Age anxiety anyone? Quelling fears of the big 40

Turning 20 was a discombobulated blur. Turning 30 was a miracle as folks had a running bet I’d never survive the discombobulated blur years.

At least none of my gifts reminded me of my age/Ryn Gargulinski

At least none of my gifts reminded me of my age/Ryn Gargulinski

Now I’m turning 40. And it was freaking me the heck out.

Yes, I know, age is just a number. But that number says the average lifespan for women is 79. That means I’m more than halfway there.

My mid-life crisis came at 35, so I don’t even have that to look forward to. That major turning point prompted me to review my life and ask if I was enjoying it.

I was not. So I high-tailed it out of a good-paying job on New York City’s Madison Avenue to chase journalism jobs across the nation.

First stop was rural New Mexico, where I ended up with perpetual culture shock and, eventually, a yard full of goats. You really haven’t lived until you’ve owned goats.

It’s not like I haven’t had my share of keen adventures.

Based on past experiences, I’ll bet those adventures are likely to continue. Yet it is starting to feel as I’m fighting against the clock, the game show contestant with a mere 30 seconds to seal her fate.

Book from parents/Ryn Gargulinski

Book from parents/Ryn Gargulinski

But more than mortality is on my now 40-year-old mind. Our society is bent on youth and beauty, often viewing the two as synonymous. Our culture seems to have little respect – or use – for our elders. An elder is often defined as anyone over age 22.

Women definitely suffer from this aging anxiety much more than men. After all, men go grey and are told they are distinguished. Women go grey and are told to buy hair dye. Men with wrinkles are said to be wise. Women with wrinkles are said to need Botox.

You know, the more I ponder this mindset, the more I realize people who think this way can kiss my toe.

Older does not necessarily mean shabbier. I have some prime examples.

The happy Harris couple, Susie and Phil, just celebrated 50 years of marriage and are still going strong. Tucson grandma Eula Slauson is in her 70s and embarking on her second career writing red hot romance novels.

Confidence also grows with age. “I really don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore,” one 70-something woman told me. “I’m saying and doing what feels good to me.”

Did I mention some folks can kiss my toe?

Phoebe hunting the musical chicken card/Ryn Gargulinski

Phoebe hunting the musical chicken card/Ryn Gargulinski

Besides, aging is inevitable. The only way to stay young forever is to die.

My four decades have definitely taught me that struggling against the inevitable only leads to anguish. It’s like the mouse stuck on the glue trap that becomes gooier and gooier the longer he squirms. It’s a pair of Chinese handcuffs.

People who have already gone through 40 are probably rolling their eyes, much the same way I roll mine when a 29-year-old starts lamenting about her upcoming 30th birthday.

Give me a break, I say, 30 is beautiful. With each passing year our talents become sharper, our passions more defined and our lives much richer. I tell her to embrace the world, embrace her age and dammit, live life to the fullest.

I ask if she would really want to relive all those earlier and often discombobulated years with the same mistakes, confusion and headaches or go forward with a clearer direction and a fearless mind.

She usually picks the latter.

Perhaps I should follow my own advice. After all, I already have a good start on living life to the fullest as I’ve experienced the total joy of goats.


Sure enough, my brother found a gift to match the ugly giraffe kid (right) he got me for Christmas/Ryn Gargulinski

Sure enough, my brother found a gift as fabulous as the giraffe kid he got me for Christmas/Ryn Gargulinski


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who aims to make her 40s the best decade yet. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail


I was wrong thinking nothing could top this past gift (see left)/Ryn Gargulinski

I was wrong thinking nothing could top this past gift (see above)/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

What was/is your favorite age?

Your least favorite?

Are you scared of growing older?

Have you ever had goats?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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39 Responses to Age anxiety anyone? Quelling fears of the big 40

  1. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    I hope your birthday was good fun Ryn!
    I like being in my 40’s and will be moving into my 50’s soon. Enjoy what you can while you can! I recently spoke with a dear friend of mine who just turned 46. She moaned that she has now started to feel her age, she notices as loss of skin tone and then, horror of horrors, she discovered fat on the backs of her thighs (she has been very athletic all her life).
    I, on the other hand am 48 (and will be 49 before this year is up), and the only thing that really lets me know my age is looking in the mirror to see my ‘distinguished’ gray sides and a few bits of wisdom on my face . . .

