On Turning 40: No Expectations?

On Friday, January 26, just a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, I was at a local public school promoting The Fit Co. I had graciously been invited by a client of mine who’s daughter was in kindergarten for their “Groovy Nights” initiative which was about getting kids excited about fitness and wellness. I struck up a conversation with one of the moms there. Turning 50 this coming August, this mom told me that she had left a twenty plus career in Entertainment Television to go back to school to study Interior Design, her lifelong passion.

A decade ago, I was in graduate school for International and Public Affairs, studying Arabic and Middle East Security Policy. I was a few months into a relationship with the man I would marry, and I was just out of my first career in journalism at ABC and CNN. Although I didn’t exactly know how my life would go, I felt pretty confident that a stable job, marriage and at least two kids living in New York City was my path. 

When I was turning 30, I was in the mindset of measuring my life based on "where I thought I should be".  If I am 30, I should be (fill in the blank).  I didn't live my life based on my intuition. It was a check list. What I thought I should accomplish in a certain amount of time.

Turning 40 threw me in a way that I didn’t imagine. For the first time, the idea of mortality creeped into my head. My life could be half over and, if so, I would have lived a good long life. Since my 30s consisted of marriage, divorce, motherhood, two career changes, a long term relationship, and the founding of two companies, I no longer have expectations. I can honestly say that I do not think I should be at a certain place, in a certain time.  But, a bigger question was circulating in my mind; am I living the life I want?  And, if not, what am I waiting for?

On the morning of February 12th, my 40th birthday, I ran into my neighbor as I was heading out.  My neighbor, a widow with two grown sons with the same name as my mother, was always friendly.  I told her it was my 40th birthday.  

"You don't look it," she told me. (Just the other day, my father told me I don't "look a day over 40")

"Thanks," I told her.  "I am not so much concerned about my age.  I really do feel it is just a number.   But I feel this sense of time; a sense of urgency.  I am not sure what for; but a feeling that I want to continue to move forward with whatever it is because time will only go quicker and quicker."

Since turning 40- a whole two weeks ago- I have started to say yes to more that I could do at that moment than before.  In other words, "ain't no time like the present."  When one of my closest friends from High School who had the flu the night of my birthday party and had to cancel told me she wanted to treat me to something special and suggested a massage, given the logistics of our lives and knowing that even with the best of intentions "life" can get in the way,  I made it happen the very next day.  When I am asked for a business meeting, if I have time to fit it in, I will take it instead of looking to the next week.  That being said, I have lived and experienced enough to know that, things happen in its own time.  I do not believe in regrets, as each situation has launched me into the next, perhaps at times in a way unexpected.  I had no idea when, at age 33 and three months pregnant, that a yoga class I took on our meal hour when I was working at the NYPD would introduce me to a lady who I would start writing pre/post-natal fitness for and eventually launch me into my third career.  I had no idea that a brief encounter in the elevator at The Fit Co on my 38th birthday with a health coach that this person would become my social media strategist and one of my biggest allies and supporters.  There are many more examples; but bottom line is, we don't know what path leads where and the timing.

On the afternoon of February 12th, I picked Sophia up from school and we went home briefly before going out for a special dinner.  I saw a card was left under my door.  

"Dear Neighbor, As you celebrate this milestone birthday, you can look back at your life and all that you have accomplished.  And you can look ahead and to what you hope for your future.  But you are exactly where you should be right now."

Circling back to the conversation with the mom at "Groovy Nights".  When she told me her career path, she inquired about mine.  

"Wait," she said.  "So you are a five time marathon runner and mom, a former journalist at ABC and CNN who then studied Arabic and International Security Policy, worked as an analyst at the NYPD, then left and took over Fit 4 Mom which eventually evolved into The Fit Co?  Would love to see where you are when you turn 50." 

Me too; and while I do have goals for myself, I have no expectations. 

Laura Kovall