I Am Forty Years Old…

Jenny&Sonya Women all over the world have been reading our stories. In a few short weeks, Women at Forty has gotten visits from women (and probably some curious men) all over the world including; Germany, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Lebanon. I’m looking forward to hearing their stories soon. Today, one of our readers from Hawaii, Jenny, who’s in the middle of her fortieth year on earth, talks poetically about her life pre-forty. She likens it to wearing a dress that just “didn’t fit right,” not being exposed, having the appearance of normality but always adjusting, making temporary fixes and fussing, always fussing…

I Am Forty Years Old

Jesus, just writing that makes me gasp! And for different reasons, not just because of the number…40. Good grief.

I gasp because 40 just kind of snuck up on me.

I gasp because I let time slip carelessly through my fingers.

I gasp because I didn’t plan right.

I gasp because I planned too much.

I gasp because I didn’t plan enough.

Truth is, it was someone else’s plan, not mine. I’ve never been on my own, EVER, until now, my 40th year on earth. There was always someone else to mold and adjust to – I moved from my parents home to college where I lived in a dormitory for a year, then moved in with my boyfriend. Then we married, few years later divorced and I moved in with another boyfriend. The cycle repeats…we get married, then hard times come again. My starting-over life felt like shampoo instructions – lather, rinse, repeat. Plan, execute, start over….but still, not my plans, never what I wanted. I always gave up my big dreams, and that was too much of a compromise. I just didn’t know it then.

My life was like wearing a dress that just didn’t fit right. You’re not naked, not exposed at all and you have the appearance of normality even though you’re always adjusting, making temporary fixes, fussing, fussing…and that became routine and normal. But until you listen to that little exasperated voice inside Continue reading I Am Forty Years Old…

bittersweet milestone…

224 I first read Laurie’s story on Blogher after she’d responded to The Women at Forty’s Five Questions challenge. I immediately visited her blog, Not Just About Cancer where she talks candidly about “What happens when you are 38 years old, write for a living and are diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.” Laurie’s graciously agreed to share one of her posts with Women at Forty. It was written on August 3, 2007, an hour before she turned forty…

bittersweet milestone

In an hour, I will be forty.

The celebrating began in early July and I have been very, very spoiled.

Life is good and I have more reason for hope than I have had in a long time.

But I would be lying if I did not admit that this birthday is a bit tinged with sadness.

My life, at forty, does not look the way I thought it would. Cancer has irrevocably changed me and the choices I will make. My expectations and aspirations will never again be what they once were.

So, yes, I’m a little sad.

But I have, thus far, defied medical expectations and I am determined that I will continue to do so.

I have a beautiful family and a community of friends who have, in turn, exceeded my expectations of love and friendship.

I am feeling more creative, inspired and confident than I have since childhood.

And it feels like more good things are just around the corner.

I need to indulge this sadness, to give it voice, and as I write, it dissipates.

Tomorrow, we head to one of my favourite places in the world, where I will be reunited with my nine-year old, who I have not seen in almost two weeks (he has been hanging out with his cousins).

I have missed him more than he has missed me (which is as it should be) but I can’t wait Continue reading bittersweet milestone…

Are we lowering our standards or are people lowering them for us?

pink huffy bike As I was leaving the grocery store this morning, an old man approached me hollering “hey baby girl…can I maybe…” NO. NO. NO. If you’ve got me by at least 15 years, you should already know that no self respecting woman in her forties is going to respond to a “hey baby” hurled across a busy supermarket parking lot.  Or would she? Even on the rare occasion that she would, as Rachel alluded to a couple weeks ago, a neck is a desirable trait. And if a neck is desirable, then teeth are a necessity. My parking lot Casanova had neither.

