Life After 40
It’s a big day today… I am no longer the freshly forty year old I was once, but am instead “into” my forties. Today I am 41 years old, and if you invert that number you get 14, the number that represents the age Sawyer reached today. He’s headed to high school in a couple of weeks, and I am so excited to watch him pursue his dreams and follow his passions as opportunities opens up before his eyes. I’m proud of the kind young man he has turned into, and I am proud that I have had some part in that. His whole life lays ahead of him, and he can go anywhere and do anything he sets his mind to. Just imagine all of the possibilities! Here I stand on this day, full of hope for all that can be for him, but also full of hope for all that is still yet to be for me. I, too, see all the opportunities out there just waiting for me to grab them! At 41, my life is far from over, and I truly believe that I am entering one of the best seasons of my life. Society teaches us that at this age we’re halfway there and our time is running out. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean I am going to wallow in that knowledge. Instead, I am going to run full steam ahead into the future and attempt to become the best version of me that I can as well as attempting to lessen my footprint on the earth, and instead leave it on the hearts of those I love and those I reach through my social media platforms. Today I am going to share with you some of the ways I plan to make this “second half” of my life the better half. I hope what you get from this is inspiration to try to live your best life as well. We are all human and we make mistakes and we fail at our attempts (God knows I have failed at many things in my life); but failure is not the end, just the opening of a new path in a new direction. At 41 I am ready to step foot onto a new path and do my best with my life after 40. (This post contains some affiliate links.)
Limiting Wine: I swore last year at 40 that I was going to be my fittest self, and I was doing really well until we received the news that we were moving. As you can imagine, it was a stressful time which gave way to my eating habits and exercise habits not being what they should be. I added a daily glass of wine as soon as I was done nursing Wilder just to decompress for the day. That one glass often turned into two. I am not proud of it, but hat habit stuck with me well into our actual move. I continued to walk but stopped working out aside from that. For lent this year I gave up wine and did well with it. However, summer came around, and we started our kitchen renovation which is taking a lot longer than planned. We’ve been without a kitchen for two months, and I’ve picked up a weekend wine habit. OK, so more like a 3 day weekend every weekend habit, but it’s time to cut that back. I will not eliminate it as I enjoy sharing wine with my husband or with friends, but no more having wine just to have wine because “Oh hey, it’s after 5 pm!”
Photo from a recent date night at White & Wood
Exercise Smarter: I started running again back in March and I feel so much better about myself than I did with just walking. I also got a seat for Wilder for my bike, and we often take afternoon bike rides. We don’t go too far, but we head out for 30-60 minutes and ride through our neighborhood and an adjacent one that has a lake with swans. We both enjoy the fresh air, and it’s a great workout for me, especially hauling myself plus him up some of the hills! I love cardio! What I always have a hard time with is weight training and stretching. Last year I was doing a quick daily workout and saw a big difference in my definition, but then the move happened. You may not know it, but before I had my older kids, I was a personal trainer. After I had them I continued to teach group exercise classes until we moved to our last house in 2011. When we made that move, there was not a gym close by. I attempted to go to one for a bit, but it felt like a waste of time and gas to drive 15-20 minutes there and back so I cancelled. The downside of that is that I pretty much gave up any weight training or stretching and just made time at home for cardio. I know that I need to be stretching perhaps with yoga, and working on toning and core strengthening. Last week, a new gym just opened a few minutes from our new house and Chris and I decided we could fit it into our budget and I joined this past Monday. I prefer to get my cardio outside, but I plan to attend a couple of classes a week (weight, barre, yoga, etc.) and also take Wilder with me so he gets some time away from me as well as socialization.
Getting ready to cruise around with Wilder
In addition to adding the gym, Chris and I signed up to run the Greensboro Half Marathon in November, so I will be pushing myself harder with running in the coming months. I have run a couple in the past and truly enjoy the mental challenge. (Although, some days I hate it and question what I was thinking. 😉 ) I just bought these “run happy” Brooks Launch 6 shoes this past weekend. I’ve used many brands over the years and have discovered that these suit my flat feet the best, and are generally pretty affordable. I got them when they were on sale. (You can actually see my old ones in the photo above. After months of walking, running, and biking in them, they are worn out.)
