40 things I’m thankful for at 40 – Part 1

40th birthday cake I’m 40 yall! And I‘m grateful for more things in my life than I can count. But in honor of my 40th birthday, I thought I’d list (in no particular order) just 40 things I’ve been thankful for over the past 40 years…

1. I was raised to believe in God, and I’m grateful that He has plans for my life that go far beyond anything I’m able to wrap my mind around.

2. My parents who are still married after 42 years

3. My sisters

4. My Sistahs

5. Family and friends

6. My love of reading, books and all things written

7. I’m a woman

8. I’m a woman in 2010 living in the United States

Continue reading 40 things I’m thankful for at 40 – Part 1

The Final Countdown

00407226 By this time tomorrow, I’ll officially be 40 years old. I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow morning and feel much different. I’ll knock my journal off the nightstand reaching for my glasses, my knees will pop as I get up to go feed Kingston (my dog), and I’m pretty sure I’ll look the same as I did the night before. I don’t expect problems to be miraculously solved or lifelong questions and struggles to be answered at the stroke of midnight. In fact, I’m kind of anticipating the opposite, and that’s a good thing. Let me tell you why. Continue reading The Final Countdown

A Fit-at-Forty Check In

00407391 It’s 2 days before my 40th birthday – the perfect time for a Fit-at-Forty check in. It’s been about five months since I undertook my $25-a-week healthy food challenge. For those not in the know, I began the challenge after watching an Oprah episode which featured the documentary, Food Inc. That show got me to watch the actual documentary and led me to ask the question, can a single, 39 year old woman eat consciously on a $25-a-week budget? You can read all about my great 4 week adventure here. My goals were to eat consciously and healthily on a $25 a week budget, and lose weight in the process.

Five months after officially ending the challenge, I have (for the most part) stuck to healthier, more conscious eating habits. The $25-a-week budget looks more like $35 now, but still, the end result is that I’m much more mindful of what’s in the food I’m eating and where it’s coming from.

Continue reading A Fit-at-Forty Check In

No more Mr. Nice guy, errr girl…

Businesswoman.

I wrote this last year after the nature of a few of my relationships changed. I realized that it wasn’t the other person that changed, it was me. I’d decided I no longer wanted to pretend to be ok with the way things were, and as a consequence, I was probably no longer considered  by them to be very nice. Welcome to my “new nice.”

A friend recently released a children’s book called Nice to be Nice. She’s also a blogger, so we frequently find ourselves discussing the nice and not so nice behavior of the people around us. Whether it’s the mother allowing her toddler to scream his way through the grocery store, or it’s the man who, tiring of the display, smacks the kid square in the mouth, something’s just a bit off in society today. I think some adults have forgotten, and many kids just don’t know that it really is nice to be nice. That said, as I get older I find myself embracing a different kind of nice.

In my twenties, being nice meant having conversations with people I knew were lying to me, and not calling them on it. It meant being so concerned about hurting someone else’s feelings that I allowed them to hurt mine. It meant being aware of people’s negative attitudes but pretending to be ok with it anyway. And it meant doing things I didn’t want to do, even when I knew doing them wasn’t right for me. I did all of those things because I wanted to be nice. I didn’t want to rock the boat, and I wanted to avoid having certain conversations with certain people, at all cost.

But I had a light bulb moment almost ten years ago. I wrote about it last week, in the best advice I ever got.  It was during this conversation that my friend asked me why I got so upset when she did and said the things she did and said. The same things she’d been doing and saying for years. She was absolutely right to ask the question. And for years, I’d been too “nice” to tell her that many of the things she’d done had hurt me deeply. To preserve the friendship I let those things slide. As a result, I grew to resent her, and more importantly myself, for not thinking enough of myself to end a friendship that had become toxic. I vowed then, never again to be “so nice” that I lose myself in the process.

For the most part, I’ve kept my promise.  While the 20’s me would ignore my spirit telling me “girl, now you know something is wrong with this picture”  the soon to be 40 me has a BS meter so finely calibrated that I can spot a crock while it’s still being formed in someone’s head and shut it down before it has a chance to do damage. It’s a great skill to have.  Having it means that sometimes I stop BS-ers dead in their tracks. As a result, BS-ers do not think I’m nice. Neither do people who always want something for nothing, people who take others for granted, nor do the married men whom I immediately shut down when they, wedding ring securely on ring finger, “just want to holler at me for a minute.” These people don’t think I’m nice, and I don’t want them to.

Over the years, I’ve lost sight of my “new nice” a few times, but these days it’s much easier to be me, even if it means someone doesn’t like me. I help old people cross the street, offer rides to friends in need and genuinely wish real joy and success for everyone who crosses my path. I celebrate when the underdog wins and I’m frustrated when the greedy seem to prosper on the backs of the weak.  I’m as nice as the next guy – or girl. But I’ve tempered my niceness with a bit of wisdom. My mother would call it discernment. I call it my “new nice.”

Have you redefined your nice? How? Share your definition of nice in the comment section, on our Facebook Fan page or on Twitter @womenatforty.

Embracing change

j0402579 Something Tricia said in Monday’s post got me thinking about change. Specifically about adopting the mindset of embracing change, in whatever form it comes, as opportunity – opportunity for growth, expression, and reinvention. Change can take the form of the end or beginning of a relationship, a move to a new city or country, or as in my case, a layoff. Or more accurately, another layoff.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as I now see it, layoffs are nothing new to me. I’ve been handed my walking papers three times in my almost 20 year career. And although that might not seem like a lot, when you’re a dedicated employee who (for the most part) enjoys the work you do, a layoff can feel like a punch in the gut.

The first time I was laid off was while I was working at an adult vocational school. There’d been a curriculum change that made the courses I, and a few other instructors were teaching, obsolete. After they told us about the impending change, they told us that they’d be serving cake and ice cream in the break room to say thanks. Today, although I know they meant well, getting sugary treats with my walking papers still feels a lot like Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake!” Continue reading Embracing change