A few months ago, I told my mother that I had taken an action based on her advice. I actually thought that it would make her happy to hear that I still listen to her and respect her advice. I was surprised to hear her say, "You are a grown woman now; you make your own decisions!" What? When did that happen?
In your 40s, your life rests squarely on your own shoulders. The time to blame others for your problems or your parents for a less than ideal childhood is long gone. Friends have their own challenges and don't have time for the long heart to heart talks that we use to have in our 30s.
I will be honest, the past year has been challenging. My father and my beloved cat Rudy passed away. I went through the stress of negotiating the purchase of a new house and moving. My family was in a pretty scary car accident that totaled my car and then I made an impulse purchase of a new car that wasn't the right fit for our family. I was blindsided by major family drama. Finally, like many Americans, we are going through the stress of a job loss. The years when I was just juggling work with raising three active boys now seemed pretty easy. But isn't that what life in your 40s is about? It is a time of great joys and great disappointments and everything that we have learned in the past 40 years is tested.
I now see the 40s as a time of reflection, self-discovery and self-realization. Here are a few things that I have learned over the past birthday year.
- What I know for sure is that I do not know anything for sure but based on my life experiences, I do have confidence in a few things. I am confident that there is a God and that love can solve almost every problem that we face.
- We have to understand the past to make sense of our present. Trace your roots and speak to your elders about their experiences.
- I am optimistic about life and sometimes my head is in the clouds. I can live with that; it is pretty up there.
- You might as well embrace your parents because we either marry a version of our parents or we become them as we get older.
- Death is final; only our memories remain, so make good memories.
- When someone that you love dies, you only remember the good times. Try to focus on their good qualities when they are alive.
- Behind anger and hate is pain and fear. Keep that in mind when you are angry at someone or someone is angry at you. Try to dig deeper.
- Not everyone will agree with you; that does not mean that they are wrong. You may be dealing with someone whose reality is just very different from yours.
- If you lose your way in love, stop, breathe, center yourself and take direction from your heart.
- Create your own family with the people who consistently show you love through words and deeds.
- It is possible to feel both love and pain in places within you that you didn't even know existed.
- We were perfectly made by a wonderful God. We all have a purpose. Our natural tendency is to love; every negative energy is unnatural and will eat away at our soul if we don't let go of it.
- When you are feeling down, see your way out by helping or inspiring someone else.
Every day is another opportunity to learn and grow. We have a wealth of knowledge and we are blessed with a healthy range of emotions, however, we are just raindrops in the sea of life. Embrace the joys and the disappointments; there is so much more to discover. I step into 43, somewhat nervously. I am hoping for a smooth ride this year but whatever happens, I am ready to own it and learn all that I can from the experiences that life brings.