You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now

baby grace cropped 20 things you need to know – Hey you, standing over there looking tough and cute the way little girls often do, it’s me, well you – in about 36 years. Some things haven’t changed much. With the exception of the ribbon, your hair looked a lot like that this morning, and that stance, you still got that. You often have that same ‘four parts curiosity, one part ‘what the hell are you looking at”  look on your face even at this age – And the legs…well, like I said, some things haven’t changed much.

I wish I could protect you from, and prepare you for all that lies ahead, but I can’t. No one can really. But what I can do is share some things that only I’ll be able to. Some people think the past, present and future are all happening at once, so who knows. I know you won’t understand everything I’m saying, but take notes, you’ll need them.

  1. Some of the people in your life will disappoint you, lie to you, hurt you. Some of them are just stupid. Others are just evil. Forgive them all, stupid and evil alike, and move on. Remember what they did and learn from it. Don’t hold what they’ve done to you against anyone else.
  2. That thing you want to do with your hair in the eighties. Don’t. You leave dozens of grease spots up and down the east coast because of it, and Chris Rock will mock it mercilessly in a documentary he releases in 2009.
  3. Try to get that eating thing under control early – believe me, you’ll be fighting that battle for years. In the meantime, live your life and do the things you want to do, regardless of what the scale says.
  4. You’re going to have several really great ideas for businesses. Instead of talking yourself out of it, just do it. You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you know.
  5. You know how they said it would be too difficult to be a successful, black, female journalist? Oprah’s like the richest person on the planet now. Seriously. Don’t listen to them. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now

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…

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?

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Kalin: On having an epiphany at her fortieth birthday party


Kalin Thomas is a television producer and writer who’s currently working on her first book. In her first guest post for Women at Forty, Kalin talks about an epiphany she had, on her fortieth birthday…

I started preparing for my 40th birthday 6 months in advance. I knew I was going to have a huge party and look fabulous — and I did!  However, looking fabulous is not the same as feeling fabulous.  Earlier that year I had been laid off of my TV job after 17 years, and at the same time a lot of the problems in my marriage were coming to a head (after being together 17 years and married for almost 9).  It’s amazing how being at home everyday can pull you out of marriage denial and force you to take action.  At 40 I not only expected to be further along in my career, but well on my way to my 10th wedding anniversary. I also didn’t expect the horrors of 9/11 to happen a few months before my 40th birthday.  That event brought many families and spouses closer together — sadly that didn’t happen for us.  But it did cause me to do a lot of soul searching.

Still,  I was “40 and Fabulous!”  — at least that’s what it said on my birthday cake — and I looked good, if I do say so myself.  My party was wonderful, but as I was enjoying the festivities something hit me.  It was like the epiphany that Oprah talks about.  I was having a good time, and I realized I didn’t want to be unhappy in the 2nd half of my life.  It was at that moment that I decided to get a divorce. Divorce isn’t an easy decision to come to — especially when there’s still love there, and both spouse’s parents have been married more than 40 years.  But it wasn’t the first time I’d thought about it, just the first time I’d made a decision.  And once I’d made that choice in my head, it felt like a huge weight lifted from my chest and I was able to really party the rest of the night.  I felt free and more like myself than I had in years. It’s true that at 40 you no longer put up with bull, and you learn to not just make others happy, but to make yourself happy.  So all in all, 40 was a good year!

Kalin Thomas is a television producer and reporter who’s currently working on her first book. The former CNN travel reporter and correspondent is also the owner and creator of See The World Productions, which provides a variety of travel related TV/Video Production and media services to clients.

What epiphany did you have at forty? Share it in the comment section, with our Women at Forty fans on Facebook, or tweet your epiphany to us @womenatforty.

Rachel: On the life that’s waiting for you

Rache with her beloved poodles Those words really resonate with me lately. My beloved fiancé celebrated his fortieth birthday in September and it really got me thinking. I recall my younger years when I thought I knew so much and had the nerve to make plans for the life that I would lead.

I was going to marry my high school sweetheart; we had enrolled at the same college after all so that was a no-brainer. While in college I was approached to participate in the Miss America pageant, so that meant I’d use my supermodel earnings to pay off my student loans. After college, I’d work for the U.N. and balance travelling the world with raising 2.3 beautiful and perfectly behaved children. We’d settle in the south of France and tend to our vineyard, then go on holiday in Tuscany.

Ah, the folly of my youth! The sweetheart cheated on me during our freshman year at school.  (Left, Rachel with her beloved poodles)

Continue reading Rachel: On the life that’s waiting for you