Tag Archives: joy

Top 5 Tips About Turning 40

40When I turned 40, I wasn’t vaguely bothered by the fact I was turning 40. After all, it’s just a number.

But, a lot of people I knew were significantly bothered about leaving their 30s behind. They got depressed, went into denial, all kinds of things.

Why?

It’s not a death knell to having fun and experiencing life. After all doesn’t the saying go “life begins at 40”, and nowadays 40 is the new 30.

In the 16th century average life expectancy fluctuated between 30 and 40 and didn’t actually rise above 40 until mid-19th century

Even in 1905 the average life expectancy was just over 49 years.

So you could say that back then reaching 40 was an achievement and considered pretty old.

Today though, average life expectancy is a lot higher, so why is there still this stigma attached to turning 40?

That aside, here are the top 5 tips I learned as I climbed over the hurdle:

Tip 5 – Watch your weight (aka Middle Age Spread)

You know when you were younger, you could polish off pretty much anything you fancied food-wise and have room for more with no fear that your jeans wouldn’t fit the next day?

Middle-age spread is not a myth.

I’ve always been fairly obsessive of my weight as you know, but when I hit 40 those few pounds I put on were not quite so easy to shift.

In fact, 2 years ago I was probably the heaviest I have been for over 20 years. I mean a lot of people probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I did. My jeans started to feel a little too tight – and this is coming from the girl who always buys a pair of jeans 2 sizes to big to start with – and I just felt uncomfortable.

Nothing I did seemed to shift the weight.

In the end I radically adjusted my diet. I gave up sugar, completely, for about 3 months and the weight fell of. Then I gradually started introducing the sugar again, and when I felt a bit heavy, cut it out.

And I started exercising more. Nothing ridiculous like 5 hours at a gym every day. No. I found some fab workout DVDs which I could do at home – and yes I know you need the willpower to make yourself do it – but they were 10 minute workouts. If I had enough time to take out to make a cup of tea, I had enough time whilst the kettle was boiling to do a 10 minute workout.

2 years down the line I feel healthier than ever. It is now part of my daily routine to exercise and if I want a piece of cake I will have it, but just cut down on the sugar for the next couple of days.

So, don’t forget to watch your weight.

Tip 4.  Mid-Life Crisis

I guess, turning 40 does make you ponder about your life; what you’ve done, what you regret doing, what you regret not doing, what you feel you should have done, what you feel life is all about.

Of course, the answer to that one is 42!

Hitting 40 does whack you with a reality check that life is passing you by.

Some people go out and buy a sports car, others just inwardly panic.

After all you’ve had 40 years on the planet and what have you done?

I haven’t really done much with my life, to be honest. For sure, I went to  university and got a degree. I didn’t use it. I sort of fell into the IT world (and was part of the gig economy before it was the ‘in’ thing to do), went to drama school because I’d always wanted to give it a shot, had a baby (not exactly how it was supposed to be) and kind of floundered.

I don’t regret a thing. After all I would be in the same place I am now even if things had been different. It’s all down to the choices you make, and I’ve been too scared to do anything most of my life.

But when I hit 40, that was when I started rediscovering me and rebuilding myself.

So rather than a mid-life crisis, I had a mid-life re-birth.

Tip 3. Bloody Hormones

Yup, when you reach 40 those old hormones start wreaking havoc.

For us women we have “the change” to look forward too.

Although the average age for the menopause is about 51, it’s actually more about the ‘peri’. This is the transitional phase between the regular, normal monthly gubbins we’ve been used to for oh so many years and them stopping. Perimenopause can last between 4 and 8 years and normally starts in your mid-40s, but can start earlier!!

To be honest, the symptoms of the ‘peri’ are pretty much the same as the real thing, so once you start the ‘peri’ the end is in sight, so to speak.

But don’t think men have it easy. Yes, our estrogen levels may experience a sudden drop in our 40s, but for men their testosterone is on the decline by 1% a year from the age of 30.

So we may get night sweats, hot flushes and soreness in various areas, but men get to join us in the depression, mood swings, decreased libido and weight gain.

So do we all need to go onto HRT?

No!

The simple things, apparently are to make sure you get enough sleep, watch your weight (see Tip 5), exercise and try not to get too stressed.

Tip 2. Go With The Flow

Let’s face it, we can’t stop time. If we could we would all stop the clock at the most amazing points in our life, wouldn’t we?

Yes, we’re going to get wrinkles, begin to go grey or bald (if we haven’t started already), our joints will start creaking and bits of us might stop working properly.

BUT that’s just life.

Just embrace it.

I’m not saying let yourself go, of course not, we’re turning only turning 40. We still want to feel good and more importantly feel alive.

So take the vitamins, buy the anti-ageing stuff (although personally egg-white face masks and olive oil are a wonder), colour your hair, buy a toupee, anything o ensure you still feel good about yourself.

BUT.

We can’t, and shouldn’t want to compete with the 20-somethings.

