Things I Can't Do Now That I'm Nearly 40

Notice how young she is...

Notice how young she is...

Look. I’m never going to be president — I don’t want to be, and to be honest, I worry about anyone who has such an ambition. But I’m also never going to be in the Olympics, and won’t make it to Saturday Night Live. Not even Second City.

I’m not there yet.

But I need to be honest—I’m closer to 40 than any other multiple of five.

As such, there are certain things in life that just aren’t going to happen. Being an astronaut? Missed that window. Making any list of up-and-coming writers? Nope.

Accepting the phase of life I’m in doesn’t need to be depressing. Yes, my life is probably half over. That means I’ve got half left. I have done some great stuff in the first half, and I’m only getting better at knowing what I want.

I bought a cheesy wooden sign last year. It hangs on the wall in front of my bed so it is the first thing I see in the morning when I get up. IF YOUR DREAMS DON’T SCARE YOU THEY’RE NOT BIG ENOUGH.

Look. I’m never going to be president — I don’t want to be, and to be honest, I worry about anyone who has such an ambition. But I’m also never going to be in the Olympics, and won’t make it to Saturday Night Live. Not even Second City.

Am I too old for any of these activities? Hell no. But to achieve them, I’d have to make them a priority. I could do it: pick up and move; stop with the elementary school volunteering and excessive novel-reading. With all that out of the way, I could start in politics or stand-up…or javelin throwing.

I’m not going to, but I could.

I know what I care about. I recognize the choices that have to be made in life, and I’m OK with them. The best part of getting older for me has been owning my decisions. They may not be what you would choose, but for me they are right. I am fantastically blessed to live in a time and place where I have so many options.

Here are the things I am going to do with my life: Spend all my money traveling. Choose a different color to be obsessed with each year. Get too much sun. Laugh too loudly. Write a book. Write another book. Do scary things with my sons. Learn to rock climb. Apply for a job that terrifies me.

I’m going to do things I care about, not things that other people think I should care about. That’s what middle age means for me. Like, I have no interest in crafting. I will not feel like less of a woman because of it. I don’t like making bread or following the stock market either, so I’m letting those ideas go. I used to feel guilty when I found out that my friend Jenna washes her walls. Washing my walls has never crossed my mind. Unless there is visible dirt, the walls are going to have to fend for themselves.

What I'm saying is, there are plenty of ways I might need to improve, now that I'm nearly 40. I’m not going to start accepting my flaws and pretending to be zen about my weaknesses. I need to assume the best about more people. I need to be better at saying what I need. I need to eat healthier and move more. Those are things that are important to me, not things anyone else is telling me to focus on. (Sorry, walls.)

I recently asked my husband of 16 years what he’d like to be different in our life. All he could come up with, other than early retirement, was one small request. That I cook dinner every weeknight.

I don’t love cooking. He is a better cook than I am, hands down. But he heads out to work every day, and I work from home. It is a reasonable request, especially knowing that it is the only thing he really wants.

So I’m trying to cook more frequently, even though it isn’t one of the things I care about. Approaching 40 also means doing things for the people I love if it is at all possible. That’s something I hope I can keep prioritizing all the way past middle age and into my twilight.

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