Several nights ago I had a funny epiphany of sorts as I realized that I have slowly become the type of person that I once laughed at. As someone who once proudly labeled herself a hedonist of sorts, in recent months it has become clear that pleasure and self gratification are no longer the drivers in my life. Many of the habits that once brought pleasure in my life, are no longer pleasurable to this container I inhabit called a body.
It seems that my forty something self can no longer eat whatever, whenever, I can no longer drink more than a glass or two of my beloved vino without feeling it the next morning and anything less than a full night of sleep, just hurts. As someone who has always hated the idea of a gym membership, I am contemplating joining one and I actually manage despite a hellacious commute to hit the yoga studio no less than three times a week preferably four. Why? My back likes yoga and my spirits stay balanced when I make time for the mat regularly if not daily. It seems even my core digs yoga which is pretty cool now that I am friends with my core.
Last year was the worst year ever for my environmental allergies and after hearing more than a few people make suggestions about dietary changes, I bit the bullet and took baby steps and I’ll be damned, it seems that there is some truth in reducing and eliminating dairy products. I haven’t quite broken up with ice cream but we only see each other on special occasions!
In recent months, I have made many shifts in my physical body with the occasional slip up that immediately takes me back to that uncomfortable feeling and it strengthens my resolve to try again. Deepening my meditation practice has meant sitting cross legged and breathing into the spaces where I once reached for a glass of wine. When I do reach for that glass, I now ask myself why? I still enjoy the pleasurable treats but they are no longer staples in my life as I seek to balance food and drink for fuel and well being with food being delightful to the senses. As we joke around the house, I am now hooked on beet juice concoctions that don’t necessarily taste good but make me feel good.
As I settle into this place in life that some see as being “old” and some see as still being “young”, I am aware of shifts happening on a deeper level. I am no longer interested in the shoulds and the woulds of life, I am interested in facing life as it is in that moment. That means making peace with that which cannot change or that takes time to change but without holding onto the baggage that often surrounds the less than stellar moments that we all face. This article from OM Magazine sums it up “ And we must accept life on life’s terms, allow things to be as they are, and see the greater value in whatever we’re resisting.”
I feel like my 40’s are teaching me to surrender and accept life on life’s terms, something I didn’t get in my earlier years when I was still beholden to things such as my 5 and 10 year plans. Reflecting back on my younger years, I am struck with how much of my life was about getting to the next place, and assuming that happiness was guaranteed if I stuck with my plan. I suppose that way of thinking was useful at a certain point in life but at this stage it no longer serves me. At a certain point, the rat wheel of always seeking more and better gets tiring and when the people who die start to become your peers, suddenly just living life without vexation starts to feel pretty good.
Recently my daughter shared with me how she desperately wants to be 10 so that she can be a tween, I asked her why she wants to be a tween and her only answer was that “getting older is better.” I laughed to myself as I remembered wanting to be 16, 21, then 25 and 30, for some reason all those ages were seen as milestones and now I have no idea why. I do know though that my 30’s weren’t terribly fun at all when I realized one can and does lose loved ones and can end up being the matriarch of their family before 35! While I was excited to turn 40 last year it was because I was pretty tired of the 30’s, and wanted a decade of life not tinged with life altering events. I no longer had the youthful joy that often comes with getting older when you are young.
I am still pretty early in this journey of the 40’s and while my recovering type A self wonders what the coming years may bring, I am working to just be okay with this moment as it and I wonder why we call the 40’s the new 30’s when the 40’s are simply what they are…the 40’s.