Nutrition: I am not going to lie, this is the toughest part of my personal healthcare for me. I love ice cream. You might think you love it, but you don’t know love until you have seen me with a cup of creamy black raspberry decadence. I also love carbs. I can’t resist the smell of freshly baked bread or cookies. That being said, I am going to commit to being better about limiting those things I love a bit more. Here is where my heart currently is when it comes to nutrition, and I do believe that healthy eating will be a result of this ideology, rather than healthy eating being the goal. I have been doing a lot of podcast listening and reading about the effects of different types of food on the environment and it has caused me to already change my habits. I have not eaten beef in a long time, but I have now also eliminated chicken and pork. The meat industry has been a huge contributor to deforestation, uses more water than any other food production, and also uses many chemicals and emits greenhouse gases as well as other toxins into the environment. (This article has more information). I am not here to preach to you at all, and we all can make our own choices, but when I read that, I knew that I wanted to change my habits and do what I could to help preserve our planet. I just know that a tiny drop can cause a big ripple effect, so even just my habits changing will help.
I am NOT going to be cutting out seafood… because SUSHI! I already do my best to purchase wild caught seafood so I will continue to do that. Wild caught fish are better for your body as well as your planet.
In addition to cutting out meat, I am lessening my cheese and dairy consumption and making an effort to make better choices there. We have stopped buying greek yogurt which I loved because it is the worst yogurt for the environment. We buy whole fat yogurt which has been less strained and the best choice when it comes to dairy yogurt. Of course there are vegan yogurts out there, but they are typically pricey and I haven’t found one I love. Cheese is also one of the worse green house gas offenders, so I’ve decided to limit that. Again, this is a personal choice and not something I am forcing on anyone in my family. They will naturally eat less of these things if I am not cooking them more, but if they want grilled cheese for lunch, I will make it and probably steal a bite. 😉
Eggs are also a big part of our diet and egg production is a big contributor to green house gases. We won’t be eliminating them, but we do plan to once again have backyard hens to produce our eggs. We did not have time to build a coop this year but that is our plan in the near future.
Finally, I am doing my best to cut out processed foods as well as individually packaged foods. It’s nearly impossible to cut them all out, but even cutting back a little bit helps. Once our kitchen is done I am hoping to do a lot more homemade granola bars and things like that.
While all of these choices I am making are primarily for the purpose of environmental betterment, I know that they will help me physically as well which is why I placed them under “health.” I’ve been eating like this since we got back from vacation over a week ago and I already feel less bloated.
Meditation: If you checked out my most recent book reviews, you know that I really loved Dan Harris’ book about meditation. It seems that in every self help book, and every inspiring entrepreneurial podcast, meditation is a subject that constantly comes up and is highly praised. I was doing well just 5 minutes a day and then we all got sick… We have 2 more weeks of summer time with the kiddos home, and as soon as they head back to school, I am once again going to start carving those 5 minutes a day out. It’s a great practice for just clearing your mind, and quieting the anxious voices that can get the best of us. I recently had a friend who was trying to make a major life decision and I recommended she just meditate. She had reasons for and reasons against and was letting her brain take her all over the map. I could hear in her voice what her heart really wanted, but I wanted her to come to that decision on her own. After sitting quietly with it for a few days she reached a decision she is thrilled with, and it’s the one I heard her heart telling me it wanted. It was easy for me to hear it in her voice, but it’s a challenge when it comes to my own decisions so I know that I need to take my own advice.
Journaling: Another practice I want to add in for just a few minutes a day is journaling. Again, it seems to be a habit that some of the most successful people in the world practice, so there has to be something to that, right? I asked for a specific journal with prompts for my birthday, and am hoping I get it! If not, I’ll buy it for myself. As much as I love to write, I have never been good at consistently journaling and I sit there unsure of what I want to write about. This journal will help guide me, and eventually I am hoping I won’t need its prompts.
Taking Classes & Seeing Speakers: This one of course is only if it fits my budget! I would love to continue educating myself on all sorts of things and see unique speakers. I am one of those people who absolutely loves hearing motivational speakers live. It would be a total dream to attend Rachel Hollis’ conference, but see the budget comment… because that one is far from fitting mine! I was so lucky to win tickets to a local candle making class and Emmy and I area heading there next Saturday night, so it’s a start!
Travel: Naturally, travel can be pricey, so this may just be taking quick day trips, but exploring nearby areas (hiking trails, local gardens) is always good for the soul.
Reading: I have always been an avid reader, and I’ve gotten myself back in the habit this summer. I always feel better when I am reading, and I’ve tried lately to choose more thought provoking nonfiction pieces. Mixing in fiction helps clear my mind from too much seriousness though. 😉 I will soon be joining a few other instagrammers to create a little book club and I will be sure to share the information here as well. We’d love for it to be more interactive!
