40 Is The New Something-Other-Than-40

40-signpost-outside

It’s a great headline: “[insert sort-of old sounding age here] is the new [insert younger age here]!!!” It’s been used by marketing agencies, greeting card companies, and social media acolytes for many years. See what things look like when you just search Google:

40isthenew-googlesearch

There’s certainly the desire to embrace better health insights, younger fashions, and a little bit of silliness. Fashions tend to veer a little bit too young – I’m old enough to have grown up when what your mom wore in her daily life was NOTHING like what her teenage kids wore. Nothing. And both groups were pretty happy with that demarcation.

We also know a ton more about health than we used to, mostly by finally beginning to ignore a lot of the bullshit fed to us (sometimes literally) over the last few generations: that margarine was good, that cholesterol was bad, that low fat was good, that animal-anything was bad, that relaxing in front of the TV was good, that cleaning your own house was bad (or a waste of time), that gyms were good, that getting sunshine was bad . . .  and on, and on. Health is finally beginning, just a little bit, to look more natural. Eat real food. Go outside. Don’t buy all the things. Sit quietly by yourself. Sleep in. We’re starting to get it, and it will only get better. I just hope it gets better before we go broke from healthcare.

Now, the silliness. I cannot tell you how many people in my own life that have stepped out of the woodwork (women, mostly) to reveal that they, like me, have gone through a major life and/or relationship shake-up at the age of 40 or so. Is it a midlife crisis? Is it reaching the end of childbearing years and realizing you’ve got a lot more to squeeze out of life than an 8-lb human through your vagina? I have no clue. Ok, I do, but that’s for another day. Starting “over” at 40 is refreshing even when it is scary. I (we) are still young. Maybe we spent the last decade kind of spinning our wheels psychologically. By cleaving off and pulling up the anchor it can feel like you’ve shed that previous chunk of years. At 40 a person can feel both young in body as well as empowered as all get out with a bunch of young adult wisdom acquired.

Which leads me to . . .

“40 is the new . . . ” works both ways.

Life – your life, everyone’s life – has been happening, even if certain aspects of it were stagnant. Now we have an alternate way of looking at things, something more like:

40 is the new 60!

40 is the new retirement! (If you were lucky and did something smart like Mr. Money Mustache)

40 is the new golden age!

Think of the possibilities when you combine a healthy corporeal space, an optimistic outlook, and the insights from a past that you’re sad to leave behind but couldn’t see it any other way forward. It’s gonna be awesome, this life, and it’s gonna be real interesting.

40isthenew-successkid

Dreamcrafting: DIY Meaningful Dreams

Running, dreaming. Photo by Vanda Mesiarikova via Creative Commons

Running, dreaming. Photo by Vanda Mesiarikova via Creative Commons

This is a new thing to experiment with – directing the subjects of your dreams. Build meaning into your dreams by some deliberate intentioning.

We’re all familiar with having panicked dreams about work or something urgent going on the next day when that’s all you been thinking about the night before. For example, before ultramarathons I typically spend one or more hours trying to sleep, worrying about the alarm, and such. Then I do fall asleep and only dream about the alarm. When I worked jobs that I hated, I would dream I was caught in a neverending work day full of anxiety and angry/disappointed bosses. On the other side of the coin, when we don’t have stressed out dreams, it seems our other dream-mode is just whatever comes up, because our evenings are often routine or uneventful.

I’ve been trying out a few things with planting ideas or subjects for the night’s dreams.

To make this work well, I have crafted two rules of importance:

1. no depressants before bed (alcohol, sleeping pills, et cetera)
2. intellectually and/or emotionally compelling experiences in the few hours before bed

I am not a nightcap kind of gal and I hate sleeping medications (no matter how hard it is to all asleep), so #1 is no problem.

Number 2 is the fun part.

Let’s say you normally spend the few hours before bed reading random things on the internet, browsing reading materials, watching routine TV shows or movies, or doing repetitive tasks like housework. Let’s say that you do these things in an unattached way.

