09/17/2013 12:24 EDT | Updated 11/17/2013 05:12 EST

The Bright Side of Turning 40


This is my last week in my 30s. How on earth did this happen? It seems it wasn't that long ago that I was watching ABC's "Thirtysomething" and thinking the characters were so grown-up. The milestone makes me a tad resentful at all the people telling me that 40 is great. In fact, part of me wants to staple their mouths shut. But I won't.

And excuse me for not bringing out the pom-poms and the "No. 1" foam finer though we live in a society where 40 is hailed as an achievement and the springboard to the rest of our lives. I suppose the fanfare is better than living in a place where 40 is considered over the hill, kaput, finished.

Still for me, 40 brings fears. I fear that there is more time behind me than there is in front. I fear that I won't get to do everything on my to-do list. I fear that construction workers will no longer whistle when I walk by them. If for some that image screams objectification of women, to me, it has always been a welcomed ego boost albeit those workers weren't whistling at beauty or body. They were whistling at youth and what youth represents. And it's actually quite paradoxical, isn't it? With age, we as women get more confident which, no matter how you look at it, is sexy. But the older we get, the more the whistling disappears.

At least, what's tolerable about turning 40 is the wisdom one starts to have.

Here's an updated list of what I believe about-to-turn-40 folks should know/do.

1. Create the life you want to live.

2. Know how to disagree with someone without becoming hysterical and without cutting them out of your life.

3. Have the balls to be with the person you really love.

4. French kiss as often as possible. And well.

5. Realize that Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" and "Ascenseur Pour L'Échafaud" will get you through the good, the bad and the "heartbreaky".

6. Have a position on politics, on religion and on sex. These positions can't be the same they were 10 years ago nor should they be the same as what they will be 10 years from now.

7. Travel as much as possible and create a home you can't wait to come back to.

8. Know that giving back is mandatory and you shouldn't look for praise and accolades for doing so.

9. Eat some humble pie once in a while.

10. Do what feels good, not what looks good.

11. Have a reliable sounding board. You're 40 but you don't know everything.

12. Have someone in your life that has seen you naked, has had your cooking and who despite these unfortunate occurrences, still loves you.

13. Know how to maintain friendships that matter.

14. Master the art of knowing when to leave a party.

15. Know when to let go.

16. Know that good things happen to you when you're ready for them.

17. Know that most of the time, taking the high road is best but do fight for what you truly believe. When you're older, it's not about how you look but how and where you stand.

18. Learn to not beat up the next person who tells you that "you shouldn't have regrets" or that "time heals everything." These platitudes are false, perpetrated by people who think Hallmark is some great poet. Do have regrets. It means that at some point, you took a risk and that sometimes, your gut is wrong which means you're human. And no, time does not heal everything. Anyone who has lost a loved one or a great love will attest to this. Time will help you deal with the lost better, perhaps. But the pain will remain. Proof again that you're human.

Oh, and remember that blooming late is an advantage. Go!

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