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Hahah, that reminded me of how Aaron has this little white spot (birthmark) in his beard. We were playfully disagreeing about something, and he points to it and says, “You see this?! This means wisdom!!” It cracked me up.

    • Rynski says:

      dear distinguished wise andrew,
      THANKS! great to hear your 40s are enjoyable – and that the only changes you’ve noted was the grey and wisdom.
      boo! on the thigh fat your friend noted – don’t know what else to say to that.
      i always make memorial day weekend my ‘birthday weekend’ so actual bday was awesome and more fun stuff coming up this weekend. a shopping spree at thrift store, hiking with beau and pooches as well as dog/people picnic are just a couple of enjoyable things on agenda.

  2. azmouse says:

    Congratulations!!! I was gonna ask how old you were, but we women don’t do that to each other.
    Going by your pictures, I honestly would have thought you were 32ish…

    Forty was my favorite most fabulous Birthday of them all! I remember I bought myself a shiny blue thong bikini, cuz forty is the new 25, right?!!? And it still looked good! HA

    You are now officially cougar-age. Young college men will fantasize about you, Ryn. (I know, you are in a happy, loving relationship, but it’s nice to know that you have new super-woman power over men of all ages)

    I promise soon, you will have more confidence. You are in your sexual prime now!
    You are to be envied…

    • azmouse says:

      Ryn, I emailed you pix of the turning-forty bikini I bought. I suggest you go get one as well  🙂

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, azmouse!
      yes, i was VERY blessed with good genes from mom’s side of family. folks asked to see my ID well into mid-30s to make sure i was 21.
      soooo cool to hear 40 was your most fab – and YES – 40 is DEFINITELY the new 25. hahahha. i will definitely check out blue thong bikini photos you sent when i get a moment later. bet it’s AWESOME!! and thanks for advice.
      wow – 40 makes the cougar age? i had no idea. well, now i surely feel snazzy – hahahhaha. also good to hear i’m in the sexual prime.
      hey, this age is pretty dang cool now after all – hahahah.
      thanks for support and encouragement always, azmouse!

      • azmouse says:

        Enjoy, cougar-dom! ha

        Hey, nothing is more freeing that being forty, throwing on a thong bikini, going to a busy lake and showing those twenty-something year old girls how us forty year old mamma’s rock-it! yeah baby!!!

      • Rynski says:

        hey! i just checked out the bikini photo you e-mailed – wow-eeeee! that is a fine little suit, ain’t it (little being the key word – hahah).
        love your attitude!

      • azmouse says:

        Well, why spend all that time exercisingand eating right. You have to flaunt all your hard work, Ryn.

        May I suggest purchasing your forty-is-fabulous swimwear at a local retailer that specializes in topless dancing costumes. They have the coolest swimsuits  🙂
        Go for it….I dare ya! HAhahahaha

        captha: the hymans                                             whoa

      • Jennatoolz says:

        LOL! the captcha…

  3. GOP Grandma says:

    Getting older beats the alternative.

    • Rynski says:

      here, here, GOP Grandma!
      besides, if i lived through the discombobulated 20s, i’ll betcha i can live through anything (autobio coming soon – hahhahah).

  4. radmax says:

     Congrats on the big four -o Rynski!
    Hope you enjoy your b-day bash weekend! Forty was (yawn)
    unnoticeable in my case because skulls and bones age
    just have to pickup a new bandanna once in a while.;)

    I agree with az, you have much to look forward to!
    You are one of the, if not the most interesting people
    I’ve ever read.

    Creativity never grows old, may your days be filled
    with happiness, imagination and good times.

    (Sorry FB):) …yer pal radmax

    Ps- I also agree you are one spicy dish Rynski 😉

    • Rynski says:

      awww, thanks, radmax!
      that’s a dang fine compliment on being one of the most interesting writers – esp. since i know skulls and crossbones are usually into some really cool literature – hahahhahah.
      glad to hear the skulls and bones are also low maintenance on the aging end – as long as you keep the bandannas updated, of course.
      also seems skulls have VERY GOOD taste in women – hahahhahahah. thanks, as always, for your funky comments and well wishes.

