I don’t quite know how this crept up on me. But here I am, 40.

I’m not ashamed of the number. Nor uncomfortable about entering into a new age category on government forms and internet dating profiles. But this birthday feels poignant. Potent.

Image via Favim
Image via Favim

Forty is halfway. Up until this mid-point (Lord, I’m now middleaged!), my life approach was all “run-up”. Everything was ahead of me, as potential. I’d taken jobs that were a “good experience” that would prepare me for my real job… one day. I had relationships that were good practice for when I met my soul mate. I’d not worried about certain things – committing, settling down, um, buying a couch – because I was in preparation mode. Lining up my ducks.

The past four decades have been a dress rehearsal for the “real performance”.

But today I’ve arrived. This is it.

No more run ups. No more rehearsals. I have to get out there on the stage and bear myself to the audience.

This is who I am. No hiding behind the excuse that I’m in training and still testing the waters.

And, you know what, this feels good. Like, really good.

I think some people hit this mid-point with the heart-sinky impression that what goes up most now come down, that 40 is a pinnacle and it’s a downhill journey from here.

I don’t see it this way. I’ve reflected on it a bit and I’ve chosen to see to stay here at the summit for quite some time.

I’m going to cruise at altitude for as along as I feel good about it before descending into old age.

Which is to say, a long time.

I recently finished reading Helen Garner’s essay collection True Stories. Garner’s writing is so measured, honest and unapologetic. She writes about turning 50. “The grand thing about being fifty is how tough you can be. You don’t have to care about what people think. You can let things rip, in your work…you can stop wanting to be nice.” She uses the example where some bloke accuses her of not laughing at much any more. Her retort: “Yes, I do – but not at the same things; and I don’t feel obliged to crack jokes and kick up my heels just to keep a stranger comfortable.” Me neither.

This kind of freedom comes from feeling like you’ve arrived. You’re not having to prepare, impress, get run-up. Germaine Greer in The Change refers to “Calm, grave, quiet women”. She’s referring to women who’ve arrived. She adds that this kind of woman drives men to distraction. Which should never be an intentional consequence of reaching your pinnacle, but often it just is.

I’m happy with what I’ve achieved in my life so far. My run-ups were helpful; they led me on to this stage I now stand on. Arriving on the stage, finally, feels like a relief. I don’t have to be attention-grabbing or heel-kicking. I can enjoy the calm, grave, quiet view and own the stage. I can act out my own play for the next 40 years.

Hoo-bloody-rah to that.

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Dolly Levi

    Happy Birthday Sarah xx

  • Georgia

    lovely

  • Sarah Garnett

    Happy 40th Sarah! I LOVED turning 40, it was so liberating. Turning 50 was a bit more of a challenge but I’m with Helen, I don’t feel like I have to be fun if I don’t want to 🙂

  • megfee

    Yes, yes, and yes! Happy Birthday–happy arrival!

  • Happy birthday!

  • Mary Mizzi

    Happy Birthda Sweet Sarah, have an amazing day. Thanks for always speaking from the heart.

  • Joanna

    After finally watching the doco’ about Bill Cunningham last night, I am wondering why you think 40 is half way…? Why, Miss Sarah?

    Happy birthday!!!

  • Jessie

    Congratulations on your Rite of Passage! I am 66, love your website and just feel better and more balanced and “wise” and peaceful and HAPPY as the years go on. Thank you for your presence!

  • Wendy

    Happy birthday Sarah, you give us inspiration xx

    PS I will turn 52 in 2 weeks and still feel like I am in my 30’s

  • Kat

    Happy Birthday Sarah, welcome to the naughty forties
    life seems to get better and happier as I go through my 40’s.
    I love it, and I am sure you will as well.
    Enjoy your day and celebrate it in every indulgent way you can imagine!

  • Ian

    Happy birthday Sarah.

    “I can act out my own play for the next 40 years.” Yes, yes. It’s a great feeling. Enjoy the cruising. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it with all that wisdom you possess.

    Enjoy your celebrations of this wonderful milestone. x

  • IamVikkiKate

    Well Happy Birthday Sarah! Out of all your posts I think this one resonated with me the most. Might have something to do with the fact I’m also a ’74 kid, single and wondering how on earth I am one of “those” middle aged people I remember from my 20’s? You know. The ones that had it all together. Married. Kids. Gasp! Some even had a grandkid not far off on the horizon. I look nothing like them. Act nothing like them. Or so I choose to believe anyway. 😉

    Hope you have a lovely day!

  • Diane

    Happy Birthday Sarah, I hope you have a wonderful day and rest of your life. Enjoy your pinnacle, on your choice of stage ♥

  • Cheryl

    Happy Happy Sarah ! What ever date that feeling of “enough” arrives it’s BLISS.. Enjoy.

