Rules for Turning 40

Gypsy Hausfrau portrait small edited


1. Don’t get cynical –especially about love. Stay romantic. Stay idealistic –for as long as you can.


2. Don’t mistake fear for intuition.  When you have a gut feeling that everything is about to go to shit, try to remember that it could be because there have been a lot of times in the last 10 years when it has. If it’s going to go to shit, then you can’t stop it anyway. Keep a good supply of Cap’n Crunch around just in case and discipline yourself to enjoy the easier times.


3. Don’t keep punishing yourself for your mistakes. Really,  a lot of them are understandable and all of them are forgivable. Chronic trauma makes selfish nightmares of all of us …it’s okay. You tried really hard.


Don’t mistake fear for intuition. 


4.  Stop being so grateful to people who only offer the bare minimum. You don’t have to be angry with them, but they don’t need all of your gorgeous love and attention, either. You’d insist on better treatment for your closest people, so start insisting on better treatment for yourself.


5.  Extend your hand in all directions –in love, in friendship, in understanding, in rescue, in peace, in humble gratitude. Build people up when they need it (this is where you can trust your intuition) …it costs you nothing.


6. Keep returning to your essential self. Read, knit, sing, watch the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, write, cook, bake, take care of your home and anyone who enters it. That’s who you are.


7. You don’t have to die on every hill –be creative. There are brick walls in every life, every relationship, every heart. It’s okay …let them be there. You don’t have to climb them or blast through them, you can just move around them; they may be tall, but they’re not necessarily wide.


Keep taking risks –big ones. Take social risks, fashion risks, emotional and creative risks.


8. Stop saying “I’m sorry” when what you really mean is “fuck you.” A lot of us women do that. Let’s stop it.


9.  Keep laughing about as much as you can.


10. Let people take pictures of you. No, you’re not seventeen anymore. No, you’re not 22 or even 32.  You’re soft in the middle and your knees make weird crackly noises every time you go upstairs. You often have dark circles under your eyes and it won’t be long until your nipples start tickling the tops of your feet. But you’re still pretty and it’s important that you allow people to record your presence in their lives if that matters to them. Assume it matters to your children (it does) and assume that everyone sees beauty in you that you can’t see yourself.


11. Keep taking risks –big ones. Take social risks, fashion risks, emotional and creative risks. When they work out, great –that’s how you gain confidence. When they fail spectacularly, even better –that’s how you gain empathy and understanding.


12. Continue to let people know how much they mean to you …you would want to know.


13.  Stay connected to God. Sometimes you feel like He couldn’t possibly be paying attention to you, but He is. He is writing this beautiful engaging story about you as you live it, filled with entertaining hypocrites to challenge you and tender heroes to inspire you. He is everywhere in your life, spinning you around the dance floor, working His magic. You’re important to Him, so make sure He knows He’s important to you. Listen. He is telling you your connections are strong, your family is whole, your shredded heart is healing. You are 40. That is wonderful.


3 thoughts on “Rules for Turning 40

  1. Marta, I enjoyed meeting you today at The Little Hospice. Have you seen Carol's comments at our Grinnell Class' 50th reunion in June 2011? If not, you should, and I can send you a copy.

    I was pleased to discover that you too are a blogger. Mt blog is There are a number of posts about Grinnell, but I do not think I mentioned your Mother.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers.


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