Rum. Drink lots of Mount Gay Rum you won‘t feel like you‘re forty😈
– Jackie, 2017
The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary. – Arthur Schopenhauer
We don’t understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. – Jules Renard
In around 4 months time, I will be hitting the grand age of 40. Essentially, I’m now “mid-life”. A quick Google at life expectancy in women puts it at around 83, so its fair to say I’m almost halfway through my life, all being well. My sister never made it to 40. She passed away at 39 and a little under 2 months. I’m officially older than my older sister. For that very reason, I’m not scared of turning 40. No siree. I will grab it with both hands. Its a milestone my beloved sister never reached so I plan to not only reach that milestone, but to travel as far past it as possible. I vowed to make the year leading up to my 40th birthday as good as I possibly could. Despite external forces trying to bring me down, I’d say I am pretty pleased with the way its turned out. So far anyway.
Just lately though, my body and physical appearance have been trying to stop me in my tracks in my war of taking on 40 and winning.
I feel 40.
I look 40.
How, and more importantly, WHEN, did this happen?
Now, I wouldn’t say I was a vain woman. I like to, or at least try to, look nice. Back in my twenties, a night of very little sleep had no effect on my appearance the next day. My youthful skin looked fresh no matter what I did, or didn’t do. I’ve never been one for lotions and potions. I get drawn in by pretty packaging and floral scents, use them for a few days and then get fed up of the routine. The older I get, the more likely I am to hit that darn snooze button instead of getting up to cleanse, tone and moisturise. As I said, in my twenties, it seemed it didn’t matter. However, have I shot myself in the foot approaching 40 by not keeping the routine through my younger years? As the lotions and potions of days gone by gather dust on the bathroom window sill, a night of very little sleep now leaves me waking up looking like an extra in The Walking Dead. My skin, at best, looks grey. The furrows in my brow, if filled with water, could quench an entire continent during a drought. When I smile, the corners of my eyes no longer crinkle cutely to give expression, they fold. They fold up like rows of jumpers on a display shelf in Primark. One on top of the other. The reflection staring back at me from the mirror no longer represents the twenty something young woman I often still think that I am.
Therein lies another issue. Thinking. My mind. Its going, you know. Often first thing in the morning or later into an evening, I get words wrong, sometimes forgetting them all together. Its frustrating. Is it my age? Or is it just because I’m tired and in desperate need of a holiday? I don’t know. I do know it scares me. My spritely 13 year old son finds great amusement in correcting me when I call his iPad a laptop. Or the TV remote, the DooDah. I do remember eventually, but not quick enough to include it in the sentence I’m using. There’s nothing wrong with my memory, as such, I remember what I did when, appointments etc. Every blissful second spent with Mr Amazing is etched into my mind. My son tells me he needs £3 for something or other at school in two weeks time though, nah, its gone. I have to be reminded, constantly. Then disappointment and annoyance sets in when, on the morning in question, my son asks for the £3 and I don’t have it. I have sent him in with pockets full of silver and copper before now. Again, is this age, or just another side effect of my over active, over thinking paranoid mind not being able to hold onto more than one thought at a time? I don’t know. All I do know is, its getting worse.
Then we move onto the physical side of things. Three years ago I was a size 16-18. I’m now a size 10… ish. Post Christmas I’ve edged up very slightly to a 12, but that’ll change. Trust me, I’m a lot happier to be going into 40 as a size 10-12 than I would’ve been at a 16-18. That is not at all to do with vanity, it really is from a health perspective. My walk home from work is all up hill. When I was bigger but younger, it was a struggle. When my size changed it felt easier. Hell, it was easier. The scales have tipped again though as age has crept up on me. The perfect combination to tackle the hill of doom is a healthy weight and youth. Not a healthy weight and age. The steepest bank on my journey home really takes it out of me. I don’t get out of breath but each footstep is a struggle. Luckily my son has his own key as he often beats me home when we’ve been to town together. I’ve never been a big exerciser. My weight loss was down to a lifestyle change, not a healthy eating programme teamed with a rigorous exercise regime. My job isn’t overly physical, but I am on my feet for around 8½ hours a day. Radox Muscle Soak and a Heat Lotion are becoming my legs best friends.
