From 16 Candles to 40 Candles

Happy 40th BirthdayToday is my 40th birthday.

This started as a piece about my own views of beauty and has become so much more than I ever realized possible. It’s become a manifesto to women as we not only reach a certain age, but surpass what that age is supposed to “mean” to the ever intrusive vanity lorders.

Sharing breaks down age barriers and instead gives grace, dignity, and, most importantly, self back to women who are entering a time in our life when we are told we’re “less desirable” and “not young enough”.

I’m thankful for my friends who volunteered not only their time, but their wisdom. They’ve shared their heart, all because I asked on Facebook.

It has been the best present a girl could ever receive.

What I’ve learned from them is we are all beautiful and that beauty is something we have to grow into. No matter what we look like, we’re always growing and learning and that affects us inside and out.

The most important lesson I’ve taken away is:

We are only as good as our belief in ourselves.

I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Even as our outsides and definition of beauty changes, we are who we are.

We’re beautiful. 

Instead of weaving everyone’s comments within a post, I’d rather let them speak for themselves. I’d also love to hear from you. Leave a comment. Email me. I’m all ears.

From Leticia Barr – Brain Sharer, Education & Technology Expert, foodie at Tech Savvy Mama:

As I get older, beauty means more than just outward as it once did. With age, comes wisdom, confidence, and appreciation of the beauty within myself and the ability to recognize it in others.

From April Dwiggins Fouweather – Artist, Cougar, Lifelong friend:

I have never been the type to obsess over beauty- sure I went through the phase of playing with cosmetics, and I’ve certainly always had them; but I discovered fairly early that I really preferred the additional 15 minutes or so of sleep each morning.

Getting up and “putting on a face” never had a lot of appeal to me, especially since I knew it’d end up looking like hell halfway through the day anyway. Not much has changed, even though I’m now 41 and have a vested interest in keeping my young, beautiful husband enthralled with me.

I have tons of cosmetics now- artists are suckers for colors, after all- but they still only get pulled out when I have a special occasion or I just need the calming ritual of applying it. Most days, my skin walks around au natural.

That’s because I believe in one simple little truth about beauty.

There is no product on this planet that can work miracles.

Beauty begins within. I won’t lie, it’s almost impossible to love yourself and believe you are beautiful every day, but that doesn’t change the fact that is the true secret of beauty.

That means every new grey hair, every new wrinkle… you gotta love them. You have to see them, accept them, and wear them like a badge of honor. They are *you*, after all- visual indicators of your personal tale; and whether you believe it or not, it’s a tale worth seeing and hearing.

From Connie, 51, Owner of Princess Time Toys and Founder at Misc Finds For U:

“I’ve learned as I got older not to waste one minute on negative self-talk. It’s destructive. I look back at pictures from my youth and realize I should have worn sleeveless tops, bathing suits, and all the other things I thought I couldn’t because I thought I was fat. I wasn’t. I looked great and I should have enjoyed it. Now it’s about the person I am, not the body I have, that makes me great.”

From Dawn Sandomeno – Party Planner Extraordinaire, Beach Lover and Hockey Mom at Party Blue Prints:

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I need to update my definition of beauty.  To be my “beautiful best”, I need to accept it and embrace it, not fight it. There are days I don’t do this, when I look in the mirror and wish that an age spot, wrinkle or grey hair wasn’t there. Sometimes they even make me feel scared. Aging DOES change your looks; and trying to look like you’re in your 20’s when you’re in you’re 40’s is NOT possible. I think it’s actually counter-productive to looking your best. I feel more beautiful and I know I look more beautiful to those around me, when I’m healthy, happy, confident, and I open my heart to them. This is my new beautiful. All the botox, hair color and makeup in the world can’t create that beauty.”

From Jessica, Writer, Sports Nut, Coffee Drinker, Avid Recycler and Social Do-Gooder  at Found the Marbles:

 “As I have gotten older I have realized that it is really very simple.  All that matters is how I feel in my own skin.”

From Lynette Young, G+ Powerhouse, purple hair aficionado:

“There seems to be something magical about being in your 40s. Experience becomes wisdom, confidence becomes sexy, wrinkles become character. Oh, wait. Screw that, I have enough character without wrinkles. Stick with wisdom and a sexy attitude!”

