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Thoughts on Turning 40

February 25, 2014

Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA


I am turning 40 in just over a month, and to be honest I usually forget how old I am and have to take my daughters age and then do the math knowing I had her shortly after turning 30. I thought I was 38 for  a couple months this year and then was like – oh wait, no I am 39! Ha! I am not someone hung up on age. I really believe age is a state of mind and you can be a spry young 80 year old (we all know them – don’t dare tell them they are 80!) and or an old and tired 30 year old. I have decided to go down young. And now that I am on the cusp of this milestone which I really don’t feel like is a milestone but poignant all the same, I am thinking about what it means to me. And because I write to figure things out here it goes….  on turning 40. 




Maybe this is halftime. Maybe this is intermission. 40 years. I pray I have another 40 years to follow the first act. I have heard spiritual teachers say time is an illusion, to experience timelessness. But there are clocks and calendars, and to do list and birthdays. There are anniversaries and New Years. Timelessness yes, but Walden said, “as if you could kill time without injuring eternity”. Consider the lowly second, so easy to disregard with its lack of importance. “It will only take a second”. “I will be there in a second”. Maybe a second is everything. Maybe a second is the bronze medal or no medal, a car accident or avoiding disaster, just boarding the 11:07 train as the doors click behind you and  you take a seat in aisle 24 next to your soul mate. On the cusp of my 40th, I am considering time – gorgeous, expansive time and I don’t want to waste one sacred second. I want to celebrate every glorious one, not the one that preceded it, not the one to follow, that very second and get into the details of life. I don’t want to waste one act, one deed, one word.

40 years. Every experience in my life brought me to this. I thank God for every one of them. The beautiful and precious and silent ones and the heartbreaking ones. And sometimes especially the heartbreaking ones simply because these are the ones I don’t always understand, these are the ones that instruct me. These are the ones that cause me to rise, and rise, and then rise again.

40 years. And there is still is so much to learn, so much to do, so much to experience, and share and give. I hardly think I can get it all done. 40 years. I am not looking back; I am looking forward. I am not feeling old; I am feeling like I need to pick up the pace because time is a tickin. I am not lamenting the past; I honestly believe my 40s may be the best decade of my life.

My yoga teacher says the meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give that gift to the world. The gift is love. And I want to give, and give and give for another 40 years. I want to give until I am completely spent, and there is nothing left. I want to leave absolutely nothing on the field.



Happy Birthday to me! Another milestone – 1!


40 years. And magazines and commercials are telling me to erase time, to fight aging, to hide wrinkles and crows feet and believe me I understand. But once I heard a story of a woman, a cancer survivor who celebrated every silver hair, every wrinkle. To grow old is a priviledge not everyone is lucky enough to experience. Not everyone sees their children grow. Not everyone has another day. Maybe we earn our wrinkles. Every laugh line is a memory and every worry line from all the love and care we pour over our children. Maybe faces are maps and to erase them is to erase us, our history. When I crave youth I look to my children. They are the young. I can let go of my youth with grace. I don’t need to erase anything.

Milestone birthdays are the pause button. The previous act just ended and the orchestra is warming up, getting ready to introduce the second act. The curtain draws and stage left enters a woman, brown hair, green eyes, easy smile. She is walking forward, looking towards something. It is her future. All the moments in her life brought her to this, to understand how precious time is. She doesn’t want to waste one second of it.

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  1. Cathy

      on February 25, 2014 7:31 am

    You, my friend, are simply beautiful!! I LOVE your attitude and perspective!! I’m 10 days into 40 and it’s pretty great!! Can’t wait to share this 2nd Act with you!!


  2. Marykate

      on February 25, 2014 7:34 am

    Yay! So happy to hear you say that! For some reason 40 feels more significant than 30 – 30 felt like a “grown up” 20. Cheers! To 40 sweet friend!


