Read on to find out why I’m both a bit skeptical and excited about turning 40. What I’ve learned so far, do I feel any different? What do I hope to gain from my 40’s and what my 30’s taught me. Most importantly, why my 30’s left me so exhausted.
I turned 40 this May. Yes, 40. I’m sure you read that correctly the first time, but the second time was for me. It still feels surreal. I don’t feel different. I don’t look different. I look and feel the same. The only major difference I can think of is having to self-identify in a higher age group when filling out questionnaires. No major change…yet.
I’ve lived and experienced every emotion possible in these 40 years. I’ve been bullied, I’ve been loved, I’ve grieved a love lost and the loss of a loved one. I’ve kicked ass and had my ass handed to me. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been corrected, I’ve been misled, I’ve been forgiven. I’ve been angered, I’ve been frightened, I’ve been hopeless, I’ve been lost. I’ve been happy, in love, I’ve been passionately consumed by lust, life, faith, anger, and joy. I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve been humbled, I’ve been uplifted, I’ve given birth to life and ideas. I’ve written, I’ve read, I’ve cried, I’ve danced. I’ve taken deep breathes, shallow breathes, cleansing breathes, lost my breath, and even held my breath a few times.
I’ve yelled, I’ve been silenced, found my voice, found my strength. I’ve been loud, I’ve been quiet. I’ve laughed, I LOL’d before it was a thing.
I’m 40. I’m in the fourth decade of my life.
Before my birthday, I was doing an exercise where it asked me to go back. Back to my past. I struggled with it for a bit, then I read this:
“But before you can jump ahead to the joy of calling in a new life, it’s important to take a moment and look back at the road you’ve already traveled. Why? Because you can’t build something new, something better, something more joyful, if you don’t understand what you’ve already created.”-Janet Conner
This hit home, because it made me realize that I’ve come a long way. There’s been some good, bad, and questionable moments in my life, but they’ve helped me become the bad ass I am today.
But don’t get it twisted, the notion of turning 40 both excites and dumbfounds me. My exact thought the morning of my birthday, the second I opened my eyes was “DAMN! I’m 40!” Not in a bad way, but in an exciting and yet skeptic tone. Let’s start with the latter, I was skeptic because I still couldn’t believe it. Based on where I grew up, reaching 40 was farfetched. I was 13 when I started losing friends to gang violence. Some were just caught in the crossfire, victims of growing up in the hood. There were gangs, tagging crews, and party crews all leaving behind stories of friendship, close calls, tears, and blood. Everyone had different stories, different backgrounds, different turfs, and rivalries. I just got lucky.
Before we move on to why this is exiting (other than birthdays always are), I would like to take a moment to share with you an epiphany that I had. Bear with me, call it a detour or an old lady’s rant.
On May 19th , on the day of my Abuelas’s birthday. During meditation it hit me, this trip to El Salvador, or as my family calls it “My World Tour” (which started and ended in Central America) was about my Abuela. Let’s go back to the previous paragraph where I state that I was just “lucky”, let me share with you just how lucky (more like Blessed) I was. A few months before my 14th birthday, my life and world as I knew it changed. Within a week I was shipped out to El Salvador (ES), whereas most of you know I lived for four years. The morning of the 19th, I realized that my trip was not only about my safety but it was about her! I was supposed to get to know her-my Abuela! One way or another the Universe wanted us to connect on a deep level. Here’s why I believe this, in January of the same year my World Tour started, something in me wanted to get out of dodge. Not forever, a year would do. The only place I knew I could go to was ES. I asked my mother, she was shocked but asked my sister and she said no. She didn’t want the responsibility. Again, I don’t know why I wanted to leave, I didn’t have anything going on, I just woke up one morning and wanted something different, not a different haircut like most normal kids, but a different environment. I was bummed when they said no; in hindsight, I get it-it was a big responsibility to take on. However, less than four months later my sister didn’t have a choice-she was getting a teenager.
Premonition? Universe creating the circumstances (these might not always be positive, but they are what we NEED) that would make this connection possible? I don’t know. Here’s what I do know, I always wanted to have a close relationship with my older sisters. They grew up together, they were raised together in El Salvador by my Abuela. I was born and pretty much raised by my mother and uncle in the US. I always wanted to be part of this relationship, this special bond that my sisters had. I mean, they would have conversations in their sleep. Like no joke, apparently they have been doing this since childhood. I wanted in, I wanted to be a part of the Moran Sister Club. But I could never get in, we had our relationship, but it always felt at arms-length. Maybe because they were in their late 20’s and early 30’s and here I was a spoiled brat in my teenage years, who showed up with French acrylic nails (don’t ask, it still makes me cringe at the impression they must have had when they picked me up from the airport). I had met them before, my first trip to El Salvador was in 1985 we went back a few times after that. But I always had the buffer of my mother to help me navigate the nuances of our family dynamic.
With my second older sister, we had spent time together in the US as she studied university abroad and would often times visit us during breaks. Those visits were enough to acknowledge the fact that we didn’t like each other much, we loved, but didn’t like each other. Now this woman was going to be my guardian in a country I’ve only visited for two weeks at a time. But you see, it wasn’t about them, it was about her-my Abuela! We got extremely close, I found myself, I became so proud of my roots, I was there to learn about my family, traditions, and to breathe in the fact that I come from a long line of bad ass women.
My relationship with my sisters, would come, not then, now. Now that we are older, and all mothers. That wasn’t our time, this is our time. We are extremely different in many ways, but I now have the maturity to listen to their wisdom, value our time together, and most of all acknowledge the bond that we have and share, as daughters of the same mother. At the end of the day, this is the bond that brings us closer and closer. The sons have theirs, but culturally as daughters there’s a special weight and certain attributes that comes with being daughters and sisters. Now that I’m older, I get this. Most importantly, I cherish it.
