Whoever coined the phrase “Life Begins at 40” cheated us!

Not because it’s not true, but because there is so much that remains unsaid in that statement. It paints a picture of new life, freedom, freshness, possibilities … such great words and feelings. However, it fails to communicate the insecurities, work and turmoil that come along with achieving all these things.

You’ve guessed it, I’m in my 40s – at the very beginning – In fact, I turn 41 this weekend!

The thing about being 40 is that I no longer feel necessarily young. I know that all those in their 50s and beyond think I’m a baby, but fact is; I’ve been alive for FORTY YEARS PLUS …! Those are many years. I have began to feel that freedom of speaking my mind and not being overly bothered about scandalising others (I thought that would come when I turned 60). I guess I’m an early bloomer in that regard.

I was speaking to a younger friend, one in her late 20’s and we were discussing our work and careers. When she heard of the struggle I have been going through in re-defining myself and re-finding myself she exclaimed … “What! I am going to have to do this again?!” Sadly, yes. 

Nobody told us that this thing of finding yourself does not end. First in your teens as you discover a life outside of your family and begin to acquire an identity and personality that is your own and not your family’s. Then again in your 20’s when your existence becomes your responsibility and you have to figure out what that means. In my 30’s this quote by Blair Sabol rang true for me, “When you turn thirty, a whole new thing happens: you see yourself acting like your parents.” Yet another awakening … and here we are again; finding myself … again.

Sometimes I get tired of this constant questioning of self to uncover long hidden truths about myself, but when I put in the time and effort, I am also very excited by the gems that I find. For me, so far, being in my 40s has been like moving into an old beautiful house that was once owned by a wealthy royal family of ancient years. The structure is solid, the woodwork is beautiful, but there is some restoration needed, some polishing and waxing required. The piping and wiring have to be completely redone! Every once in a while, however, someone finds a forgotten gem hidden in a basement or attic and when cleaned … voila … priceless!

My structure has to be my values.  These are strong and have brought me this far and will take me forward regardless of the weather. Defining my values and writing them down into a value statement has helped me realise my priorities and has tided me through some tough decisions. It is an exercise I would greatly recommend and would be happy to help with. 

My piping and wiring is all about my motivation and my energy providers. Just like the wires and pipes in a house, these are numerous and often interconnected in ways that I do not realise until something shorts out or gets backed up. Case in point, I did not know that my creative side is a critical part of my life until I got ‘too busy’ to have a creative project. After a while, I got listless and demotivated despite everything else looking rosy. It was only after I re-immersed myself in a project that I realised that my lack of energy did not come from being too busy, but from failing to have at least one creative outlet. From then on, I always have at least one major creative project going on.

So here I am in my 40’s; polishing, cleaning, restoring, de-cluttering, re-wiring. Looked at in that perspective, it really does seem like a lot of drudgery. Without these however, those joys of reclaiming beauty will not be found. 

I have de-cluttered my life quite a bit in the last year and the freshness it has brought has been … refreshing. I have more ‘head-space’ to think in. More clarity about the things I want and those I do not; more clarity in what I am willing to tolerate and what I just cannot stand; more confidence in what I want to pursue and what I must trash.

The Desiderata sums it all beautifully for me … 
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.