Lynette Young (41.5 years old & *finally* loving it!)

From Lee Reyes-Fournier – Therapist who tells it like it is and will travel 3 hours to spend 1 with you, at CoupleDumb:

I’ll be 47 in a couple of months. What I’ve learned since I turned 40 is the following:

  1. I don’t suffer fools. I would rather have a few good friends than surrounded by assholes.
  2. As long as my eyes are sparkling with happiness, I can ignore the lines that weren’t there before.

From Rachee Fagg – Hooker of Yarn, Librarian, Twin, and Book Lover at Say it Rah-shay.:

Growing older has meant that I am looked at, looked past, “Ma’amed” and “Missed.”  I have good days when I silently cheer that I am often mistaken for younger and bad days when I wish I could take every time that I picked at my face. But, I feel comfortable in my skin and really love and enjoy the me that I see.
From Jasmine Banks – Effervescent, Outspoken,  and Beautiful at The Brokins:

Though I’ve only lived 27 years in this body, I feel like the journey I have been on is a long one. As a person who has never been the conventional appropriate body type and struggled with infertility I have wrestle with the truth of loving your body where it is at. One thing I have learned is to identify the deep power and grace that is found in what my body CAN do instead of what my body cannot do. I have strong legs, beautiful lips, and a beautiful profile. I focus on the things I love. That doesn’t mean, however, every once in awhile I wish the girls would decide to point a different direction… if ya know what I mean 😉

From Tricia Oakes a/k/a TPO a/k/a gal who lights up any room at Southern Spark:

When I look back at pictures of my younger self, I think how adorable I was, and that I had no idea. I was precious and thin in a way that only youth allows, and I’ll never have that back. What makes me really sad is that I thought I was fat and not nearly beautiful enough. So now when I begin fretting over wrinkles and extra poundage, I think that my 70 or 80 year old self will look back at pictures of me now and think how young I looked, and think, “Wow. I was adorable. I’m glad I rocked it so hard. It was really fun making 37 look good.”

From Shana Dieli – Creator of Sunset Sunday and Instagrammer at ShanaMama:

I have never had really high self esteem when it comes to my looks and body. That only lowered after my first pregnancy. But over time, heart ache and lots of tears I have learned that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t have to be a size six to be considered beautiful. So in other words I have come to be happy in my own skin. There are times when those ugly feeling rear their ugly heads but reminding myself of what I’ve learned and having an amazing group of friends helps me get out of my funk.

From Melanie Nelson – Writer.Editor.Redhead.Neatest roommate EVER:  Blogging Basics 101:
I’ve learned that I love myself without makeup (although I always wear mascara). I only wear full makeup if I’m speaking or at a conference. I’ve tried primers, but the makeup still doesn’t stay out of my wrinkles. :) LOL And I’m perfectly fine with my wrinkles because they really are from the laughter I’ve shared. My forehead creases are from concentration, learning, and hard work. Forty is the best thing that happened to me.
From my dear friend, Wendy Jameson, CEO of Colnatec:

What I’ve learned: Beauty isn’t always a blessing. The dark side of beauty is the assumption that it makes your life easy, that what you have isn’t because you were smart or savvy, but only because of how you look. You have to be smarter and stronger than all other women to be taken seriously. People assume that you have advanced because you have a special relationship with a man–as though you couldn’t have earned it on your own. That’s the hardest thing for me.

On the plus side, people warm easily to women they consider beautiful. If you are willing to use it to your advantage, it can be a significant advantage. Sarah Palin is a master at this. But it has won her as many haters as admirers.

I’ve also learned that women in general don’t like (or at least they distrust) other women who are beautiful. I think it’s mostly because we just want to be like them. It’s worse for women who’ve been told they’re beautiful most of their lives.

I’m one of those women who has been told this all her life. I think because of it I’ve worked harder to be smarter, to prove that it’s not just my looks that have earned me my accomplishments. For a time I even fought it, wearing no makeup, dressing Goth, deliberately trying to be average. It’s not that I genuinely believed I was beautiful–it’s hard for me to see what others have seen (I see only the flaws)–but rather that I didn’t want to stand out for how I look. I wanted my smarts to stand on their own.

