I'm in the midst of my 40s now, and at this point, through the process of therapy, meditation, many years of self-discovery and ongoing self reflection, I have a fairly grounded idea of who I am, what I like, my passions, and I know my limits.
That said, a few things did surprise me along the way:
1. I'm now an early riser. I could never imagined this in my 20s or 30s, but now I actually kinda like getting up early. I love the quiet solitude before the rest of the house wakes up. I love making coffee by myself, packing the kids' lunches, and getting ready for the day.... In peace. In my previous life I always dreamed of being an early riser, and now I am one. And I gotta say, I kinda like it!
2. I loved the show "Wednesday" on Netflix (I hate scary movies).
3. I'm a little shocked at how much I enjoy not working full time. I don't think I'll ever go back to work in Corporate America.
4. I'm actually a pretty good judge of character, and my intuitions have always been right.
5. I'm less afraid of the unknown. This was not a path I thought I'd take, but now I'm on it, I'm enjoying putting together the jigsaw puzzle that is my life. Maybe I'll go back to school, or back to work part time; or maybe I'll start a new business!
6. I'm so happy being married. My parents were not the best role models, and I kinda always imagined marriage to be turbulent and unsteady. But mine turned out to be exactly... not that. We put in 12 good years of marriage counseling and it paid off handsomely. We are able to resolve conflicts civilly, fight with civility, and build mutual trust and respect. Also gratitude is the secret sauce. I'm so grateful to my husband who works hard, is a great dad, and contributes to the community. He's got issues (we all do) but I'm so happy to build this life together.
7. I'm not afraid to quit anymore. Recently a dear friend left a job she's had for 10+ years. Despite a wonderful community of friends who adore her, the work place toxicity became too much and she knew it was time. It was painful for her and her community, but I knew it was the right thing for her. I trust that love will keep us together, even if I can't see her every week. In a way, I love her even more because I know she's not afraid anymore. Starting over can be scary, but the knowledge in your self worth and abilities will keep you afloat.
8. I'm not worried about "cutting someone off." It doesn't mean that I'll never speak to that person again, or never make eye contact, or never interact in public. It just means (to me), that I'm not putting forth anymore efforts to continue/build the relationship. There are people that you spend time with, and there are people you don't. And knowing the difference and drawing some boundaries... That's a DO.
9. I'm don't cook everyday anymore. I know, judging by my Facebook pics you wouldn't believe it's true, but that's the reality. Some days I make complete, healthy, nutritious meals for my family. Other days we eat Dyno buddies + some broccoli for lunch. Not every meal can be the best meal, but everyone gets fed and we move on.
10. I'm not mad at the people who treated me like shit (anymore). This illustrious list includes my own mother, a Google HR VP, the former Waymo CEO, my ex, and a few friends too. It's not that they don't deserve the wrath, (they do), it's just that I understand now humans are complicated and flawed. And when faced with difficulties and challenges, some folks do... Not great things. And I don't need to forgive and forget, but I can also just let go of the hurt and anger they caused. Don't get me wrong, I will NEVER let anyone treat me like that again! But in the meantime holding grudges seems like a lot of work, and I ain't got time for that.
In the midst of life and all of us turbulence and calms, I guess the most stunning realization (and radical thought) is this.... NOTHING is permanent, everything is temporary. Feeling excited? That will pass. Feeling angry? That will also pass. It's okay to have feelings, it's less okay to get stuck in them. The key is to just keep moving, for better or worse. It's not the end of the world if someone loses their job - it's actually the beginning of a new career. It's not catastrophe if a relationship ends, it's the beginning of a new phase in life, where you learn to live without that person.
For better or worse, dear friends, I'm glad we've got each other along the way. In the end we'll lose everyone and everything we've ever held dear, but I'm so happy we have each other along the way. Thanks for being a part of this incredible journey.