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My friend called me with the name of a man who prescribed estrogen patches and I called him immediately to set up an appointment and investigate. Could it be that there was a cure for my Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde monthly syndrome? I had been searching long and hard for something…anything, that I could take to keep me sane and normal through that one week of hell every month.

His office was located directly next to my yoga studio and so I stopped by after my class. I walked in soaked with sweat but ready to hear more about what he had to offer. “So, tell me why you are here”, he asked as he rocked back in his chair. “I know that you specialize mostly in injecting Botox, but I heard from a reliable source that you are doling out estrogen patches and I want in on it”, I said.

I listened in disbelief as he carelessly regurgitated his asinine philosophy: “Most women hit thirty five years of age and their hormones go downhill and eventually they dry up and fade away.” “Essentially, most mammals die after menopause”. Images flashed through my head of female elephants, baboons and lions dying mid leap.

I asked him if the estrogen patch would increase my chances of getting breast cancer and he smugly told me that as women get older, if they are not going to get breast cancer, or Osteoperosis than they are sure to get inflicted with some other disease to help their demise. “You see, your prime was at twenty five” “As you get older something has got to give”, he said. Was he telling me that I should just cash it in and take the risks?

Repressing the urge to load up and fire out my opinion, I endured his speech. One, of many, benefits of being my age is that I am able to keep my mouth shut when I know it is pointless to open it.

A half hour later I walked out of his office stunned. In my forties, I have found an inner peace and an entirely new view on life and love. My senses are deepened and my openness to the world much greater. I am learning Spanish, writing, reading novels, juggling three boys, relishing in the affections of my husband and deepening my bonds with my girlfriends. Who was this man who could not appreciate the beauty of women in their forties?

Admittedly, getting older has been a huge challenge physically. My friends and I all complain about the new tire around our waists. I have to eat less to stay trim but the food I am eating now is far healthier than ever before and makes me feel like a champion. Mentally, I never have had a good memory so I cannot blame age on my inability to remember things. I can blame my father though, who let me lay unconscious on the couch when I was about eight years old. After I fell down the stairs he presumably felt it would be okay to finish the paper before taking me to the hospital.

This is not to say that I don’t miss the attention I got when I was younger. I’ll never forget one summer day, when I was in my twenties, when I was crossing the street and a young man poked his head out of his car window and thanked me for looking so pretty in my summer dress on such a glorious day. But I was silly, self-conscious and shy and completely unable to handle the compliment.

A few months ago, a man approached me and said that he had spotted my smile from afar and he felt compelled to come over and tell me that it had lit up his day. This time I was much better equipped to absorb and process his compliment and left him marveling at how wonderful it was that my smile could brighten up a stranger’s day.

It is not easy watching the lines deepen around my eyes but if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would smile all the more. It is difficult to go out dancing with my friends without acknowledging that I am a good ten or even twenty years older than the sexy girl dancing next to me but I still bust a move on the dance floor and feel as if I’m in my twenties.

At the end of the session the man told me that he would give me a break and not charge me for his time. Walking out of his office I actually smiled thinking that this is what I love about being in my forties. I could listen to a man’s horrifying opinion on woman and not be taken down by it. I will not allow myself to get caught up in the emotions of an unwise, narrow minded, egotistical, pompous man who thinks he has all the answers to life.

Women are faced with enormous hormonal changes as we get older but this does not mean that we are fading away. Au contraire, our minds and wit are strengthening as well as our inner and outer beauty. I am in my prime right here right now, not when I was twenty five and my hormones were raging, in a different way. I was lost and confused.

I was so grateful to come home to my Wade and my children who see me for who I really am. An energetic, nurturing mother and loving wife who will always be there for them because they need me and I will, as long as I can help it, never fade away.

Enjoy these famous quotes on age:

Agatha Christie:

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find – at the age of fifty, say – that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about…It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.

Anais Nin:

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

Ashley Montagu:

I want to die young at a ripe old age.

Jeanne Moreau:

Age does not protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from age.

Sir Arthur Pinero:

Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.

Colleen McCullough:

The lovely thing about being forty is that you can appreciate twenty-five- year old men more.

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Comment by Lois Eiler on September 9, 2009 at 3:20pm
I got my second degree black belt in my 50th year. I didn't start doing martial arts (and was definitely not athletic) until I was in my 40's. I joke that I have always been a "late bloomer"-- getting married at 38 and having my one and only son at 40, changing careers at 49. Perhaps it's just taken me longer than most to "grow up"-- or to really understand what mattered most and go for it. Still learning that lesson, but it's a good thing. Lovely article Jillian, thank you so much for it.
Comment by Jillylivi on August 31, 2009 at 8:40pm
We are all in it deep but the deeper I go the more I love this crazy world.
Comment by Christine Schettig-Sargent on August 31, 2009 at 4:35pm
I figure I've earned every single second, minute, hour and day of my 45 years, I'm going to be FIERCE and 40+ I deserve it!

Don't we all! :)
Comment by Mary Schumacher on August 29, 2009 at 12:18pm
I am loving my forties! I just don't tell people how deep into the 4th decade I am. ;)

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