The hands of the clock press forward, the Earth’s rotation spins onward. Somehow, another year has gone by.

The end of this year is somewhat climactic as at the beginning of the next brings a milestone birthday. I used to dread this age. After turning 35 I laughed with my friends that old age was just around the corner. We would sigh and bemoan our newfound grey hair, blemishes on our once unremarkable skin. 40, we would say, akin to a foot in the grave.

But then, little chirps from colleagues, friends, relatives, and the lovely people of the internet began to fill my yearning heart with hope. For as many times as I hear “enjoy your kids while they’re young” I also hear “the 40’s were the best years of my life.” Is this possible? Instead of impending doom will my fourth decade instead be filled with the best of times?

The cake I made for my husband’s 45th, at least he will always be older than me!

My last post was written in February after many long winter months. Feeling melancholy after the few years prior that were filled with endless change and grief, my head was still in tumult. People around me meant well in trying to help me to see how fortunate I still was, but healing is subjective with an indefinite timeline and my process hadn’t run its course. It should also be accepted that life has its difficult, sad and depressing moments. The timeline and pathway to a sense of normalcy can look different for everyone, and it took me a long time to learn that.

As I embrace for another winter I find myself with a different urgency for change. I hear the ticking clock and question if I have started my children off on the right path in life, if I have done enough to preserve my health for the future, if I have made the right decisions in my career. Is this a midlife crisis? My weight loss and increasing number of bottles involved in my skin care regiment tell me it’s headed that direction. But on a positive note I have also felt a burden being lifted.

When I was younger my parents instilled in me that happiness was derived from career success and wealth. As I continue to age society tells me it stems from beauty and being trendy and the perfect parent. However, my own journey through loss, pain, and depression has taught me that my needs are much simpler. Happiness to me is my family-a loving husband, my children who make me laugh and make me proud, family movie days in our pajamas with popcorn, and reading endless books on cloudy days ignoring the messy house in the background (because cleaning does not bring me joy).

I strongly believe the reason so many people reach this middle age and say they are the best of times is there is a sense of freedom to shed the expectations and need for external validation that was of utmost importance in decades past. I am slowly realizing it no longer matters what clothes I wear because people like me for who I am regardless of my sweatpants. If someone doesn’t enjoy my attire I am now comfortable saying they are probably not someone I care to impress anyway. My motivators in life are to be comfortable as much as possible, physically and mentally. For me, this means joggers and coffee in hand.

We can create our own happiness, to a certain extent. I accept that I am privileged, typing this from my comfortable home where I have security of my job and the love of a wonderful man who treats me well and my worries are minimal compared to some. But I also have to actively work to find ways to keep my mind occupied otherwise I’m at risk of slipping into bad habits of over-thinking and anxiety which then easily morph into depression. I have started many projects to do just that including writing most of a novel (then trashing it), continuing with my social media accounts, and most recently opening a shop of my own designs with hopes that someday I can also support my aging parents.

I have had my share of struggles in life and worked hard to get to where I am today. I think the uphill battle is why I can now settle happily into the downhill slide. I am content to sit in the quiet and type this all out today in my big blue chair sipping an iced coffee. So maybe my 40’s will be great, I certainly can’t wait to find out.

Cheers 🙂