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Lessons I learned Turning 40

Published Jan 15, 2017 - Jamaica Gleaner

As my impending 40th birthday drew closer, I started to panic and thought, wow 40- how did this happen? I won't deny that there were tears, a new year was upon us and with it new resolutions and high hopes. Not only was it a new year, but for me it was also a new decade, and I was also going through a broken heart. But- I prayed to The Lord, sought and embraced solitude, did some reading, and alas I was restored with hope.

Natalia Oh Designs

So what if I was single at 40, so what if I was a single mom, many before me had done that, many after me will. After trying out many catchy ways to announce my 40th birthday, 'twenty plenty' '30 plus ' and other equal duds, my friend Andy Svoboda said, 'You know what would be great Natalie? How about turning 40 gracefully?'. Well that didn't occur to me one bit. But he was right, and after some quiet reflection I thought that's how I would turn 40 - gracefully. A new leaf was turning over, a rebirth if you will. This would be my season of intentional living.

I am not a guru, nor a motivational speaker and I don’t consider myself an authority on many things, but I have lived an interesting life in my 40 years, and I thought why not jot down some of the things I have learned along the way, and here we are....

1- Ladies, don't over tweeze your brows- I wish when I was in my 20's someone told me eyebrows would be so important today. I blame Pamela Anderson.

2- Use social media wisely. Don't let it consume your life. If you find that fear of missing out (FOMO) is taking over, then uninstall social media apps and go out and live. Trust me, you won't die.

3- Friends are the family you choose, cherish your friendships and nurture them. Friends are there to build you up when you're at your worst, to remind you of your inner beauty when you fail to see it and to keep it real with tough love.. Some will come and go, but the real ones will stand the test of time, no disputes or hurt can keep them away. True friends are a blessing.

4- Trials in life are there to measure your inner strength and you should embrace them. When you overcome your trials, and you will, the next time a mountain comes along, you can say- this little thing? I've survived worse.

5- Teenage sons will morph into unrecognizable beings with monster attitudes. You must be patient and know that it's just a phase and read all the parenting books ever written on raising said teenage son. Speak to other parents of teenage children and get support. It's important to not worry about younger siblings and panic that they will be worse. Breathe.

6- Always play music. Never become so busy that you aren't losing yourself in the art of music. Listen to all genres, open your mind and travel the world through this universal language.

7- Tithe. It's the only place in the Bible where The Lord says to test Him.

8- It's more important to be healthy and toned than to be skinny. Love your body at any size. Any shape. Later on you may look back and think - 'Wait, I wasn't fat then...I'm ....'

9- Enjoy fresh cut flowers in your home. If you can't buy them, cut wildflowers or over sized leaves and arrange in a vase. Never lose your appreciation of beautiful things.

Fresh flowers in vase

10- Master at least 10 dishes from different cuisines. Research various recipes and test them out with friends. Later on, tweak to make them your own. Enjoy the art of cooking.

11- Take an introductory course in wines. Learn the correct pronunciations of different varietals. Then actually taste, experience and enjoy wines. Drinking wine while I cook will always be one of my favourite things to do.

12- Ladies, don't lose yourself over a man, and never allow a man to turn you into a bitter, angry person. Learn your lesson, chin up, move on and love harder. Don't trash talk exes or call them bad names because it didn't work out, remember the good in them and be confident in yourself knowing it just wasn't a good fit. Someone out there will be waiting on your kind of love.

13- Always rise above being petty. Take the high road. This admittedly is not the easiest thing to do. However, The Lord truly is the greatest vindicator.

14- Play games with your children. Take them on walks, leave the tech devices, have real

conversations at the dinner table- where valuable social skills are being developed out of practice. These are some of the things they will remember when they get older.

15- Wake up earlier than you need to and devote some one-on-one time with The Lord. A prayer and reading a scripture is the best way to get your day started.

16- Work out early in the day, you will be energized and the sense of accomplishment will carry you throughout the day.

17- Always speak your mind, but do so gently. Be your kind, authentic self.

18- Go easy on the high buns and save your hairline.

19- Always leave a job so you can get it back. Never burn bridges.

20- Big girls do cry. It's okay to cry and more important to heal at your own pace.

21- Be compassionate when giving advice to someone going through grief. T