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10 Things

40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

Well, no matter what I do to try to slow time, it’s happening. I’m turning 40. We can kid ourselves that 40 is the new 30 or 40 is the new 20, but 40 is actually exactly 40, so we might as well get comfortable with it. The good news is, while my skin is sagging a bit around the edges and my lower back makes me want to go ahead and roll myself into an early grave, 40 does mean 40 years of learning, often the hard way, so as I reflect on all I’ve gleaned through the years, I thought I’d share some of it here. My wit is sharper than ever, and as for my aging body, my prayer has been and will continue to be, “May I have the cheekbones of Cate Blanchett and the breasts of Helen Mirren.” Here are 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years.

  1. Say no kindly, firmly, and often.
  2. You don’t have to smile all the time. It’s okay to put on your fierce face.
  3. Make people laugh. That way they’re relaxed when you hit ‘em with the truth.
  4. Humility is the most attractive quality in a person.
  5. Make yourself a little hard to reach sometimes. You don’t have to be on every form of social media.
  6. If you like being weird, be weird.
  7. Find a pair of shoes that make you feel confident and wear the bleep out of them.
  8. Thongs are dumb. Who needs to walk around with a wedgie all day? Give your butthole a break.
  9. Drink coffee before talking in the morning. Drink coffee before talking. Drink coffee before talking.
  10. Black coffee is best. Stop messing around.
  11. Everything in moderation. You don’t have to take these extreme measures all the time, P90X, Whole 30, whatever. Just make some healthy choices every day.
  12. Find a healthy outlet for the monster within. It’s going to get out somehow, so find it a place to roam.
  13. Always apologize when you’re wrong, never for who you are.
  14. Stop letting men repeat what you just said and take credit for it.
  15. Set a reading goal for the year and stick to it. Mine is 50 books a year.
  16. Hang out with people who are different than you. Echo chambers are boring.
  17. Your faith in God goes through seasons, like any relationship. Don’t let this freak you out.
  18. Hang out with girlfriends as often as you can.
  19. Surprise yourself regularly by doing crazy things.
  20. No one can make you eat salad if you don’t want to. You are a grown ass adult.
  21. SHE doesn’t have it better than you. As your teachers always said, “Keep your eyes on your own paper!”
  22. You don’t have to be the smartest or the best. Be the hardest worker.
  23. Get comfortable with grey. Grey is okay. The black and white of your youth was easier, but you’re older and can handle the tension between opposing ideas.
  24. Don’t let a stereotype define you.
  25. You are separate from your kids. Don’t let them suck up your whole self. Listen, they’re super important, for sure, but hang onto yourself. Don’t be 100% defined by parenting.
  26. Same with your marriage.
  27. Same with your job.
  28. After the kids go to school, sometimes you need to cozy up in a blanket, breathe in and out, and scream obscenities at the top of your lungs for a few minutes. Or I heard some people do this.
  29. Life’s too short to drink bad booze. Save your brain cells for the good stuff.
  30. There’s a reason the Avengers and the Justice League do so well. It’s better to find a team rather than go it alone. Don’t be a loner hero.
  31. Don’t overcomplicate things. Stick to the things that matter to you and yours and let the rest go. I see you, school spirit days.
  32. Use whatever you’ve been given to lift up the people around you. You’ll all climb higher together.
  33. Grilling is not just for dudes. Apparently I’m great at this and didn’t know.
  34. Also not just for dudes: scotch. Dudes took all the good stuff. Don’t let them have everything.
  35. Upend the container of waffle fries into your mouth to get the last crumbs. Anyone who would shame you for this is not your friend.
  36. You don’t have to listen to new music if you think it’s horrible. You’re not wrong.
  37. Don’t be afraid of your own boobs. They’re not here to hurt anyone.
  38. Let go of grudges. They weigh you down. You don’t have to talk to that person anymore, but stop festering about the thing.
  39. Take hot baths as often as you can. You can multitask just about anything in the bathtub – listen to podcasts, read books, make lists, pray – and it’s the perfect place to find some peace.
  40. If anyone ends a sentence with “for her age,” it’s totally reasonable to throat punch him.

So that’s some stuff I’ve learned. Also, I’m wondering if now that I’m 40, does that move me into cougar territory? How long before I become Jane Seymour?