5 Things I Have Learned From Getting Older – On Turning 39

Getting OlderI sit here writing this while I get my hair colored for the first time in almost two and a half years.  After all, I am turning 39 this week, and that is what 39 year old women are supposed to do, right?

Back in my former life, I colored my hair regularly.  It was what professional women did to maintain their image.  But, because I was saving up money I went the Nice n Easy route – $10 a coloring rather than $100+ at a salon. 

Since leaving the US when I was 36, I stopped coloring my hair.  For no other reason than I was too lazy to get it done, or color it myself, or didn’t want to waste the money.  I tried the whole “I’m growing old gracefully” thing.  I realized, though, that perhaps I am not growing old as gracefully as a I thought. 

The gray hairs that used to only peak around my forehead, have spread farther and farther and deeper and deeper.  It is not the only change I am noticing – despite our relative freedom and my happiness in every day life, my body is still getting older.  It is one thing I cannot control. 

It made me think, though, about turning 39, and what I have learned from my years on this earth, living this lifestyle.  Of course, these are all absolute statements when in reality my life is full of relativity, but I am giving it a go anyway.  Here are the things I have learned from getting older.

Getting Older1. I Am Okay With Being 39

Okay, perhaps I am not entirely okay with pushing 40, but as my mother in law says, age is just a number.  Although I just dyed my hair, I am taking pretty good care of myself.  In addition to yoga and all of my massages, I recently starting getting pedicures again, getting my eyebrows waxed, and am even getting facials. 

For a lot of people this might come across as an attempt to look younger.  For me, though, this is more to do with me attempting to embrace my feminine side than my issues with aging.  And, this can be done at such a good value in Bali – waxing for $4?  A ninety minute facial for $25?  Yes please.

The facials are also for my acne.  Whoever told me when I was a teenager that pimples were a teen problem should be shot! I cannot believe that I am 39, covering my grays, and using wrinkle creams, while simultaneously trying to beat my pimples into submission.

2. I Have Few Regrets

Although I may still be struggling with my age from the standpoint of those pesky gray hairs, I think one of the primary reasons why I am okay with my age is because of what I have accomplished before turning 40 – I am softly retired, I am happily married, I can support myself financially, and I can do some pretty cool arm balances in my yoga practice.  I can provide advice to younger women, even when they don’t want it, which is my prerogative because I am older.  I can reach out to people on the far corners of the globe for advice as well, with friends spanning 6 continents. 

What all of this comes down to is that I really have few regrets with how my life has turned out.   I had a great legal career for almost 10 years, saved money, spent wisely (most of the time), and figured out how to spend money on experiences rather than stuff.  I am a writer and yoga teacher living in Bali.  It can’t all be that bad.

getting older3. I Have No Fear

I am not afraid, not in the traditional sense.  I know people who are afraid of everything, from flying to terrorism to crossing the road in their neighborhood.  People who are afraid of losing their job, their home, their comfortable life.  People who are almost paralyzed by fear. 

I am not one of those people. I do not have a fear of flying, and I am honestly not concerned about terrorism.  Many people questioned our decision to travel, to move overseas.  People asked “is it safe” or “what about terrorism?”  It is not something I concern myself with.  When it is my time, it is my time, and living a life in fear will not change that.

I find my only fears are the more rational ones – like what happens if I fall out of an inversion in my yoga practice and hurt myself, what happens if I get into a motorbike accident.  My biggest fear is of accidentally becoming a mother.  Something we decided against a long time ago.  And, a decision that I certainly have no regrets about.

4. Relationships With People Change Over Time

I am not the same person now that I was in high school, or during law school, or even two years ago.  As much as I have changed, so have the people I have surrounded myself with over the decades. I have finally accepted the fact that people change, and those relationships change as well.  People who were once so important in my life are no longer a part of it.  I think this increasingly happens as I continue getting older.

Luckily, the converse is true as well.  I have new friends now that I feel as though I have known forever.  I relish these relationships just as much as I did my historical friendships. 

I have accepted that my relationships, like the people who are part of them, change over time.  There is no reason to force myself to remain friends with people who I am not happy being with, or who don’t understand, or at least support, the choices I have made in my life.

Getting Older5. I Am More In Love Now Than I Was When I Got Married

What this all means is that I am happy to have lived the life I have had so far.  I know I have seen more and experienced more than most people do in twice as long.  I am lucky enough to have found a partner who loves me and supports me and can stand to be around me. 

