Sunday, 15 November 2020

40 Before 40: One Year To Go!

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my 39th birthday.

Even as I type those words it feels like I'm talking about somebody else, I'm really not sure how I can be 39 years old when in my mind I feel no different than I did at 20.

It feels as though the last two decades have been on fast forward - do you ever hear people talking about the early 2000s and think "but that was, like,  5 years ago?!" I certainly do!

Even this year, as awful as it's been and as much as some months have felt as though they lasted for years, seems to have vanished in the blink of an eye - I can hardly believe it's already time to start thinking about buying Christmas presents, I feel like we've only just put the tree away!

But alas, it's true - somehow 39 years have passed and I'm now in the last year of my 30s. 

I've loved my 30s more than any other decade of my life so far. I don't pine for my younger years because I don't  feel that I enjoyed them all that much - I hated school and as a result of my misery there I would never wish to return to those early teen years. College was better but I still felt so awkward and suffered with such low self esteem - not a time I'd like to repeat.

My 20s were full of insecurity and a feeling of not really knowing who I was.

It wasn't until my 30s hit that I felt as though my life really started. Perhaps it's because this was the decade where I became a mother, perhaps it's because this was the decade where I finally started to feel as though I understood and liked who I was, perhaps its because this was the decade I finally started to form real friendships - perhaps it's all of those reasons and more.

Whatever the reason - my memories of this decade are full of happiness, and for that reason I don't feel at all sad or unsure about turning 40 - I feel excited to see what the next decade has in store for me and ready to feel more of the delicious self-acceptance and quiet wisdom that seems to have come with getting older.

When I turned 35, I published a list here on my blog of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40.

Now that I'm just 1 year away, I thought it was time to revisit that list.

Not just to see how many things I've managed to tick off, but also to reassess the list entirely. To see whats changed and how I feel now about the goals I set myself back in 2016.

What surprised me most is just how much I've changed in such a short space of time.

Things that seemed important to me back then no longer are. My mindset has changed dramatically in so many ways, and the things that I once thought I'd love to do simply do not resonate with me any more.

I wondered about whether it was ok to change my list now - whether it seemed like a cop out of sorts, to move the goal posts so close to the deadline. Whether it would seem like I was just changing it to make it seem that I'd achieved more than I actually had in reality.

But then I realised....I don't care! I don't care what it seems like to anyone else...the only thing that matters is that the things I focus on doing and achieving with my life resonate with me and my loved ones. Everything else is just noise.

So with one year to go, its time to have a look at the list with fresh eyes - look at what's already been ticked off, and reassess what's left.

1) Get To A Dress Size I Feel Comfortable With 

When I wrote this list - my intention with this goal was never about my own comfort but was to shrink my body down for the comfort of others. To make myself more palatable to society, to make myself more pleasing for the eyes of others.

It saddens me that this was the number one thing on my big list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it doesn't surprise me.

Weight loss has always been a focus of my life, and I'd hedge a bet that if you asked 100 women what their biggest goals in life were - most of them would have something about weight or dress size on their list. 

As women, we spend our lives being bombarded with messaging that our worth is intrinsically linked to our dress size. It's nigh on impossible to escape, and it takes so much work to undo.

What saddens me most about this goal I set, is that when I look at photographs of myself in 2016 - I can now appreciate that I actually looked just fine. I was a lot smaller than I am now - I was around a size 18/20, whereas I'm now somewhere between a 20-24 depending on brand. 

I look at those photos and I can honestly say that I think I looked really good. But I remember so very clearly how I felt about myself when they were taken, and all I could think about was my size and how disgusting I thought it made me look.

I've crossed this goal off my list as one that I achieved - because although I didn't lose weight or drop any dress sizes, I DID manage to become comfortable with my size through the hard but rewarding work of unlearning everything society had programmed in to me about body size and worth.

I now know that my dress size is just a number. My body is doing its very best, in often very difficult circumstances. My beauty and worth as a person is not linked to the number on the scales or the size label inside my clothes. And I refuse to waste any more of my life time making my appearance my number 1 goal.

2) Go to an 80's concert (If Jason Donovan is there, bonus!)

I've been to a few 80s concerts since writing this, including seeing Jason himself perform a lovely intimate gig where he chatted about his life as a pop star in the 80s and performed some of his biggest hits. It was really good fun, and I've loved going to concerts again after years of my anxiety not allowing me to.