Something else that’s been playing on my mind as I try to slam on the breaks at the cusp of turning 40- Fashion. How do I dress? Do I suddenly rush to the hairdressers and get a sensible short grown-up cut, or can I keep my past the shoulder mousy brown unruly mop? Turning grey doesn’t bother me. So far, the only grey hair I’ve spotted is a reoccurring wiry thing in my right eyebrow, but he’s easy enough to say sayonara to. Pluck and go. I am accutely aware that turning grey will potentially change what colours suit me, but essentially grey goes with everything. More choice isn’t a bad thing. No, grey hair doesn’t scare me. Mr Amazing wears the salt and pepper George Clooney look very well. I’d be happy to join him. Clothing however…I’m lost. When I lost weight, I was able to wear shapes, colours and styles my size 16 frame would never of even considered. I used to get fashion so wrong. In my job before my current one, I was not only manager, but the oldest one out of a team of 5/6, even more at Christmas. With youth comes the ability to wear whatever you want and not look too dressy or too casual. The girls were in vest tops, jeans and heels but looked dressed up enough for a night clubbing. If I put on the same ensemble, I looked as if I was nipping to the shop to get a loaf of bread. So, I’d often chose a dress, something plain, subdued, but still I looked as if I’d got bored of the wedding party I was at and gatecrashed an 18th birthday party. I never got it right.
Now working in a ladies clothes shop, essentially aimed at more “age appropriate” clientele, I think I’ve got it just about right. I can wear a dress and not feel too dressy. I can wear jeans with some kick ass boots and not look like I’m going for a walk with the dogs. I got it. But that’s at 39….will things change at 40? I know I sound unreasonable, but having been wrong and right in the past, I don’t trust myself to get it right.
Being 40 doesn’t scare me.
Its just the side effects of 40 are coming along far too quickly for my liking.
So, what can I do? What can I change?
Feeding a 13 year old boy seven nights a week, its very easy to fall into the trap of cooking a meal that he will enjoy and I tolerate. I don’t feed him junk food every night, but on the occasion he does deserve his favourite battered chicken and chips, I often do myself the same, just for ease and to save time. Not ideal. Neither of us are big vegetable lovers and although I try and include it in our diet, I struggle to find something we both enjoy. After researching foods I should be eating, I’ve made a conscious effort to improve my diet. Now, when cooking fresh meats for my son and I, when he has chips and peas, I’ll have stir fried noodles and peppers/onions. Takes minutes in a wok. In my quest for discovering the best foods to eat, I read a lot about “superfoods”. Now they were big in the early 2000s and I dismissed them as being bland, tasteless rabbit food favoured by size 0 celebrities. However, I came across Quinoa.
“Pronounced “keen-wah,” this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.”
I figured it was worth giving it a go. I got a pack of the red and black variety, which was apparently was “ready to eat”, or could be cooked in a similar way to couscous. Straight from the packet, it did absolutely nothing for my curious tastebuds. However, that night I made a stir fry with Quorn chicken and straight to wok wholemeal noodles. I threw a handful of Quinoa in just before serving, and thoroughly enjoyed the slight nutty taste that came through. I’ve not yet tried it cooked on its own, but at least I’ve found a way to throw a bit of goodness into my meals!
Most people tell me to drink more water, that will help my skin. I hear them. I try. I just don’t enjoy it. Anyone that watches The Gilmore Girls, just think of Lorelai Gilmore. Coffee. Coffee is my one vice. I drink decaf at home, have done ever since being pregnant. I can’t give it up. I’m addicted. I sleep so little at night with or without it, I’ve given up trying to cut down. (I tried, with zero effect on my erratic sleep pattern).
So, my only other choice, along with the healthier foods, is making a resolution to stick to a skin care regime. Again I turn to my trusted friend Google. I wanted affordable but effective. Several reviews led me to http://www.nipandfab.com . With product ranges called Vipers Venom and Dragons Blood, along with claims of being the best skin care products around £10, I was drawn in. The “Frown Fix” was what I went in search for. Adding that to my basket I noticed an offer of free night cream when you purchased the blurring fix serum. Oops, how ever did they end up in my basket too?
I have been using the products for a week and I can honestly say, my skin feels smoother. Visible results apparently show after 4 weeks. So as long as I keep up the routine and try not to frown while inspecting my frown, I should be fine. Time will tell.
Of course, along with the negative eventualities of getting older, there are also a few silver linings. I now know I don’t have to like everyone I meet, and I’m OK with not everyone liking me. I have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to pass onto my son. The people in my life now are the people that I want there. I’ve learnt, the hard way admittedly, what true love should feel like. I already know my tolerance levels of alcohol. And Bulls*#t.
I don’t settle for any less than I deserve.
Finally, I know what I’m worth. Someone has made me realise that I, just the way I am, am perfect for them. After years of never feeling good enough, knowing the impact I can have on someone else’s life just by being me, is priceless.
And worth the 40 year wait.