  3. Cathy

      on February 25, 2014 8:57 am

    My SIL says 40 is the new 30! 😉 Yes, 40 does feel more significant to me too! :)


  4. rachel

      on February 25, 2014 11:59 am

    that was amazing and inspiring – happy birthday, here is to at least 40 more!


  5. Heidi Farmer

      on February 25, 2014 6:24 pm

    Do you know all 3 of us are turning 40 this year?? What a kwinky-dink!

    I tend to feel more legit as a I get older – this perhaps the product of having a 3.5-years-older husband who has been the “young guy” at work. He did turn to me and state recently, “I can’t believe I have a wife who’s turning 40!” Don’t worry – I punched him.

    But on the good side: I couldn’t get into the 40-year-old tennis league at 39.5 that all my friends are in. So here’s to that!


  6. Michelle Mancini

      on February 25, 2014 10:27 pm

    This is incredible! YOU are amazing and your “gift of love” is shared and celebrated by many every day. We are the luckiest to have you! Thank you for sharing this piece. It warms my heart! I know, with absolute certainty, that this will be your very best decade yet! Love you MK-xoxo


  7. Marykate

      on February 26, 2014 6:47 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you all for the touching and inspiring comments!! I am deeply blessed. XXOO Mk


  8. Andra O'Brien

      on February 26, 2014 2:21 pm

    This was beautifully written and holds so much meaning. I absolutely loved it! Nice work Marykate xo!


  9. Anne Schenendorf

      on February 27, 2014 2:53 pm

    Oh, Katiebabes you writing has and always will I think flatten me. I am coated in goosebumps and tears fill my eyes. Oh what a gorgeous 40 years it’s been. I rarely know for sure what age I either. This so poinant and reminds me of what I have always known- God blessed me went he sent me to be your sister. You grace and and presence is SUCH a gift to us all. Ok, more tears. I hope it’s 50 years and me in the chair next to you- stealing your math and doing my age accordingly. 😉 I love you more than words- to the end of the universe and back. I love you spectacular sister. You have done well in how you spend your dash…


  10. Jourdie Ross

      on March 9, 2014 5:40 am

    Hi MK!

    Joanne sent me the link to this piece in response to a recent post
    ( ) I wrote about experiencing sadness. Your reflection dovetails beautiful with my own thoughts and aspiration, especially the instruction to appreciate the heartbreaking moments because they “cause [us] to rise, and rise, and rise again.” This is my project for the moment, to embrace what hardship comes because it reveals a deeper wisdom and grace if I can only let it. Thanks for your thoughts and your words.

    P.S. I’m Joanne’s niece if the name’s not ringing a bell.


  11. Marykate

      on March 9, 2014 7:42 am

    Hi Jourdie!! I did recognize the name!! Hello!! Thank you so much for posting. I just read your gorgeous piece. So honest and pure. And so courageous! Gold is tested in fire, diamonds are created from pressure – you, my darling, are a diamond. Remember that. And remember there is a purpose to all of it. I am writing a book about this very thing. :) I have a theory about warriors and if life has been hard – then you must be a warrior! Writing is the best outlet. It truly keeps me sane. You probably feel the same! Sending love and hugs!! I am going to follow you – your writing is so beautiful!


  12. Jourdie Ross

      on March 10, 2014 4:58 am

    Thanks MK. It helps to exchange about the experience when life gets befuddling, hehe. There’s a philosophy about warriors in Buddhism too; I’m trying to learn to be a peaceful one. From what I can gather, it’s the most powerful kind. I look forward to reading your book and finding out more about your ideas on the topic. All the best and much love! And thanks for the hugs and the follow, all of which is very encouraging. :)


  13. Tina Bolin-Ruane

      on July 3, 2014 9:00 pm

    MK, I can’t believe I am only reading this now. It was beautiful and I thank you for putting things into perspective. I hit 40 in November and it hasn’t bothered me a bit. ❤️


  14. Marykate

      on July 7, 2014 9:40 pm

    Thanks Tina!! Life is a gift! And so is aging. It’s natural – somehow we all forgot that! Cheers to you old friend!!


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