When I was a little girl, my dad would ask me the day of my birthday, “What is it like to be _?_ (age)?” I used to just laugh, and say it feels the same. However, as the years pass I look back, and I can clearly see how each passing year is a milestone and that so much changes from decade to decade.
Symbolism of 40
Like my entire generation, colleagues and friends, we are turning 40 this year. If you look up the symbolism of 40, it has many meanings. In the Bible, the number 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal, a new beginning. There are approximately 100 examples of 40 in the Bible: 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert, 40 days of Jesus resurrection, the flood of Noah lasted 40 days, Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days, and in Kabbalah 40 represents the four sides of the world (esoteric powers). It is said that the gestation period of an embryo lasts 40 days.
It’s not just the Bible, but it’s cross cultural: some Hindus fast last 40 days. In Ayurveda, it is said that it takes 35 to 40 days to cleanse the body. In my own studies of Ayurveda there are 7 dhatus (tissues) in Ayurvedic medicine. It is said it takes up to 30 to 40 days to rebuild Ojas or immunity. It takes 5 – 7 days to eliminate doshic imbalances from each dhatu (tissue). During my Yoga Training, we had 40-day challenge to personal revolution.
Throughout human history 40 has been symbolic of testing, trial and deep learning. I believe what makes 40 so special is that you’ve had enough time on this earth to grow, to play, to acquire material knowledge, but at 40 you begin to ask yourself, “What mark can I make on this world that makes my life meaningful?” If you haven’t contributed to the world, then there is this deep calling in you to make it all worthwhile at 40.
Perspective Through the Decades
When I was 14, my dad took me to Chicago to see the Sears Tower. I remember looking down from the top of the building and seeing all the small cars below, and thinking man I am not the hot stuff I thought I was. And then I felt this again, when I was about 18 and went to the top of the Empire State Building. Who was I to make my mark on the world in such a vast populated world?
My last year of College, I applied to UC Berkeley to study Environmental History. My senior thesis in College was on the impact of the Colorado River, underground water supply, and its impact on California’s economic growth. It was essentially the untold history of the environment. Deep inside of me, I could see that humans were using the environment for personal and collective advancement at the costs of protecting the earth with no foresight into the long-term ramifications of how this was impacting the environment.
Instead of going to UC Berkeley, I was a typical 20-year-old who wanted to make my mark on the world. I went to work for OSPIRG, the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group in Portland, Oregon. It was started by Ralf Nader as a nonprofit advocacy group. They were doing a lot of work to protect the urban growth boundaries, air quality, mass transportation, etc. While there, I decided to get my Masters in Urban Planning with the mission of changing my hometown.
Upon returning to Louisville, I began looking at how Louisville could grow sustainably. By 2006, I graduated with my MPA with a focus in Urban Planning and went to work for a Louisville Developer who was using historic tax credits to restore historic properties. It was my first time working in the Public Sector. I have been in the Public Sector ever since, and I can say that I also have a deep appreciation of housing and affordability. I now have a deeper respect for why people live outside of the urban boundaries – affordability, demographics, and an appreciation for being closer to nature.
Without going into any more detail about my job experiences, I have always been passionate about the environment. It has been a thread throughout my entire life. As a young mother, I nursed my children, and I made all their baby food with organic fruits and vegetables. I began to feel on a very spiritual level how toxic our world had become and that my children will inherit this world. I became very sick with fibromyalgia, and that’s when I began to awaken to all the harm I was doing to my own body with processed foods, sugar, GMO foods, and all the pesticides and chemicals in our food and water supply.
It was through this maternal nurturing that I turned in-ward and I realized that to make massive change on the environment that change needs to happen in each household with the foods and goods we consume. I realized how blind we are as consumers on the harmful products we consume whether it be food or cleaning products – you name it. While I never made huge changes in the political realm, I realized I oversaw my own life – the microcosm to the larger macrocosm. I believe deeply that to make planetary change, it has always been at the grassroots level with each of us (the butterfly effect).
I never liked politics, but I have been passionate about health and wellness for as long as I can remember. This passion began as a cross country runner. I have also been deeply spiritual for as long as I can remember. I was reading books on Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism when I was 16. What does this mean for me at 40?! I have grown to acquire this knowledge throughout my life, but it is time to truly actualize it out into the world.
Dharma – Planetary Thrive
My dharma or right way of living is to create planetary change and Thrive for myself, my family, and for all that I touch along the way. Motherhood taught me that one of the best ways to make change is to model change. If I want my child to behave a certain way, then I should model the behavior I want to see in my child. Humans influence one another. We are all derived from monkeys, and we model one another’s behavior. I hope that by holding up the values that I know to be right in health and wellness that I can inspire this change and transformation in others. At the age of 40, I realize that I am extremely powerful. When I stood on top of the Sears and Empire State Building at 14 and 18, I hadn’t evolved and grown to realize how powerful I can be. At the age of 40, I have no doubt. I welcome 40 with open arms!