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Learning “You’re Allowed to Change Your Mind” Before Turning 40
Episode 3217th January 2023 • Forty Drinks: The Podcast About Turning 40 • Stephanie McLaughlin
00:00:00 00:53:42

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Learning “You’re Allowed to Change Your Mind” Before Turning 40

Emily Aborn still has a couple years to go before she turns 40, but she’s already thinking about how she wants to celebrate. She’s also considering what she wants to accomplish before the big “four-oh” and the time remaining to reach those accomplishments seems to be dwindling at the speed of life. Skydiving is the easy one. Writing a book? Is there still time for that? Emily has already learned that it’s ok to change your mind, but she yearns for the “I don’t care about your opinion” attitude she sees so many of her older friends enjoying.

Guest Bio

Emily Aborn is a Content Writer, Podcast Host, and Founder of She Built This, a community for women entrepreneurs and professionals. She’s been an entrepreneur since 2014 and has experience in running brick-and-mortar as well as online businesses. She’s worked with over 86 different industries and loves helping those with a big mission increase their visibility, connect with their clients, and bring their dreams and visions to life. For fun, Emily enjoys nerdy word games and puzzles, reading, listening to podcasts like they're going outta' style, and tromping about in the woods with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Clyde.

Meet Emily Aborn

Emily Aborn feels like the countdown to 40 is equally as important as what happens on the other side of 40. At 36, she’s already starting to think about how she’s going to memorialize her 40th. As someone still facing forty, though, she wonders what’s on the “mysterious” other side. She already feels like something is different, but finds it hard to put her finger on it while she’s still in the midst of it. 

In her 20s, Emily was trying to figure out who she was and says she burned A LOT of things down in the process. She says she has had more jobs than rotations around the sun; she thinks the number is 42. After graduating college with a nutrition degree, she jumped from job to job to try to find one that fit. In conjunction with the job changes she moved many times and found herself in “ridiculous amounts of debt for that age.” Once, she watched from the window at work as her car was repossessed and towed away. 

In her late 20s she went to work for a chiropractor who she had worked for right out of college. Emily found it hard to be around the chiropractor because she was such a positive person who was following her dreams and working towards her goals with such clarity. Emily felt so out of alignment with that kind of life. She always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and here she was working for one, which made her feel bad about still working for someone else. 

You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind

She and her husband opened a non-toxic mattress store and she ran that for almost five years before she acknowledged that she didn't love it. That’s when she realized “you’re allowed to change your mind.” 

Emily pivoted and got her real estate license and, while she loved the classes part, she did not love the ‘being at the beck and call of the clients’ part. She needs more structure in her day. So she started doing marketing for a real estate group, which led to helping someone else with their marketing, and then someone else. Then she honed in tighter and tighter until she realized that the consistent throughline with all her jobs was writing. Now, she just provides marketing writing services for clients. 

Today, she’s put it all together: she owns her own business doing something she feels successful at and satisfied by. She’s been on this path for four years now. In addition to the marketing services, she also started a company called She Built This to support women entrepreneurs. 

What Really Matters

At 32, Emily lost a nearly lifelong friend in a tragic accident, which she says aged her. It helped crystalize what mattered in life. She realized she wanted to make an impact on the people around her, like her friend had. 

Another thing she wants is to have the “I don’t care” vibe she sees her over-40 friends rocking. She wants to shed the “inner committee” of all her friends and family and colleagues. 

When Emily thinks about 40, she feels like it’s simultaneously a celebration and leaving something behind. There are also a bunch of things she wants to do in the four years before she turns 40. But of all the things she said she wanted to do before turning 40, the pressure is building because the window between now and then is getting smaller. 

At the same time, Emily thinks turning 40 comes with a “permission slip” to finally own who you are. She feels like she’s already going through a process of letting go of things she’s “supposed” to do. Thinking about relationships or events that she attends, if Emily wonders who she’s going there for, or if she’s uncomfortable, or if she’s just trying not to miss out, those are indicators that it’s not really serving her. 

Who Am I? 

If Emily had a magic wand, she’d grant herself two weeks away, by herself, to allow her to figure out who she really is. In two weeks away from her community and the influences that shape her, she thinks she could really get a sense of what is the personality that’s underneath all of the influence and expectations in her life. She thinks there are probably pieces of her personality she isn’t even aware of because of the expectations of the people around her. 

One thing she's focusing on this year is finding things to do that are fun. She wants to experience fun in new ways this year because she’s not even sure she knows what she thinks is fun - besides working. She thinks figuring out what you consider fun can help reveal parts of you that you might not have known about.  

The To Do List

Before she turns 40, Emily has a list of things she wants to accomplish including skydiving and writing a book. She wants to find a hobby she thinks is fun. She wants to grow her business. She’d like to own a second home in the mountains. And, after being married for seven years, she’d like to take a honeymoon. 

Emily has a clear picture of how she wants to celebrate her 40th birthday. 

When they got married, Emily and her husband wanted a small, cozy wedding but as the planning went on, it kept getting bigger and bigger. She was the bride and the wedding planner. The day was stressful for both her and her husband. 

For her 40th, she wants to plan a party with that ‘backyard wedding’ feel that includes her family and her closest friends. One thing she's sure of: there will be dancing.


