What I know at 46I just celebrated my forty-sixth birthday and since most of the people in my family die around the age of ninety-one, I can confidently say I’m on the other side of the proverbial “hill.” For years, my age didn’t bother me because I have always looked younger than my actual age, but now I get comments like, “Oh, you look great for your age!” Hmmmm Ya, I guess looking 40 instead of 46 is still, well, middle-aged.

But I’ve realized that with this stage of my life, there is a lot of letting go of B.S. that younger people focus on. The following are some of the gifts that have come with embracing middle age.

Exercise is for my health, not to be skinny. I want to be able to be mobile and not dependent on anyone else for as long as possible.  That mean building up muscle mass now.

Exercise is anything that pushes you further than where you are now. Twenty years ago I did my first marathon. Today, I can’t do three miles without my hip hurting for two weeks. I did a “Mixed Level Yoga” class this week (You know they one they say beginners could take) that just about killed me. So now I’m sticking to the “Gentle Yoga” classes. I will not pay attention to what the person on the treadmill next to me is doing. I’m only trying to be better than I was yesterday, not better than anyone else.

I consider my looks for myself and my husband, no one else. What makes me feel good and beautiful? What makes my husband happy? Outside of that, it doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to pick up guys so I’m not dressing for their attention. I’m not trying to compete with other women. So I don’t dress to outdo them.

My bucket list has changed. I don’t have to keep the bucket list I made at age 23. One of the things on it was to learn to play the guitar. I got one, took a series of classes, and I sucked. Did not enjoy it. So at around age forty, I gave myself permission to take it off the bucket list. As a matter of fact, my bucket list is quite short and I don’t even recall all that was on it 23 years ago.

Along those lines, I find myself not buying as many books or wanting to learn new things that others think I’d be interested in learning. I recently sold some used books to a book store and got $10.00 back. I walked around the store and realized there was nothing there I wanted to buy. People, this is a first! Cook books? Nah, I have plenty already at home and can get a new recipe online instead of buying a whole book. Learn how to knit? Who am I kidding? I don’t have the patience or attention span for that. Fiction? I have too many books to read for my job, I don’t have time for fiction. And the major thing is that I already have a shelf full at home with books I haven’t read yet, I don’t need to clutter up my house with more. So, they had an audio cord to plug my iphone into the usb in my car so I can listen to podcasts and books on tape while I drive for $9.99. That’s what I got instead.

Hollywood favorites are aging right along with me. Before I realized I was getting old, I noticed others were. Watching a TV show, I’d think, “Dang, Matthew Perry is looking old!” Courtney Cox and the plastic surgery aren’t winning the aging battle either. Then I realized, “Well, I guess I don’t look twenty-six anymore either!” When James Bond goes from an actor who is two years older than me to one I would have babysat because he’s eleven years younger than me, ya, I’m old.

Don’t know who these new “celebrities” are and don’t care. I see in my news feed these stories about so-and-so and how she and this other so-and-so just broke up. I click on it (don’t judge me) and I see their pics and I realize that I have no idea who these people are. Divorces, babies, nanny scandals? Don’t know these people and I’m OK with that.

So, there you go. I can’t stop timing from marching on so I’m just going to pick up my flag and march along with it, with freedom and permission to enjoy what life has to offer me.

Hope you will as well.