We have something they don’t possess yet, experience and maybe, just maybe a little bit of wisdom.

Tip 1. Don’t Panic, Just Jump In

Turning 40 does not mean it’s time for the twinset and pearls or pipe and slippers. Definitely not!

It’s time for adventure.

After all, in your 20s you couldn’t afford it, in your 70s you might be too old to enjoy it, so isn’t your 40s the perfect time to start something new and enjoy an adventure or 2?

When I turned 40 I wrote of list of 40 things to do in my 40s – and yes, there are a couple of gaps at the bottom to which I am still open to suggestions. Some of the them are stupid, silly and inconsequential. But they are just things I’ve always wanted to be able to do.

It’s fun trying to think of what to put on there, and even more fun when you do them. I know I haven’t done many of them, but I am confident that I can, and will, get another 10 done this year, at least.

 

The most important thing I have learned is that life is mostly about experiences not things. Things are just stuff, whereas experiences stay in the memory for ever and are priceless.

So, don’t panic about turning 40. It’s easy. Just take a breath, jump right in and enjoy it 😉

 

 

 

 

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What do cuddles mean to you?

I love cuddles!

I’m a huggy person – and I am not ashamed to admit it!

Cuddles are great to give and receive.

SC and I have a morning ritual, whilst his cereal is warming up, whereby I sit on the floor with my arms outstretched and he runs from the other side of the room and flings himself at me and we just have a huge hug.

In the evenings, just before I read him his stories, we have another ritual, whereby we have a huge hug and I tell him how much I love him – which is, to quote a very famous spaceman, “to infinity and beyond!”

If I’m feeling a bit “out of sorts” he instinctively knows and just gives me a big cuddle and says “I love you Mummy” – and that makes the world right again 😉

Hugs are also a great way of telling friends you’re there, when words can sometimes fail, in times of trouble.

And when you are with someone special, for me, cuddles are far more intimate and sensuous than anything.

I would rather spend a night enveloped in someone’s arms (and cuddling back) feeling loved, safe, and all those feelings that go with it, than anything else on earth.

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Friday Poem – Life’s Most Important Treasures

A little late, but a lovely poem by Maureen Doan

Life’s Most Important Treasures

Joy

in your heart,

your mind,

your soul.

Peace

with yourself

and with the universe.

Harmony.

Courage

to feel, to need,

to reach out.

Freedom

to let yourself

be bound by love.

Friendship.

Wisdom

to learn, to change,

to let go.

Acceptance

of the truth

and beauty within yourself.

Growth.

Pleasure

in all that you see,

and touch,

and do.

Happiness

with yourself

and with the world.

Love.

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Friday Poem – I Speak Not

“I Speak Not”, a poem by Lord George Gordon Byron one of the leading figures in the Romantic Movement!

 

I Speak Not

I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name;
There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame;
But the tear that now burns on my cheek may impart
The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.
Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace,
Were those hours – can their joy or their bitterness cease?
We repent, we abjure, we will break from our chain, –
We will part, we will fly to – unite it again!
Oh! thine be the gladness, and mine be the guilt!
Forgive me, adored one! – forsake if thou wilt;
But the heart which is thine shall expire undebased,
And man shall not break it – whatever thou may’st.
And stern to the haughty, but humble to thee,
This soul in its bitterest blackness shall be;
And our days seem as swift, and our moments more sweet,
With thee at my side, than with worlds at our feet.
One sigh of thy sorrow, one look of thy love,
Shall turn me or fix, shall reward or reprove.
And the heartless may wonder at all I resign –
Thy lips shall reply, not to them, but to mine.

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Top 5 Tips for New Parents

Royalist or not, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (along with millions of other parents around the world), welcome their new bundle of joy into the world (and yes, I have a bet on the name!) I thought I would rake my brains to come up with a top 5 tip list.

When I had SC (just over 6 years now) there was all the build-up for 9 months and then there he was this tiny little human being that I was in charge of looking after and nurturing. It was very emotional – before they arrive you have absolutely no idea how much a child completely and utterly takes over your life. I was very much, before I had him, “Oh, I’ll be back working within a fortnight.” In reality the moment I held him against my chest a few seconds after he had been born I never wanted to leave him for one second, he was, and is so precious. I never wanted to miss a minute of him.

Children are a precious gift and from the moment they are born, we, as parents have a responsibility to raise them to becomes good, kind, thoughtful and responsible adults.

Parenthood doesn’t come from instruction manuals – no matter how many you read (and I read quite a few) – it’s a massive learning curve, especially with your first-born and we all make mistakes (I’ve made plenty) but if we do our best everything will turn out all right.

