It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. About two years and seven months, to be exact. I used to use this blog for lots of things, for when I thought I was going to be a food blogger, then to talk about my kids and then to just have a place to write, in case anyone ever asked me if I did, I could say, “Here, I have this,” and hold out my outstretched hand like a kid with money at the drugstore counter.

The last time I tried to write was after my dad died. I wrote about half an entry and quit. And nothing really seemed important enough to write about after that. I was stuck in a writing nether region between thinking no one really cared about what I had to say and actually having nothing to say. And then, the impossible happened, I got a job writing again, which was wonderful. But then, I wrote for my job which meant I didn’t really have the time or inclination to write for myself. Which was fine, until now. Well, really until about last spring when I turned 39. Maybe even before that. This was it, this was the last year of my 30s. MAKE IT COUNT, MAN. IT’S ALL OVER SO SOON. YOU’RE GOING TO BE 40. FORTY!

And for a while mostly what I thought about was how Jay and I would celebrate, as we watched a lot of our friends celebrate turning 40 over the past few years. We’d do it together and we’d have a big party and it would be so much fun and we’d laugh and carry on and eat and drink and be it would amazing. And then, everyone would go home and the hangover would wear off and then it would just be me sitting around with my old age in my hand. Or something.

But as the past year wore on, I would joke that I was only going to turn 40 for one day, to have a party, then I’d go back to 39 forever. After all, I don’t FEEL 40. People don’t say I look 40, so why be 40? The more I thought about it, the more I dreaded it. Here I was–finally! With a job I love that is far enough away from home that I can kind of feel like I’m doing my own thing again, I can be just Elizabeth, and write and edit all day and meet up with friends and go for a run along the river and eat Thai food for lunch. I’m finally living how I always wanted to live in my 20s, yet here I am, middle aged.

In the past 2.5 years, a lot has happened. My dad died. My mom is in an assisted living home and won’t remember my birthday. It sucks. It sucks to not have parental guidance. I don’t think I’ve had any guidance in my life since maybe Gabe was an infant and even then it was limited. Knowing me, I wouldn’t even want it, but still, I want it. Even then, it would be different. My mom would say she had six kids by the time she was 40 and how I wasn’t even born yet. My dad was working all the time to feed six kids. So their advice on turning 40 would probably be a lot different than the advice I’d want. But I’d still want it if we had that kind of relationship. But we don’t, and I’ve been left largely to my own devices to navigate this crazy world. And I’ve been having a hard time this past year with a lot of things. I’ve made some crappy decisions. I’ve been more anxious than normal. I’ve been seeing a therapist. Things have been weird, to say the least. But I see the light. The events surrounding pending 40 created this darkness and doom, but ironically, the physical, actual turning of the clock to the very day I dreaded so much has lifted the curtain to reveal the light and the truth, that the show must go on.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, writing it mostly in my head when I’m running or driving or at times when my head should be elsewhere. I thought about writing this blog, I tinkered with it, batted it about like a cat with a toy mouse for a months. Even though this platform is outdated, ugly, not right for my audience and full of things I’d rather forget I’d written, it’s captured a lot of my life and this is where I’m capturing this, my thoughts on turning this monumental age. So whether this is something you care to read or not, it’s just that I finally have something to say, so I want to say it.

So, in no particular order, with no rhyme or reason, here is what I’ve learned in the past 40 years, through both things I’ve done and things I only wish I did.

  • I’ve f’ed up a lot, but I’ve also not f’ed up a lot more, so I think I’m out of the red, at least for now.
  • Nothing beats a hug from your kid, no matter how mad or sad you are.
  • Coffee cures nearly everything but a really bad hangover, and you should start drinking it in high school, or college at the very least.
  • I slightly distrust people who don’t like coffee.
  • Sometimes you just have to listen, even if you don’t have the answer.
  • If you have dreams, and you want to do something, do it.
  • If the boy is worth it, he’ll wait for you.
  • Take time off between college and your first job, even if just a couple of weeks. Work will be there but the vacation days won’t.
  • Some people won’t like you, they just won’t, and you’ll never know why.
  • ABC–always be cool. It’s the Lowry family motto and gets you pretty far, like 6th row seats at My Morning Jacket concerts.
  • Every time you attempt to pull out a gray hair, you’ll miss and pull out two non-grays first.
  • Epidurals are awesome, and breastfeeding was, frankly, the worst.
  • There is no rhyme or reason to why people come in and out of your lives. Some stick, some don’t.
  • If something’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.
  • If you want to do something, don’t ever give up on it. Even if it has to take a backseat, keep it in the car always.
  • My orthopedic slippers are awesome, and I’m not ashamed to say I love them. It’s like padding around my house on a super-soft-yet-very-supportive-cloud.
  • Exercise is the cure for most things.
  • Alcohol is the cure for all the rest.
  • Yes, I do one so I can have the other.
  • Always make double the amount of food you think you’ll need. The Misleh credo is “no stomach left behind.”
  • There is no such thing as not having enough time to fit in what you love. Time will pass whether you go after your goals or not, so might as well chase after that shit like crazy.
  • I’m glad I went through adolescence and college without a smart phone or even a cell phone. There’s a lot to be said for the spontaneity of life.
  • Also, so much of that time did not need to be recorded.
  • I walk a fine line between “shit happens for a reason” and “shit just happens,” but every once in while, something happens to make you think, maybe, just maybe the universe has a plan if you just open yourself up to it.
  • I’m also a firm believer in the saying, “The harder you work, the luckier you get,” and have found it to be on point.
  • You never want to peak in grade school. Hold out as long as you can. Be different. It’ll all work out eventually, and you’ll be glad you never conformed.
  • Lasers are amazing, both for fixing eye sight and hair removal.
  • Black jellybeans are disgusting.
  • Anything orange flavored is also gross, but actual oranges are fine.
  • Feet are awful. Also never, ever touch me with your feet. I don’t know why you would, but just putting it out there.
  • When you get married, pay the money for a good photographer. Our wedding photos are the worst.
  • Never do what convention says. You don’t have to wear a swim skirt after age 30.
  • On that note, I’m going to wear a bikini for as long as I can. When I’m 80, I know I’d be pissed at myself if I didn’t. I work hard for whatever this is I have and it’s only going downhill from here. So hand me the sunscreen and my sunglasses, and avert your eyes if you have to.
  • Most people say they care less about what people think about them as they get older. I think I’ve found that to be true to a degree, but I still care too much what people think, which is something I would like to change.

Wow. I feel like after 40 years this seems like a pathetic amount of “wisdom” to share, but I procrastinated (shocking) on writing this until just this week and I promised myself I’d pub it before my birthday so I am kinda running out of time here. Maybe I’ll think of some other things and add. Anything you’ve learned as you hit the big 4-0?