aging · Guest Post

Forty and other “F” words (Guest Post)

Up until this year I looked at each birthday as an accomplishment, another year under the belt and on the right side of the ground, heck ya I have a birthday! This mostly comes from a fortunately failed suicide attempt in my early teens and a long struggle with Major Depressive Disorder (don’t you love how it gets to start with capitals, it’s that important) and seeing each year as a victory in my mental health.

This year, though, 40 feels….complicated. My sister sent me flowers the day before my birthday wishing me a fantastic and fabulous 40.


She is pretty awesome and I definitely pranked her on her 35th birthday with a 40th bouquet so she would have been well within her rights to send me a 50th or 85th or something silly but she went for sincere and I love her for that.

I’m feeling fatigued more than fabulous, the weight of my unmet expectations as I settle into middle age is getting me a bit down. The downside of living with a philosopher is I’m well versed in possible worlds. The possible world where I stayed in the military I’d be at full pension, likely divorced and certainly not living with my children. (I’m terribly overwhelmed at single parenting even over short periods of time.) The possible world where I’d finished my undergrad ages ago and had my masters. The one where I have more material goods, the one I live off my writing and on and on. Quite boring really.

So I’m taking the day off from paid work on my birthday and filling out a great poster Your Life in Weeks to work through all my feelings. Nothing like data and charts to neatly package feelings.

I’m also sliding in and out of grasping what Tracy called making the impossible possible. I thought it was impossible for me to ride in a group yet I started in September doing just that. I also took a wicked fall last weekend while cycling with Sam, randoneur David and my partner Michel. I was messing with my gears, hit some wet leaves then slid up over a curb and went, loudly and with much commotion, over my handlebars. There are bruises on my forearms from the handles, a whopper on my left thigh from the seat and matching pedal bruises on the backs of my calves. I got up and had started shaking from the adrenaline rush and told Michel, who was staring wide eyed, I needed to get back on my bike or I was going to throw up and cry. So back on the bike I got as Sam and David circled back to see what had happened. I was shaky for about 3 km. Michel said the fall was “bad-ass” and he was glad I wasn’t seriously hurt. The thing is my stupid leg still hurts like hell and I’m feeling fragile.

Lots of “F” words to grapple with. I’d love to say I’m fearless and do new things because I feel I can. I’m actually quite fearful so I do new things because I can’t stand my fearfulness. It annoys me, it insults my intelligence.

I’m fortunate to have many friends and family who show me what life in my 40s, 50s and 60s can look like ( and they are all having quite the hootenanny!) so I’m choosing to be forward looking and plan to get the most of my future, whatever it may bring. So, and pardon the language for a moment, FUCK YOU FEAR.

40 is the year I get my degree, the year I rock climb, the year I get a paid writing gig and the year I fake fearlessness until it is actually true.


10 thoughts on “Forty and other “F” words (Guest Post)

  1. Here`s another “F“ – FABULOUS! Well written – as if speaking my fears. Sharing one`s journey brings us effeminates together no matter what the age group. Whenever you write, I will read and listen. Your words and heart touch me each and every time.

  2. Fabulous at forty! Woo hoo. Sorry about your fall. Glad you got right back up again. Like I said, bruises are a right of passage but you’re not a true cyclist until you have scars! Maybe you’ve got them now! Happy birthday (is today the day? I’m On the road and my Facebook is not updating so I don’t know who is having birthdays!! Feeling lost).

  3. Happy Birthday! Here’s another F word for you – “fun” – as in “have fun”. During my forties I started Aikido and distance cycling, and ran my first marathon at 49. I’m now 52 and I truly believe my best years are yet to come.

    Your “year number” means nothing. Celebrate each day and be grateful for everything that comes your way. And keep on challenging yourself. Go get ’em, girl!

    Best, Jeff

  4. Happy Birthday, Natalie– I feel a little like I know you through your honest and funny and insightful posts. Falling can be flat-out scary, especially while riding on pavement. Glad all went well, and that you showed your FORTITUDE through the fear. Speaking as a 52-year-old, there is plenty of FUN and FROLICKING on the other side of FORTY. Enjoy and keep writing!

    1. I’m loving hearing about all the fun!
      I’m grateful to connect with you & other awesome humans through blogging, I think this sharing makes us all a little more amazing 🙂

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