Here’s how to change that up. For one night, or more, do or watch or participate in something extremely engaging of the mind and/or heart. Read someone’s old love letters. Have a heartfelt discussion with a friend. Watch a movie where you get really really into the characters. Read academic works in your area of passion – the kind of reading that makes you break out the highlighter. In other words, do things that have MEANING to you. Soulful meaning, connection with the universe or people or your purpose. Whatever gives you that cerebral tingle.

THEN. See how your dreams are affected. Does the person you conversed with show up in the dream (or someone that seems to represent them in context)? Do you have exceptionally idea-rich dreams, the kind where you need a bedside notebook? Play with it.

Brainbow from the National Institute of Mental Health

Brainbow from the National Institute of Mental Health

I’m receiving two big benefits from this. From the intellectual reading experiment, I get crazy amounts of idea generation. From the personal conversation experiment, I feel a deepening of the connection that had already started with the other person. The only drawback of this secondary effect is that there is no guarantee THEY also experience that sensation. It could tilt the friendship in a lopsided direction. Of course, there is the possibility that they had the same dream experience in the wake of the evening’s interaction, and all is level. That is ideal and pretty cool to ponder.

Dedicated to a few of the recent sources of rule #2. 

Assemble Your Hispanic Hedgehog Army and ASK

The crazy title of this post will be explained once you listen to a rah-rah audio post by the ever wonderful Erika Napoletano, who turns 41 today. She writes about business, entrepreneurship and the general shit that needs doing to light fires under people’s asses. For small consulting fees, she helps stack that kindling and light the match. She’s crass, blunt, and sweary, and I love her.

Her first audio post ever gets into the problem of having to wait a whole year to ask for what you REALLY want, the disillusionment of realizing you don’t really want more stuff, the stupidity of buying stuff just to have stuff or for a momentary feel-good second. She realizes that you can’t get what you want unless you step up and make a list, no matter what your age. The whole world is out there, waiting to be asked for.

(She also joyfully ends her sentences with prepositions and decides on the spot to dress up as a preposition for Halloween next year.)

The warble that comes in and out of her voice is so affecting. So affecting it made my tear ducts warble, too, even as I could hear her sniffling as she recorded. I love it because I am anything but a dickhead – Erika says so.

Happy Birthday, dear Erika.

ASSEMBLE THE HISPANIC HEDGEHOG ARMY!

hedgehog_elvis_sombrero_mexican

BNT: Animated GIFs in the Key of Lovely

Friday and I think I ought to lighten things up just a tad. Next week I’ll have lots of serious shit to post about health and nutrition and other amazing and scary things, so, for today, let’s have some fun.

In the style of Rachel Maddow, this is my “best new thing” submission for the internet as I’ve seen it of late. 🙂

If you’d asked internet experts back in 1999 what thing they figure would make a comeback in the next 10-15 years, you can bet that very few would have said, “hey, these animated GIF things are super rad!”

And yet…. here we are. They range from cheesy to cute, but WIRED just put together a nice little list of well-designed examples from the pros.

http://www.wired.com/design/2013/09/the-rise-of-subtle-tasteful-and-commissioned-animated-gif-illustrations

And for the art aficionados, we have another set which is a bit more subtle but still cool:

http://www.wired.com/design/2013/10/these-wild-gifs-bring-greek-sculptures-to-life/

Knock, Knock, Anxiety Mutherfukker

quickmeme bloggess

Quickmeme aside, this post is short and sweet.

Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, has forever changed the way I look at decorative chickens. No shit, any time I see one of those motherfuckers in a store, I think of her immediately. That’s some branding, y’all. Impressive (even by Ze Frank standards).

She wrote a non-funny, personal, touching blog post today that got over 1400 comments in a matter of minutes. The commenters are people who love her for spewing out her confusion, her sadness, and her fear. People who have those same thoughts, daily, monthly, or minute by minute.

It’s no secret that honesty will get you far. This is yet another example.

We love you, Jenny. And, thanks.