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The Big "Four-O"—A Time For Reflection

Unlike many, turning 40 was not a heartbreaking experience for me.  

Instead, I saw it as a much-needed time for reflection and introspection.  For sitting back and analyzing what I had accomplished up to that point and trying to determine what should go next on my "to do" list of life.  In the process, I came to the somewhat unsettling realization that my ideas of success, as well as my priorities, had changed significantly over the last few years.    

While growing up, my parents constantly impressed upon me that family came first.  As an adult, that core value remains dear to me today.  However, it's interesting to see how that value plays out differently today than 18 years ago.  

turning 40

Now, the small worries of preschoolers catching a cold have turned into the deeper concerns of teenagers getting into the right colleges, staying away from drugs, finding good friends and making the right choices.  Increasingly, these concerns have become a major focal point of my life.  At the same time, while my parents remained the backbone of my upbringing, it became apparent that our roles were slowly changing as well.  Their health was gradually declining, and my time had come to start looking after them.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up with very young parents and two sets of grandparents.  I also loved the fact that my children knew both their grandparents and their great grandparents.  My kids learned so much from them, and I take special pride in knowing they had that opportunity.  It was sad for all of us watching my grandparents get older and more fragile.  But it was wonderful to see my children take care of them and return the love that had been given to them through the years.

I also took some time to look back and analyze my friendships.  I felt blessed to have many of the same friends remain close for more than 20 years.  In fact, my best friend from high school, Julia, whom I've known since our early teens, is still my very best friend.  Our friendship has grown and evolved for 35 years.

True Friendship Stands the Test of Time

So what's the point of this blog?  

It's not about what I achieved in my life on a professional level, or how much money I made or lost.  Rather, it's to dig into the relationships I have with my friends and see how they made my life so meaningful and rewarding.  Too often, when looking back, we judge ourselves by the "trappings" of our lives—the jobs, bank accounts, material possessions and all the things we put so much time and energy into acquiring.  Yet in the end, I'll take a good friend over any of those, any time.

To me, the most important aspect of friendship is the support, cheerleading and nourishment that such a relationship offers over the years.  As we grow older, we all change.  However, in true friendship, we change and grow together.  And that's why it's so important to have good friends close to you during the tough times as well as the joyful ones.  

In many ways, friendship is like marriage because you have to work on it every day.  It's not easy to meet someone at a young age and maintain a close relationship.  For friendship to thrive, you have to be considerate of each other's feelings and respect each other's values and beliefs.  But you also have to be sensitive to the little things, such as a friend's financial status when going out for a night on the town.

My father always said that you could judge a person by how many true friends he or she has.  Maybe that's why friendship has meant so much to me all my life.  Being Fabulously Forty, I would like to pass this on to my children and encourage you to pass it on to yours:  

Acquaintances may come and go, but family and friends are the true anchors of life.  Never lose sight of the fact that they are precious, no matter what the circumstances.



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