My Milestone Birthday Experience

40 CardsAge is just a number

Another year old, another year wiser

You don’t look your age

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday

The three expressions above were all shared with me earlier this month on the occasion of me letting the world know I was celebrating a milestone birthday.  Upon hearing the final remark I wondered if the person imagined I looked much older or much younger than my age (if she was even aware of the age I had achieved).

According to popular wisdom I have not yet reached middle age, since that label is most frequently applied to persons between the ages of 45 and 65.  According to basic math skills, however, I entered the second half of life a few years ago (based on the average life expectancy of an American white male with my birth year).

Turning 40

Getting Younger & Getting Older

Context matters.

I spent most of my 30s living in a community comprised primarily of retirees.  I felt younger the day I arrived, and didn’t age while there.  I learned something new each and every day.

I relocated to a college town toward the end of my 30s.  I felt older the day I arrived, and have not gotten any younger since. Again, I learned something new each and every day.

While those two parts of my context are extremes they serve as reminders of the gift of diversity, including age diversity.

Living Well in My 40s

As I enter this new decade of life I used my social media accounts to ask for advice about living well in my 40s.

My favorite responses by age cohort follows

Wisdom from Those Not Yet Age 40

  • Don’t change
  • Some of the smartest people I know are older – just like you

Wisdom from Those In or Beyond Their 40s

  • The best is yet to come (alongside others counseling me to drink lots of water, exercise wear sunscreen, and not die)
  • Just do it! (alongside advice to seek balance, breathe, and slow down)
  • Offer love and kindness whatever you do and wherever you go

So What?

Life is a journey.  There is much to learn each decade (and also each day).

For now, I plan to age a day at a time and to enjoy the aging process – especially the many people involved in it.

  • What advice do you have for me for living well in my 40s?
  • What is the best advice anyone ever gave you as you entered a new phase of life?
  • How has religion shaped (or has it?) your view of the aging process?


Note to self: This is a great time to reread Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (a book a significantly younger me reviewed back in 2011).

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