By Gill Hart
Turning forty is a milestone in the psychological sense for a lot of women; one that many dread. But rather than being something to worry about, with the right attitude and determination, the phrase “Life begins at forty” can become a reality, not a cliché.
By the time we reach middle-age, many of us have often gone through major life upheavals such as the break up of a marriage, loss of a partner or career, health scares or watching our children leave home. However psychologically, if we are strong enough, our lives can change the moment our attitude does.
The maturity, life experience and knowledge we possess at this stage in our lives can be used to become more self confident and desirable than ever before. Women such as Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Sarah Fergusson, Emma Thompson and Diane Keaton are testimony to this. Willie Russell’s 1989 movie about a bored British housewife, “Shirley Valentine” should be compulsory viewing at what can be achieved at 42!
Surviving an emotional trauma gives us chance to look back and build from the experience. The opportunity to reinvent ourselves, start a new fitness regime, change our diet, and carry out a complete wardrobe overhaul, keeping only the things that make us feel good. This opportunity for change should mean that we take more risks, make more mistakes and do things that, in the past, we have only dreamt about. A chance to let go of the strings attached to our old lives and to look on every day as a new experience.
Live for the Moment
In our forties we realize that life is made up of a series of moments. Those moments should be treasured and recognized for what they are; important elements of our past which have provided us with the memories, love and the determination to make us what we are today.
It’s not about the car we drive, the size of our house, how much we earn or our status in society. In our forties and fifties we begin to realize that life is about people and places, knowledge and experiences – it is up to us to decide how to use them. There is so much of the world to see, so many people to meet and so many things to do.
Despite what you have gone through in the past, live for the moment. Do not bring the past into the future, as it eats away at your existence and stops you from moving on. Banish every negative thought with a positive one, wake up every day with some small memory of a happy time in your life.
Do not think about what you want, but rather what you have. Take a look around you and savor the good things. A sunrise, a sunset, an act of kindness, a chance encounter – they all go towards making the person that you are.
As we get older it is very difficult to let go of the baggage that binds us, many of us don’t just have suitcases, we have trunks! Yet, without letting go of our bad memories and negative experiences we cannot truly appreciate living in the now.
Life Changes for the Forty-Something Woman
Making such changes in our forties gives us a better armor to cope with life’s challenges than a twenty something – we may have more resources, we certainly have more experience, and have developed a maturity that will enable us to handle situations more competently and wisely.
Our forties are a great time to concentrate on our own self development. Start each day with a positive thought, however small. It is often the most insignificant that is the most meaningful – a loving gesture or a kind word. Such thoughts get us through the day and help recover from traumatic times in our past.
No Regrets at Fifty-Something
Don’t look back on your life by reflecting on all the things you could have done. Take a message from Jorge Luis Borges in his poem entitled Instants “If could live my life over again…..I wouldn’t try to be so perfect. I’ll take more risks, I’ll take more trips, I’ll watch more sunsets….”
Human nature is such that the things we regret most in our lives are the things that we didn’t do, rather than those we did. If it all goes wrong, then pick up the pieces and move on. In the beginning it is very hard; easy to say, but not so easy to do. However, in our forties and fifties we get better at it!
In a few years time you can look back and truly say, “Life Begins at Forty“.
Gill is an experienced language teacher and trainer, having been teaching and managing language schools for twenty years. She is also a freelance writer and is currently studying journalism. She has taught in Europe, Thailand and The Middle East and now lives in Asia.