Now We Are Forty

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birthday, forty, Alica Mckenna Johnson

Photo by PublicDomainPictures


So as I turned forty last week, there was a real chance that I was going to spend the day eating ice cream while hiding under the covers. However, my daughter had other plans. It turned out that I had a good day and didn’t fall into a massive depression. YAY! Go me.

I’m not where I was hoping to be, or the size I was hoping to be, or as self-actualized as I was hoping to be by forty.

I have a good job, three novels in various stages of editing, a hubby who puts up with me, two great happy kids, and friends who let me talk about characters as if they’re real people. So all in all everything thing is really good

Phoenix Child, Alica McKenna-Johnson

My New Book Cover!!!! See I have things happening 🙂

But I also feel that this is a turning point, not that my life is going downhill or winding down. I’ve been told by older friends that life begins at forty, so yay!!! But the things I have been unhappy about in my life haven’t changed in five years. Somehow I feel different about these situations, able to see things in a new way and I feel a bit stronger and more capable My bullshit tolerance level has dropped, and I’m less likely to put up with anything.

But I’m also feeling the pressure of should weighing upon me.

Should I wear more conservative ‘grown-up’ clothes now that I’m forty?

Should I only think nasty dirty thoughts about guys who are over thirty, now that I’m forty?

Should I magically have more will power and self-control, now that I’m forty?

Should I stop buying pop-culture tee shirts, now that I’m forty?

I did this same kind of thing when I got pregnant. I gave away my purple Doc Martins, black leather motorcycle jacket, and all my heavy metal CDs because ‘good moms shouldn’t have those things’. I was nineteen and stupid, but as you can see at forty those same limiting thoughts are creeping into my head. At least this time they aren’t winning.

I’m excited to see what the next third of my life holds. Yes, I plan to live until one hundred and twenty. I’m excited to see where my low tolerance for bullshit, self-confidence, and strength take me.
Was forty a difficult birthday for you? Does life really begin after forty?

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17 responses »

  1. I turned 36 this year, and for the first time, I actually started to feel a little “old.” Part of the problem is that I work at a university writing centre, so I spend my days surrounded by people who are not yet legally entitled to drink (and I’m old enough to be their mom).

    On the other hand, I’m in the best physical shape of my life (popping joints not withstanding) and I not only know what I want, but how to get it. And I’m old enough to realize that life is too short to waste time on people and activities and things that might try to stand in my way. So… yay?

    That book cover is stunning, by the way. 🙂

  2. First, I LOVE the new book cover! I’m going through some of the same struggles as you, and when I get into a funk about what I haven’t accomplished…YET!…I remind myself to think of all that I have done. We are now on the downhill side of raising kids and I think we are evaluating our lives based on what we haven’t done rather than on what we have done. The kids take care of themselves now so it’s easy to forget how demanding they were for so many years. Our lives revolved around our children.

    You have accomplished a lot, Alica! Just writing and finishing ONE novel is a huge accomplishment, and you have written three. And you have done all this while raising two kids and working at a demanding job. I have nothing but respect for you!

  3. Love the cover! And no, you shouldn’t act like a “grown up” now. Take Neil Gaiman’s advice. 😉

    By coincidence, 40 was the year I went in a new direction. It had nothing to do with turning 40, but other factors. The hubs and I started our healthy lifestyle, I rediscovered my love for writing, worked hard on cutting negativity out of my life, and wrote my first m/m. I’m way happier and more fulfilled than I ever was in my 20s or 30s. It’s never too late! 😀

  4. 40 wasn’t, but 33 was. and girl, get over yourself! why do you need to change who you are just because you are 40?? if you don’t like something then work on that, but if you like it… keep on! happy birthday dear friend!

  5. The 40s are incredible. Welcome!! No, don’t give away anything that is you. Now it is time to she’d only (and all of) what is not. 🙂

    I’m recently 46.
    At 40 I found a new career, one I thought I’d give my next 20 years to–and it was a wild, tumultuous ride that I gave myself over to. Learned much.
    At 43 I took a wild leap, following my heart and spiritual passions–and left that job, woot!!
    At 44 I fell deeply and profoundly in love with my heart’s true mate.
    At 45 I found my new job which allows me to express my skills and learning (from all my previous careers), while still having time and energy to pursue the creative dream I took the wild leap for at age 44. Wow!
    At 46, babies came for me. My two baby nieces moved to my town, and now I’m learning how to have family life . None of these things arrived in my 20s. Or in my 30s. Only in the 40s has my life begun to truly bloom. All the joys and dramas and excitements before had their happinesses (& griefs and losses and love), yet the true expression of my life as it has always wanted to express itself is only just now beginning. At 46. Wow.
    40s are awesome. Happy birthday!!! Welcome. Congratulations on crossing over. 🙂 May this decade be crazily deep and loving, happy and expansive, expressive and enlightening for you–for your happiness abd for the great benefit of us all!! 🙂 Go 40s! Rah rah yeah!

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