Something to Be Grateful For

Decide to be grateful - 2Today, whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, stop and take a moment to be grateful.

I’ve always wondered about statements of gratitude that involve those less fortunate. You know the ones I’m talking about – “Somewhere someone is ill, or didn’t wake up this morning, or… so be grateful for what you have.” But being in a state of gratitude shouldn’t have anything to do with how much better off you are than someone less fortunate. There are so many people doing “better” than we are. They may be healthier, wiser, more financially secure. If we compared ourselves to them our feelings of gratitude might begin to diminish.

So let’s decide to be grateful today, not as a reflection of how we’re doing compared to anyone else, but because no matter what’s going on with us right now, we can find something or someone to be grateful for.

(Photo credit: Grace Wynter – outside the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France)

Calling a Do-Over: Would You If You Could?

backspace delete do over

Editor’s Note: TV isn’t the only thing this summer with repeats. This was one of the first posts I wrote when I launched this blog and it still holds true today. Thanks to Instagram, Twitter, and cell phone photos, this generation’s stupid mistakes are immortalized. Ours are etched in our minds for only as long as we hold on to them.  So, would you call a do-over if you could?

I remember when correcting mistakes wasn’t as easy as tapping a couple of keys on a keyboard.  Today, hitting the backspace or delete key can save the day by pulling you over before you shoot off that irate email you’ll regret later, it can create a seemingly flawless page of text, and undo that thing you just did that’s the exact opposite of what you meant to do.

If you’re a member of the Women at Forty club you remember correcting tape (vaguely?), white out, and trashcans full of crumpled paper. You remember a time when you’d have to think things over a hundred times before committing them to paper once. As a rule, we spent more time developing and preparing everything prior to putting it out there because it was hard to correct our mistakes and harder still to live with them once they’d been made.

I think the same holds true in other areas of our lives as well. Relationships, career choices, family. As we get older, we tend to make choices and decisions at a different pace. Today, women in their twenties start dating and break up in a matter of weeks, all by text message, tweets or status updates.  They’re making major decisions and mistakes quicker than ever.

When it comes to mistakes, I’ve made some big ones (one was at least 6’2 ”.) And none of them, sadly, came with a backspace button or delete key. I had to live through the consequences of making every one of my bad decisions – big and small. And while it’s really Zen to say we wouldn’t change a thing about our past, given the opportunity I would gladly delete and backspace some of mine with a vengeance.  6’2″ for one, burning my eyebrows off in a tragic but comical barbeque grill lighting fiasco for another, and remind me to tell you about “The Catfish” someday. In fact, I’d much rather have learned many of my life lessons the easy way, less intent on trying to thwart the I told you so’s and more interested in paying attention to the voices of the women who’d been there, done that, and saw the likely outcome from a mile away.

I’m grateful for backspace and delete keys. God knows I use them both every day.  But while even I would call a do-over on some of my stupider younger woman moves, I think that just as in writing, overusing the backspace key can stifle us, causing us to constantly edit and overanalyze ourselves – preventing us from living full, authentic lives, mistakes and all.

Would you call a do-over if you could? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page.

 

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single

00255382_thumb.jpgEditors Note: Today’s guest post captures what many single women in their 40s feel. If you’ve been there, or are there now, this post will probably resonate with you. Whether it’s the off-side comments, the incredulous looks, or “the poor her” side-eyes that get thrown by the happily (and sometimes unhappily) coupled up, it all can be overwhelming at times. But there’s something this writer wants people to know about many single women (and men) in their 40s…

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single by M.R. Wiggins

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single. Never been married. No kids. Living life solo. I don’t say this to elicit pity and I also don’t wear it as some sort of badge of honor. I’m just stating a fact. It is a reality that many people live with daily. I stress the word live because that is what many of us are doing – living. We’re not cowering in a corner, weeping because we haven’t started families. We live. Oddly, many around us don’t see it this way.

If one has managed to get to 40 and not become a spouse or is not in a committed relationship, they’re often looked upon as damaged in some way. Something must be wrong with her if she’s still single. Sometimes people’s reactions are subtle, while others are blatant and in your face. For instance, I might attend a family reunion where I’m asked “So, do you plan to settle down soon?” Really, I don’t think that I could get any more settled than I am now. Or, I might run into a friend that I haven’t seen in years whereupon I’m asked if I’m married. “No.” “Are you seeing anyone?” “No.” This is usually followed by the ‘that’s-so-sad-what-a-shame’ look. I don’t think that most are aware of the small pangs that they’re inflicting with such comments, which is why I don’t generally address it with them. However, my passive stance goes out the window when I’m incredulously asked “Why don’t you have a special someone in your life?” My rote response is “I just don’t.” Simple.

The older I get, I notice some people giving me the occasional side-eye when asking about my personal status, as if something is wrong with me. Trust me, I’m a together woman. I’m intelligent, kind, witty, mature, mild-tempered, independent, cultured, ambitious, educated and attractive. I’ve been called “the total package” on more than a few occasions. I’m merely single. I’ve gotten used to the looks, the head tilts, the pity pats on my hand and shoulder. It’s almost comical.

I understand that we live in a culture where people are expected to be coupled up by a certain age and if this hasn’t happened, then there must be a problem with you as a single person. What I don’t understand is why singleness at a certain age is viewed as a flaw. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I love my life and I’ve always tried to live it to the fullest. I have a wonderful family and loving friends. I’ve had an interesting and varied career. I’ve literally traveled all over the world. I’ve even dated here and there. I am not unique. This is the life of countless post-40 women (and men for that matter) that I know. None of us have side-stepped life waiting on our ideal mate. We embrace life and all of its wondrous experiences.

While I believe that as humans, we all need human connections, I don’t think that everyone should be in a committed relationship. Some people just aren’t emotionally equipped for it. Others have no desire for such a relationship. To each his own. I, myself, am not against committed, monogamous relationships. Quite the opposite, in fact. I think that marriage is a wonderful institution. The idea of building a life with someone and loving them (and being loved) unconditionally is heart-warming and comforting. Who knows, I may even get married one day. However, I refuse to believe that my life is any less rich and eventful than anyone else because I’m on life’s journey by myself. I will continue to explore the world, to learn new hobbies, to develop new skills, to surround myself with things that make me happy and to love those in my life to the fullest.

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m (happily) single, living life.

Share your thoughts about being single, married, or somewhere in between in our comment section or on the Women at Forty Facebook page.