We spend an obscene amount of time together.  For most couples who have been married for 13 years, this would be a problem.  For us, it seems to work.  At times we have joked about whether we are the cutest couple in Ubud – in fact, we may be the most nauseating. 

On Getting Older

Getting OlderPeople tend to react in surprise when they hear that Eric is 40 and I am 39.  They say we look too young for our age.  I think it is because we are happy.  Because we consciously made a decision to live our lives in a way that made us happy, that provided us freedom.  We do not stress, and we do not live in fear.  If I were to die tomorrow, I would die happy.  I did not wait until I am 65 to start living my life.  I am doing it now, on my own terms, and in my own way. 

And, this is what I think about as I stare at myself in the mirror, with black plastic covers over my ears that make me look a little like Princess Leia, as I wait for the color to seep in and work its magic – to make me look even younger, or more feminine.  I don’t wear makeup, I don’t “do” my hair.  The decision to cover my grays was one that I did not make lightly, kind of like the decision I made to start living my life.  Neither decision is one that I regret, particularly as I continue getting older.

21 thoughts on “5 Things I Have Learned From Getting Older – On Turning 39

  1. Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker says:

    That shot of you balancing on your arms is killer! This list is great, and I hope I can say the same things about myself in 10 years 🙂 Happy birthday!

    • ashtravel930@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Lindsay! I am pretty proud of what my body can do…this month, though, I will test how much food it can ingest. More arm balances will come in November!

  2. Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe says:

    Great read as always Amber. I love your sentiments about living your life your way, no fear, no regrets. After all, why not, it’s your life. Happy Birthday and may you enjoy many, many more.

  3. Very Hungry Traveller says:

    What an insightful post. What I discovered about 40 was the freedom of caring less about what other people thought about me and caring more about what I wanted to do with my time. Sounds like you have found freedom from a similar letting go.

    • ashtravel930@gmail.com says:

      That is true too, but I think I still care what others think about me too much. Perhaps that is a “things I want to work on before I turn 40” post….

  4. Kim says:

    Happy birthday Amber! I think you both look young because you are happy and having a good time in life. Nothing ages like stress. Sending you big hugs.

  5. Barbara Berndt from Ants in our Pants says:

    Happy Birthday!
    I loved reading your article. It reminded me to be more grateful for all these small moments of happiness. It’s a great gift to turn older happily.

  6. Jenna says:

    Thank you so much for this post Amber! I can relate because I just turned 39 this summer as well and I am also having the debate with myself as to whether or not a should cover my grays 🙂 I just recently have taken my yoga practice to the next level and I really appreciate seeing your posts. You are an inspiration!

    • ashtravel930@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Jenna. Now that I am a week past coloring, I actually like it, and am happy I did it. We will see how the maintenance goes. And, glad to hear about the yoga too. I am hosting a retreat in Bali in April…come join!

  7. Jeni says:

    Great post Amber! Happy birthday once again and I look forward to our time together next April! Here’s to doing what makes you happy! Cheers.

  8. Simone says:

    Great list! It’s my first visit to your blog and this little list kind of got my attention.. 🙂 I’m way past the 39 (god that sounds awful really. Lol) but yes age is just a number and you’re so right living your life now and not wait for whatever to happen. Sounds to me your doing a pretty good job!

    • ashtravel930@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Simone. I guess I also feel that I am getting more honest on the blog as I get older too, which hopefully will attract some attention from people like you!

  9. Toni says:

    This post really resonated with me. I passed the 40 mark a few years ago but I am more thankful, more happy and more confident in my 40s than I have ever been. Hope you had a great birthday.

  10. Marion Webber says:

    I loved reading this! Especially the ‘having no fear’ part & living your life the way you want to right now not waiting until your 65!

  11. Tan.S says:

    I think coloring hair is a personal choice, which I have made because it makes me feel more confident in my present age. Although, I do admire the women who sport a lovely head of white, like my mother-in-law. Kudos to them and it also looks beautiful once it is completely one color. It’s the in between stage that makes me think twice about doing it.

  12. natalie says:

    Loved this piece! I am 40 in November… I don’t die my greys either but they are creeping… I wear make up instead.It is about the overall balance of what you choose to let go and what you highlight. I hear all your messages though. What a lovely piece! x PS.I am Helena’s friend

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