40 and Forward: Less Talbots Gift Cards and More Peace, Please

I am…40. There, I said it. And now that it’s out there, I should feel better, right? Well, I don’t. There are actually a few other things I have to say before this whole turning 40 thing really settles in. I’ve been pondering my 40 years of choices and whether I have any regrets. I’m not one to dwell on the past, but sometimes a little retrospective thinking begets a little future perspective. And after looking at the last 40 years in review, I’ve made some decisions about what I want and don’t want from here on out.

What I Don’t Want ~

Kids. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been asked if I want kids. Or, how many ways I’ve answered that question. The bottom line is this – my eggs have never clamored for sperm. (I, on the other hand, have, but that’s another story for another day.) My journey has been an unusual one. My mother died when I was 24, leaving me to adopt and raise my nine year old brother. It was a lot of work, but it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done. At this point, it seems that my 40 year old womb will remain unused. I had my “I’m a mom” time, and now I have three stepchildren, as well as a litany of friends with kids. God has other plans for me, which don’t include children of my own; but lucky for me, I can still love on some great kids.

Gift cards to Cold Water Creek, Talbots, or Chicos. Would someone please send my mother-in-law the memo? I love her to death; but this hasn’t been my style, so why should it be now just because I’m 40? I don’t want middle-aged, blah looking clothes that hide every asset I’ve worked my ass off to keep. Maybe in twenty years I’ll change my mind, but for now, no more. I’m sticking with skinny jeans, J.Crew, Tory Burch, and whatever stylish, sassy garb I can find that still flatters my behind.

To be called ma’am. I know, it’s considered polite to have some young buck who rings you up at the grocery store call you ma’am. But I don’t know one woman under the age of 65 (including me), who finds it flattering. It makes me feel old. Take a tip from the cute, young man the other day who carded me when I bought a bottle of wine. He handed my ID back with a wink and a smile. Now that’s polite!

False friends. You know what I’m talking about. The women who claim to be your friend, but then make snarky remarks about your new haircut, your new car, or your new boobs. This is me, like it or not. If you don’t, no big deal; but please stop acting like you want to be friends only to be jealous, immature, and mean. That is so twenty years ago, and I am so over it. This is it. Time to surround myself only with people who build me up, not tear me down. Time to downsize the “friend” pool and weed out the falsies.

A cabinet full of beauty products. I used to be a product whore, but not so much anymore. I don’t believe in miracles in jars or tubes or bottles. And I don’t like clutter, it’s bad for my emotional feng shui. I’ve found the products that work for me and that’s all I need. I love the freedom of not feeling obligated to buy something just because some person I don’t know took 30 seconds to tell me about it in the middle of Nordstrom. There are times when less is more, and this is definitely one of them.

What I Do Want ~

A good body, not a great one. I’m not going on anymore crazy, “get thin quick” diets. When I think about how I used to beat myself up about being “fat”, it pisses me off. Because the truth of matter is that the 40 year old me looks at the younger me in those photos and thinks she was a knock out. So, no more self-criticism. I will work my ass off for a good body, but I will not give up the things I truly enjoy for a great one. I’ll keep eating veggies and going to Barre class, sweating out the toxins, and taking all my supplements. But, don’t ask me to give up alcohol and cupcakes. I’m finally happy with how I look and what I have. I don’t have to wear Spanx (yet), and I can still rock a bikini. What’s there to complain about?

A calm mind. I’ve spent 40 years listening to the voice in my head, and you know what? She complains. A lot. The incessant chatter has become too much to bear. She’s like that irritating friend that never shuts up about the guy she should have dumped six months ago. So no more. I’m cutting her off. From here on out I’m meditating. I’m being still. I’m tuning into my soul, that voiceless, wonderful power that resonates through me. That’s where the good stuff is. From time to time, my chatty “friend” pops in and tries to fill my head with garbage. But now I know better. I simply smile at her and press mute.

To be less inhibited. My ex-mother in law taught me many wonderful things, such as; how to make a mean matzah ball soup and how to treat my ailments with homeopathy. She was an amazingly generous woman, who had no inhibitions. Some people (like me) found her free spiritedness fresh and delightful. Others (like my ex-husband) found it strange and sometimes embarrassing. When I was younger, I wouldn’t allow myself to set my spirit free. But now that I’m standing on the corner of 40 and “it’s now or never,” the time has come to unleash the beast. Something tells me she’s a fun-loving adventurer, who has a lot of share and a lot to learn.

To be wonder-full. When you’re a kid, you marvel at everything. And then you grow up and put your nose to the grindstone, forgetting to look around for years at a time. Sure, every once in while you go on a trip and have an affair with nature. But before long, you’re back to the old ball and chain of everyday life, only reminiscing about the hot love affair you had that one summer. I’m making an executive decision to banish the grindstone and have a fifty year love affair (God willing) with life. From my dog’s lips to the Southern Cross, I’m going to revel in the wonder of it all.

To want for nothing. I’m not saying that I don’t want the new Prada wedges that I ogled over today at Saks or the Chloe bag that I keep putting in my letter to Santa. What I am saying is that I am going to be Buddhist about it. I am going to put it out there and then detach from the outcome. Will my world end because I don’t get the Prada wedges? No. But if I do get them, then SHABAM! I’ll look hot wearing them. Life is so much more enjoyable when you detach from the outcome of anything. I’ll care – but not that much. So here’s how it’ll go. I’ll put everything I have into whatever I want or am striving for. Then, I’ll blow it into the universe with a heart full of love. If The Rolling Stones taught me anything, it’s that I can’t always get what I want. But sometimes, I really do find…I get what I need.

Whew, now that all that’s on the table, I can get busy being 40, which actually feels pretty good. Something tells me there’s a fun journey ahead. So here’s to getting carded, a high, tight ass (with a little cellulite), and a hot and steamy love affair with life. Oh, and let’s throw in the Prada wedges…just for good measure.

You can read more from Karena Kilcoyne on her blog.

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