3) Watch "The Book Of Mormon" at the theatre

I went with Jon to see this on the West End a few years back, and loved it -  I've never laughed so much in my life - hilarious show, one of the best theatre productions I've seen!

4) Watch "Wicked" in the West End

We took the kids for the first West End experience last summer as part of Kids Week, and Wicked was the show we chose to watch - it was fantastic, and it was all the more special to get to experience with them. Sailor wasn't the biggest fan, but Tyne enjoyed it and Noa adored it! I hope to be able to take them back to the West End next year if things settle down.

5) Go To Disneyland Paris with the Kids for Halloween

We've been to the Halloween season at Disneyland Paris twice now...and been on 7 other occasions too. It's mind blowing to me to think that when I wrote this list, I was too controlled by my anxiety disorder to consider visiting Disneyland Paris at all - I'm so pleased I overcame those fears as it has become our family happy place and we have made so many amazing memories there over the last 4 years.

6) Visit New York City

This remains very high on my wish list - we had plans to visit early next year but with the ongoing Covid situation I'm not sure it will happen but that's ok, as soon as its safe to do so we will be visiting and I can't wait!

7) Go On A Royal Caribbean Cruise With The Kids 

Since writing this list, I've been on three family cruises with Jon & the kids which have all been absolutely amazing and I even managed to get on a girls-only mini cruise with my sister which was really lush. 

8) Go On A Disney Cruise 

This felt like a dream we'd never be able to manage when I wrote this list, but I'm really excited that I've managed to save enough money to be able to book a Disney cruise as part of our Florida holiday - we're hoping this will happen next year but it all depends on the Covid situation. As soon as it's safe to do, we're ready to book.

9) Go To Italy and eat proper Italian pasta

We managed to visit two cities in Italy during our med cruise -Rome and Florence - I ate pasta in both and it  was amazing!
We also spent a week in the Venice region during our Eurocamp holiday which was fantastic, I adore Italy and really hope to be able to visit again soon.

10) Learn to drive

Unfortunately this one remains on my list and is one I still really want to achieve - I'm reluctant to take lessons while masks are mandatory, but I'm hoping that by next year I'll be able to squeeze in a fast pass course and get my license in the nick of time! 

11) Go to Ireland

Again, this remains on the list and is one we will hopefully do next summer as we'd all love to visit the Titanic museum and see the Irish countryside.

12) Get married and have my dream wedding

This is an interesting one. 

When I wrote this list, it felt like something I really wanted but now I question why that really was. Was it ever something I wanted for myself, or did I want it purely to be able to check it off that invisible list of "Things We Should Want To Do As Women"?

If I'm completely honest, I feel it's the latter.

 The only thing that really appeals to me about a wedding is the opportunity to wear a nice dress. There are so many aspects of marriage that I don't personally like or agree with - the formality, the wording involved, the treatment of women as property to be "given away", the name change, the change to "Mrs" while the mans title remains the same - it all seems very outdated to me, and while I love a good wedding and am so happy for anyone who chooses marriage for themselves - I don't personally feel it's for me. At least not without a lot of conditions and changes, anyway.

My "dream wedding" has also changed drastically - 5 years ago I would have told you that I'd love a big white wedding in a church with hundreds of guests and a big party. Now? If I ever do get married, it would most likely to be on a cruise ship with just my little family - no guests, no party, no big fuss.

I'll leave it on the list for now, because it's not something I want to rule out completely - the children have asked about whether we'll get married and expressed that it's something THEY would like so for that reason it's not off the table completely - but it's certainly not something I will be ticking off any time soon or making a priority.

13) Have a fourth child

Again, this is something that feels as though I'm in the process of changing my mind on.

5 years ago I was certain I wanted another baby. But the more time has passed, the less inclined I've felt to have another.

I wouldn't say that I'm 100% against it and I don't think I'll ever not be slightly broody at the sight of a newborn, but I am leaning more toward not having another these days and it's not something I want to do within the next year.

14) Buy our own home

This is one I change my mind on often. If I was to buy a home, it would likely involve some big changes - I'd most likely want to move areas completely and return to the North which is not something I feel would be appropriate right now for the kids.

It's one to keep on the list, but realistically it's not something I plan on trying to achieve within the next 10 years or so. 

15) Get a small tattoo 

This one WILL be happening before my 40th rolls around - I'm just narrowing down my design ideas!

16) Get something (Anything!) published in print

I was asked to write an article for Essentials magazine, it was the first thing I'd written myself that was published in print and It felt like an actual dream come true!