  5. zemer says:

    Happy Birthday!  You should do something special when you hit 30, 40, 50, 60, etc.  My wife got a Mazda Miata when she turned 40 and next week she turns 60 and we’re going to Victoria, BC for the week.
    Make the milestone birthdays memorable…

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, zemer!
      i agree, the ‘changing of the decades’ is definitely prime time for an extra-special celebration. way cool on your wife’s 40th mazda and 60th BC jaunt! cool! (i am curious what 50 brought?)
      sad i couldn’t fit paris into the 40th agenda – but other VERY special stuff is making up for that – definitely memorable already and i’ve still got through monday to celebrate.

  6. Jennatoolz says:

    I hope your birthday was as superb as you are Ryn! I’m a huge believer in “Life is what you make it.” If you stress about being 40 and worry about “growing older”, then that’s how you’re going to live…stressed and worried! That’s no way to live is it? Take some advice from azmouse, and go buy yourself a shiny blue thong bikini and live it up!! Hahah 😉

    my captcha: “the sayer”

    • Rynski says:

      dear the sayer,
      thanks much for best wishes! you’re the sweetest, jenna.
      you are ABSOLUTELY right! we do have power of how our life plays out, simply from our state of mind.
      thong bikini here i come – hahhahahahah

  7. koreyk says:

    Happy b’day!

  8. andrew says:

    Sorry you turned Forty Ryn, You are so much younger than that. Myself, I turned fifty something but I feel like a 19 year old, that’s been out all night. butane highways itc, I like AzMouse’s reponse to her captcha, “Whoa”.

  9. leftfield says:

    Forty?  From your picture and your adventures, I thought you were turning twenty-one.  Still, you’re just a kid yet. 

    Remember that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.  It’s that way for everyone.  I also like to remind myself that, when it comes my time to make room for someone else, I know I won’t be thinking about how much money I made or didn’t make or what kind of car I drove, but rather about the people, pets and planet I loved.

    Happy, Happy Birthday Kid.

    • Rynski says:

      awww, thanks leftfield!
      what a fine comment – and reminder of one of my fave quotes about life happening when we’re busy making o/ plans. tooo true.
      even better reminder about what really matters – sawyer says, esp., thanks for reminding me of that (haha).
      thanks for letting us know you’ll be out of town – have fun! – and we look forward to your return.

  10. leftfield says:

    BTW, azmouse.  Just so you won’t wonder-I will be out of the country and away from computers for a couple of weeks.  For you, Rad, Ryn, et al, I have heard that there are chickens in Central America that are not getting lullabyes, and I am going to correct this dreadful situation.  For Andrew Farley, I am going to sneak some aliens back into the country in my suitcase.  For Fort Buckley and Cholla Jumps, I am going to a refresher course in communist propaganda, as required periodically by the party.   

    • azmouse says:

      I wouldn’t wonder, I’d worry if I didn’t see that hairy-faced picture!!

      I hope you have a wonderful time. I really appreciate you letting me and everyone know, because I worry that something will happen to one of us regulars, and none of us will ever know! 😦

      Be really careful…..

  11. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Lefty: Be sure to say “Hola” to mi’ amigos, los Pepes!
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • leftfield says:

      Yes, how could I forget Yer Pal, FB?  You should know that I will be going to a very impoverished area in a third world country.  When I return, I will be able to tell you what rural Arkansas will be like when they catch up. 

  12. Tucson Rat says:

    Don’t you hate hearing “ma’am”? Just get used to it. 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      for sure! ‘ma’am’ is simply awful – but i’ve been called ma’am since about 25 – i think some people do it on purpose just to annoy women (notice it’s always smart-alecky guys who say it, no?) hahahahah

  13. Jim Kelley says:

    I like the fact that you look like jailbait, but you aren’t.

  14. His Dudeness says:

    Your blog remined of this quote, “Everything is more beautiful because any moment might be our last. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again”.

    • Rynski says:

      oooooo, i like!
      i like that a lot. thanks for sharing it, his dudeness.
      SUCH a reminder to live in the moment….which i only seem to remember when i’m at the dentist or something similar – haha.

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