The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Additional Resources

She Built This Community

She Built This Podcast

Tell me a fantastic “forty story.”

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Stephanie: Hi, Emily. How are you? Thanks for being here.

Emily: I'm awesome. Thanks for having me. How are you Stephanie?

Stephanie: I am doing great. I am really interested to talk to you today for a couple of reasons, The biggest one really is because you are, let's just call it a young'un, you're younger than most of the folks that I have spoken to before. You're just in your mid thirties, but you reached out to me. Tell me a little bit about that.

Emily: I feel like the countdown to 40 is equally as important as whatever happens on the other side of that, and I'm watching it happen to myself, and I'm also experiencing people who are like there and I sort of wanna be there, but I also sort of don't wanna be there. So I just thought it could be a fun conversation because I imagine that you have as many listeners actually 40 and over as you do under 40 because it's fascinating. We're all approaching this line or what we're calling a line here on the show and wondering what is on the mysterious other side.

Stephanie: Right, right. when you reached out to me, I sort of had like an "Aha" moment because to date I have spoken to people who are over 40 and who are looking back at that transition and making sense of the things that happened to them between 35 and 45 and how their life changed and trying to use that kind of as a playbook for folks who are approaching 40. But you were like, "I'm already thinking about it and I wanna talk about it." And I was like, "Oh, you're exactly right. Instead of like looking backwards and seeing the transition, let's talk about it while you're in it."

Emily: Like something is definitely different, and so I feel like we can get into what that is because it's hard to put your finger on when you're going through it. You're just like, things aren't right.

Stephanie: Yes, Yes, you're exactly right. It's a more profound statement than you know, it's hard to put your finger on it while you're in it. And I felt that way when I did my 40 Drinks Project. It was fun and ridiculous and a great way to celebrate turning 40. But I didn't even know until three quarters of the way through that my life was kind of changing. At the end of the year, I could have said, "Yeah, my life changed." I met the man who I would later marry, and I know for sure he would not have been attracted to the girl I was a couple of years earlier. So, there were some like very clear and obvious markers, but, it wasn't until there was a year or two later that I could actually look back and see, it's way more than that, there was much more going on. So, yeah, you're exactly right. You're in the middle of it.

Emily: You're scaring me already.

Stephanie: No, no, no, no. I think the fact that you are interested in talking about it and exploring it means that you are probably already handling it much better than I did.

Emily: Okay.

Stephanie: For me, I always say it bit me in the butt. I just did this thing to be silly and outrageous and if I had known that it would've had any profound impact, I probably wouldn't have taken it on. It probably would've felt overwhelming. I just did it and got the karma kick in my butt afterwards.

Stephanie: But I wanna go back a little bit. I laughed when I read this out loud 'cause I'm gonna even talk about your all caps. You said through your twenties you were really trying to figure out who you were and you said you burned a lot, a lot in all caps. You burned a lot of things down . Tell me about that.

Emily: So I think it's helpful to know what I like decided to go to school for, because all people should make their biggest life decision at age 18. That's. just what you should do. When I was 18, I loved to read like the back of granola bars and cereal boxes. So of course I should be a nutrition major, it just made sense. So I went to school for community health education and nutrition. And when I graduated it was like, that was what you were supposed to do with your life. And also somehow figure out how to make like $60,000 a year right out of college. During college my freshman year I was super, super extroverted. And then I went to a larger school my sophomore year and I became, I don't know if introverted is the right word, but like extremely shy and like shut down. So I did like this major seesaw, and when I graduated I started looking for jobs in that community health education field. I have had in my life. Mm, more jobs than I am in number of years. I, I think it's like 42.

Stephanie: Oh my God.

Emily: It's crazy. So when I say burned down, a lot of things it was that, just jumping from thing to thing to thing to thing, to like try to find what fit and what felt right. In the process of doing that, I moved so many times, I got myself into like ridiculous amounts of debt for that age, and then I would ignore the people that called me to tell me that I had the debt. So I think when I was, I think it was 25, 24, I was at a workplace and I had to watch my car being pulled away because of repossession. I mean, it was a mess. When my husband met me, he's like, "What are you doing?" That's what I mean when I burned a lot of things down.

Stephanie: Yeah. Trust me, I spent some years like this too, but the physical embodiment of a shit show.

Emily: Oh my God, Hot mess. Hot mess express.

Stephanie: Yes, yes.

Emily: Stay away.

Stephanie: did some of that too. Okay. In your late twenties though, you chose a completely different path. What was that?

Emily: Yeah. So it didn't look like a different path at first, let's say that. I started working for a chiropractor, actually, the very first person I worked for outta college. I started working for her again when I was 27 years old. And, um, it was hard to be around her, like she was such a positive person. She was following her dreams, following her goals, and it was like really hard to be out of alignment with what I wanted to be doing with my life in her presence. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and it was just like working around one, I was like, "Oh my God, I'm still not. I'm still working for somebody else." So finally my husband and I talked about it. We had this idea for a non-toxic bedding store, mattress store. I'd seen the model proven, like I'd worked for the person, one of my many jobs, I'd seen the model work on paper and I was like, "Let's do it." This is the perfect area like Amherst, Bedford, you know, this crunchy part of New Hampshire, it's ideal. So we opened a, retail shop selling mattresses and we went for it. We did that for four and a half years before I was like, "Okay, I don't love this.' And then I had to figure out like, well, I don't think I really like health at all for anybody except myself. I don't wanna really talk to anyone about their health ever, or their stomach ache or their sleeping problems.

