It might have been her divorce, or the need for some
me-time after five years as a full-time working mom. By the time
Pam Gould Rashid's 40th birthday approached, she knew she had to do
"It seemed like there were things I wanted to do and I
hadn't gotten to do them yet," says Rashid of Wilmette. "The last
couple years, I had been making decisions to do things that were
related to other people. I felt the need to do something I'd never
So Rashid took a trip to Miami, where she ran her first
half-marathon, went skydiving and partied on South
"My ex-husband was terrified of jumping out of a plane, so
it was kind of my way of proving I could do anything I wanted,"
Rashid says. "Sometimes you just forget about all the stuff you
dreamed about when you were 25."
Tiffany Allen of Flossmoor experienced a similar
To celebrate turning 40 this year, Allen plans to run 40
races, which will include a handful of half-marathons. She will
probably run two or more races every weekend from April until
For Lisa Way of Evanston, a mom of two boys, it was about
proving she still was fit by running a marathon.
"I did not want to turn 40. I still
don't want to turn 40," Way says. "But this was a way to
prove something to myself."
Turning 40 seems to be a turning point. There's something
about it that makes people want to do something special, different
To celebrate, people want to accomplish something. There
are the marathoners, bungee jumpers, sky divers, the world
travelers, and the ones who mark their birthday with a tattoo.
Then, there are the do-gooders, those people who set out to change
the world in some way.
Despite the infinite possibilities for making the big 4-0
special, there is a similar yearning people experience as they
approach a milestone birthday.
'I've seen the 40th be more of a monumental kind of
celebration or milestone for my patients," says Deborah Barile,
licensed clinical professional counselor and life coach in Chicago.
"40 means being grown up, I guess."
As people approach 40, especially those with children,
they often wonder what they have accomplished and how they could
have lived differently, Barile says.
The reality of their situation isn't as wonderful as they
hoped, and they might feel empty. In turn, they feel a need to fill
that hollowness with goals.
Reaching the goal, however, isn't nearly as important as
setting and working toward it, says Karolyn Howard, a life coach in
Bolingbrook. "It's the journey, not the goal. We need to enjoy the
journey along the way."
As Barile says: "40 is just part of the adventure. It's a
part of the journey. It's not the end. It's the beginning of a
different phase of your life."
Thinking about doing something big for your next milestone
birthday? These are Chicago Parent's top 10 picks:
1 Finish a big
athletic event. Whether it's a marathon,
triathlon, Ironman or something different altogether, the feeling
of crossing that finish line is so sweet.
2 Do something
adventurous. Everyone's idea of adventure is
different, whether it's skydiving, bungee jumping, mountain
climbing, hiking parts of the Appalachian or Pacific Coast Trail or
Travel. Whether you want to relax on a
tropical island, set off on an African safari or tour the Irish
countryside, travel is a great way to celebrate a big
4 Write a book.
Thanks to online publishing companies, getting published isn't
nearly as difficult or costly as it used to be. Many online
services, such as CreateSpace and Kindle Direct
Publishing, allow people to publish their books for free. The
books are then immediately available on Amazon.
5 Get inked. What
better way to commemorate turning 40 than with a tattoo? At least
that's what John Cronin, a 40-year-old father of two, thinks.
Cronin, a tattoo artist at Metamorph Tattoo
Studio in Chicago, says customers often get inked on their
birthdays. "It's a really good marker of that year," Cronin
6 Learn a new
skill. Turning 40 might be considered
"mid-life," but that doesn't mean you're too old to learn something
new-like guitar, piano, tennis, golf or photography.
7 Do something for
others. A fad emerged in recent years in which people
turning 40 perform 40 random acts of kindness 40 days before their
birthday. Though it's uncertain how it all came about, Robyn Bomar
of Destin, Fla., launched a website to help people think of nice
things to do for other people. Bomar says she and her family often
try to help others on their birthdays, but a few years ago, the Birthday Project took on
a life of its own. After writing about the Birthday Project on her
blog, people around the world hounded her for more ideas and
information. "I've been very humbled and very touched by the
response," says Bomar. "There's something about being more kind to
people. It's kind of fun. You're like a Santa or something."
8 Reach a career or
education goal. This could be finishing a bachelor's
degree or working toward a doctorate. Or maybe it's scoring a
promotion or finishing an ambitious project. This could even mean a
career change-open a shop on Etsy, take classes at a cooking
school or art studio.
sentimental. Document your 40th year. Keep a
diary, start a blog or take one picture every day of your 40th
10 Conquer a
fear. If you're terrified of heights, ride in a hot
air balloon or go parasailing. If the water freaks you out, take
swimming or scuba diving lessons or go for a boat ride. Maybe you
want to overcome your fear of animals or speaking in public.
Whatever it is, give it a shot. 40 can be a new beginning.
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