Four years ago, I wrote a blog post on my birthday called “Today is My Birthday…And I’m Turning Beautiful.” And for the last three years, I returned to that post, reread it, shared it and reflected on my life and the twists and turns it’s taken.

But this year, as I celebrate my birthday — the big 4-0 — I thought I’d take one step beyond mere silent reflection and jot down the lessons I’ve learned from the last decade of those twists and turns, lessons I plan to keep in my back pocket as I embark on my fabulous 40’s.

So what did my 30’s teach me? Here are 40 things I learned by 40:

1. Enjoy your own company.

2. Friendships require effort on both sides.
3. You’re never too old to dye your hair pink.
4. Don’t skip dentist appointments.
5. “Fake it till you feel it” isn’t good enough. It’s no way to live your life.
6. The longer you plan for something, the less likely it is to happen as you planned.
7. Life isn’t a competition.
8. Trust your gut.
9. When someone offers help, take it.
10. Be a person who makes things happen.
11. Read voraciously.
12. Pursue passions, no matter how small or silly they may seem.
13. Laugh. A lot.
14. Always accept your children’s hugs when they offer. One day they won’t offer.
15. You never know what goes on behind closed doors.
16. Stop repeating bad patterns.
17. Dancing it out really works.
18. Don’t let your people-pleasing tendencies dictate your decisions.
19. The grass is always greener on social media. Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes reality to other people’s highlight reels.
20. Don’t talk for the sake of talking. Have something to say.
21. Wear the red lipstick.
22. You won’t always get the apology you feel you deserve. Don’t waste time chasing it.
23. If something is important to you, you can find the time for it.
24. Done is better than perfect.
25. Listen to your body.
26. Be careful what you say, but not so careful that your life is censored.
27. Sometimes knowledge is power. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Know the difference and plan accordingly.
28. Everything happens for a reason, but there’s a good chance you may not ever find out those reasons.
29. Pets can help you get through the toughest of times.
30. You never know until you try.
31. Take the time to snap photos, but not so much time that you’re not living in the moment.
32. Learn forgiveness.
33. Your children see and hear everything. Be a good role model.
34. If people want you in their lives, they’ll find a way to keep you there.
35. There are two sides to every story.
36. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself.
37. Be thankful for unanswered prayers.
38. Travel to another country at least once when you’re old enough to appreciate it.
39. Learn how to cut unnecessary expenses to save money for big adventures (like traveling to another country).
40. It’s never too late.

2 Comments on 40 Things I Learned By 40

  1. Oh yes Heather. Another great posting. This list applies to people who just turned 70 also. This year I bought a bike, took a fly fishing class and even zip lined – at 70 !

    I would like to add to #37. You state that you should be thankful for unanswered prayers. My son told me a long time ago that your prayers are always answered, it may not be the answer you hoped for or expected, but they are always answered. So keep the faith and always pray. He got this from 12 years of Catholic Education and always laughs at the bumper sticker that says AS LONG AS THERE ARE EXAMS, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE PRAYER.

    Love your outlook, keep positive and by the way you could pass for 28, definitely not 40.


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