Pretty impressive meditation session, right? I believe it was a gift from my Abuela. Pretty amazing what comes to you when you are open to the Universe. However, this was not always the case for me. I get older, I grow spiritually. I’ve been able to unlearn some of what the ego made me believe about myself, the world, and my place in it. I say “some” because I still have a lot to go. We are our biggest saboteurs, but we can also be our biggest cheerleaders.
Now let’s move to the exiting part about adding a new decade to my list of accomplishments. I’m so excited, because a new decade means a new Journey. I mean, yes, I know live each day…blah- blah. But hear me out, when I entered the third decade of my life. When I turned 30, I was embarking on the biggest freaking adventure of my life! I was not only turning 30, but I was moving away from home, starting school at CAL, leaving friends and family to follow my dreams. Let me tell you that first semester, I was on high alert because I knew that they would soon realize that I didn’t belong there. I mean I’m 30, a transfer student from ELAC who didn’t graduate high school, has a GED, brown woman from an immigrant working class family. Who the fuck did I think I was? I mean the audacity of me going to this top University to chase an English Degree, how naïve was I? I wasn’t. For the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted and I was scared but that fear propelled me to take the next step and the step after that.
I did things I never thought possible, I sat in round tables with highly respectable people, people I never thought would care what I had to say, but they did. I traveled, I met more people. I marched, I protested, I supported, I spoke at a conference on Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Guadalajara, Mexico! Me?! There was over 300 people there, from across the globe, students from other universities in Mexico, paying close attention to every word I said. I said.
I became a mother. Deciding that my sanity and my child’s well-being was more important to me than the stigma of becoming another statistic as ‘a single brown mother’, I went at it alone, all the while finishing up my second year of Grad school. Let me tell you, I’m fucking rocking the shit out of motherhood! I have a lot to learn, but so far so good. I’ve been blessed with an amazing village that loves this child like their own. I have been smart enough to understand that I am not both father and mother, I am a mother whose sole responsibility is to be just that-his mother. As his mother, I will surround him with strong male figures that will teach him what I can’t.
I’ve taken leaps of faith, some begrudgingly, but I landed on my feet twice as blessed because of them. I know my worth, know what I bring to the table and I’m not afraid to eat alone until the right opportunity, the right person, the right fit comes my way. This my dear comes when you know your worth, your value. When you are driven by your values and not the acquisition of material gain. But this doesn’t come to you early, this comes later when you’ve experienced the chase.
All of this at 30! Now can you imagine at 40? I can and I’m excited. Yes, we are currently undergoing some dire circumstances, but this is helping us create a new normal. Which means, my journey is already starting with a new experience. Not the one I would have signed up for, but here we are.
A few snippets of what I learned so far:
- Timing is everything, but we are the worst at time management. I’ve learned that the Universe is the best timekeeper, which means we have to learn to be flexible because when we think it’s the right time, it might not be. When the time is right, The Universe gives us a gentle nudge (or in my case push) and we realize it was the perfect time to have a baby, acquire an education, change jobs, whatever the case might be.
- Perfection is a great excuse to not try. By this I mean that we want everything to be perfect before we do x, y , or z. Which means, we do not try, because we’ve managed to convince ourselves that things must be perfect before we act on them, submit them, purchase them, or whatever else. However, I’ve always wondered whose image of perfection are we chasing?
- Fear is okay, as long as you don’t let it paralyze you into inaction.
- Sometimes doing nothing is the best medicine.
- Honor your body temple, soul, mind, and creativity. This will keep you 100% YOU with a capital R (REAL)!
- Be true to your values. Here’s an example for you, communication is key for me. But I realized that I was demanding it and expecting it from some folks but not all. As in I wanted my employers and the people I worked with to practice open communication. But then realized that I wasn’t honoring this same request when it came to more intimate relationships. Had to correct this behavior immediately, some relationships got stronger others ended.
- BDE, BIG DICK ENERGY. Not necessarily sure, how I feel about this. But learned to no longer hold back even if I’m declared to be giving off this vibe. I will not apologize if my success makes you feel uncomfortable or small.
- Having no regrets is impossible, there’s always something that we will regret. Something we said, did, wore, drank, always something. If this is not you, then more power to you. But I’ve learned that life is not black and white, there’s a lot of grey. Humans are fickle and complicated, which means that at one point in our life we did something that we wish we hadn’t. Even if meant something beautiful came out of it, or it led you to something better, you will always wonder if there would have been another way to have achieved the same outcome. I know a “life with no regrets” is what we aim for and we’re taught to strive for, but if you do have one or three it doesn’t mean you didn’t have a good life. It just means you grew! Don’t get overwhelmed by it or let it defeat you, bless it and move on. It taught you something. However, if you have tons of them, you need help making better decisions.
- Vulnerability is a SUPERPOWER.
- The safest option, is not always the best option.
- A household should always have wine and chocolate.
- Borders suck, but boundaries are essential. You owe it to your wellbeing to have some.
- Be mindful of your energy and who you share it with, and how other’s energy affects you.
- DREAM BIG! Always, DREAM BIG.
- Stop hiding your fupa. #fupanation
- Remain curious, honor your curiosity. It keeps you young, sane, and interesting.
- Knowledge is not power; however, what you do with that knowledge is power.
- Stop making up stories as to why you will not succeed. Just take the damn LEAP! Obviously still working on this one.
This is the biggest lesson for me, We don’t know as much as we think we do, there’s still a lot more to learn. Every situation offers a lesson, every breath, every day, every person, has something to teach us. What is required from you? Nothing. Just be open to the lesson. Keep an open heart and mind.