Last December, I turned 40 years old … I entered into my next decade.

*insert dramatic music here*

As the past year went by, leading up to this not-quite-looming-but-still-looming date, I wondered how I would react. I reflected on my approach to turning 30 (which seemed to be no big deal until my 30th birthday actually arrived and then I totally freaked). As a result, I wondered how the entrance into this next decade would go.

It was totally fine.

thisis40 - Very Small Bites
It’s me. (Selfie)

Not to give away the ending up front, but it was surprisingly fine. The year leading up to the big 4-0 was one of the most eye-opening and adventurous and happy years of my life. Last June, my (then) fiancé and I frolicked through Europe, I conquered another half-marathon in September, WE GOT MARRIED last November (such a magical day that was), and we went to NYC for our honeymoon. Soon after that, my big 4-0 birthday arrived.

When I was young (around 10-ish), I always thought of 40 as being so serious … so settled and regimented. Now that I’m here I realize, that is absolutely not the case. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be.

My life got turned upside down, ripped in half, thrown on its head, etc. in my mid-thirties. It wasn’t something that happened to me; I was an active participant in that action because I realized that if the life I was leading then didn’t get ripped in half, it would destroy me. After that chasm, when everything was swirling and I couldn’t seem to find my balance or reach out to steady myself on anything … it slowly became clear. It was all up to me. My life was mine to live; my footsteps needed to go where I wanted them to. It took some time for that clarity to completely soak in, believe me. But I eventually pulled myself out from under the heavy weight of uncertainty and started putting one foot in front of the other.

Since then, I have checked in with myself regularly to make sure that my feet were still pointed in the direction I wanted them to be. Do I still have moments of doubt? Certainly. Do I still wonder how different things would be if I hadn’t done “this” or if I had done “that”? Absolutely. But I really try to squash and shoo away any feelings of regret, because the past can’t be changed. What I can do? I can make choices for today and tomorrow.

My actual 40th birthday, being a Monday, was after the official celebrations. The partying was over. I was very quiet that day. Not somber, but reflective. I was making plans. I asked myself: what choices do I want to make for today, tomorrow, this decade? I thought about where I am, and where I want to be, and what I want to do. How do I want to spend my time? What new things do I want to experience? What goals do I want to reach and then surpass? How can I do more for the place I live? How can I strengthen my connection to the community? As a result, I made “New Decade Resolutions.” The list is fluid, and will certainly expand, but here’s what I’m working on:

– Write more love notes to my husband: We often write little notes to each other in the morning if one of us leaves before the other, and I’d like to do this more often. I’d also like to include actual cards from time to time (some silly and some sappy, of course).

– Stay organized: I tend to save everything, and I definitely don’t need to. I’d like to continually evaluate and streamline my “saving” habits and keep our space as clutter free as possible.

– Get out of debt within the next three years: This will be a *very* tough one, but I’m determined to make this happen.

– Volunteer with the Red Cross: There are so many more volunteering opportunities there than I realized.

– Play with our cats more often: As cats, they are very self-sufficient, but a good game of laser pointer is oh-so-fun for everyone.

– Continue with my yearly book challenge: Every year I establish a book challenge for myself. I don’t always finish it, but it keeps me motivated to try new styles of books and it keeps me reading.

– Volunteer with the Virginia Beach SPCA: Yay, kitties! (And other animals too, of course.)

– Host a dinner with friends once a month: Having no dining room, we’d need to get creative, but I’d like to have a monthly gathering at our place to catch up and hang out.

– Keep teaching ballet: this is nothing new, but something to which I want to stay committed. It truly is one of my favorite things. Ever.

– Take ballet class at least once a week: I have not kept up with my own dancing enough. My soul and spirit are happier when dancing is a regular presence in my life.

– Create more art: My collage art has taken a back seat this past year (or three), and I’ve recently been inspired with tons of new ideas. I’m ready to bust out the glue again!

– Yoga, yoga, yoga: I want to keep my body and spirit flexible and peaceful.

– Help the company I work for continue to grow: I have set specific goals, and will continue to define and refine them. I am very thankful to be part of that team, and excited about the coming years.

– Continue expanding my interior design knowledge: Attend more conferences, classes, and seminars. Read more design books. Familiarize myself with more interior designers and their work. Become more involved with ASID and NKBA. Keep honing my artistic abilities. Master new design software.

– Go somewhere new every year: Traveling is, of course, amazing. So it’s my mission to visit at least one new city/town each year.

– Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity: Explore how my interior design skills may be able to help them with their mission.

– Go camping/hiking with my husband and with friends at least once a season: We are such fans of the mountains and love being out there. Yay, S’Mores!

– Deliver care packages to the homeless: I saw a video recently that was circling around Facebook, and it completely inspired me. A man in Florida put together holiday gift packages for the homeless in his area (including things like pillows, socks, non-perishable food, bottles of water …) wrapped them in gift wrap, and delivered them personally. I immediately thought, “I want to do that year round!” So that’s my plan.

– Write, write, write: I used to regularly contribute to Altdaily.com as a dance writer/editor, and hope to ramp that up again. I also have two novels that I have started, and that have been patiently waiting for my attention.

– Je voudrais poursuivre mes études de la langue française: I would love love love to find a group to practice my French with, and even take more college level courses in the language.

– Just keep running: In the past three years, I’ve conquered four half-marathons. If anyone would have asked me five years ago if I’d ever run a half-marathon, I would have laughed and said “No way!” Funny how things change. For this decade, my goal is to run the Chicago Marathon. Accomplishing a far-fetched goal in my old stomping grounds with my husband by my side? Now that would be a thrill.

As I said, this list will always be growing and I will continually add to it. But I truly feel like my forties are welcoming me with open arms. I have so much to be thankful for. And I need to always remember that I am the one to curate my life, and I plan to do so with gusto.

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