The Fourth Decade of My Life

A lot of people call 40 the new 30 and it has always confused me. Why can't it just be 40? If the premise is that it's a younger, hipper, more self-aware version of you, then wouldn't that version be completely cool with being the age you are? Seems like we always have to add a pithy phrase to make transitions easier -- I say screw it! Be loud, be proud, be 40 and fabulous.

For me, every year of my life has been a stepping stone to where I am today. And every year has been marked (and sometimes tarnished) with ugliness, beauty, success, failure, growth, regression and everything in between in case I left out a fancy adjective or verb. I look back at my life and definitely can appreciate the easier years equally as much as I can celebrate surviving the more difficult ones... but again, each has led me to where I am now -- a hot, sassy, sexy, experienced, smart woman, whose soul is standing tall.

That being said, the fourth decade of my life has been highly liberating and here's a few reasons why:

Backwards Walker Has Left the Building: When I was younger and slightly more insecure about my body, specifically my tush, I would walk backwards if I found myself naked, with a man. I didn't like my butt much, so I adopted the Backwards Walk to prohibit anyone from seeing my less favorable side. I thought I looked pretty good from the front and was comfortable showing that side off (my father has now skipped ahead to the next paragraph), so I hid behind my own behind. Jump to present day: While my tush is still my least favorite body part, I love the skin I'm in, because of what it represents as a whole; my mind, body and spirit are exceptional as one complete unit. I am more than just my badonkadonk, so I strut my stuff from every angle; I prance, I dance and I shake my money maker with pride, from the inside.

No means No: I am asked to do a lot. I am a single, working mom, raising a child alone. I am pulled in a lot of different directions, expectations are set high and I am an overachiever and a people pleaser -- this lifestyle is exhausting. So I have embraced the word NO (followed by a "but thank you for thinking of me" -- courtesy is never lost in my world). I have learned how to set better boundaries, by striking a balance between what I want to do, with what I actually can do and what I can't. Not over extending myself is the gift that keeps on giving. This is not easy, but invoking the healthy NO, has allowed me to be more present, have better follow through, less stress and less guilt. And you know us Jews, we corner the market in that area, so I am happy to give up the real estate.

The 40th Inning Stretch: I want to experience life, with unbridled passion. I have always been a bit of a risk taker, but sadly, the planner in me is the Alpha dog -- so my risks are typically calculated. And as much as I'd like to think I am spontaneous, I am also a mother, with a job, a mortgage and a sense of responsibility that is through the roof, so my limits are still limiting. However, I am choosing to stretch them out a bit; I analyze a little less, I talk myself INTO things, as opposed to OUT OF, and I'm challenging my carefree side to a few "bucket list items" that are collecting dust as they sit in the pail. I am getting off my barka-life-lounger and raising my sights higher. This is my 40th Inning Stretch. There is definitely a theme song brewing here ....

Stay Classy Goldman: I am highly opinionated -- that is not news. I am not a wallflower - that should not be shocking. I am calm, cool, collected and dislike confrontation -- this is not alarming. Finding the grey area between all of these - is awkward. I have always been revered as a woman with integrity, who is strong willed, who speaks her mind, who is kind, courteous, tactful and classy. I am sensitive to how I will be perceived if I go against the grain or if I am controversial or provocative in my thinking. Being in the public eye for so long (personally and professionally), forces one to be decidedly cautious and sometimes forced to bite ones tongue, lip or anything else to keep the mouth shut, even when the inclination is to spout off. As I have matured, I am far more confident with who I am and slightly less concerned with the perceptions of others. I am clearer about what I put out in the world and the choices I make, and I am willing to reap the benefits as well as endure the repercussions for my actions, thoughts and feelings. So while I will always continue to be a classy broad, you might find me exploring the world outside the safe zone a little more, throwing my arms around the edgier side that sits just below the surface.

• Rolaids and Readers: I have completely embraced the passing of Rolaids and the sharing of Readers, as opposed to the hand rolled joints and shots of Jack Daniels of years gone by. This changing of the guard started when I was pregnant and my best friend and I both suffered from severe heartburn; I remember how hard we laughed when I pulled a bag of cherry flavored Tums from my handbag, as opposed to an icy cold Keystone or stale cigarette. Nowadays, 6:30 is a perfectly acceptable time to meet for dinner, nobody brings boxed wine and the discussions are about politics, spirituality, new tax laws that none of us understand, love, loss, life. We even share secrets about the remedies we use to help us sleep, the meds prescribed for our aches and pains, and whether or not Ginkoba really works. My inner teenager would be mortified, but the fierce woman in me is highly educated about the common changes in my body that come with age and the camaraderie I share with others in my demographic, is profound. And I have to say, bonding like this with friends is far more enlightening, than blowing my ear drums out at the hot new club. *Disclaimer: my posse and I are the coolest and we can still tear it up and experience the most amazing adventures, even if we all turn into pumpkins at 11:00 p.m. My dad was right, only trouble comes after midnight!

The moral of the story: I am more at ease with who I am at this stage, than ever before. I am certainly not cured of my idiosyncrasies and my fears and concerns vacillate as I move through this next phase; but I am also far less concerned what others think they know about me and more focused on what I know of myself. I choose my friends more wisely, I research more deeply, and I leap into life, knowing I have overcome the worst and survived. I am on the lookout for the "Mary Tyler Moore Hat Moment" every day. Please tell me you get that reference!

This is how I burst onto the 40th scene, and I am fairly certain the 30-year-old version of me would not have been able to handle it.

What did you do to make a splash in your decade-th?