40 Things For My 40th Birthday: What I’m Giving Up, Embracing, Or Not Even Worried About

I’m trying to say it out loud, so here goes: I’m 40. Four-oh. 4-times-10. FORTY.

I’m 40. Today. Right this minute.

Sorry for the cliche, but here I am. I do not love this. But I’m here for it.

You know what I’m NOT here for? Lots of things. More and more things all the time, actually. And for my 40th birthday, I’ve compiled a list of things I’m giving up and/or letting go; or generally embracing about myself even though the rest of the world doesn’t have to. As a gift to myself, you know, to ease the burden of my elderly years. Here is my gift-to-myself list; things I’m not here for, things you can miss me with, things that I will no longer apologize for and just a general cleaning out of my closets and baggage and whatever. Some of these have a little more depth and a little more significance for the general good of the public, and some are just my personal peeves. They are in no particular order.

  1. First off, in regards to watermelon: I hate it. It’s got a weird texture and it’s not even really a food. There is so much other great fruit in the world. I long tried to love it because so many people told me I should. But no. I hereby free myself of the charade.
  1. I consider myself a fairly literate and artsy person but the truth is, I do not enjoy theater unless it is of the musical variety. Revoke my degree in English literature if you must, but I’m not sitting through any angsty emo one-acts. All of life should have choreography.
  1. International travel is not my jam while I’ve got young kids in my life. I used to love it. I may love it some day again. But at this moment, it does not fit my life. I’m done sweating that. 
  1. Ditto for camping.
  1. I like skinny jeans, even if i’m not so skinny any more, and I’m going to wear them anyway and I’m not sorry.
  1. What I can’t wear any more at all are high heels. I find this depressing, but they aren’t worth the pain. I’ll wear my Tevas and Cosmo can bite me.  
  1. Also, while I’m getting over cultural/societal baggage about women’s bodies, I’m not about trying to hide or minimize or generally pretend-I-don’t-have boobs. A great rack is just reward for 2 kids/ 4 straight years of alternating pregnancy and breastfeeding…yes it’s a pain to shop for clothes (and bras, Lord help us) but they’re mine and I’m not wearing a mumu for life just because I have them.
  1. Miss me with flower prints. I don’t care if Tim Gunn, all the Kardashians, and Jesus himself tells me it’s “in” this year… they are not in for me.
  1. Neither are pastels. Ever.
  1. Mascara… I love mascara and I am allowed to wear it and still be a feminist.
  1. Also nobody else gets to tell me (or you) what a feminist is.
  1. I am over dealing with inappropriate touching just because of the nature of my job and that whole “being nice” thing, which is a loaded thing for women everywhere. This is probably a whole other blog post for some day, but let’s just say, when my tactical maneuvers no longer work, I will get rude if I have to.
  1. And on that note, I am done being “nice” just to be nice. I am not going to smile just because it is more pleasant for people to deal with a woman who’s smiling. Etc. I’ll smile when I feel happy, and I’ll be nice …sometimes. At my discretion.

14.Twizzlers are gross. Even worse than watermelon. They are not allowed in my car on road trips because I cannot even with the smell.

