Nicola Alpe is a Kiwi usually living in Los Angeles navigating Americans, motherhood and bad traffic. She's currently on an extended trip back to New Zealand.
This time last year I was preparing to turn 40 and my biggest concern was trying to find an outfit for my party – different times! One year on and I still don't feel 40 (some of the time I feel like I'm 80 thanks to a bad back), nor do I act the way I used to think a 40-year-old should act. Now that I'm staring down the barrel of 41, what is this decade supposed to mean?
Turning 40 in LA brings about a raft of questions, mostly playing on long ingrained insecurities. Should I start getting Botox? Is it too late to get Botox? Has that ship already sailed, because the 23-year old selling me a hat (wide brimmed of course) told me HIS mum said he needs to start preventative Botox when he is 25.
All of a sudden, I'm looking droopy.
Should I pop in for some filler or something? So I don't look so droopy around my mouth? I mean, everyone has them in LA, don't they? Aren't they all using organic skincare but having fillers? I'm only having one child so should I get my boobs done? A natural look of course.
Should I start eating a vegan diet? Look at that woman on Instagram who is a raw vegan and at 80 she looks incredible! Wouldn't it be terrific to look like that at 80! I'd be the toast of the nursing home out there in my bikini, wouldn't I? And think of all those animals I had saved.
God, I wish I hadn't started taking the pill - look at my thighs! How can I smooth those out? So they resemble the thighs of everyone at Nobu this weekend? And how dare I still get a hormonal break out!
When the aforementioned 23-year old started telling me about how he is sliding downhill rapidly, I told him he is being ridiculous. He exclaimed with genuine amazement, "But girl! You look amazing for 40!". He could not have used a more incredulous tone of voice, suggesting I should look totally haggard at my age.
It will be a challenge to stay true to myself and to my values in an image-based city but this decade I want to be the best version of myself physically and emotionally, not only for myself, but for my daughter too. I love that she wants to be strong and tall like Mummy. She proudly shows me her muscles and I tell her that her growing feet, or her strong legs will take her to many amazing places.
I want this decade to be about nurturing my relationships with the people I love. This may be the last decade I have both of my parents fit and well. I married out of my age demographic, so we need to keep creating special memories and traditions. I'd like time away with my girlfriends now we are all out of the small baby phase. I need to treasure this decade with my daughter, because next decade Mummy will be very uncool.
When I reflect on my birthday (I woke at 4.30am - jetlag), I shared the day with my mum, husband and daughter. I felt strong, healthy and euphoric thanks to a punishing sunrise hike and pleasantly floppy thanks to the breakfast Champagne. I had friends join later that week for my Family Friendly 40th and I started this decade celebrating friendships between 2- and 35-years old.
I'm grateful that I've experienced heartache, disappointments, and even the ending of friendships. I have wisdom to share. I am open to life and to possibilities. And 40 feels fantastic.