Listening to Inspiring Podcasts: There are a million and one podcasts out there and so many I have yet to explore, but I love entrepreneurial podcasts, and true inspiring stories! My favorites include The Moth, Tim Ferriss, How I Built This, & Masters of Scale. There are also a hundred more I have saved on my phone that I have not yet had time to delve into but hope to one day.
Exercise: While I talked about exercise above in physical health, we all know that there are so many mental health benefits as well. I always feel more balanced, less anxious, and more confident when I am exercising regularly.
Date My Spouse: A friend of mine makes a weekly date with her spouse, a weekend getaway each month, and a trip each year. Chris and I don’t have the time or money for that, but we both definitely feel like we need to make sure we make the time to reconnect once a month, even if it’s just a cheap date like trivia night at a local brewery. Almost 16 years, 3 kids, and 4 houses into our marriage, we’ve learned a lot over the years and our relationship has grown. We’ve been through some turbulence, and there have been days where I am sure we’ve both wanted to walk away (I can only speak for myself, but I assume I’ve made Chris feel that way as well.) However, we went into this marriage knowing that there would be times that it would be hard work and we are both committed and willing to put in that work as needed. Many of our hard times have brought us and our family closer together and we’re currently at a point where our communication is better than it has been in the past. (We are pretty much polar opposites with how we communicate, so it takes effort to see things the other person’s way.) We both feel it’s important to maintain that connection and one on one time. Back in June we took our first date (as pictured above!) in a long time. We’re so fortunate to be at a point where Sawyer and Emmy can babysit for us once a month so we can get some time out together. In July while we were at the beach, we stuffed ourselves silly with sushi and enjoyed a nighttime walk on the beach. These moments are SO important so that we remember that we aren’t just parents together. The kids activities and needs keep us so busy, but these monthly dates help us remember that each of us is so much more than Mom or Dad.
One on One Time with My Kids: Naturally, Wilder gets so much of my time because he’s the baby and home with me so much more often. However, I only have 4 more years left with Sawyer at home, and he’s at a critical age. High school can be an exciting time of growth, but also a challenging time. Emmy is headed into 7th grade, and in my own experience, middle school was the most challenging for me to navigate as a child. I often felt alone, not good enough, not cool enough. With social media (none of which Sawyer is on) and all of the pressures kids face these days, I worry about the mental health of my own children. I never want my kids to feel like they are in this life alone. I want them to know that they have parents who are always here for them, will love them no matter who they are, and will always have the time for them. As school begins I am planning to take them each on early morning breakfast dates or evenings out for ice cream, walks with the dogs, and I wish for Chris to do the same. In my experience with parenting them so far, I’ve found that when something is troubling them, I need to NOT ask questions, but just show up. Eventually, they will come to me with what’s on their heart. However, if I ask the questions, I am generally viewed as bothersome and shut down. It’s taken me some time to learn what works best, but I’ve found our sweet spot for the most part. As parents sometimes we try so hard, but really all we have to do is show up… not just physically but mentally.
Emmy and I took an evening stroll for seashells at the beach, leaving the 3 boys behind at the house.
Love Myself: I am going to try harder to love and respect myself more. As is the case for many of us, I am my own worst critic. My inner narrator is constantly telling me that I am a failure because I am not earning an income to help our family or just allow us the little extras here and there at the moment. My goal is to quiet those voices through meditation, and also to change the focus on to all of the good things I am doing each day (through journaling about them each evening). I want to get to the point that I wake up every day knowing I am enough, rather than waking up already feeling behind on where I think I should be in the world. Just like Jack Handey said, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
In addition to that, I need to establish boundaries that respect my value. There are so many companies that want to take advantage of influencers and I plan to do better at saying “no” when a company doesn’t offer me a mutually beneficial relationship. As a busy mother of 3, I just don’t have the time to work for brands who don’t appreciate what I have to offer.
In all other relationships: Be a good listener. Be present in the company I am with. Make people feel loved, listened to, and respected. Invite people over, despite a messy house. Make a few new friends, but be a great friend to the ones I already have. Make time to get out for girls nights. Do things that others want to do, even if they may not sounds that fun to me, because I might be pleasantly surprised.