  • Marija

    HiP HiP HoOrAy – HaPpY 40th BiRtHdAy! Hoping your day is fabulous and each day after that! I’ll be joining your new category next month 🙂

  • Carolyn

    Happy Birthday Sarah!
    love that you feel the added confidence of no more rehearsals- this is you!
    Its liberating hey!

  • Claudia

    You life is about to start to get fun. I was 40 when I met the love of my life and married him at 41 and that was nine years ago… I am 50 and have learned the most important lessons of my life the last 10 years… So, enjoy the ride….

  • Leanne

    Happy birthday Sarah! So glad you’re planning to stay ‘at the summit for quite some time’ because you are one truly awesome and authentic chick. Thanks for being you and for always giving so much! Love your work. Xx

  • IQS_Team

    Happy birthday Boss Lady from the entire IQS Team x x x

  • Boya

    Happy Birthday Sarah!

  • Wonderful post Sarah, what an exciting and liberating time for you! Thank you for all that you do and wishing you the happiest of birthdays…the best is yet to come, I’m sure x

  • Marianna

    Happy Birthday Sarah!!

  • Sugandha

    Happy birthday! – I just turned 30 (ok well almost 31 now haha) and felt a little of the same, relief at leaving the 20’s behind and starting to feel a lot more comfortable in my skin. Here’s to 40 (and more!) years of love and laughter and just cruisin’.

  • Anna

    Wishing you a very happy birthday Sarah! You’re blog is fantastic, thank you so much for all the inspiration and understanding you provide, week in, week out.
    I hope your 40’s are your best years yet (I am sure they will be!)

  • Gabriella

    Happy Birthday Sarah! Sending lots of birthday wishes your way and I hope you have a fantastic day 🙂

  • Vic

    Happy birthday! You’ve said just how I feel, having turned 40 a month ago.. Feels good! I can relax into just being myself without apology. Here’s to 40! Enjoy 🙂

  • Emma

    You rock Sarah! With pure honesty and openness. Well done. Happy birthday!

  • Happy birthday Sarah! And also, welcome to the 40 club. Life really does get better from here. I just turned 42 in December. My 20’s I spent flittering around not knowing anything really. My 30’s were a time of growth, expansion, painful trauma and the resultant healing. Last year (age 41) I just finished my level 1 Kinesiology qualification and while I do feel that I’ve arrived, *that* was a massive time of transformation, too.
    I think the transformations keep on coming, but we get more “bring it on” instead of feeling nervous and scared.
    Keep on doing what you’re doing! x

  • Japolina

    Happy Birthday. For me, leading up to 40 was far more traumatic than afterwards. My 40’s (so far) have been my happiest years!

  • Ms Jane

    My sister, who has terminal cancer, said to me when I was whining about getting older “every birthday is a blessing”. Have a great day Sarah xxx

  • Judy

    Let’s face it, 40 is just a number. It doesn’t define who you are, or what you have or haven’t achieved. YOU are defined by your mental and physical attitude to life. Don’t think about a number, just get on with life. Be YOU, be in it, be NOW.

  • Julie

    Sarah Wilson I love you! You always make me smile as I did today when I read the title of your post.
    I’m 55 and life just keeps getting better, and my husband is driven to distraction as you said.
    So Happy Birthday lovely lady and enjoy the ride. It’s great.
    Juliexxx

  • mw

    Happy Birthday Sarah !

    http://youtu.be/dGU7d5wzC0Y

  • Tam

    Like everyone else here’s a big Happy Birthday to you! I know its a significant number, but even the significant ones are just labels. More important is who you are, what you do, and how you act and feel inside!!

  • Sandra Osorio

    You’re reading a book which is ahead of you…I’m reading this post which is ahead of me (10 years in each case)…perhaps is a good thing…perhaps not! All in all, Happy Birthday clever Sarah!…Glad you’re happy with your achievements…that’s all that should matter!

  • aeg

    Happy Birthday, Sarah! You have achieved so much already in your life — be proud. I will turn 30 in a few months’ time. I’m also embarking on a PhD in February. This feels like a milestone year/birthday to me, too. Sometimes my body feels quite old as the auto-immune disease cycles. If anyone can tell me how to feel more comfortable with grey (actually, white) hair at my age, I’m all ears. The process started the same year as I was diagnosed with two AI diseases, but I’m not sure if they are linked or not. I’m not ready to look old yet!