And now that I’m 48, I realize how beauty is fleeting, and I wish I’d been more accepting of myself over the years. I refused to see or believe that I was beautiful. Sometimes I got there, but mostly I just felt average. Now I accept the definition and I’m more willing to OWN it, to USE it (at least what’s left of it lol). I see beauty everywhere, and now I acknowledge it when I see it. I want other women to know they’re beautiful. We can never hear it enough.

From my friend, the ever outspoken, Jim Mitchem at Obsessed with Conformity:

I think my advice is no advice. No gender or age specific advice, anyway. You’re 40. You’re doing something right. Focus on the things that make you happiest and do more of those things more often.

From Nichole Brown, my Southern sister of the heart and Francophile, at Ogilvy Earth:

My thoughts on beauty have evolved over the years. Now that I’m in my 40s, I feel more beautiful when I feel confident. My choices in clothes, make up, accessories, hair styles, etc. are based on what makes me feel good about myself. My perception of beauty is based more on what I feel and see, and so much less on what others see and think.

For me, the ABC of beauty is Always Be Confident.

I have also learned that it’s important to invest in better quality products and to partake in beauty/skin care regimens – facials, massages. You have to protect the foundation.

From Molly Cantrell-King, a garrulous, impish, creative, passionate Being; Executive Director Women With Drive Foundation:

Blame Ponce de León for the migration of the elderly to Florida. Are these seniors drawn by the possibility of finding the Fountain of Youth? If so, they certainly wouldn’t be the first. The pursuit of eternal vibrancy or even immortality is not limited to well-to-do-pensioners with a preference for $9 buffets and shuffleboard marathons.

It’s a mirage after which humanity has lusted for eons.

Birthdays are a linear, temporal “mile marker” that for many who keep a youthful perspective, ceases to have literal meaning and becomes more of an arbitrary indicator of measurement.

What is beauty?

Graciousness. Compassion. Forgiveness. Pliancy. Love. These are usually considered feelings or emotions, but I would also posit that these are very real frequencies that alter the matter through which they flow, including people.

People who consistently practice these traits are “beautiful.” Their eyes shine. Their skin glows. Their hands are gentle and steady.

“Age” is an artificial score-keeping digit we’ve invented to organize actuarial tables. Beauty is timeless.

From Crystal Dempsey –  Do-gooder.Connector.Instigator. Boss Lady at  From The Hip Communications:

  1.  Patience is more than a virtue… it’s essential. I always thought I had to solve a problem or fix something right away. Nope… not true. Sometimes things will work themselves out if you give it time.
  2. Take care of yourself before you take care of everyone else. I don’t practice this one every day but I try.
  3.  It’s ok to say No.
  4.  Sleep is a beautiful thing.
  5. So is coffee.
  6. And exercise. Seriously, just walk for 30 minutes a day. Outside if possible.
  7. Say “Thank you,” “Hello” and “I love you” often. Also, make eye contact as often as possible
  8. Saved the biggest one for last! ALWAYS listen to your intuition… or trust your gut… whatever you want to call it. I believe by this point in life most people have a good sense of self… respect it.
Becca Bernstein – Mom. Redhead. Writer. Social Media. Entrepreneur of Make Believe:
I don’t know if I have wisdom to offer. I guess the one thing I know works for me in terms of beauty better than anything else is a nice, long walk. It calms me, makes me feel better about life and myself and centers me. And being centered is being beautiful.
Elena Sonnino – Lover of wine, travel, social good and marathons from Live.Do.Grow and Just.Be.Enough:

Beauty sometimes hides behind a cloud. It is always there, but can be hard to see or notice. Over the years, I have excelled at identifying beauty in others and around me, but not always in myself. As the days pass I force myself to find the beautiful in myself by waking up saying “I will” each morning instead of in my closet crying because nothing fits. I am in control of my own beauty, not the scale or even the opinion of anyone else. Me. Just me. I get to define what it means, what it looks like, and how it feels.

Beauty is not fleeting, it is evolving and sometimes looks different to each of us. You just have to watch for it, name it, celebrate it. I may never be what a fashion magazine calls beautiful, but it is there. In my laughter, in my determination as I cross a finish line, in the way I cry, and in the way I love.