Do More Good
Shop Responsibly: Oh this is SUCH a hard one! In today’s day and age there is so much fast consumerism going on and we can find items at great deals and easily purchase without a thought. I am guilty. I love Amazon prime! I love shopping affordable items at Target. However, think of all of the energy consumed and the exhaust output in all of those boxes being shipped day after day and in all of the steps it takes to process clothing. I have three kids and I want to leave this world a better place for them, so I am going to do my best to be more responsible. This article features some great tips on how to shop more responsibly. There are some great companies popping up that have wonderful ethics and style, and I am going to do my best to shop those places when I need something. Additionally, I am going to try to shop less, which is going to be much better for my budget anyhow.
In addition to shopping less, I am going to do my best to source shops that offer ethical products. With this in mind, I have recently decided to become an ambassador for Wakened Apparel, a company that merges philanthropy, art, and sustainability. When they reached out to me to ask if I would be interested, the timing was perfect as this topic has been on my mind lately. I will be sharing more about them in the future on instagram, and here as well, but here are a few of my favorite pieces, one you might find this fall in a some of my tours. 😉 What I love about Wakened aside from their ethics, is that their items are affordable. They’ve also agreed to offer all of my readers a 10% discount off your order with code CASSIEB10.
A few other great ethical brands to check out include ModCloth (love their affordable styles!), Loft, LL Bean, People Tree (a little pricey for me, but great pieces to save up for), . You can also find a much more extensive list here including everything from beauty to accessories to food!
Additionally, shopping vintage will always be a great way to shop responsibly. Reduce, reuse, recycle! I’ll be partnering with a great vintage rug shop soon, and I am excited to promote all of the beautiful rugs Ed has in his shop.
Finally, I have and always will do my best to support the indie businesses and makers out there pouring blood, sweat, and tears into their creations. As a previous small vintage business owner, I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it is to have customers come back time and again, make connections with you, and support you. I will always do the same for others who are following their passions. I’ve got some great indie companies I will be sharing this coming Fall with you. (Hello, gorgeous new dining table!)
While these are all ways that I hope to make a difference in consumerism, I wanted to share my thoughts here with you so that you can come here and know that you can trust what I am promoting on my page.
Reduce Plastic Use: All of the plastic that falls into the ocean and forests is devastating to so many creatures. Our family has a special relationship with sea turtles, and we want to do the best we can to limit our plastic use in their honor especially. (Once our kitchen is renovated, this will be a lot easier for us.) With the school year approaching, I’ve already made some purchases to help us reduce our use of plastic. We usually use reusable containers, but my kids really prefer bags in their lunches, so I ordered these reusable bags which come with 3 stainless steel straws which are great because we love smoothies! I had planned on ordering straws but that saved me the trouble. Additionally, I purchased these mesh produce bags for use at the grocery store and farmers market. Finally, I ordered these sippy cups for Wilder which are made from recycled plastic and a portion of the proceeds benefits endangered animals.
Just Be a Better Human: Say yes to volunteer opportunities I am passionate about, but know enough to say no to those that will feel like a burden. Be a good neighbor. Sell less on facebook and donate more to those in need. Pack my car with bottles of water and granola bars to hand to homeless people. (I always intend to do this and somehow it slips my mind, but i really want to start.)
Blog/Social Media: To be perfectly transparent, I don’t know where this is all headed. I’ve been stagnant for some time and this blog doesn’t make money for me. However, I know that I want to use my platforms to encourage, inspire, and empower women, especially those over 40. My head has been spinning with ideas this past summer, and I am not yet sure what that means, but I am hoping to do some good on my little corner of the internet. With my family needing me so much at the moment, my goal is to just use what time I have to do the best I can here to bring you great content, inspiring projects, and thoughtful writing. My hope, of course, is that money will soon follow, but that’s not my main goal here.
Redesign: If ever it is in my budget in the near future, I would love to redesign my website and logo to suit the aesthetics of our current house. Or perhaps my kids can take some classes and figure it all out for me. 🙂
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thank you! You have the patience of a saint. 😉 Thank you for sticking with me. I started this blog in January of 2009, when I was just 30 years old. You’ve been with me through the ups and downs of my entire thirties, helped me kick off my forties, and I hope that you will stick around for decades to come. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I am not trying to impart my beliefs onto you today. What I am doing is creating a written document of how I intend to make the rest of the my life the better half, and sharing insight with you on why I will be making certain decisions in the future. Even though I am just one woman, I can make a difference with these small actions. And perhaps, if you and others reading this feel it, a ripple effect will occur and we can all start to make this world a better place.