The Gift of 40

as seen at Missouri Botanical Garden

Today is my last day to be 40.

I have a friend who’s just two weeks younger than I am. Much smarter though.

She argues 40 shouldn’t be different from any other year. Every year we ought to live with no holds barred.

Maybe I’m a late bloomer, but 40 was different for me. It all started around 38 when I began using the two-letter word NO.

No, I will not do what you want me to do if it’s not right for me. No, I will not let you walk all over me. No, I will not play silly, little reindeer games. No, you are not the queen of the universe.

At 38, NO squeaked out as an anxiety-filled whisper. By 39, I could say it out loud with less hesitation, but the timing was all wrong. Now at 40, I can say it plainly, thoughtfully, and without much hand wringing.

The timing is better too. I’ve said NO this year to several people and things that weren’t right for me before I tried to find a way to accommodate them.

more gifts from the Garden, love that place

A polite, well-placed NO is liberating and gets easier with practice. It frees up time for YES.

Yes, I would like to try a blog. Yes, I will make mistakes, but that’s okay because I’m learning. Yes, I will have fun doing it. Yes, I will write with no holds barred.

Several years back, there was this commercial. I’ve combed the web and cannot find the actual spot. You web crawler people, let me know if you find it so I can post a link.

In the ad, a stodgy professor tells a writing class that none of them will likely ever be published. Editors sift through thousands of manuscripts. The best they could expect was a writing career at the top of the slush pile rather than the bottom.

Then, from within the masses of the lecture hall, a student’s hand pops up. Much to his professor’s chagrin and his fellow students’ triumph, he announces he’s already been published. Online.

and one more

That far-fetched dream is coming to fruition in my lifetime and yours. Imagine the possibilities. David McRaney did.

McRaney’s blog You Are Not So Smart was recently expanded into a book by the same title. Behold the free market.

“This is an amazing and revolutionary time for writers,” said McRaney in a WordPress interview. 

“The barriers to entry are so low, and the platforms like are so well made, anyone with a voice can start shouting and be heard.”

A voice with which to be heard. That’s a gift. That’s a YES.

Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. from James 5:12 The Message

It’s almost my birthday. I can dance if I want to. Jejune Stars by Bright Eyes.

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Filed under life, writing & reading

27 Responses to The Gift of 40

  1. I like your blog’s new look! And I also enjoyed reading today’s post!

    • Thank you, Geetanjali! The snow is from WordPress. You can add it to your blog by going to Settings > General > then scroll down, check and save the box that says to add snow through the first of January. I saw a friend do it on her blog last year and thought it was really cool. Glad WordPress decided to offer it again this year :)

  2. Joy

    Absolutely! I’m 38 now and no is coming out as whisper these days but my mom says the same thing that you do here; your voice starts to change as you age. Not the sound but the content and the filter. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say – blogging helps with that!!! Yay for your birthday, I am so glad you were born :-)

  3. rebecca gill

    Happy Birthday one day early! Luv your blog, luv u <3

  4. That’s something interesting to consider…

    I have seen books “printed” online for free public viewing, but never thought of it as an actual platform for whatever reason. I’ll have to pass this consideration on to my wife who has begun writing young children’s stories (think ages 2 – 4ish maybe). She’s already written a couple of stories and sent them to some publishers but so far, no go. Over Christmas she’s going to try again while working on another story. No matter what, she’s having fun with it.

    Sure, she’d love to see her writing in hardcopy print with color pictures, but placing her stories on a blog might be a venue to get her name out, especially if she gets on a good network of blogs and tags it well enough to garner some traffic.

    As to turning 40 and saying no… I don’t know about saying no; or maybe I do. My wife calls me a recalcitrant curmudgeon. There must be something to that description as a college professor called me recalcitrant and my father always said I was a stick in the mud, fighting the current. To a degree I revel in my stubbornness, and perhaps “no” has always been a part of my vernacular.

    I was mildly morose for a brief period when I turned 30 and that had a lot to do with where I was in my life at that point compared to what I had desired. Now, having just turned 38 a week ago myself and the reality of turning 40 comes closer, the only thing I’m not looking forward to are the increasing aches and pains of physically getting older. Our twin babies are wrecking havoc on my lower back like nothing our two older children did. Turning 40 I don’t think will be as psychologically problematic for me as turning 30 because I now have what I always wanted, a family of my own. With my faith and family, turning older is irrelevant. If anything, the only turmoil is the mild reflection of wanting to savor my youth, wondering or wishing how things could have been and alternately hating and enjoying watching my children grow up. But such is life.

  5. Age is truly a gift. Just please don’t stop acting young. I just added the snow too. Very cool!

  6. No is empowering, I need to remember to do it more. When Southern sweet can say no, there is hope for the rest of us. :-)

  7. I’m slowly finding my voice. It’s a tough balance to achieve; saying no with grace and kindness. But really meaning no. :D I’m proud of you lady! Way to go!

    • It is a tough balance to achieve. I found myself on the side of swallowing the grenades to accommodate others’ wishes rather than just saying no. I remember you’ve blogged about similar subjects. You’ll get it, as will I.

  8. Alicia Norton

    I love that you say NO makes more room for YES. That’s a good way to look at it. I have become much more likely to utter NO this year also. My friends (Aimee’s NC pals) and I talk about this a lot these days. We are slowly turning into our mothers. The good news is that my Mama rocks!

  9. ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ░H░A░P░P░Y░(¯”•.¸*♥♥♥*¸.•”¯) ░B░I░R░T░H░D░A░Y░ Aimee

  10. Harold Brecht

    I have had two birthdays in my life that were challenges for me; 30 & 53. I am not why 30 was so hard but I remember being stressed by it. 53 was a big one, because my father died at an early 52, and in the back of my mind I wondered if I would outlive him. Now, I enjoy every birthday! Consider the alternative of not being here to enjoy them. Bring them on; but please let the time in between each go more slowly.
    Your comments about learning to say “no” were great. More need to learn that it’s OK to say no. Do it politely and firmly. It really is freeing.
    Enjoy your birthday. May the Lord richly bless you and your family in this coming year in ways you can’t even imagine and may you continue to be a blessing to others.

  11. I loved reading your blog Aimee! Encouraging. I bought a book Dan mentioned from the pulpit called, I Quit. It’s by a woman who decided to stop saying yes to things she didn’t want to and live more athentically. I’m halfway through, thought of you.

  12. Every time I tried to make a mountain out of a milestone birthday, it passed uneventfully. Turning 50, I swam across a cove that previously had seemed daunting. But the iconic moment came a day later while chopping veggies with dinner guests, realizing the blessings of friendship no matter my age or accomplishments.

    I’ve learned the significant “days of advancement” in my world are never very predictable.

  13. Denise (McNaughton) Hotaling

    This is perfect! As you know I just turned 40 and I have discovered the best phrase of my life…. “No, thats just not possible” I have been using this phrase with everyone from my kids to husband, friends and co-workers. I am finding a freedom that I have never experienced before. This 40 thing is going to be great! D.