After reaching the landmark age of 40, I spent days reeling in shock. I’d outlived Jesus Christ; Pocahontas; Emily Bronte; Buddy Holly; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Otis Redding; Bruce Lee; Bob Marley; Anna Nicole Smith; and the Notorious B.I.G. But I still hadn’t managed to tilt our planet even slightly off its axis. Though I possessed laugh lines and a mortgage, I had no husband, no children, and—thanks to the recession—less and less magazine writing work. I reached for dark chocolate, red wine, and a ripe mango.

After several days of this, while I was lying on the floor of my apartment in Harlem and actually eating a ripe mango, it occurred to me that what I’d accomplished so far was exactly what I was meant to accomplish. Going forward (nibble), whatever I did or didn’t do (nibble) would also be exactly as ordained. I would eat, drink, practice yoga and make art exactly as I was meant to eat, drink, practice yoga and make art.

I decided at that moment to spend the rest of my 40th year doing just what I believe I’m meant to do on this planet. Tackle nine tasks that Molly Maureen Ginty is all about—and that happen to be all about her.

From the spring of 2009 through the spring of 2010, I performed each of the following nine tasks. Faithfully. Dutifully. Every day for 40 days straight, without skipping one wild and precious day.

1. write a short story, essay, or poem (done May-June)
2. meditate for 40 minutes straight (done June-July)
3. perform a random act of kindness (done Aug-Sept)
4. take a yoga class (done Sept-Oct)
5. share a piece of chocolate (done Oct-Nov)
6. drink a glass of red wine (in a curious move, I actually decided to abstain from red wine for 40 days from November, 2009 through January)
7. eat mango (done Jan-Feb)
8. take a photograph of something I think is beautiful (done Feb-March)
9. revel in love (done March-May, and involving chocolate, red wine, a man with whom things were deliciously lovely…and also some mango, too)

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