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Forty Things I Learned on the Way to 40

Owning who you are.

It took me 14,600 days of living to get to a point where I am comfortable in my own skin.  Over 14,000 days of getting up, looking in the mirror, and saying to myself, “What have you got for me today, life?”.  My life has been full of decisions – both good and bad.  Some really bad.  But here, at the halfway mark, I am owning all of it.

We all have our different journeys but I am going to share with you what I have learned as I wake to embrace that 14,600th day that will make me 40.

Forty Things I Learned on the Way to 40

Grab a coffee and cozy up because here we go!

1. Life Does NOT Turn Out the Way You Planned

Raise your hand if you thought you’d be living in your mansion, running your company, and smiling at your adorably well-behaved children at this age.  Well, I certainly thought that.  Alas, I have no mansion and I have no children.  But I do own my own business so that is certainly something!

2. Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have

Credit cards are the devil.  That’s all there is to it.  We all use them with the good intention of paying each bill off at the end of the month.  We want to get the points or the miles.  The reality is, they can quickly get out of control.  So we cut them up and one card gets relegated to the back of our wallet “for emergencies”.  It is often difficult to pass up that great sale or trip and try not to spend the paycheck we haven’t yet earned.  I am guilty of all of this.  Credit cards – you are on my shit list!

3. Taxes

That is all.

4. Where Did This Gray Hair Come From

One day you will wake up and find the wrinkles and the gray hair that you swear were not there the night before.  It’s as if there is some Methuselah Fairy that comes to dust you with these things as you sleep.

5. Don’t Look at Me

You will actually stop caring if your husband sees you with your greasy, “Flock of Seagulls” bed head.  You have realized that he is not looking anyway.  But if you get naked that’s another story.

6. Husbands are Simple.  Really.

When we are young we want to impress our husbands, go out of our way to create romantic and thoughtful experiences for them, and generally remain that kick-ass girl they fell in love with.  That’s all well and good occasionally.  But, for the most part, they don’t care.  Give them a comfy chair, a beer, and a tv.  Throw them a little booty from time to time and they are perfectly happy.

7. But First Coffee

You have determined that it is not possible to make it through the day without coffee.  Or in my case, tea.  Remember in high school when you arose without any help at all?  You went to school all day, went to practice, went home to do homework, and still have time to chat on the phone with your boyfriend for an hour.  (yes, we talked on the phone.  this was before texting).  You had mounds of energy.  There was no falling asleep if you sat still for more than 10 minutes.  How was this possible without coffee?!?


8. What Others Think Does Not Matter

I used to get so upset if I thought someone didn’t like me.  Because I am so shy, this happens to me a lot.  People really have to get to know me before they realize that I am not rude or bitchy.  I’m just painfully shy.  I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons people don’t like me and it used to put my stomach in knots.  Now I could care less.  You do you.  The people who matter will accept you for WHO YOU ARE.

9. Blind Faith

I get so stressed out about things that don’t work out in the timeline I have set forth.  This is a major flaw of mine.  But it has gotten better by applying my husband’s philosophy to have blind faith.  If you do your best.  If you make responsible choices.  If you lay the groundwork.  Things will all work out.  It might be at the very last second but things will work out.  Sometimes it’s not the way you wanted them to but the world did not end.  Have faith and try not to sweat the little things.

10. Chase Your Dreams

Go for your dreams no matter what other people say.  Life is short.  Will you really look back on your life and say, “Man, I really loved working in that cubicle for 30 years”.  Doubtful.  What are your dreams?  Figure out a way to make them happen for you.

11. What Are You Eating?

You will realize that you can no longer eat whatever you want.  Ladies, your metabolism will commit suicide when you turn 30.  Alter your habits accordingly.  No more pizza and beer on the weekend.  And let me tell you – it is possible to get heartburn from peanut butter.

12. Don’t Overcomplicate

Ladies, I’m talking to you.  I am a Type A personality so I totally get it.  Everything must be perfect.  Everything must be analyzed.  Everything must be efficient.  I definitely struggle with this one and, because of that, I miss out on a lot of the fun.  So relax and go with the flow.  I promise it’s a lot more fun than making sure all the details were perfect.

13. Be Generous

Oprah says if your hand is open to give, it is also open to receive.  This is so true.  Sometimes what you receive will just be the warm feeling you get from knowing you helped someone.  Whether it be holding a door for someone, taking food to a shelter, or choosing a non-profit to donate to, it will be worth it.  Every time.

14. Show Emotion

It’s okay to cry.  We bottle so much every day and guess what that does?  It brings on the gray hair, the wrinkles, the stroke or heart attack.  We have to become comfortable with showing our emotions.  We can still be honest about how we feel without coming across as jerks.  It’s hard.  I struggle with it too.  But it is okay.

