Excuse me while I enter a new decade

By now you know I started this blog to document my path to “Finding my way” into a new stage in life. Part of that path is the entry into my 40’s.

As you read this, I am likely hung over from an incredible week of celebrating. I am writing this on the eve of the passage into my fifth decade on planet Earth. So I decided to catalog some valuable lessons I’ve learned as I enter this new era.

How to look younger

I’m often told I don’t look as old as I am. I used to just blush and say, “thank you,” but now I think I know why I get these comments:

Natural hair color. Big cheeks in full effect. And a lot of smiling.

1 – I still don’t have any gray hair. I don’t know how I got that lucky, but it’s true. My brother is in his mid-40’s now and just has a few. He has five children and somehow only has a few slivers of silver. I’m going to chalk this one up to good genes.

However, now that I’ve written it down, I’ve probably jinxed myself. When I start writing about needing to find the best highlight technique or questioning if I should add purple to my hair – you’ll know it’s happened.

2 – I don’t have a lot of wrinkles; mainly just smile lines. This one isn’t so much the genes… it’s more likely my love of cheese.

My whole life, I’ve had big cheeks. Yes, I was called chipmunk cheeks well into high school. I have been pinched more times than I can count. (And for the record, it’s not only rude, it hurts.)

As I’ve aged (and consequently grown larger), my cheeks have grown as well. So, instead of filler, as a number of my friends have tried, I just eat more cheese. It increases my cheek size and reduces the need for Botox.

You’re welcome to use that information to help yourself avoid the needle.

And, below are my lessons on how I really think these things have happened.

For sure

Here are just a few things I know for sure (but am still trying to master).

1 – You can only control yourself.

Most of my life, I would worry about outcomes I ultimately couldn’t control. The “what ifs” would turn in my head for hours and sometimes days.

Then, someone wisely told me, “No matter what you do, you can’t control how someone else reacts to anything you do. You can only control yourself and how you react to the situation.”

While I’m still trying to fully grasp this concept (just last week I had that fear: “Will they like my desserts?”), I’m getting better. I try to focus on doing my best and letting the rest go.

2 – No one is paying attention to your every move & you’re likely never going to see these people again.

How many times have you gone to the gym and felt extremely self-conscious? And I’m going to guess you’ve walked into the wrong restroom at least once in your life (why do restaurants put silly words on the door that no one understands?).

Here’s the secret: you are the only one paying attention to these moments.

At the gym, everyone else is worried about how they look; they’re too busy to look at you.

And, unless you walk in on your dad, grandmother or your crush in the bathroom, you’ll likely never see that person again to remind you of that embarrassing moment.

No one cares but you. So, laugh it off and tell the stories to your friends.

3 – The silver lining glitters for a reason.

I have an inane sense for finding a silver lining in just about any situation. There has to be some good that comes out of every experience in your life. Even if it’s that you learned a hard lesson.

For example, I will never let sugar overflow on my glass stovetop again. Out of that situation, I learned more about sugar and how to dress a severe burn (and silver lining in a silver lining: I even landed an aloe plant out of the ordeal).

4 – Fulfillment comes from within.

You can’t expect a partner or children to make you happy. You have to do that. I’ve said it before, but Jerry Maguire ruined things for young women in the 90s. We expected some dude to “complete” us. That’s impossible. Someone can complement you; not complete you. There is a difference.

It’s the same with children. I don’t have any and I never wanted to, but I know enough to tell you: small people won’t fill a big hole in your heart. They can help your heart grow and you will have a love like you’ve never known, but they won’t “fix” you.

You have to have a whole heart for you. You have to find what makes you happy. Then, welcome someone(s) into that happy.

5 – Tell the truth.

It can be difficult to be honest all the time. I mean, telling a white lie to a co-worker about their wardrobe is much easier than telling them that you wouldn’t put that “outfit” on your worst enemy. Pick your battles, but be honest as much as possible.

When I was a kid, my mother said she never had to worry about me getting into trouble. I would always tell on myself. I still have that habit to this day. I can’t keep secrets (about myself) and I can’t lie. I’m honestly the worst liar you’ll ever meet.

And that adds to my happiness; I don’t have to worry about keeping stories straight. The truth is what it is.

6 – Don’t hold on to anger.

There’s an saying that goes something like, “Being angry is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

I am the first to admit, I anger quickly. But, I also forgive, forget and move on swiftly. Why sit in the anger? Who does that benefit?

I have a friend that cannot understand why or how I can maintain a friendship with my ex-partner. My simple answer, “Why stay bitter and angry? Who wins in that scenario?”

When relationships go bad, you often hear that one of the offended parties won’t let go and is making the other person’s life miserable. Why? Then neither of you can move on. And, who wants to be miserable all the time?

Not this kid.

I have some celebrating to do!

I’m turning 40!

Out celebrating with these fine folks, who’ve helped me learn the lessons above.