  • Daniel

    Happy Birthday Sarah !!!
    Life is a journey, so I am wishing you to enjoy every single mile and may the grass be the greenest on your hill, always … 🙂
    You are a such rare gem Sarah …

  • Elle

    Happy birthday Sarah! You’ve moved many a mountain and, as you say, now is time to enjoy the view. I can only hope that I feel the same when I turn 40 (actually, when I turn 25 next month would be nice!). I long for the day when I feel ready to ‘begin’ my life in full, when I feel prepared enough to dive in whole-heartedly. Congratulations and good luck!

  • Wendy Smith

    Woohoo! Congratulations! I loved 40 – it was the best feeling for a new exciting decade ahead. I’m now 43 1/2 and every year just gets better. 🙂

  • Happy birthday Sarah! Love your philosophy + at 33 I can attest that life truly does get better with age. Enjoy xx

  • BuddhaMum

    Happy Birthday Sarah! I’m turning 40 in October and was intrigued to see how you (the gorgeous, healthy, happy and utterly inspiring person that you are ) might handle turning the big 4 O. I’ve been a bit perplexed as to how I really feel about it particularly as I am the last of our friends to “get there”. I love your post. Your quote “I’m going to cruise at altitude for as long as I feel good about it before descending into old age” certainly appealed to the hiker in me and has become my new mantra. You’ve actually got me excited about becoming 40. But shhhhhhh. Don’t tell my friends I said that.
    Happy celebrating. Looking forward to starting your IQS 8 week program at the end of January as a way to improve the health and vitality of myself and my family of 6.

  • MissCarole

    Happy Birthday Sarah! I turn 40 in a few weeks’ time. Your article came just in time 😉

  • Angela Leggo

    Happy birthday and wow. Since discovering your blog I’ve found so much inspiration. Your life in no way corresponds to mine in any form, but somehow you make it relatable. I guess because your so real, like a friend writing letters. Thanks 🙂

  • Happy Birthday Sarah 🙂

  • Cirque Du Bebe

    Happy Birthday. Always appreciate your honest, no holds barred point of view!

  • Michelle Galea

    Happy 40th Sarah. As someone about ti depart her 40s this year & head to the next milestone I appreciate your sentiments of a decade birthday. Age brings a sense of comfort & peace of living to please yourself without caring too much what others think. Thankyou for imparting your knowledge of good sugar free food. It has helped my daughter enormously in the healing of her chronic skin condition. Be proud that you have made a true difference in your life. Happy days ahead.

  • Alex

    Happy birthday Sarah!

  • beautiful words, thanks for sharing! Happy Birthday x

  • Natalie

    Happy 40th Birthday! If this truly is mid-point, then think about all the wonderful possibilities that lie ahead considering everything you have experienced and learnt about life up until now- things that some people never discover, or do so much later on in their lives. Have an awesome day!

  • Mersi

    Happy Birthday Sarah! What a lovely post. I turned 31 today and look forward to turning 40 and hopefully having the feeling of “I have arrived where I need to be”

  • Lucy Rundle

    Wonderful post (as usual) Sarah. I particularly love the idea of cruising at altitude.. Your work is amazing and inspiring, please keep it up. And happiest of birthdays to you!

  • Sal

    Happy Birthday!! Enjoy it all….

  • Happy happy day, bright star! One of my biggest blessings from 2013 was coming upon you and your inspiring work, offerings, actions, words. You’ve inspired me (turning 43 on Feb 15) in so many ways – from quitting sugar to simplifying my wardrobe; from exercising in the AM to dropping the toxic cosmetics. In my heart, I know you’re a soul sister to me, and I love you for that. Strive on, show up, sparkle, and soar this, your 40th year. So much goodness awaits: I promise.
    Jx

    PS: I was/still am a loner, adventurer, goal-driven, soul-seeking journo/writer attracted to all the wrong *boys* ’til I surrendered to being happily single, then surprisingly met my match (online!) at 40. We married last April, when I was 42.

    PPS: Life’s bananas. (And with this, may our paths cross one day soon 🙂

  • Joney

    Happy Birthday Sarah! Was your birthday on the 7th? I’m surprised your single. You’re so successful and fun!

  • Bex @ VeganSparkles.com

    Happy Birthday, bella! xx

  • michele chevalley hedge

    Relax… nothing is in control…. this is what I learned when I turned 40! Happy days always Sarah and thank you for your support. Michele CHevalley Hedge

  • Anthony

    one of the nice things about aging is the prism in which you look at the world including ourselves. It is enjoyable!

  • Clair

    Great post. I turned 40 in October last year and I felt really glad to have reached this point in life. I have made a promise to myself to make the changes in my life that I have been thinking about for years but have not had the courage. Now I feel like I owe it to myself to get on with it and not waste a anymore time. I too have felt a sense of calm and now feel a quiet sense of purpose. Can’t wait to see what happens next! Thanks for putting into words what I am often thinking!