So here are my personal top 5 tips for new parents:

5.  They don’t break!

I remember when I first held SC how incredibly clumsy I felt. I was holding this tiny wriggling baby and it just felt as if every time I went to pick him up my hands had suddenly morphed into clown hands – you know where the hands are five times the size, just like those false ‘pointy finger’ hands people wear at Baseball games – and that if I picked him up wrongly he would somehow break like a china doll. It did take my midwife and my mum to reassure me that this wasn’t the case, and it really was just a case of practice makes perfect. Like changing a nappy and lifting up the legs to pop the clean one underneath the baby’s bottom – you are not going to do any harm lifting the feet up together in one hand…Oh yes, you do learn how to do many things one-handed – chopping vegetables is a positive art form one-handed!!

4.  Work Together

I was not fortunate enough to have a ‘hands on dad’, someone who would do his share of getting up early in the morning, or even just taking the baby out for a walk whilst I did a normal thing like take a shower! If you are that fortunate, you need to work together to find a routine that works for everyone – so that dad gets his fair share of changing nappies, and the early morning shift, but that he also gets to help out with the fun stuff like bath time and bed time routines. The early days are very testing for any new parents, mothers get very emotional around day 4/5 after the birth – the baby blue period – and the lack of sleep in the early days doesn’t help with tempers which is why being supportive and there for each other is vitally important in my opinion.

3.  Talk to your Baby

This might sound completely crazy, after all it’s a new-born baby, but read to your baby, talk to it, sing to it, make silly noises – it all helps with the bonding process. I started reading stories to SC the day he was born – I know he didn’t understand the stories (it was one of my favourite childhood books “The Tales of Blackberry Farm”) – but its the sound of your voice and the closeness that reading together creates. Even now, at the grand old age of 6 he will climb onto my lap with a book (we have progressed to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn) and snuggle into my arms whilst I read, and he still has a story before he goes to bed. The other thing I used to do was have him facing me in his buggy, and talk to him whilst going round the shops about what I needed to buy – I swear everyone in the supermarket thought I was completely nuts, but all interaction is good interaction! And I used to sing to him, anytime! I would pop him lying on his back on my legs and sing nursery rhymes to him and then I would pop on my musical CDs and belt out showtunes…no wonder he has a penchant for them now (and ABBA and rock music!)

2.  Cuddles

Everyone loves cuddles and there’s no need to wait for an excuse to cuddle your baby! Cuddles are fab! Cuddles are part of the bonding process. I think I spent the first 2 years cuddling SC. Literally! If we weren’t playing, he would be in my arms whilst I was doing chores. He fell asleep being cuddled. And now, we have a morning cuddle routine where I sit on the floor and he rushes from one end of the room to me and jumps onto my lap and we give each other the biggest cuddles ever, and a night-time cuddle routine, and then after-school cuddles and plain old ‘jus cos’ cuddles. Children will grow out of cuddling parents all to soon so you need to get a lifetimes worth into a short space!

1.  Trust Your Instincts

My top tip is to trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Everyone will be all too happy to give their own opinion and advice. You will read far too many text books. But trust me, no two babies are the same. Use advice, opinions and parenting books as a guideline only. Trust yourself. New parents feel under so much pressure to get things right, they feel a failure if their baby doesn’t sleep through the night within 8 weeks (it can take longer believe me! My empathy kicks in at a year, sympathy at 3, mine didn’t sleep through the night til he was 4!) You are made to feel a failure if you don’t breastfeed, if you don’t employ the ‘crying technique’, if you wean too soon, or too late, or you don’t take them to every single toddler group under the sun! Every child is different and you are the best judge of what is right for your child. Trust your instincts, they won’t fail you!

 

I lay no claim to be an expert. I am not a perfect mum. I make mistakes – I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But I do the best job I can. I love SC more than anything and can’t imagine life without him now.

It is a hard job, the hardest job you will ever do voluntarily! You will get stressed, anxious, cross, vexated, tired, emotionally spent, I could go one, but ultimately it is the one thing that will give you the most joy and happiness in the world!

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I’m Free

A beautiful poem, which I first heard about from my mother after she had attended a funeral of a dear friend. The author is unknown. It says so much, when words seem useless.PIC07233.JPG

I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me for now I’m free.
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard him call.
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work, or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I’ve found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow:
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full I’ve savoured much,
Good times, good friends, a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all to brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, he set me free.

 

In loving memory of my lovely neighbour who sadly passed away this afternoon. She was the kindest, friendliest person I’ve ever met. May she be at peace now, free from all her suffering.

Blessed be.

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Friday Poem – I see Thine Image

A Beautiful sonnet (No. 30) by Elizabeth Barrett-Browningtears

I See Thine Image

I see thine image through my tears to-night,
And yet to-day I saw thee smiling. How
Refer the cause?–Beloved, is it thou
Or I, who makes me sad? The acolyte
Amid the chanted joy and thankful rite
May so fall flat, with pale insensate brow,
On the altar-stair. I hear thy voice and vow,
Perplexed, uncertain, since thou art out of sight,
As he, in his swooning ears, the choir’s amen.
Beloved, dost thou love? or did I see all
The glory as I dreamed, and fainted when
Too vehement light dilated my ideal,
For my soul’s eyes? Will that light come again,
As now these tears come–falling hot and real?

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