Balance the inside with the outside and liberate yourself at 40

When a friend turned forty, I decided to gift her books on my reading list.  I had crossed forty a few years earlier and to me, books seemed the ideal gift. “Words would be of value,” I thought.  In the the birthday message, I wrote, “From now on it is more about balance of the inside with the outside. “

I try to apply this balance in what I do and how I carry myself.  This change in attitude did not happen as a sudden conscious decision, but as a gradual inclination of my mind to go deeper into thoughts that came along with the addition of different experiences over time in my life.

I realized I was trying to create that balance when I looked at myself in the mirror before heading out one night for a dinner with friends.  I was wearing a simple cotton blouse and black pants, with a smaller than usual set of earrings, just an eyeliner and no other makeup, cute sandals rather than gaudy be-jeweled stilettos and a subdued purse.  O’ I did look chic, but just enough to compliment what I had to say.  I wanted conversation deeper than just a comment about how well dressed I looked.

This was nearly a year before I turned forty.  By the time I turned forty, the balance was probably a part of me.  I had painted all my life and written off and on, but now I was doing in-depth self-studies and talking about it.  No longer was my conversation just about the outwardly self.  If fashion happened to be discussed socially, I would go deeper and talk about the inspiration and the message behind the longer shirt length.

Somewhere along the way, this balance liberated my mind from the walls I had self-created around what I did.  The walls fell on my birthday.  I clearly remember…

When I turned forty, I decided to celebrate my own birthday.  I made the plan two weeks ahead of time and carefully worked out what I wanted to do.  The idea of throwing a party on my birthday was not new to me and I had done it for the previous four years.  But my parties were dinners planned with friends with music and excitement and the grandest of fashion.  Instructions were mailed out ahead of time and there was a buzz in the community about them.  Friends were excited because they knew that they would be in on some grand entertainment. 

‘Not this time,’ I said to myself as I planned the big day.  This party was about what I want to do and I hoped that my friends would also enjoy what I wanted to do.  Casual… jeans and a t-shirt, weekend family lunch at home, Italian spaghetti with meat sauce and a double decker cake and only my dearest friends in town.

The birthday was a ton of fun.  My daughter secretly took over the cake planning and conspired with dad to design such a special cake with my name printed on the side on the second layer.  A sight I will never forget!

More than anything that happened on my 40th birthday, I remember this calm about me.  I remember the carefree attitude which said,” I don’t care if things fall apart.  I will still have fun.”  And fun, we all did have because there was no fear of pleasing the guests or what ifs.  It was all about what is, is.  And it was about interesting in-depth conversations about what we all were into.

So in honor of all those who cross 40 and break the internal walls, expose yourself to try new things. I have complied five things that would push me outside my comfort zone and break more walls.  Maybe you can try some of these and break your walls sooner than when you turn forty:

1.     Attend a free talk at the Texas Book Festival on November 2nd.

2.     Try listening to music at ACL.

3.     Attend a talk at UT about a subject that has fascinated you.

4.     Watch a movie that touches a social issue and stay for the q/a

5.     Try dressing up to understate yourself and enhance what you are about.