I have never looked my age. When I was graduating from college, people thought I was just graduating from high school, and I was 26! I never appreciated that I looked much younger because I didn’t see the advantage. If all the guys thought I was too young for them then none of them would ever consider me. In reality, I was older than them!! In the end, I married someone who is 3 years younger than me, so maybe there is some sense in there somewhere.
I decided to make some goals to work towards which might make my crossing into the next decade a little more enjoyable, a little more positive. I called it “144 Days to 40” with no particular significance other that it gave me a few months and it was catchy.
I’ll share this list with you. I didn’t want it to be a stressful thing that I would feel defeated if I didn’t accomplish it. Some things I finished; others didn’t even get touched. And it doesn’t include anything spectacular either. I wish I could report that I was able to come up with something grand and life changing. Many ideas came from my family and a few from friends. A few came from my own brain. Maybe something will be useful for someone who passes by.
So here goes:
1. Find a better bra solution. It’s just time.
This one took a good chunk of my 144 days. I am small chested. It has always been hard for me to find something that I like. I wear whatever bra that works day in and day out, rarely washing it (just being honest) because I didn’t have a backup. Then, of course, I let too much time pass and forget where I got it or I didn’t want to spend the money. What I needed from a bra was comfort, not too tight around the rib cage, straps that stay put, a little bit of padding for protection and shape. I didn’t want it to make me look bigger than I am.
I tried the popular internet bra, ThirdLove. It didn’t feel any different to me than any other store bought bra. Memory foam and stretchy straps included, it was nothing special for me. Sent it back.
Next, I went to Dillards to be measured (every woman’s dream) by the pros who actually go to bra fitting school, only to be told that they didn’t carry my size and they could order it in or I could go to the teen section. I went home with a couple bras, Wacoal brand, that you pull over your head and resemble a nursing sleep bra. In the end, they went back.
Next, I visited Victoria Secret. They claim to know just what a woman wants in a bra. I had been told by friends to just bite the bullet and go get a Victoria Secret bra. They measured me, didn’t have my size, ordered and shipped it to my house. I wore it for a day and returned it.
Last I tried a couple bras from the internet company Knixwear. One with padding and one without. The one with padding is the one that I’m sticking with. It works for me because it isn’t too tight, it covers and protects, and it fits just right. $55 a piece, but sometimes you just gotta spend it for a good bra.
I’ve stopped searching but that doesn’t mean it is the perfect solution. I didn’t try any companies that specialized in small chests. So, if any of you in my same boat have found a good solution, please share!!
2. Complete Personal Progress
In my church, there is a program in the Young Women (ages 12-18) called Personal Progress that girls work on to help them strengthen their faith in God and Jesus Christ, learn skills that are useful, etc. There are 8 areas called values that they focus on: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. When I was a Young Woman, I was not able to accomplish this program. With each virtue there are experiences and a 10+ hour project. Now as a leader, the requirements are a little different. I had to complete all the experiences but was only required to do 3 projects. By the time I figured this difference out, I had already started and made plans for 6 of them.
My projects were as followed:
Faith: Memorize “The Living Christ” document. We did this as a family, all those that could. It has been an incredible experience, learning the words of latter-day prophets and teaching my children what they mean. They are powerful words that teach about Christ. We will make a family video of this soon.
Divine Nature: I learned about making different kinds of breads, trying recipes of friends. I taught my daughter, Rosie, to make artisan bread.
Individual Worth: I participated in a production of “Journey to Neverland” which was put on by Julie Moffet Ballet School. I was a tap dancing star fish.
Knowledge: Learn to grow a better garden and start a compost. In our new house, there were a couple square foot garden boxes already made. So we just mixed up our own soil, following Mel’s Mix recommendations found in Square Foot Gardening. I’m not sure I learned anything spectacular other than I just kept at it, watering daily. We reaped the fruits of zucchini, yellow squash, many sweet Japanese cucumbers, lots of kinds of lettuce, sugar snap peas, green beans, yellow wax beans, short carrots, green onions, beets, and zinnias. I unfortunately didn’t get a compost going. We don’t have a lot of space outside so I wanted to buy one of those rotating ones. Still need to do that.
