How a Fellow 40-Year-Old in a Tiny Village in Ecuador Taught Me That Age Really Is Just a Number

Aimee Cebulski's international travels helped her make peace with her age, and now she's inspiring others to do the same

by Aimee Cebulski • The Finding 40 Project
aimee cebulski photo
Photograph: Aimee Cebulski

Natalie Morales of The Today Show taught me that no matter what your career, social status or celebrity, women are just trying to do the best they can. She shared a story of trying to educate her children about the fact that not everyone in the world has it as good as they do, and it wasn't until a beggar asked for her son's half-eaten pizza crust in South America that he realized that some people are so hungry, they will eat trash from another person's plate.

Nuria in Pakistan humbled me. In a country where women are often marginalized, this ex-attorney turned human rights advocate managed to organize thousands of her fellow citizens to protest the Taliban's presence in her country and developed an education program that sends hundreds of girls to school. My volunteer efforts at the local walk-a-thon seemed completely weak next to hers.

It's been a thrill to be able to do some good with this project as well. I've been able to partner with Project Concern International (PCI Global) and am donating a portion of all proceeds to support their women's health and empowerment initiatives worldwide. 

Halfway through the project, the first number of my age moved from 3 to 4.  I did throw a party to celebrate, but instead of it being about me, I made it about the women of The Finding 40 Project. I decorated with photos of the women I had met so far and raffled off prizes with the proceeds also benefiting PCI Global. 

Encountering women like Rosa Elena in Ecuador, who had to check her identity card to verify if she really was 40, made me realize my friends back home were right all along. It really is just a number.

About the Author:
A lifelong traveler who has visited 46 countries, Aimee Cebulski has worked as a freelance travel writer and blogger for the last 15 years. The Finding 40 Project (www.finding40.net) combines her passion for telling stories through photos and sharing lessons learned from those she has met around the world.

Aimee has had pieces featured in publications such as Travelhoppers, Scuba Diving Magazine, AdWeek, The Riverside Press-Enterprise, The Arizona Daily Star, Ranch & Coast Magazine, San Diego News Network, The Orange County Register, The Minnesota Star Tribune and Los Angeles Family Magazine, among others.

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mark rushworth05.06.2014

Inspirational. I'm fast approaching the four-word (no kids yet) and its comforting knowing other people are as neurotic as I.

Roxanne 12.05.2013

I love the insight and especially the viral connection you've created. I am moving toward the big 50 now, and looking back on 40, I wish I had more perspective than just my gfs then. Thanks for the words of wisdom :)

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