From Cristina Cassidy, Owner and Executive Director of Cristina Cassidy Productions, a video production company serving the Southeast and beyond.

When I was young, I remember seeing women my age and thinking, “I never want to be old!” Now I look at young girls and think, “I’m so glad I’m not young!” Back then, a very wise, older woman said to me, “When we are young, there are no wrinkles. Everyone is beautiful. But when we age, those lines and wrinkles show who we really are and how we’ve lived our lives.” I never forgot that. I think there is something to be said for embracing the aging process. I’ve recently stopped dyeing my hair, and I love how I look. The woman staring back at me in the mirror is a woman who has lived a full life. I see wisdom in her eyes and a deep understanding of many things that used to seem so mysterious. To grow old gracefully, for me, is truly a spiritual experience.

From the adorable Amiyrah Martin at 4 Hats and Frugal:

1. Being paranoid can help you and your body in the long run. When I was 15, I read in a magazine that crow’s feet actually start around the age of 11. That freaked me out so much that I started to pay more attention to moisturizing, whether it was around my eyes, my face or my neck. Now that i’m older, I see so many beauty gurus commenting on how important moisturizing is. My paranoia put me ahead of the game.

2. Stress equals ugly. Stress can cause bags under the eyes, problems with your hair and nail growth, and even your teeth. It can also cause major issues within your body, so you end up feeling ugly outside as well as in. Take 10 minutes a day to relax, or 1 day a week to veg out and do something you love. It will make you feel eternally young.

  • Stacie

    I love this! Happy Birthday, friend. :)

  • Lisa

    Thank you, darlin! It meant a lot to share wisdom with others. It’s part of what makes the world go ’round! Love you!

  • Lori Lavender Luz

    Happy birthday, Lisa! Enjoy your 40s.

    I gotta remember this:”Beauty begins within.”

  • Jasmine

    Happy Happy Birthday, Lisa… now blow those candles out before you burn this place down 😉

  • Lisa

    Thank you, darlin! I’ll be blowing them out and living it up!

  • Lisa

    Thank you, Lori! Mwah!

  • Melanie Nelson

    Such great advice from so many of your friends. What a great idea for a post. Thank you for sharing it. And a very happy birthday to you! Relish 40 — it’s awesome.

  • Lisa

    Thank you, Melanie! This has meant more to me and I hope to continue it as a running theme. Just have to work it out :)

  • LisaCrazyAdventuresinParenting

    I super-de-duper love this post, and I love YOU even more. Happiest of birthdays to you, sweet pea. And thank you xo

  • Lee Reyes-Fournier

    Truth! Happy Birthday, my friend! It only gets better!

  • shellthings

    I love this! And happy birthday to you! xo

  • Lisa

    Thank you, darlin :) I blew them out and rinsed them off. No flames here!

  • Lisa

    It’s a good one to remember babe. A very good one.

  • Lisa

    Thank you, darlin!

  • Lisa

    Thank you sweetheart!

  • Lisa

    Thank you, darlin! I love you too!

  • Ann at Mundane Magic

    This collaboration of wisdom…wonderful. Thanks for the gift of this post. I hope your forties are the beginning of an amazing phase in your life.

  • Lisa

    Thank you, Ann! I’m so happy you enjoyed this post and appreciate your kind words!

  • Karen Murray

    Happy birthday babe. I didn’t get a chance to chime in. It’s been a while since I’ve seen 40, which I turned 2 weeks after 9/11. Kind of put things in perspective. My 40’s became the decade of doing what you needed to do to survive and get through to the next day – work, errands, kids, etc. I heard that a woman is at her peak, personally and professionally, at 46, so you have that to look forward to. Now that I’ve snuck into the next decade (and then some), I’ve learned that life is too short to sweat the small stuff, or quite often, the really big stuff. It’s just life. It happens. You either go on, or you give up and die. For most of us, that’s not the preferred option. Surround yourself with love, and people you care about, and let go of the rest of the world whenever you can. See you soon.

  • Lisa

    I love you, Karen. You’re spot on, surround myself with those I care about :) I see you soon, babe.