Good Works: An excerpt from my journal—“I spent 2 days giving my constant attention and time to my daughter, Lorelai , helping her potty train. This was something that I was putting off and dreading doing. This stretched me in many ways causing me to use great patience when I would normally be very frustrated. This is also a life skill that she will use every day for the rest of her life. Dab.”
Virtue: Read the Book of Mormon
After completing the Personal Progress requirements, I can now wear the Young Women medallion. I still need to get that.
3. Learn and practice mindfulness. My friend, Renee, introduced me to Tibeten singing bowls and also gave me one for my birthday. I love it and am still just learning what it means to meditate and calm my mind.
4. Start using a menstrual cup. This was another Renee recommendation. Learning to use this may be the best thing out of all my “144 to 40” goals. I don’t know where this has been my whole womanhood. We should all be doing this!! Zero waste, so it is much better for the environment. I only need to change it twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. If you can do a tampon, you can do this. AND, we should all have one of these in our emergency kits for ourselves and all our daughters. A tip: I got the Diva Cup and did have to trim the tip a little bit. I have another no-name cup as a back-up but haven’t had to use it yet. There is a tiny bit of a learning curve so stick with it and you’ll be glad you did!! Give it a try!
5. Paint a self-portrait. I haven’t done this yet. Maybe I’ll get some lessons from my artist brother this Thanksgiving. I have the canvas though!
6. Become friends with a homeless person. This opportunity has not yet come along.
7. Reconnect with someone from my past. I tried and tried to find my friends Becky and Adam Witt. I knew them in college at BYU about 14 years ago. I tried Facebook, Google, and the BYU alumni directory but have not been able to find them. I will continue my search. Anyone out there that can connect me to them??
Instead, I had a much overdue lunch with my good friend, Natasha, from high school. She is the kind of friend that picks up right where we left off 20+ years ago.
8. Write life history so far. This will take much longer but at least I have a start. I would like to copy and paste these stories into the FamilyTree app where I can keep them in a central location to be enjoyed for years to come.
9. Get a bike and use it. This was a goal that was dependent on money or the lack thereof. This will have to remain something for the future.
10. Compile recipes from 40 friends and make a book with my favorite memory of each one. I started making a list of friends I would want to include in my book and the list surpassed double that number. That is where this project sits for now.
11. Invite people over for dinner 1-2 times a month. For me, inviting people over for dinner is a big deal. I’m not a party planner but I would love to be! I think we did this 3 out of the 5 months. Not bad. Definitely room for improvement.
12. Write a bucket list for the next 40. This was a fun and easy one. All I had to do was list everything that I want to do for the rest of my life. When I reach 80, I’ll make another one.
13. Lose 5-10 lbs. I lost 7. I hiked with friends during the summer and started doing a daily green smoothie. Gained a few back during my trip to San Francisco. Easy go, easy come?
14. Get rid of insecurities and self-consciousness. Ha! Yea right. That’s a lofty goal. But I can say that I am letting things that would normally get to me, roll off my back at lot easier. At some point, I have to be willing to accept myself for who I am, lumps and moles and veins and all. My quirks are my own. We all have them. I’m trying to be nicer to myself and cut myself a little slack. It’s way overdue. If I can’t make someone like me, well, then it shouldn’t affect how I feel about myself. I’ve found myself giving myself little mental pep talks to get me though moments of insecurity. “Just stand up straight and smile, Shell.” “You’re doing just fine, Shell.”
I do a lot as a mother of 5 young children. I keep them alive and fed. I do my best to teach them correct principles. I do my best to love them the way they need to be loved. I’m a work in progress. 40 is not the age to have it all figured out, as I may have thought it was. There was a bit of panic that set in when I realized that a significant portion of my life was behind me. What have I done? What have I learned? Have I influenced anyone for good? Have I made good choices? Has my life been worthwhile? I’m glad I don’t have to answer those questions finally and that the verdict is still out.
To celebrate my 40th birthday, my husband and I took a fabulous trip to San Francisco to see sights and visit all the lighthouses we could. It was great. Now, that the clock has ticked over and past 40, I can say that I’m happy with this new decade and am embracing it, ready for the next 40!