Which brings me to the topic of the day. As we get older, do we “lower” our standards, or do people lower them for us? Of course there will always be men who think they can approach a woman of any age, with whatever game they happen to be playing on themselves at the moment. Years ago when I volunteered to prepare dinners at a homeless shelter, I remember a young guy coming up to me as I was serving meals and asking me if we could go out. My first thought was, you need to have a place to leave before you can go out. I know, it was harsh, but sarcasm is how I deal with uncomfortable moments. And that was so very uncomfortable. I hear arguments all the time that professional women need to broaden their horizons when looking for a mate, and I’m all for that. But, I think you should at least have a place to stay before you try to pick up a woman. Don’t you?

The other incident that stands out in my mind is once again leaving a grocery store, (what is it about groceries that give old, toothless men gumption) and hearing bike tires screech to a halt as a man I can only describe as being old enough to be my grandfather, slammed what I assume was his granddaughter’s pink huffy bike into the ground. He ran up to me (breathless) to ask me for my number. I wonder if when he borrowed his granddaughter’s bike, he told her that he’d be using it to troll for chicks. While he did get a laugh out of me, he did NOT get my number.

Ok, so in both those cases the answer was pretty obvious, but in every day situations when we’re approached by men who, years ago, would not have gotten a second glance from us, are we lowering our standards or broadening our horizons when we go out with them? And then there are those of us who hear the opposite, that we’re being too picky. But when it comes to love, life and our future, can we ever be too picky?

Share your thoughts and pink huffy bike pick-up stories in the comment section, on our Facebook fan page, or tweet your response to twitter.com/womenatforty.

A Woman at Forty’s Nation

Maria Shriver I took a little creative license with the title, but Maria Shriver in conjunction with the California Women’s Conference has launched a project in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. The project, A Woman’s Nation, plans to take a comprehensive look at American women who for the first time in our history make up half of all workers, and are becoming the primary breadwinners in more families.

The media is all abuzz with these new statistics, but since I come from a family where at least as far back as two generations ago the women have been going to work everyday, it just didn’t seem all that surprising to me. But, bringing these statistics to light will definitely generate discussions surrounding traditional male/female roles, how we define family in the future, how social class and economics impact these statistics, and even how men and women define themselves.

The Women at Forty Project focuses on a snapshot of women from all over the world, taken in the fortieth year of their lives, and it will be interesting to hear how women in their forties receive this news compared to women in their twenties, thirties and sixties.

What are your thoughts on the newly released findings? Does it matter that women now make up half of the workforce and are surpassing men as primary breadwinners? Should it matter? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on our Facebook Fan page, or tweet your comments to @womenatforty.

PHOTO SOURCE: The Women’s Conference

Almost forty…

rlw bnwRachel’s graced us once again with more hilarious and real talk about being almost forty. From the pain of divorce to the pain of Brazilian bikini waxes, being almost forty has its ups and downs…

As I draw closer to being forty years old, I try to accentuate the positive in my life. Rather than lamenting the gray hairs that are close to overtaking my “natural color” (yes, I consider the stuff from the bottle that matches the hair of my youth “natural,” just go with it on this, please), I celebrate the fabulous, effortless highlights I get when I color my hair. I rejoice in the confidence that comes from knowing myself on a deep and meaningful level that could only be possible after spending more than three decades exploring the mystery that is me.

I find myself and my girlfriends delighting in our self-awareness and the fact that we are strong, independent women. We are intelligent women—wives, mothers, sisters, friends, CEOs, teachers, attorneys, consultants, accountants and myriad other impressive titles. Collectively, we have traveled the world, battled cancer, brokered million-dollar deals, molded young minds, survived the heartbreak of losing a child, weathered the devastation of divorce and the pain of a full Brazilian bikini wax.

We’ve found the strength to strike out on our own when our employers have failed to realize our worth and we’ve managed to come back from the edge when we thought we could take no more. Some of us have stared down the barrel of spinsterhood without batting an eye, knowing that our sister-girls will be there for us in our golden years and that likely, that will work out better since they will alert us to toilet paper stuck to our shoes, lipstick on our teeth and precariously perched wigs.

Continue reading Almost forty…