Hi, I’m Jen, and I’m here to talk about life after 40.
Why 40? Because looking back, I wish I’d had a friend to help me through the challenges that begin around this age, and I’d like to try to be that person for you.
I want to offer a few signposts and some encouragement when you need it. Because I’ve been there and I know what you might be going through.
“Forty is when your warranty runs out”, my doctor said bluntly.
Some think that 40 is just an age like any other, and in a sense that may be true. All seasons of life bring their unique challenges. But as my doctor once told me bluntly, “Forty is when your warranty runs out”.
What did he mean by this?
It’s the age when the “chickens come home to roost”, as my mom would say. In other words, the age when all your good habits pay nice dividends, and — unfortunately — when any bad ones can land you in a pile of debt – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Like most people, I am a mixture of good and bad. At the age of 40, I was happier than I was when I was younger. I had developed some self-acceptance. I had a great marriage, a good job, and faith that things usually work out for the best.
Everything flowed easily for me. Until one day when the flow just stopped.
But I also pushed myself a lot. I had something to prove, and I wanted to be the best at anything I did. I worked full-time for a security products company, but also wanted a fulfilling, creative home life. I wanted to be a writer, and I loved to read and cook and spend time with my husband, and I exercised every day.
Then we bought a house with a garden and I wanted to grow vegetables and flowers and be the envy of the neighborhood. So I added these to my to-do list. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, something had to give, and early on I decided this something would be sleep.
I found that if I exercised nearly every day and took a lot of supplements and drank coffee in the evening to stay awake, that I could get by on about 5 hours of sleep on weeknights and make it up on the weekends.
This worked for quite some time. I had endless energy and easily moved from one task to the next. Everything flowed easily for me. Until one day in my early 40’s, when the flow just stopped.
Suddenly if I tried to garden, and then go for a run, I would get dizzy and headachy. And often I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling panicky – like something needed to be done but I didn’t know what it was – and I had no idea how to get back to sleep.
Then I started to get tired at work and lose focus. I also got a strange hive-like rash my doctor couldn’t explain.
As if this wasn’t enough, around this time my mother died unexpectedly, and my life was thrown into chaos. All the structure I had built for myself seemed to fall away and I felt like I was starting at zero.
You can emerge from these challenges wiser and stronger, with more compassion for yourself and others.
But I’m happy to say that a decade has passed, and I have been feeling quite good again for many years. What changed? Well, I’ve had to make some adjustments. I‘ve had to change some of my thoughts and habits. And I’ve had to grow in some surprising ways.
But this is the very nature of life, after all. It takes unexpected twists and turns, and sometimes the journey seems dark and uncertain, but we can emerge from these challenges wiser and stronger, with more compassion for ourselves and others and better habits and attitudes to take into the future.
I don’t want you to feel alone in any of this. I want to share what I have learned, and perhaps make this journey a little easier for you, as we continue along together.
Please leave a comment below if there’s anything you’d like to talk about – or just to say “Hello!” – and check back frequently for articles that I hope will benefit you as you move through your own challenges in your 40’s and beyond.
All the best,