I am turning 40 in less than a month. FORTY YEARS OLD! This age has a rather special way of making women feel like they are quickly approaching their Last Fuckable Day. It is the age of invisibility. The age of the middle. When our 60s start to feel closer than our 20s. And if you are single, it’s an especially vulnerable number. Turning 40 as a childless-by-choice, single woman is like stepping one foot in the grave. Meryl Streep is in the grave next to you and she’s like “Come on in, the water is warm.”
Right? Isn’t that what we are supposed to believe? I’m about to turn invisible and die and my vagina is going to dry up and close down? I will literally be unfuckable! I might as well move to a farm in Japan with the other spinsters and learn how to garden and knit (seriously though Japan is like all about that Golden Girls life, they are doing it right.)
We ALL think this, at least subconsciously. If like me, you have been successful in breaking your brain out of this toxic fuckboy matrix brainwashing, you may be sitting around in your Sunday kimono asking how we got here. Where did this self defeating, damaging, blatantly untrue mindfuck come from? Did we all sign some blood contract in our newborn days that we’d collectively agree that women become patently less valuable based on the number of grey hairs and wrinkles we have? I didn’t sign that shit. I’ve watched myself the last year come to terms with turning 40, and realized how much of any anxiety I’ve had around it was put on me by the cesspool of sexist media we ingest on a daily basis, advertising, capitalism, Tinder and the fallacy of unlimited choice, and the collective insanity of this ageist, bullshit patriarchal idea of what it means to be a woman. We’ve just agreed that somehow youth is better – that wisdom, experience, tenacity, and being an expert on your life, and possibly a rather interesting, well read, witty, capable, powerful woman finally, is less important than having perky tits and being a size 6.
FUCK. THAT. NOISE.
How much energy have I put into wanting my body to be other than what it is? How many hours and years have I felt guilt, sadness, shame, fear, and other negative emotions toward the skin and fat and muscles and bones that I breathe in every day? How many years have I thought, “if only I was 10 pounds lighter, I would be happy.” How many years did I focus on my perceived body flaws as a reason some asshole dude I was dating didn’t get it and made me feel worthless. Yes honey, he cheated on you because you’re too fat. Really? Why do we do this?!?! He’s an asshole! How is this women’s fault? Because you aren’t hot enough? How much mental and emotional labor do we do as women around what we eat, how much cellulite we have, are we getting fatter, is our skin getting thinner/drier/less elastic/more blotchy/uneven/OHMYFUCKINGGOD WHY DO I HAVE ADULT ONSET CYSTIC ACNE NOW?
This thinking can go die in a fire.
Hair is growing out of your face. I know this. We all know.
What if we as women took all that energy, all that powerful intention, and just decided to fully inhabit our bodies? Instead of looking at ourselves as pieces and objects, what if we felt whole and nourished in our own skin? What if we based our feelings about ourselves on our own experiences, rather than that of someone who wanted sex but not love and made us feel like that was our fault? Imagine what we could do if we woke up everyday KNOWING we are all fly as hell? How would you show up for your life if you showed up for yourself first?
You are valuable. You are enough. You are worthy. Right now. In this body, the one you have today. We run this. And that starts from within.
The way I show up for myself is through compassion and love and acceptance of how things actually are. This body isn’t shaped like the ones I see in magazines, it is shaped like the ones I see in Renaissance paintings. It is a shape of feminine mystique, the wisdom of my matriarch, goddess ancestors, sexual healing, and sensual ecstasy. My curves and roundness and my wounds and my power all come from the same place. I am the pleasure palace. It took me over a decade to come to a place within myself where I feel truly, deliciously, at home in my body. I wear what I want (which is sometimes not much), I feel awesome about myself, and I am not remotely done being a sexual, intellectual, and emotional force of nature.
And it all started with acceptance and compassion. I had to love myself exactly how I was when I felt my lowest. I still have that love for myself today. I had to learn and believe that my value as a human being is not connected to my dress size or how little food I eat. And I began to love my body, not because of how it looked, but how it moves and exists and lives in this world. I loved it so I could do the things I want in life, like haul my fine ass out to the middle of nowhere Nevada and go totally crazy in the desert because that feeds my soul. That chubby body survived. It lived. It did all the hardest work that I needed it to do so I could feel better in my heart and my mind and when doors open to me, I can walk through them, because I believe in my own magic more than anything else.
So much of the things we think are about being some idealized hot sex object are important, but not for making you look like a supermodel. The reasons for exercise and eating well have nothing to do with looks. Looking good is a byproduct of feeling good. I found that for me, doing spinning, yoga, and lifting weights makes me mentally sane. It makes me sleep better, eat better, and it makes my grey matter feel good, and my emotions manageable. I like feeling strong. It makes me feel powerful in my skin. And as a woman, feeling empowered is what I am about, always. I look in the mirror and see a smoldering, gorgeous, fit, curvy sex goddess. I see a body that can kick ass and ride bikes and do squats and have amazing sex and hike up mountains and do all the things I want to do in life.
Here’s the thing. We each get to choose what feels good and right and important for us. Some of us have mobility challenges, physical limitations, chronic illness, mental health issues, and a myriad of other very valid, real things we deal with every day. There is no right way but your way. You can only ever start where you are and meet yourself right there. There is no right was to look. There is no thin enough. There is no ideal shape. Those ideas negate the magical diversity of the human form. Why would we all want to look the same? Why do we feel our bodies are wrong when they don’t happen to have the programming and genetics to outwardly appear in this one very narrow way? Our real value, the real, true feeling of living fully in your body and embracing it and loving it for being your home – that comes from within, and the only person who can give you that is YOU.
So don’t let the holiday/new year/you’re 40 and dead “not good enough”narrative take your power. Not now, not any day of the year. You can love yourself right fucking now. Eat cookies if you want, they are yummy food that you deserve to eat. Move around some or don’t. You are not how many miles you run. What feels best for YOU? Find what makes you feel good as hell in your own skin, and do that first, every day. I stopped vowing to change on January 1st years ago. And I started to change every day. I made myself my own priority. Every. Stupid. Fucking. Day. I’m a project manager. I like things to have a progression and then they are finished, you have a completed, beautiful thing, and then you get to do something else. Most of life, however, requires maintenance. Now, I have never been a fan of maintenance, because it’s not exciting. It’s work. Mundane work that’s repetitive and often not gratifying. However, I know the value of maintenance. And I realized I just had my framing all wrong. Maintenance is ritual! And I fucking LOVE ritual. Being my own ritual is the most rewarding thing I have ever given myself.
Finding my own ritual, building a temple to myself, in myself, has led me to this point in my life. Today, the dream becomes real. This is my manifestation of what turning 40 means for me. This evening, I am leaving to go on a month long dream trip to South America! I am going to get to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (this is why I lift weights and climb stairs. So I can climb mountains.) and travel through three countries, and actually go out and live the life I have been building the foundation for myself the last two years.
And GIRL LET ME TELL YOU, that is not the half of it.
The story of how this came to manifest is unbelievable, even to me. But also, I’m not surprised at all. Of course this is happening. Because I turned my own magic all the way the fuck on, and amplified the power and beauty in myself, someone saw my light, and I saw theirs, because it was turned all the way on too. Through all this stillness and internal work, I found, to my utter amazement, another curious, warm, amazing, adventurous, gorgeous human to explore this crazy life with. He found me. And we are going to fucking Peru! Because I’m a girl who says yes. When you believe in yourself fully, you can truly be fearless to do anything. Because no matter what, you have your own back. And that is good as hell.