I thought I enjoyed my thirties. I mean, the events of that decade were tumultuous, but it was also the decade that saw me publish my first book and realize a dream of owning a little homestead with chickens and goats and whatnot. It was great, my body was starting to show a bit of wear and tear, but for the most part, it was still pretty well behaved. My kids were at a fun age (I mean, littles are cute and all, but they are EXHAUSTING.) And I felt like I had a better sense of who I was as a woman.
But that did nothing to prepare me for entering my forties. Sure, I grouse about the gray hair, extra weight, haywire hormones, and whatnot. You could take a trip to Italy with the baggage under my eyes. But that’s all just superficial stuff.
I have to say, I LOVE being a 43-year-old woman. I’ve shed the people-pleasing part of me that held me chained in unhealthy relationships and places. Oddly enough, that freed me to be a better friend to the people who belong in my inner circle. Because when I stopped being such a doormat, I shed toxic people from my life. I’ve come into a truer, fuller sense of who I am.
I’ve always been the kind of person to take chances, to dream big and go after it. But there’s been in indescribable shift in me. I wouldn’t say I’m fearless, but perhaps damn close.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to shed this weight. I may not mind the gray hair sneaking its way into the mix, but I’m not one to simply shrug and say beauty is for youth alone. I want to take care of myself and stay active and vibrant and, yes, beautiful, for as long as I can.
But I understand that beauty is not the same as it was 20 years ago, and I’m okay with that.
I’ve given birth to babies. Gained and lost (and gained) weight. Been scarred, inside and out. Experienced great joy and great sorrow. I have LIVED.
There was a time when, like Josie in Elusive Magic, it scarred me to be dating at this age. Men often expect women to look like we did 20 years ago—or they opt for the younger version altogether. But 23-year-old me didn’t appreciate her worth or her strength. She wasn’t a bad person, but she wasn’t as kick-ass as later models.
All of the trials, all of the hard stuff, it’s given me a deeper sense of compassion. A sense of justice. The guts to fight for it.
Often, metals are refined by fire to remove impurities, thus making them stronger. The Bible often talks about God’s work in a person’s life as a refining fire. Whatever your faith, you know it. Our trials mold us and shape us.
Please don’t take this as me saying I’m all that. I’m not. I’m a hot mess. But I like this hot mess a whole lot better than I used to. I’m enjoying life more, too.
There was a time when I feared middle age. But I’m finding it’s a pretty good spot to be. And I look at the women in my life who’ve crossed into their 50s (and Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris—sheros!), and it makes me think even better things are yet to come.
I consider my new release, Elusive Magic, to be my homage to women in their 40s: their strength, their power, the things they juggle every single day. It’s a celebration of friendship, an honest look at our imperfections, and a call to never stop dreaming.
Elusive Magic: Now Available for Preorder
But achieving dreams is not an easy thing, especially when you’re dating over forty and helping friends through the highs and lows of marriages, babies being born and babies leaving home, and all the other things life throws at this group of women as they navigate modern-day femininity.
Both heart-wrenchingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny, this forty-something coming of age story teaches Josie that being a woman might not be a fairy tale, but it is an elusive magic all its own.
“No but seriously. Normalize finding love in your 40's. Normalize discovering and chasing new dreams in your 30's. Normalize finding yourself and your purpose in your 50's. Life doesn't end at 25. Let's stop acting like it does.” - @mermaidmrym
I read the above tweet shortly before my 40th birthday and it spoke to my soul. I have never feared getting older. Not when it comes to wrinkles or gray hairs. I am perfectly happy going gray. I just found my first few gray hairs and was actually excited. Weird, I know. But I was. I earned those hairs. I earned these years.
Turning 40 wasn’t scary in most regards. But there was a brief moment in my late 30s where I started to feel like I had missed something. I found myself with regrets. I regretted not starting my writing journey sooner. I wondered if it would have been better to have had kids a little earlier. I questioned if I was too late to the game because approaching 40 was the first time in my life I felt like I really knew who I was and what I was doing and why I was doing it. Why couldn’t I have felt that way at 25? Couldn’t I have accomplished so much more in my life if I had started sooner?
The answer I came to was NO. I needed the years of trying. I needed the years of failing. I needed the years of learning. I needed the years of stretching and growing. I wasn’t ready at 25.
At 40 I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I am more confident in the person God has created me to be. I have more grace and more grit. I have thicker skin and a softer heart. I have the maturity needed to uphold the dreams I’m chasing. I also have a lot of life left in front of me.
Why do we feel like anything over 30 is the end of everything? Why do we worry about being “over the hill”? Why does there even have to be a hill? Why can’t it just be a path?
I choose a path. I choose to walk that path at the pace God has set for me—even if it feels slower than someone else’s. That choice has brought freedom and peace and renewed passion for my life. I released my regrets. I doubled down on my dreams. I trust in God’s timing in my life.
I do not fear getting older. I fear getting lazy. I fear getting boring. I fear becoming irrelevant. I fear feeling like life is almost over when really it’s just getting good. I didn't miss anything. I wasn’t late to anything. At 40, soon to be 41, I feel like my life is just opening up fully. Maybe I’m a late bloomer. Or maybe 40 is the new 25.
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