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i'm 40 and i like it
it's my birthday, y'all
I don’t remember my mom turning 40, which is a little weird because I was 10 years old. Plenty of room for memory. My hunch about this is that, knowing my mom, she probably didn’t want it to be a big to-do. No party, thanks. No attention drawn to her. I relate to this because, although I can (and do) happily throw down at a good party, my skin crawls at the prospect of attending a party that is FOR ME. *shudder* That kind of pressure will have me running for the bathtub and a scented candle faster than you can say “social anxiety.”
I don’t remember my mom turning 40, but I do remember my dad’s “Over the Hill” themed birthday party thrown by the church staff where he pastored in my childhood. And I do remember the same sentiment being leveraged at my mom, just not in a specific place in time. I also remember my grandma — very much a silver-haired, polyester-wearing woman in her sixties — having a magnet on her fridge that read “39 and holding!”
Okay, ‘90s, what was with the collective horror over the numbers 4 and 0?
I turn 40 today. I don’t feel over the hill. Actually, I feel like I’m just now getting this whole hiking thing figured out.
I’ve been ready to be 40 since about the time I turned 36. That was the point when I started stripping down to my skin and realized it felt better to be naked than to pretend to like the clothes other people gave me to wear. (To be clear: this is a metaphor. Free clothes are always welcome, if they’re cute.)
Here’s what I think. I think 40 is an awakening, a love affair, a refinding. I think 40 is a depth, a knowing, an honesty. (good god, the honesty.) I think 40 is a wink, a trickster, a belly laugh. I think 40 is sexier than 30 because it isn’t afraid of itself. I think 40 is more prayerful than 20 because it knows God within itself. I think 40 is kinder than 16 because it can see past itself.
Honest truth? I wish I could’ve been 40 when I was 21. Never the other way around.
Upcoming Event with Evolving Faith:
Renaming God in Our Spiritual Imaginations
Saturday, May 27, at 7:00 a.m. Pacific/10:00 a.m. Eastern
Join me for a guided meditation on expanding the names we use for God as both a contemplative practice and an act of liberation. We will explore the fears we hold that keep the Divine in a box, give ourselves permission to name and honor our deepest longings, and soak under the words of a gentle spoken meditation. This event is included with an Evolving Faith 2023 ticket and is now available for RSVP if you hit the button below. (Event will be recorded.)
I’ll be celebrating my birthday with Lizzo tonight. (OK sure, in nosebleed seats at her concert but whatever.) But I figured I should celebrate with you, too. So here, from my new book Feminist Prayers for My Daughter, is a prayer “for her 40th birthday.” Enjoy!
P.S. - If you’re 40 or over, your gift to me can be to tell me in the comments how good it keeps getting! XOXO
O Life Source, When I look at my daughter on her fortieth birthday, I celebrate the woman before me. She continues to choose growth. She continues to accept new challenges. She continues to let love expand within her. I am so proud. In this new chapter of her life, I pray that what is left of my daughter's inhibitions will fall away. I pray that she would feel herself becoming braver by the day, knowing she is no longer that young girl who found her worth in the approval of others. May she move forward as a woman comfortable in her own skin. I pray that middle age would invite her to fearlessness, to risk-taking, and to self-determining choices. May it also teach her the value of vulnerability, tenderness, and deep listening. As my daughter embarks on the second half of life, may it be a path of sacred wisdom that is laid out before her. In the past, people called this birthday "over the hill." But no, not my daughter. My daughter is still fiercely climbing toward the top of the mountain. Amen.