Stephanie: You just wanna read the granola bar ingredients for yourself.

Emily: Yep. Yep. So I realized like, Oh my God, this entire decade I've invested into my education, and what I thought was so important for educating other people on is actually not what I wanna be educating other people on.

Stephanie: So what'd you do then?

hat did that, I think, before:

Emily: That was horrible. I loved taking the classes and learning about it. Like I was like, real estate is fantastic. Learning about it was so fun. But then like showing people houses and being kind of at their beck and call like, they're like, "We wanna look at something today at 10." And I'm like, "Whoa." I need like routine and structure and knowing what I'm doing every moment of every day, this does not work for me. So I had to figure out "Okay, where am I going from here?" I started marketing for a real estate group, I started helping them with their marketing and then that just kind of grew to helping another person with their marketing and helping another person with their marketing. And I just kind of honed that in tighter and tighter until I got specific to writing. Now I don't post for people or do people's actual marketing for them, I only write for them, and it's been amazing. It's like I feel finally, for the first time in my life, I'm like, "Oh, this is actually the thing I've been doing in all of these places all along." And it took this long to figure that out.

Stephanie: So what you're doing now was a part of everything else you had done to date. You just hadn't distilled out that piece, is that right?

Emily: I literally couldn't put the pieces together that it's always been writing and like customer experience, writing to create that customer experience. It was a part of every single job that I ever, ever loved. Even waitressing. I liked writing as a waitress.

Stephanie: Interesting. So now you own your own business, but it's something that you actually feel satisfied and fulfilled doing. It's something you feel successful at?

Emily: Every day. Yeah. To all of it. It's also been the most organically growing. I know that a lot of times it feels like you're forcing something or like running through mud to try to build something. And this has just kind of been so organic, the growth has been amazing and just natural. With the store, it was always like we were just throwing money at marketing and trying to figure out the next thing and like how to get people in the door. It just felt like a struggle all the time. And now it doesn't feel like that. I feel that's where I feel the most alignment, I think, for my business at least.

Stephanie: Yeah. When it gets to be effortless, that's when you know that you are headed in the right direction.

Emily: Yeah.

Stephanie: It's funny because you talk about a chiropractor who is positive and successful and such a great mentor and sort of vision of the future. And I have one of those, too, who I have known. I think she and I met when I was 18 and she's been in my life ever since. And effortless is her word that she always uses with me. When things are effortless, then you know it's good.

Emily: Wait, I feel like we're talking about the same person,

Stephanie: Are we?

Emily: Robin Bruck Jenny Bruck.

Stephanie: Get the fuck outta here. I'm

Emily: told you. I mean, they're sisters

Emily: sisters

Stephanie: it, uh, is it Jenny that you worked for?

Emily: Yes.

Stephanie: I was like, if you had worked for Robin, I would've, I would've seen you. I have been with Robin since I was 18. I actually have been with Tom since I was 15.

Emily: Oh,

Stephanie: I took Tom through his entire career. I think he was like a year or two out of chiropractic college when I started seeing him, and he just retired this summer. So that's my first time. No, that's actually my second time. Um, my dentist, I did the same thing. I started seeing him when I was eight and he retired when I was 48. I'm loyal if nothing else. This is crazy that it's the Bruck ladies. that is so funny. Now I know exactly what you're talking about with the, like watching and they're so good at what they do and they just are like, again, effortlessly kind of manifesting exactly what they want and they're so satisfied and fulfilled with their lives that when you're in your mid twenties and you're a shit show, it's hard to see that.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. And you're looking at it like, "Wait, how do I get there?" So I will say Jenny came to my school when I was 16 years old, and did a speech and I was like, "Whatever she's doing, I want to be doing with my life."

Stephanie: Yeah. Okay. We're gonna have to tell them that this episode is essentially about them and the people that they helped steer to productive, positive, successful lives.

Emily: So true, "Sponsored by the Bruck family,"

Stephanie: Oh my goodness. That's crazy. Okay, how long have you been doing this? When did you actually find your path?

We closed the retail shop in:

Stephanie: Okay. But at about the same time you closed the mattress store, there was a life changing event. Tell me a little bit about that.

Emily: Yeah. So I had a dear friend, probably my last one standing from high school, we had been friends since we were 14 and she passed away when I was 32. It was very sudden and tragic and, nobody could really understand what had happened. So I think when something like that happens to any of us and it, and you know, we've all probably experienced, or many of us have experienced loss in different capacities of life, it's like the light switch is just turned on and you're seeing life in like Technicolor for the first time. I think you're like, "Okay, I haven't been on the planet and here I am on the planet all of a sudden."

Stephanie: Right, right. It's like the Wizard of Oz when it goes from black and white to color.

Emily: Totally. Yes.

Stephanie: You said to me that that aged you.