17) Move even closer to the sea

Again, this one doesn't feel like it resonates anymore. If it happens that's fine but I don't really want to move house within the next year so I'm going to remove this one from the list.

18) Win a blog award!!!

 I won the Readers Choice Award in the Britmums Brilliance In Blogging Awards in 2018. I'm glad I got to check this off the list, but was one of those things that felt more exciting to dream about than it was in reality.

19) Do a degree or qualification ( in writing/journalism or possibly teaching)

This one has changed completely as I don't have any interest in either of these fields anymore. I am in the process of re-qualifying in a completely new field though, and have plans to enroll on a degree course in the next year.

20) Get veneers

This one will be happening before the end of the year. It was something I'd actually changed my mind on, but due to my previous fillings coming out the decision has been taken out of my hands so - it will be checked off the list soon!

21) See Madonna or Kylie Minogue in concert

I haven't managed to see Madge yet and I doubt it'll happen before the deadline now, but I did manage to see Kylie in concert at the Eden Project last year which was amazing!

22) Learn to play Piano

I've started learning...that's something right?!

23) Own a pet and learn to love it (I'm so not an animal person but I want to change that!)

We now have pet guinea pigs and I do love them. We're working our way up to a cat or dog! ;)

24) Swim with or touch a dolphin

This is one that should have been achieved this year on our Florida trip as we were booked in for a dolphin swim, but hopefully it will happen next year instead!

25) Cuddle (or at least stroke) a monkey


This list started to get really random, didn't it?! Not one I've achieved and I can't say it's one I'll be bothered about if I don't!

26) Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant

We still haven't done this and really must try to do it soon.

27) Have a whole night away on my own somewhere (Spa or retreat maybe?!)

Not done yet but I'd like to try to - I'm leaning toward a writers retreat.

28) Go on our a tour of Buckingham palace

I visited London for a few days in 2017 with Jon & Tyne, and did the palace was AMAZING. I cried!

29) Join an amateur dramatics group/be in a play

Not something I've done yet, and I feel as though it's not a priority just now but I'd like to do it one day as I really enjoy a bit of am dram.

30) Be a keynote speaker at an event

I achieved this in 2018 when I was asked to speak about body confidence at a local women's day event, which was awesome.
To my amazement it led to a regular speaking job at a local new mothers mental health group, which has been fantastic and without doubt one of the best things I've had the opportunity to do.

31) Try past life regression 

I haven't managed this yet but I will be doing it very soon!

32) Take a cookery class

Not one I've achieved, but I wouldn't mind giving it a go although it doesn't really interest me all that much anymore.

32) Take a photography course

I did an online course last year which has been a good help, although I would still like to an "in person" hands on course too

33) Investigate my blood line/genealogy and research my family tree

I worked with a brand last year who gave me the chance to have my blood line traced, and I was really intrigued by the results. I also managed to trace back around 7 generations on my Fathers family line using which was really good fun and very interesting. I'd love to find out more about my Mums side of the family.

34) Write a book

One day.....

35) Dye my hair an unnatural colour 

Since writing this list, I've dyed my hair pretty much every colour of the rainbow at various points...I currently have hot pink and purple hair. I love it and never want to go back to normal colours!

36) Do a make up and/or hairdressing course

This is another one that doesn't resonate with me at all anymore. I'm going to have to remove this one completely.

37) Overcome a fear

I managed to overcome my lifelong fear of flying after taking a course with Easyjet last year...I'm amazed that I managed to conquer what was my biggest fear of all! I also attempted to overcome my fear of heights by doing a Go Ape didn't work but at least I tried!

38) Learn to manage my anxiety and panic attacks more

After over a year of weekly therapy sessions, I made huge progress on this and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. I will always suffer somewhat but I feel that things have become much more manageable.

39) Go to Lapland with the kids

This is still very much on the list...hopefully travel will be safe again soon!

40) Have a big party to celebrate my 40th!!

Fingers crossed that Covid allows for this one?!

So that leaves me with the following list of things that still resonate with me to work on over the next year:

Visit New York City

Go On A Disney Cruise 

Learn to drive

Go to Ireland

Get a small tattoo 

Get veneers

Swim with or touch a dolphin

Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant

Have a whole night away on my own somewhere

Try past life regression 

Write a book

Go to Lapland with the kids

Have a big party to celebrate my 40th!!

If the world gets back to normality, maybe it's achievable?! We shall see! It's certainly been interesting to look back over the list and see how my interests and thoughts have changed over the last 4 years. 

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