finally managed to get all of her books in paperback and I’m reading them again, in the proper order of course, with highlighters and Sharpies and everything.

And one thing I’m trying out (c/o Brene): play. Doing stuff just because I enjoy doing it, not because I have to or as a self-improvement project. Such as recording an audio version of this, just because I think it’s fun.

Ok folks, I’m off, see you on the hike!

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