dear 40,

You are right around the corner and I thought it might be a good idea for me to touch base with you before we meet. I've heard a lot about you. Some people seem to dread you while others don't give you much thought. As for me, I've been thinking about you for a few years. No dread, just contemplation of what feels like a significant transition in my life and as the days pull us closer together, I find myself nervously excited to see what new experiences you will bring into my life. 

With so many friends greeting you in recent years, I have witnessed many mid-life reviews. For some the review looks like a crisis, but for most, 40 appears to be a fork in the "meaning of life" road. Major career transitions, healing emotional wounds, ending relationships, starting new relationships, travel, spiritual awakenings, divorces, remarriage, major attitude shifts... I have witnessed significant change in others as they move into and through their 40's and I have experienced significant change in myself, most dramatically in the last 6 months. 

40, of course, shows up in and on the body. I see and feel how my body is changing and at first realization, I have a twinge of grief in longing for my youth. But fairly quickly that grief shifts to something I can't totally explain... something in the realm of acceptance. I feel an enormous amount of relief nearing 40 as my mind grows clear and my ability to navigate small and large challenges becomes easier each day. Especially over the last year, my shame resilience has increased exponentially. But, most notable is my ever-increasing will to be deeply satisfied with my life. 

One of my biggest near-40 lessons is that I give myself credit, compassion and space to be exactly who I am regardless of my mood. I am not less moody with age (thank you hormones) but, I am less judgmental of myself for being human (and less judgmental of over people too). Thanks to the wisdom of aging, I no longer expect the world to meet my needs--I do that myself. Instead of struggling on the road of "not good enough" I NOW travel the path of vulnerable and authentic self-expression. Some people don't get me and that is OKAY! 

"Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!" - Dr. Seuss

All this to say... I am looking forward to meeting you, 40. I feel something stirring in me that feels a lot like a shell cracking--allowing me the opportunities to feel life more fully because I am less concerned about external expectations and more focused on being present. It is both terrifying and exhilarating. While youth is beginning to fade and so many first experiences are going with it, I am determined to prove to myself that growing older does not mean losing the joy of new moments and that there are an infinite number of firsts to be enjoyed in the coming forty years. In honor of our soon-to-be dance, I will give myself 40 firsts. New experiences that test my courage and offer much-desired personal expansion. Inspired by my friend Sasha, who has been engaging in 52firsts, I plan to test my comfort zone at least 40 times during my 40th year. 

Thank you 40. I am grateful to have reached you and I look forward to all that you have to offer. 

Best, 

Blythe Dolores

#40firsts