15. Coveting

This one is a big challenge.  It’s so hard to watch other people get things you want.  The nicer house, the newer car, the more exotic trip.  Whatever it is that someone else has that we don’t.  I have realized coveting is not only wrong, it is such a waste of time.  It gets us nothing but resentment.  Work hard for what you want and worry about what you are doing to get it.  You might be surprised to find out what you have that someone else covets.  No matter what, stay focused on you.  And good things will come.

16. Let It Go

I am the oldest child.  Therefore my childhood personality was bossy.  I was also the one who got to do everything first.  Because I went first, I was also the one who made some of the biggest mistakes.  Sometimes, your siblings can’t see the person you have become as an adult because of all the mistakes you made growing up.  It can be hurtful but it’s for them to decide to let go of the past or not.  If you are a younger sibling, throw your big bro or sis a bone.  Everything they ever did or said was out of love for you.

17. Bedtime

Staying up until 11:00 p.m. is now staying up late.  If you achieve this, you must have had a lot of coffee!


18. On the Radio

You will now enjoy listening to the “oldies” station on the radio.  After all, they are playing the music you listened to in high school.

19. Where Have I Heard That Before

You will find yourself saying things you have only heard your parents say before.

“Turn that down!”

“If you don’t stop, I will turn this car right around!”

“Because I said so.”

To you, these will all be perfectly legitimate things to say.

20. Vacation

A “vacation” will now consist of any time you have to yourself to sit somewhere in peace and quiet.  No kids.  No phones.  No dryer buzzer.  You will relish this time to yourself like you relish the times when you get to use the bathroom in private.

21. Commercials Will Make You Cry

If it has anything to do with aging parents, kids, or pets, you are going to tear up.  If it has anything to do with any sort of homecoming, go ahead and break out the whole box of tissues.

22. Back Talk

People will talk about you behind your back.  No matter how nice you are to them, they will still talk about you.  This is their problem, not yours.

23. Techie

You will find out that a teenager (and sometimes a toddler) knows more about electronics and technology than you ever will.

24. Roll With the Punches

You will get screamed at while at work.  You will get into car accidents.  You will lose your favorite earrings.  You will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings.  And you will agonize about all of these things.  A friend of mine once told me, “If it won’t matter a year from now, it shouldn’t bother you today”.  Words of wisdom my friend.  Words of wisdom.

25. The Never Ending Story

You will do more dishes and laundry than you ever thought possible.

26. Gravity

That is all.

27. Role Reversal

If you still have your parents, you will constantly worry about them.  You will become increasingly concerned about their ability to drive, traverse stairs, and eat right.  My dad would literally eat nothing but donuts and a block of Colby cheese with crackers if he were on his own.  When my parents drive to Florida, I have them call me to tell me they made it safely.  When did this reversal happen?  My parents are still able-bodied, competent people.  But yet, I worry.

28. Fashion Show

You will begin to dress for comfort rather than style.  You will not care if your handbag matches your shoes because you don’t have time to swap out handbags all the time.  You will also wear those ugly yet comfortable shoes you wouldn’t have been caught dead in 15 years ago.

29. Childhood Idols

The people you grew up watching on tv and listening to on albums will start dying off one by one.  This will alarm you as you feel you are not that far behind them.  Rest in peace Prince, David Cassidy, and Erin Moran.

30. Where Empathy Lies

When watching shows or movies where there is a teen vs. parent dynamic, you will now empathize with the parent’s point of view.  Wasn’t it only ten years ago when you were still thinking from the perspective of the child?

31. Twentieth Century

Your kids (or nieces and nephews in my case) will all think you are ancient for being born in the 1900’s.  Get used to it.

32. Laugh It Off

You must must must have an excellent sense of humor.  We can’t control a lot of the experiences we have but we can certainly control how we react.  I am constantly having to remind myself to just laugh it off.  But it’s true what they say, laughter really is the best medicine.

33. Stand Off

You will now groan anytime you go from sitting to standing.

34. Sit-In

You will now groan anytime you go from standing to sitting.

35. Frenemies

You will lose some of your friends along the way.  People grow and change and they don’t always do it at the same pace.  I’ve had to make some tough decisions in my life and say goodbye to some people who were no longer right for how I wanted to live my life.  Do what is best for you.  Toxic people are always going to hold you back.  Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.

36. Happy Hour

Sometimes a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine at the end of the day is necessary.  Cheers!

happy hour

37. No Comparison

You are a unique soul.  What makes you special is that there is no one else like you.  Don’t try to be like anyone else.  You are fabulous.  Own it!

38. With A Little Help From My Friends

You can be a strong person and still need help sometimes.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to give you a hand.  It’s okay to admit that you can’t do it all.  We can’t all be Wonder Woman, right?

39. Eat the Dang Cake

Without overindulging, you can still enjoy some of life’s sweetest rewards.  So grab that slice of cake and a big cold glass of milk too.

40. Acceptance

Acceptance of other people, especially your family and friends, is critical.  But acceptance of yourself is absolutely necessary.  Own who you are and never apologize for it.

I hope you have enjoyed my list.  Happy any age birthday to all of you!  Now get out there and celebrate life!


Anna Kat





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