Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I am staring a forty. Staring pretty closely, actually, as it’s just six days away. Forty. That would be a four followed by a zero.

I’m sorry, what?

Some months ago I wrote a blog about the elusive nature of adulthood, and as I approach this milestone I just can’t help thinking about that again. Because while I understand on some sort of literal level that I am an adult with adult-like things like a husband, children, a job, a mortgage, and achy joints, I can’t help but think that the main difference between me now and me twenty-five years ago is that I choose to wear comfortable brown boots instead of pink high top Chuck Taylors; that I understand that watches, if I choose to wear them, are more practical on my wrist than piled up three-high in my mightly spiked ponytail.

Despite all this, I don’t dread the approaching new decade. My hair may no longer be any color besides gray without my increasingly-assertive intervention, and people might keep trying to call me “M'am” or “Mrs.”, but I appreciate forty. I certainly wouldn’t want to return to the horrors of adolescence, the angst of the twenties, or even the search for meaning that can happen in your thirties. No – forty feels good. Maybe the number itself feels crazy but the life that’s contained within it is simply beautiful. When I spread out the tapestry of these past forty years and I look at the wonderful things and the funny things and the scary things and the horrible things and the complicated things, all I can think to say is wow.

Some look at the forties and beyond, lamenting the movement into “middle age,” but what does “middle age” mean, anyway? None of us know when we are actually “middle aged” because none of us know the course of our lives. For some, “middle age” comes much, much too early, where others just hit the “middle” when those around them are winding down. So rather than pay attention to the number forty, which can echo in my head like some sort of barker at a circus if I let it, I will celebrate all the parts of my life that have collected on that tapestry and created the me that lives within the forty. I will dance to the music of the 80s, I will reminisce with friends I’ve had since I was just slightly older than my daughter is now (oh, man), I will look into the eyes of my children  and pray that they are as blessed as I have been.

So, forty? Bring it on. Maybe I’ll go out and buy myself a new pair of high top Chuck Taylors to celebrate.

How can you celebrate your life, today? 


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.