Emily: So when I said age, I think it gave me a level of like wisdom maybe that you don't get at that age, because I think for most people that's a little atypical. It helped me to realize what really mattered to me in my life. So she was the kind of person, like she was struggling a little bit in her life with emotions and, and things she was going through at her age of 32. You know, we would call each other and be like, "We're both crying in a closet. What's wrong with us?" At the same time, she would be the person that would walk into a coffee shop, order a coffee, and like that person would remember that encounter all day long. It would cheer that coffee person up. You know, like people came to her funeral, they were like, "I met her one time because I served her a donut at a cafe and she made an impact on me." So she was that kind of person that just had that like bubbly, giving, generous spirit and affected everybody around her. Like she was like the epitome of joy, even when she was going through something herself. So it sort of left that imprint on me, like, okay, that's how we should all be living our lives. not walking around like these grumpy individuals complaining about things, lacking gratitude, which I was seeing that's just what you get into a pattern of. I really, really stand by that. I want to live my life in a way that somebody else looks at what I'm doing and is like, I want to be inspired like that person. I want to be happy like that person and giving and gracious and make an impact on other people.

Stephanie: That's amazing. That piece about living with gratitude and really having that present in your life is one that many times comes after hardship

Emily: Or 40

Stephanie: or 40. Good point.

Emily: I mean, that's, the other thing I was always hearing people say like, "Oh, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude." I could not think twice about gratitude. I'm like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, I get it. I get what you're saying, but I'm not going there.

Stephanie: Yep. Speaking about after 40, you said most of your friends are older than you, and so that's probably one of the reasons that the milestone birthday is kind of even on your radar.

Emily: Yeah. Okay. First of all, to the point of the milestone birthday, I think I'm gonna have like a major bash and do what we wanted our wedding to kind of look like and didn't get to do that, you know. But most of my friends, I mean, my very, very good friend Debbie, she's like my mom's age, so I just tend towards, and always have, ever since I was a kid, I always have tended towards people that are older than me. And now I'm in the entrepreneurial space, and so people are all different ages, but I definitely find myself gravitating towards people that are 40 or over. So I look at them sometimes and I'm like, "I want that like, I don't care." They have this, like, I don't care what people think anymore and that is what I want. And my husband is 43, so he's seven years my senior. And I look at him and he has that going for him too. Like he's gotten all these like major life revelations and I'm like, Wait, when does that happen?

Stephanie: Yeah. Well, I'm sorry to tell you that just because you have older friends doesn't mean you get the revelations earlier. It really is a developmental thing. It really is an experience thing, I think. And, and part of it is just the milestone of you stop caring so much what other people think. You stop caring what they think, so you're able to make decisions for yourself a little bit quicker, versus thinking about all the things you should do. That's been a big conversation through literally most of the conversations, somebody talks about doing what they should do or what they're supposed to.

Emily: Yeah, like you have that inner committee of all your family and friends and colleagues.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Emily: To your point earlier at the beginning about saying this is such an interesting age because you said you made the comment, "Oh, you're a young'un." And I gotta say I think especially 36 is the first time when that doesn't feel true at all. I'm like, "Wait, this is not young anymore." I can't do back handsprings anymore. I'm not young anymore. And so it's interesting thing to hear someone else say that they look at me and say that I'm young 'cause that's starting to change internally, and also like externally, like I have gray hairs and wrinkles.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. And your body's slowing down, like you said, not that I could ever do backhand springs, but there are physical things you can't do anymore. But it's interesting because it's, it's dynamic. You'll always feel young to me even when I'm 70 and you are, whatever you'd be then. I'm very bad at math. when my great-aunt was in her nineties, my mom was in her sixties and, she was the kid. So it's a dynamic thing that moves with you. That you know, and the people that are older than you, are not that old anymore, right? So when you were a kid, 50 and 60 and 70 were ridiculous numbers you couldn't even conceive of. And now, at 51, it's like, oh my God, 65? It's just, an older friend, And you've almost got more in common with a 60 year old than you do, with a 35 year old. So yeah, those things are elastic and dynamic and they kind of change with you. And frankly, I don't know about you, but if anybody calls me young these days, I love it.

Emily: Oh, I can't wait.

Stephanie: "You're just a kid." Okay, I'll take that

Emily: They card you, you're like, "Oh, thank you."

Stephanie: Exactly. You really do thank them for carding you, and it's just their job, but, you know, it gives you a little boost. I'm so interested about you already thinking about turning 40. What does the number mean to you? Like why are you thinking of 40 and not 39 or 43 or?

Emily: Hmm. Why do any of us think of 40 as that way? But I think it feels like simultaneously a celebration and also a letting go like leaving something behind. It actually does feel very significant and there are a lot of things I would like to do before I'm 40. And so that time pressure, like things I would've always said, "Oh, I wanna do that before I'm 40," now that window is just getting smaller and smaller and smaller, so it feels like kind of a lot of pressure.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm. . So I'm gonna take those two things separately. I can tell you why 40 for me was sort of a, a number to be reckoned with. That's because when I was a kid in the eighties, 40 was midlife crisis. Like 40 was different in the eighties than it is today. In the last 30 or 40 years, there have been so many advances medically that people are living so much longer. Right? But even in the seventies and eighties, 40 felt like the over the hill age. That wasn't even midlife that was now you're headed downhill. Whereas now it's barely halfway. So for my generation and older, there was a huge connotation around 40. I mean, when I was a kid, I remember going to aunt's and uncle's birthday parties with the over the hill balloons and everything was black and it was almost like, sort of mockingly mourning that you had turned 40. And in the, three or four or five months before I launched the podcast, I actually had some conversations with people to just kind of explore the topic and it feels like 40 is no longer associated with that midlife crisis in the same way, which is part of what makes me really interested why you are so, what's the right word, focused on 40.

