#39TilYouGetItRight

I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015.  Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life.   Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.

The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday.  I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday.  The city and evening stretched out ahead of me.  Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!

On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!

#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it.  It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.

As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.

I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress.  I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world.  It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.

I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.

I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer.  My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week.  Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item.  And I’m so glad that I did.  There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me.  The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often.  I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom.  I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean.  The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better.  Until I saw my first whale!  I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale.  And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water.  I think I saw about 10 whales in total.  Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea.  One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me:  #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point,  and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away.  Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.

I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.

 

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40 Reasons Why Being in Your 40s is Fabulous (really)!

  1. All the bands you loved in college are now on reunion tours and you can afford to get the really good seats.
  2. You can listen to Maroon 5 without embarrassment.  You score “cool” points for singing in the car while driving the kids to school.
  3. And, it’s not at all weird to crush on Adam Levine because at least he’s in his mid-30s.
  4. You can relate every guy you’ve loved in your life to a Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Pink song, and you can’t help smirking while you sing along.  Jerk.
  5. You’ve figured out that simply wearing activewear gives the appearance that you work out.
  6. Same deal with a FitBit.
  7. Shapewear not only becomes socially acceptable, but expected and welcomed.
  8. Anti-aging skin products are now fully justified purchases as they are medically necessary.  They may not fly with the IRS as FSA-approved purchases, but your spouse cannot protest the cost.
  9. You are that much closer to retirement.
  10. Yet you are still smack in middle of the most desirable TV demographic.
  11. And you are still not *quite* yet at the age for bifocals or scary tests that end in “-scopy.”
  12. Do you still own any clothes, shoes, or purses from your 20s?  If so, congrats!  They are now vintage.
  13. You’ve figured out how to hide a bag of fun size Kit Kats from your family and so that you “forget” to hand them out to trick or treaters.
  14. You remember to hit up Target the day after Halloween for the 50% off Kit Kats and hide those too.  Beach season is over, anyway.
  15. If you have children, you stop feeling like the camp counselor or babysitter and more like a mom.
  16. If you are single, you can now *usually* spot and resist the allure of a “bad boy” — he may be exciting, but you have no time for that drama.  Been there, done that, have the T shirt.
  17. You finally got over that guy that ripped your heart out in your 20s.  Jerk.
  18. And you’re mature enough to be friends with said guy without getting sucked into a Vortex of Emotion.  He’s still a jerk though.
  19. You’ve forgiven your old boyfriend (one of the nice ones) for the whole “unanswered prayers” comment he made years ago because you’re there now too.
  20. Even as you grow tired of your own bull$hit, you have the optimism that there’s still time to change.
  21. There’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch by 8 pm.
  22. Or getting up at 4 am.  They have all those “early bird” sayings for a reason.
  23. You stop feeling like you need to compete with other moms.  They are going to better at some things, you’ll be better at some things, and it’s just best to find some to call friends.  All moms need good friends.
  24. Speaking of moms, you don’t have to wear mom jeans. Cute jeans nowadays do all the lifting and tucking for you.  Or come with stretchy waistbands.  Leggings?  Yeah, they ARE pants as long as your top covers your butt.
  25. You’ve finally figured out which clothes look good on you and you stop trying to make maxi dresses happen.
  26. You’ve learned to accept swim skirts, cover ups, and modest suit cuts, and for the first time since you were a little kid, you feel a bit more comfortable at the beach.  And you don’t miss being ogled at by gross old guys.
  27. You don’t have to worry about getting carded, unless you just ran to the liquor store and forgot your license (damn it, I’m 40!).
  28. You no longer get pressured to do shots at a bar.  Unless it is your husband’s 40th birthday and you are still in your 30s.  In which case the night may take a sharp, nasty turn and we shall never, ever, ever think about that again.  Like ever.
  29. You have fewer, but closer, friends.  Which is good because the limited time you have to socialize is too precious to waste on anything less.
  30. You really do stop caring what most people think of you.  It could be because you are just too damn exhausted to care, but it still counts.
  31. You have more credibility at work, no matter your field or job, if for no other reason than you’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.
  32. And you are *that* much closer to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
  33. You mentor the high-potential junior staffer at work because you used to be that girl.
  34. You also mentor the hot mess at work because, at times, you’ve been that girl too.
  35. At least one person looks up to and admires you, whether you know it or not, and even if you still feel like a hot mess most days.
  36. You finally settle on a title for your memoir.  And it doesn’t have a hashtag!
  37. You own at least one pair of nice sunglasses, a watch, or a great piece of jewelry that came in a robin’s-egg-blue box.
  38. You drive a car that has four hubcaps, both side mirrors, and is absent of major dents or rust.  (Oh, this one doesn’t apply to ME per se, just generally to people in their 40s).
  39. You have fun on Facebook watching friends, old and new, living their lives.  Some married their high school sweethearts and now have teenagers of their own.  Others are on second marriages becoming the modern day Brady Bunch.  Some are welcoming brand new babies at 40.  Others are world travelers, pursuing careers & dreams.  And all of these are valid places to be in life.
  40. You appreciate the meaning of “it all happens for a reason” because you understand that every heartbreak, missed opportunity and closed door put you closer down the path to where you are today.  And you are mostly satisfied with where you are today.