Amid the chaos that has come to define 2020, there was one milestone that seemingly came and went quietly overnight: I turned the big 4-0.
Many women older and wiser than me have shared that they believed their 40s to be their best “age decade.” For the most part, I have found this to be true, even during a year when a deadly pandemic and contentious election held us in a grip.
However, with age also seems to come a series of dramatic changes that sneak up on you with a bewitching ability to somehow make you a better — and in some cases a more injury prone — human being.
The desire for community. I’ve always been a bit of an “old soul,” who — despite possessing a travelers heart — values a sense of home. Though the effects of COVID-19 no doubt had an influence, I have never felt the desire for this more in my life. I like having a sound connection to my hometown. I like knowing my neighbors. I like having family nearby. And after years of having a jam-packed schedule, I have loved the time I have gotten to spend at home recently.
Cooking. Again, perhaps pandemic-related, the enthusiasm I once harbored for owning a pair of insensibly high heels has found its way to the thrill of possessing a lemon zester and having an organizational system for the spices in my kitchen cupboard. I’m sure none of this has to do with a marked decrease in being able to survive in heels for more than a couple of hours during special occasions. And even then, I pack a pair of flats.
The ability to talk vacuums, steam cleaners and other household gadgets with your girlfriends — for hours. This starts innocently enough — usually with a social media holler for recommendations. Suddenly, you’re 100 comments deep in a debate about traditional vacuum cleaners versus a Roomba. (For the record, I own both.)
Injuries while doing everyday things. Last summer, one of my husband’s COVID projects was to build a garden shed. My attempt to lend a hand became somewhat literal when I developed a case of tennis elbow from painting one wall. I now lift a jug of milk with two hands. However, this has become problematic recently, as I appear to have sprained my “good” wrist chiseling ice from my windshield.
In this case, I must lean on the poignant words of The Rolling Stones: “What a drag it is getting old.”
A heightened sense of awareness to deals, energy efficiency and safety. Right now, one of the things I’m researching is energy-efficient, four-wheel drive vehicles with good gas mileage and bonus safety features — because it’s possible to hurt myself painting a wall and chiseling ice. And although I detest the ice and snow, try and stop me from jumping up on my soapbox about how incredible it is to own a set of Yaktrax.
Not caring so much what other people think. A “people pleaser” to my core, I always had been told that one day, this desire subsides. Ideally, what you’re left with is security in who you are and a deep appreciation for the things that leave you feeling happy and fulfilled — particularly if, in your heart of hearts, you’re always trying to live authentically and from the very best of intentions.
Bodily injuries and boring household cleaning products aside, that last thing is worth raising a glass to in my 40th year. Cheers!