Emily: It feels like a rebirth, don't you think? Or like finally sinking into who you are and owning it. And it's almost like a permission slip to do that. Like not that before you get there, you need that permission slip. This is the thing like it is just a number.

Emily: I should just be giving myself that permission slip right now.

Stephanie: So that's the interesting part, right? Because nobody gives you the permission slip at 40. Like, you don't go down to the DMV and like, "Okay, here's your renewed license and your get outta jail free, do whatever you want card." But in the research and the things that I've read, it's that decade between 35 and 45 where there's lots of transition and upheaval. And there are lots of really sort of stereotypical things, marriages, divorces, changes of career, people giving up the corporate career and becoming a yoga instructor. There's like all that kind of stuff that we could point to and of course, anything that ends in a five and a zero or, you know, sort of milestone-y, but, I do think it's somewhere around that period in time where you start not caring. Where the voices from outside your head or the voices you've internalized get turned down. So whether that's your parents or your teachers or your mentors or your bosses telling you all the things you should do, and they're really only telling you that because they want the best for you, and the things that they're suggesting to you are the things that either worked for them or they wish they had done. They want you to be successful, so they're telling you what you should do. And for a long time we follow those things and we listen to them and we do them. And then there comes a point in time where you start hearing those things and you're like, "That doesn't fit, that doesn't work." You have that depth of experience of your own that starts to become more valuable, reliable, meaningful than those other voices.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. That's what I want to get to . No, but I, I feel that upheaval not in like right now, thank goodness it's not in like an events way where things are breaking down and happening. It's more emotional, I would say. I feel like I'm letting go of things that are not serving me anymore and like really having to cut the cord and it's like painful.

Stephanie: Do you have an example?

Emily: And I'm gonna use a really dumb example, just to paint...

Stephanie: Yeah. Just an easy one. Yeah.

Emily: First of all, I see a lot of people that are like, "I'm part of 60 Facebook groups." That never works for me. Like I try to keep those things small and intact anyway. But even when I'm part of one that I'm just like, "Why am I in this group?" But I don't wanna leave because I don't wanna offend that person, or I don't want to miss out if somebody tags my name looking for a writer, you know, or whatever that thing is like. But every time I go there, it feels like a drain and a suck. And this could be a room full of people, this could be a relationship with a person. A Facebook group I'm using as a silly example. Also, most people my age, I don't think use Facebook. I think I'm like one of the uncool ones, but that's just a tangible way of saying like, what is happening in relationships and what is happening in the rooms I go into where it's just like, it's so uncomfortable and who am I going there for? It's certainly not me. It's for somebody else, or it's because I don't wanna miss something or whatever the thing is. So I'm going through this like letting go process and sometimes people like buck back at you, they pop back up and they're like, "Wait, are we gonna reconnect?" And I'm like, "But I don't want to reconnect. I was liking it when we weren't connecting."

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Emily: And how do you say that and how do you really put that into practice? Because I don't want things in my life that drain me all the time. It's quite frankly exhausting.

Stephanie: It is. Well, and the fact that you have already been able to identify things that give you energy versus things that suck energy, I think is wonderful. It took me much longer than that. You're already on your way to, really truly listening to that inner voice and those things inside you. There's a great line from Taylor Tomlinson, the comic. She's fabulous. Look her up. She's like 26 or 27, but she says something about, "People always tell me to listen to my gut. But I literally don't have a gut to listen to." Like when you're in your twenties, you don't have a gut. And by the time you get to your forties, most of us do, most of us got a little more girth. And so it's that really that listening to your gut, and of course it has nothing to do with the physical, but it's just a nice, visual.

Emily: I've always said that same thing like, "Well, I can't even hear my gut." Or like, "I don't have a gut."

Stephanie: Yeah.

Emily: So that is so interesting that other people have that experience, which I'm sure is not unusual. And it also, I think it actually does relate to physical too. Like, can you trust your body to know that what you're eating and what you're drinking and what you're doing is gonna steer you in the right direction. You eat a certain way for so many years and then all of a sudden, like things don't feel right when you eat dairy or like nuts or whatever the thing is. And you're like, "Now I have to like listen to this" and change. So it's all this whole like fluctuation of like, Well, this used to work. Why is this not feeling good anymore? Because I was kind of ignoring the signals the entire time.

Stephanie: Yeah, so another one of the concepts that has been really interesting that I've learned around this sort of this decade is the concept of that first adulthood and second adulthood. First adulthood is the period between, say like 18 and sometime between 35 and 40 when you are the adult that the people around you made, right? So your parents, your communities, your school teachers, they raised you into an adult. And then that period, between that 35 and 45, you become the adult that you raised. Now you are looking at all the experience of, "Well, my mom always fed me nuts and or dairy." My mother said, when I found out I was allergic to or intolerant of gluten, she's like, "What did we know from gluten-free in the seventies?" It wasn't a thing. So she did her best, but, I ate white bread all the time. But then in my early forties it's like, "Oh no, um, I can't eat that." So now I need to take control and raise myself.