  • Tanya

    Happy Birthday Sarah! Thanks for all the wisdom you share. Wishing you an extra special year and decade ahead!

  • pauline

    It’s all good! 2 yrs away from 60… Feels kinda surreal, but that’s ok. Happy Birthday!!!

  • Good for you. Here’s to a great year

  • Jan

    Happy 40th Birthday Sarah………..you are an inspiration to us all….I love the challenge of omitting sugar daily! xx

  • Nat

    Happy Happy 40th! x o x o

  • Alexia

    Happy Birthday!! You continue to inspire and motivate me to be the best person and journalist I can possibly be! Go Sarah go! 🙂

  • Maja

    Happy birthday Sarah!
    I’ll be 44 in couple of weeks time and although so far my 40ies have been a rollercoaster ride healthwise (oh those blessed hormones!), I don’t regret a single moment of being 40. It feels like I’ve arrived to my true self. I fit Greer’s description perfectly. No more pretending, no more need to impress. I have finally become comfortable in my own – although slightly more scaly and blotchy – skin :).

  • Bell

    YAY !!! It’s great getting older – I LIKE it : )
    Nothing can replace the life experiences & self knowledge gained so far. It’s such a pleasure to be more WHOLESOME.

  • Marie

    Happy Bday, Sarah! 40 is nothing! Plus, its just a #. Party on & continue to enjoy life & inspire. Jai! xx

  • Renee

    Happy Birthday Sarah ~ you made it !! Yay !!
    And wow look at what you have achieved in such a short time !!
    Thank you for being an inspiration.

  • dre

    Hallelujah and happy birthday. I’m right behind you. 🙂

  • Jules

    GEE-ZUS you look awesome for 40!!!!!!!!

  • Happy (slightly belated) Birthday Sarah!!

  • Trish

    Happy Birthday enjoy it, live it up cause next year you will be saying … holy shit I’m not even 40 anymore, I’m 41!
    I’m heading this year to 45 so now I’m saying “bring it on!” – this is gonna be my year – better than all the others!! And maybe it might be a little more sugar free to boot!

  • fee

    happy birthday. you’re an inspiration. xx

  • Matthew Cheyne

    Happy Birthday Sarah. Being a guy who is 36, my circumstances are a bit different to yours but essentially there are many things in common. So many ducks in my life I’ve wanted to line up too – the perfect job/career, financial freedom, the perfect woman (or man), just to name a few. I thought that I’ll do everything tomorrow. But you know what? We don’t know how many tomorrows that we will have. Eventually there will be no more. So continue being you, the inspiration to many that you are and don’t put off what is most important to you. Do more of what makes you fulfilled and happy and less that does not. And know that good things will happen if you back yourself and step out in faith knowing you are capable of doing anything you set your heart and mind too. – Matthew

  • Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC

    Blessing for continued health, happiness and productivity during your tenure on Terra firma!

  • Ruchard

    Wow… Well your certainly showing no outward signs.

    I’ll be 50 this year… and I hadn’t even realised I’d passed 30 let alone 40…. But I’m guessing it’ll be a whole new dynamic in the world of online dating!

    Happy birthday

    Love your work and blog… Love the fact that you’re very open and honest too and an active cyclist too.

    • Richard

      Oh and that’d be Richard… But maybe Ruchard too, sounds more exotic!

  • Daphne

    Happy birthday – as someone who is about to hit 52 – 50 was liberating too as I put – I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks anymore and I’m having a grand time:) My fortieth was spent with fave cousins in San Antonio Texas blowing soap bubbles while sitting in their hot tubxx

  • juju

    I too am 40. And a half. I’ve just purchased your book Sarah, Going to start the 8 wk Feb…will it make me look as fresh as you or has the clean Australian air got something to do with it?!

  • Emmy

    I love this idea of preparation mode!!! In fact I made it a Facebook status lol. I’m constantly comparing myself to my peers and feel like I haven’t accomplished anywhere near as much as them. But I then try to remind myself that my best is still yet to come

  • Sally-anne Irvine

    Happy Birthday Sarah!

  • KatieS

    Sarah – I caught you on Lorraine in the UK this morning. So happy to hear the word Hashimoto’s on mainstream daytime TV. Thanks for helping to raise awareness. Am currently AIP and can already see the benefits it’s bringing to my body. As I start to reintroduce, sugar (and gluten) will remain off the list. Thanks for all you do! Katie (ia Brit living in Belgium)

  • Jen

    No Children?