  1. While we’re on arbitrary, unpopular opinions? I do not enjoy Adele. Judge me if you must. She is too feelings-y for me.
  1. I will never be able to do crafts, DIY projects, or clothing construction of any kind. If it looks amazing on Pinterest, I should probably print a nice picture to enjoy and then step away from the art supplies.
  1. I’m a smartass, and that does not preclude me also being a deeply spiritual and compassionate person. Snark is my love language.
  1.  Maybe one day I’ll be at peace with the gray hair. Let’s talk at my next zero birthday. But for now, I will spend the $8 a month on the bottle. And people who are bothered by the purple-ness of it (incidentally, the same people who are bothered by the occasional snark) are clearly not my people.
  1. I’ve lived in multiple states, I’ve travelled to multiple continents, and I speak in front of a crowd at least once a week–if my accent has not left me by now, it’s not going anywhere. Actually, I never once tried to shake it. If it makes me sound folksy, “cute,” or backwoodsy, that is other people’s stuff and not mine.
  1. I pay somebody to clean my house and I have zero guilt about it.
  2. Not everyone has to like me. (I’m still working on this one. This will be the year I get it down, for sure). pexels-photo-234196
  1. I have limited bandwidth for what I can accomplish in a day/week/month. It’s not just about time, it’s about attention span and emotional energy. Embracing this truth is changing my life.
  1. Like everyone, I have past things that will never quite resolve. It is ok to wonder what door #2 might have been, it is ok to have sadness about missed opportunities–and about some of the ones you took.
  1. At the same time, it is not a good life plan to dwell there for too long. Listen to some Lumineers, then get on with it. No wallowing.
  1. And, there are seasons. We can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time. There are seasons for career, for family, for love, for self-care, for travel, for service, for a social life… for everything good and meaningful. Some of these things might take a back seat as others rotate to the front row, but the good things always come back around again eventually. Or they’ve served their time and we move on to the next season.
  1. At the same time, “Wanting to have it all” is not a sin. That is some patriarchal bullshit that they only say to difficult women. 
  2. And speaking of patriarchal bullshit, “enjoy every minute” with your kids is some more patriarchal bullshit. Parenting is the survival of the dang fittest some days, and everybody knows it. There might be joy in every day, but not in every dang minute. Come on.  
  1. This one is big: I am done apologizing for things that aren’t my fault. That might sound like a no-brainer. But one day I realized how many ways, and in how many places, I would throw out a casual “sorry” that meant nothing. I’m learning to save ‘sorry’ for true contrition or empathy, and not for every awkward situation that I would like to breeze past. Women tend to apologize for everything. Somebody bumps into YOU in the grocery store and you’re like OH MY BAD as fast as you can. Quit that shit. I know I have.
  1. Alone time == no guilt.
  1. I will never be a runner. Full stop. There’s not a sports bra in the world that makes that comfortable for me (see #7), and also, I just hate it. I can get plenty of exercise in other ways.
  1. Those extra 5 (or 10) pounds are not going to kill me. I’m going to quit sweating them. They make for less wrinkles. At the same time…
  2. I get this one body. I’m taking better care of it from here on in.  
  1. Sleep. Just because I can function on 4 hours doesn’t mean I should. I’m done hanging my hat on how little rest I need to get by, and
  1. I am further done wrapping my identity up in what I can accomplish.
  1. I’m no longer going to wait til my house is clean to invite people over. Life is too short.
  1. I love Jesus, but I cuss a little. I’m an ENGLISH MAJOR, and I know all the best words. Plus, the world is unjust as hell, and life will kick the shit out of you sometimes, and occasional strong words are absolutely called for. Folks can go on somewhere with expectations of lady-likeness, and/or holiness from me. Life is messy and complicated, and nobody has time to constantly police the narrative for the real, the raw and the mildly obscene.
  1. I’m done wasting Saturdays trying to contrive the perfect sermon. Sometimes it comes to me, sometimes it does not. While I remain committed to the work of the gospel, I’m rethinking the space of my weekends–and how to deliver a message well, even if it is not perfectly polished, or wildly creative.
  1. No more missing couch time, reading time, board game time, etc, so that I can “just finish loading the dishwasher,” or “just finish folding the laundry,” or “just finish this blog post…” Etc.
  1. I’m going to skip feeling guilty for the nights that my family doesn’t sit down and eat together. I know it’s important. But so is ballet. So are (some) church meetings. So are lots of other things that sometimes happen in the dinnertime zone. Life happens around the table in many other ways.
  1. I’m done writing numbered blog posts. (I’m kidding. They’re great for traffic. For whatever dumb reason).

  40. (for real) I’m over feeling sorry for myself for being 40. Thanks for letting me have this long and self-indulgent post. I feel lighter already.

And if you really want to help take the sting out of this milestone for me, you could make a gift to the Week of Compassion. This amazing organization is committed to development, sustainability and humanitarian aid all over the world, including hurricane-stricken parts of the U.S. right now. They are excellent stewards and they will make your dollar stretch as far as possible. A $40 donation would be wonderfully generous–but a gift in any amount will be just one more candle on my cake.

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