Emily: And to your point, I think that's where it becomes like, okay, now I have to really figure out what my personality is. When I really am like, what do I really want? I want two weeks away with nobody around me to figure out who I am. And I think that's it, it's getting away from the committee and figuring out who am I away from all the noise, away from what everybody expects me to be, wants me to be, made me to be. And what is that personality really under there? It's not like Jekyll and Hyde, but there are pieces of our personality, I would imagine, that we don't even know about because it's all based on expectations of other people.

Stephanie: Correct. Yeah. A lot of the folks I've talked to, and I'm thinking specifically of a guy by the name of Father Evil that I interviewed. He decided at 40 that he didn't give a crap what anybody else thought, and that really included his siblings, like first and foremost, they were giving him a lot of pushback on what he was doing with developing this character and becoming this character at horror events around the country. When he put this character on, when he dressed as this character, he felt the two words that he used for me were weightless and zen. But his siblings were giving him a really hard time, they didn't like it, they didn't understand it, they didn't think it was right for him. They didn't think he should be doing it. And he turned 40 and he was like, "Don't care what you think. This is what I'm doing. It makes me happy." So, yeah, pieces and parts of us are definitely formed or shaped by the people around us and whether they have good intentions or, good energy around it, or bad intentions and bad energy, it is challenging to strip those off.

om fun thing to fun thing. My:

Stephanie: Right, we spend so much time focused on, being productive adults, that there really isn't a whole lot of time left to do fun things. One of my recent episodes was with a guy by the name of Mike Montague and he literally started a business about having fun and play, it's called Playful Humans, so that he can help people avoid some of this midlife crisis stuff. He says when you're in that playful mode or mind, everything's just that flow and it's easy and it's sustainable, and you could do it forever. And that's how you kind of avoid getting stale and going stagnant.

Emily: I listened to that episode and it was right after I did my little poll and I was like, "This is amazing." I think it can reveal parts of you, either what you like or what you don't like. You will know if you love physical activity in the form of sports, if you are on a volleyball court and you're suddenly needing to serve the ball. So I think that, I think that's what they call it, serving.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Emily: I haven't done that one yet.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. We talk about the winter is fun snowshoeing, or is fun board games? Both are in completely valid somebody might like to do both, but they also might attract completely different people.

Emily: I know a lot of people tell me they can't stand games and they're like, How do you play games with your husband? That sounds so boring. Like it's very fun.

Stephanie: Yeah, You talked a little while ago about the things that you wanna get done before 40. Tell me what some of those things are.

Emily: Skydiving. Okay. So I definitely, the fun is a piece of it. I want to find like a hobby, something I enjoy doing that is fun 'cause I don't have one of those, to be totally honest. But I really would like to write a book and that's where the timeline feels like it's sort of shrinking. I know you don't need four years to write a book. You can write a book in a year. I've done it for somebody else. I've ghost written. So I know that the process can be quick, but it's like sitting down and actually doing it and figuring out what I want it to be, and it feels like this big looming thing, you know? So that's one thing. and I don't know, I have like a lot of growth goals for my business just where, like in my mind where I feel like I should be by now, but it took me a long time to get to where I am, so I've had to move that timeline out a little bit. I would love to own a second home in the White Mountains that we Airbnb. We love the White Mountains and so we've always wanted a place that we can like Airbnb out, but then also go when we want to go away. And do you know this, Stephanie? I have not yet been on a honeymoon and I've been married for seven years.

Stephanie: Wow.

Emily: Yeah, so that's another thing, I'm taking two weeks off at the end of this year. The first two weeks I've ever taken on a vacation in my life. Maybe in college I had like Christmas break or something. I've never taken two weeks off, so I'm doing that this year. But my husband and I have never been anywhere tropical or we've never been on a honeymoon and we've been married for seven years because we've always had businesses and obligations that in our minds we thought were more pressing than taking time for ourselves. So it's things like that. It's not huge things. It's not like I wanna scale Everest, I definitely don't need to do that. It's just little tiny things. it's a matter of just sitting down and putting one foot in front of the other and making those small things happen. And for me, it feels important to do before you're 40 because it's all part of that, like, sinking in, you know, and then saying, All right, now this next phase, I'm gonna make that even bigger and better and another book. And yeah, grow from there.

Stephanie: Are you someone who, as a kid or through school, were you great with creating lists of things to do and checking everything off or creating lists of goals and, just digging it out until you reach them? Is that the kind of person you are?

Emily: Yes. But then, but then I think so often if it's a really big goal or project, I will, especially if it's for myself, I will take my time with it and then just keep putting it off in different ways. So yes, I'm extremely good at follow through. And when it comes to achieving something that's simply satisfactory, I think sometimes it can be harder to do.

Stephanie: The reason I ask is that there are two kinds of people when it comes to goals. There are those that can set five year, 10 year goals, create the vision board and, and just dig, dig, dig until they achieve it. And then there are folks that for whom, that is not, I don't work that. So I know in my head there are some large scale kinds of things I want outta life but I can't even make myself do things . I am so resistant to authority, even to my own self that if I say, "Gee Steph, you need to sit down and do this 'cause it's part of our goals," the other voice in my head will cross our arms and say, "I will not do that." I'm just wondering out loud whether setting goals by certain dates is something that motivates you or demotivates you? For me, it would be a complete demotivator.

Emily: Yeah, I guess I'm somewhere in between there. But to your point, I've looked at things that I've wanted to do before I was 30 or things that I wanna have by X, Y, Z and I tend not to achieve those things, and then I tend to beat myself up for not achieving said thing by said date. So I think of somewhere in between. I think it really depends on what the goal is.

Stephanie: Yeah. So I wonder if you reframed these goals of things to be achieved, as things that were important to you that I wonder if they would be easier to work towards because they were just part of your makeup, they were things that were important to you as a human being. So, instead of saying, "I wanna write a book by the time I'm 40", maybe it's, I wanna share my thoughts and ideas on this topic with this audience, because I think I have important things to say that will make their lives better." I wonder if if one versus the other is more motivating.

Emily: Yeah. I like that reframe. I'm gonna think about that.

Stephanie: Yeah, Yeah. Cause I feel like on that list, like you said, skydiving's easy, book something next spring and you're done. Right. But the rest of them we're pretty big and, that is a lot of pressure to put on yourself. And as long as you know, that pressure is something positive and productive for you versus something like you said you're just gonna beat yourself up, if you're gonna feel bad. I talked early on to my friend, Eric, he was my husband's roommate when we first met and he was talking about all the things that he wanted to do by 30, by 35. He wanted his master's degree by 35 and well, he didn't get it, he got it by the time he was 37. So, is that a failure or is that just, there's a big serving of life that we have to do, job, clean the house, take care of ourselves. And then, there's a smaller path of life that is the sort of extracurriculars and all the stuff we wanna do outside of that. I just worry about, that pressure of being a failure, it's just not good juju to put on yourself.

Emily: It feels like another thing to like let go of in this process.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Emily: I love that.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Tell me what you think you wanna do to celebrate your birthday? Do you know yet?

Emily: Yes. So I like a wedding. I love a good wedding, a fun wedding where you're just dancing and having fun. We wanted this small kind of cozier knit wedding, and then somehow it just sort of kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And it was great, um, but I think it was a little stressful for my husband and I, and I I was like the wedding planner and the bride. So the day of, I was like exceptionally stressed and he was exceptionally stressed. It was a stressful day. So, I think that I want to create sort of what we wanted with that backyard wedding feel with our closest friends and family for my 40th birthday. I wouldn't say I'm like super extroverted, but I do love a good celebration and party, so that's what I think I want, as of now. Sometimes I picture it in my backyard and sometimes I picture it like LaBelle Winery, but it must involve dancing.

Stephanie: And it's interesting, the party you talk about is exactly the party that I didn't want when I turned 40. And it's kind of strange because, I'm an August birthday, I'm a Leo, I'm an extrovert. I'm all these things that just, if you, if you add it all up, it's oh yeah, center of attention, big party, perfect. But at the time I was single, broken up with, yet another, not great boyfriend. And it's interesting the language you used because a 40th birthday party did feel like the wedding I had never had.

Emily: Yeah.

Stephanie: It felt like weird and icky. It was like all these people here to celebrate me and look at me and, you'd go from person to person and talk to everybody for five minutes. And at that point in my life, it just felt gross that I, again, single, unmarried, never married, never engaged. I was like, I don't want to do that for my 40th birthday. I wanna do that with the man I love that I'm gonna find someday, um, that I did find. But it's interesting that I can totally picture the party that you want and it looks fabulous. But that was exactly the reason I didn't want mine that way.

Emily: To your point, I think it's because finally for the first time in my life, I feel like I've had a lot of stability for the past four years. So now that part of me that's always been craving the stability is like, "Okay, let's shake things up and like, have some fun." Let's burn it all down again. Just kidding. Just kidding.

Stephanie: Don't burn. Don't burn.

Emily: But now I'm seeing like, Oh, okay. There's a balance. It's not just like stable or like hell on wheels. It's, there's a nice balance here.

Stephanie: Now that, that part of you that craves stability is satisfied, is grounded, now you can do some of the other things that are a little crazier.

Emily: Yep. And I'm a Taurus, so that's why I need that grounding

Stephanie: Yes. Yes. Very good. Any wisdom you want from 15 years ahead of you?

Emily: Oh, wisdom from 15 years ahead of you. Yeah. I guess here's my question. So you had a guest on, Susan Osborne, that I had when I was 30, come help me with my closet and like literally figure out what to wear, like I shared with you.

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Emily: Did you feel that from that time to maybe 40, 45, like anything drastically shifted in there or is that kind of when you were starting to make that decision, like appearance-wise?

Stephanie: Oh, appearance-wise for me, it's shifted a couple of times. So I've always loved clothes, I've loved shopping since I was a kid. My first job was at a retail shop at the mall, and my mom and I were in there so often that the woman who managed the store actually offered me a job. So I've always loved clothes and always been pretty good with putting things together kind of my own way. And through my twenties and thirties and even into my early forties, like I felt like I was doing fine. But then in that like early forties, I was like, What is going on? It felt like a bunch disparate pieces and it didn't feel like it was all singing together in one choir. That's when I talked to Susan and she helped me realize what I wore that made me feel good and how to do more of that. So for example, one of the things that she determined, which is not a surprise to anybody who knows me, is I'm a real girly girl. I'm really very feminine. I had like khakis and Oxfords in my closet, and she was like, "What is this? Who is this for? This isn't even for you." But you work in an office environment, you're like, "Oh, that's what you wear to the office. You wear khakis in an Oxford and a blazer or a sweater over it," So for me it was probably early forties when I needed that help transitioning from some of the shoulds again, to really embracing the things that I liked that looked good on me. Then she came back a couple of years later because I had gotten sick and it was difficult to wear things with waistbands for a couple years. So, I was like, how do I wear leggings in a, potato sack without looking like I'm in a potato sack? And so she helped me with that transition as well. It was a lot of the same, it was a lot of unlearning, some shoulds, unlearning some of these rules. For a little while I worked in a law firm and so, you just go in there in your suits and your separates. It's like none of that stuff suited me.

Emily: That wasn't to ask like a vain question, but I just noticed like my hair, at the beginning of the pandemic, my hairdresser and I decided, mutually, we were gonna cut my hair to my chin.

Stephanie: Yep.

Emily: And then my hair was to my chin. I was like, "I feel like a boy." I'm tall and thin, and I just felt like I didn't feel feminine like myself, like I wanted to. And so now I've decided to like grow it back out. I see men not experiencing this in the same way. As men age, it's always like, oh, he gets more handsome with age. And as we age, it's almost like we like forget the beauty of ourselves and the femininity. It, you know, if you are a feminine person, then that femininity and you have to kind of like bring it back. So that was my reason for asking the question.

Stephanie: Yeah, I mean, I think on the guy side of things, I think more of the clothes that they wear are just plain old, comfortable, right? They can go buy khakis or shorts or an Oxford or a Polo and it's like done. And certainly here in the hinterlands, probably not in the major cities, 'cause there's, more of a premium on, style and fashion in the major cities, but certainly out here, this recipe for that sort of business casual kind of thing is so easy for most of the guys. There's a pretty wide band of things they can do and still look pretty good and still feel pretty good wearing their clothes. Whereas for women, I think it's a little different, partly because, as a curvy girl, there's a lot of clothes that aren't cut for me, that aren't built for me. So if I wanna go wear that brand, like it doesn't feel good but, it's like I'm sucked in or I'm bound but, oh, this is what I'm supposed to be wearing. I think that for women, there's a lot more work to be done to find what suits your body style, what suits your personality, what suits your lifestyle, and even if you knew all three of those things, where do you go to buy that stuff?

Emily: my God.

Stephanie: Which stores are for you? Right. So like, I can't shop at Banana Republic, like they don't carry my size and they don't really like curvy girls, so it's fine. They have pretty stuff and occasionally I can find a little sweater or a top or something. But again, you're 30 something and in a professional job, where are you gonna go to get your clothes? You're gonna go to Banana Republic.

Emily: Yep.

Stephanie: There's unlearning, but also sort of learning like, okay, what's my recipe and where do I go to get those pieces? There's more sizes of women than there are of men. I know we're all unique and, but you know, women's bodies are all so different where, you could categorize men pretty broadly.

Emily: It's okay. We get, we get our moment in the sun during like a summer wedding or something. We're like, Woohoo. We get to be sleeveless, and they're like trapped and they're burning hot suits.

Stephanie: That is a good point. And once you find that recipe that works for you, you get your moment in the sun more often. It can always be moment in the sun because you feel good, you look good. here's an example: when my husband gets home from work, the first thing he does is he goes and he takes off all his clothes and he, puts on something comfortable. When I get home from work, I curl up on the couch 'cause the clothes I have on are comfortable and I like them.

Emily: I love that.

Stephanie: I did that leg work with Susan a long time ago. That's an interesting, it's an interesting avenue to wander down and think through, how do we find what works for us and what's that recipe and where do you get it and how do you keep doing it? Especially as your body changes.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. We didn't even go down that route. That's okay.

Stephanie: No. I did with Susan. I did in the Susan episode I talked a lot about body changes and some of my aunts and things I overhear them saying when I was like in my teens and twenties and I was like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now I'm like, Oh yes, you're right. You were exactly right.

Emily: I was a little bit of a late bloomer, so it took me a while physically and then I was like, "Oh dear, I don't know if I like this."

Stephanie: Yeah.

Stephanie: Well, Emily, it has been a joy talking to you. Thank you so much for reaching out to me and suggesting that we talk, 'cause this has been a pretty amazing conversation.

Emily: This was fun. Thank you. And I can't wait to have you on my podcast, too.

Stephanie: I know. Me too. I'm gonna suggest that you come back again in a couple of years when either you're closer to 40 or when you're turned 40, and let's see how the world has turned and shifted for you.

Emily: Okay. I love it. I'm in..

Stephanie: All right.




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