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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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Top 5 Lessons I’ve Learned in Life

You may be seated, class is about to begin 😉life

As I’ve meandered through this thing called life, this is what I have learned, so far:

5.  Don’t get on the negative horses – such as anger, bitterness, self-pity, self-doubt, etc. If someone or something has happened to you then yes, your first reaction may be something negative. But if you stay with that negative frame of mind then that is your choice, not the person, or thing, that hurt you. And then the only person you are hurting is yourself. This is a phrase I have only recently discovered and yes, at times it is very difficult to stay off those damn horses, especially if SC is faffing about when it comes to getting homework done (I swear pulling hen’s teeth would be easier!). But I am getting better at letting those negative horses stay grazing in the field, whilst I stay with the positive team 😉

4.  Treat everyone with kindness – yes, they may not treat you the same in return, but surely that says more about them than you. And by treating everyone with kindness, even if it is just a smile, or offering your seat to someone, then you could make a difference to that person’s day. So my act of kindness today is to send everyone a big smile. 🙂

3.  Keep Learning – learning doesn’t stop when you finish school. The more we learn, the more we grow as people. And we learn and grow from life experiences, and if we don’t then life will keep throwing the same stuff at you until you do learn it. It’s a bit like continuous assessment rather than actually ever having to sit down and take an exam. I think one of the toughest lessons I’ve learned is when it comes to relationships to just let it flow. When I first went out with Boomerang Boy we saw each other continuously for 3 weeks, then it was a case of adios senorita. When I next went out with someone and he dumped me I was accused of being too clingy. Then I went to the other extreme and got accused of being too cold and distant! (And yes, I did tut and think “MEN! ARGH!”) But now, if I ever got the chance I would take it slowly and let them do most of the chasing – after all isn’t that what men really want, it’s the whole hunter/gatherer thing – and if they say they’re busy I wouldn’t freak out, like I would have done way back when, I would give them their space and wait for them to come back from the man cave. And if they don’t, then clearly their chapter in my life is over, and I would give thanks for the memories and let go – after all “I’m not a stop along the way, I’m a destination!”

2. Grab life by the Balls (‘scuse my language!) – you’ve got to. You only get one life and as they say “it’s not a dress rehearsal darling!”. Why just exist, when you can live? You have to grab each and every opportunity and curve ball life throws at you. Embrace them, live them. They may be good or not so good. If they are good then your life will be enriched and if they are not so good then you learn and grow from them. There are 86,400 seconds in each day, and I have started pretending after reading it somewhere (think it was one of the quote things I found on Pinterest) that if we think of them as £86,400 that we have to spend each and every day, where no money gets rolled over, you have to spend it all, and wisely, why on earth would you waste a single second? After all, we never know when there won’t be a tomorrow!

1.  Be You, wholeheartedly  – as the saying goes “why fit in when you were born to stand out!” I remind SC of this fairly regularly, and explain that it has taken me most of my life to actually work it out. I am, at last, happy and contented in my own skin. I know who I am, what I am and, equally important what I am not. And I most certainly am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. I have many faults but I take each one and try to improve them. I am quirky, some may even call me strange and weird, but does that bother me? Nope. Not any more. No one can be anything other than themselves really. We can try to fit into some kind of mould that society wants us to, but that doesn’t make us happy. It makes us miserable, as we try desperately to please everyone and make others like us for what we are not. We can only be truly happy by being true to ourselves. And the most important thing I have learned about being me, is that the only person I need ever aim to please is me.

So, there you go, they are my Top 5 lessons I have learned.

What have you learned on your journey through life?

 

 

 

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Smells – My Top & Bottom 5 Smells

A top and bottom 5 list of smells.

There’s so many smells out there and we can’t like everything, so what makes my top and bottom list of aromas:

Top 5

5.  Ash/Open Fires – I love the smell of open fires and the scent of the ash afterwards (note I like the smell, not the taste (I’ve eaten some stuff that actually made me think I was eating a fire grate!) I don’t know what it is about the smell of a roaring fire, but there’s something warm and inviting.  But heck, maybe that’s just the old romantic in me!
4.  Bread – who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread.  It’s one of those smells that you are encouraged to get your house to smell like, when you are selling it, before you have a viewing. The smell of freshly baked bread just gets your tastebuds tingling.  And of course, you can’t eat fresh bread without butter – the proper stuff mind you.
3.  Vanilla – just mmm, dreamy smell.  It’s probably got something to do with the sweetness, it reminds me of ice cream and cakes.
2.  Flowers – of course this had to be here.  I love the smell of flowers and my favourite are deep red, velvety roses. A friend of mine used to have an orange blossom in their garden and that scent was just amazing it reminded me of orange groves.  I have been known to walk along the road and stop to sniff blossoms.  It just takes a moment out of my day to remind me how wonderful the world is.  You should try it sometimes (but you may get a few odd looks!)
1.  Sea – my top smell.  There’s nothing like the smell of salt water on a sea breeze.  I definitely think I need to live near water. There’s something about it that just makes me relax and chill immediately.  It’s one of those smells I wish I could bottle so I could take a whiff whenever I was feeling blue.
So, those are my top 5 smells, but what about the ones I can’t stomach….

5.  Parmesan – now I love cheese, seriously love cheese. (Cheese on toast total comfort food). BUT parmesan just smells like vomit. So if you put it anywhere near my food, I’m not going to eat it.  Now I know fresh parmesan apparently doesn’t, but I think the smell is so ingrained in my brain the smell neurons are not going to change their minds.
4.  Lavender – much as I love herbs and flowers I cannot stomach the smell of lavender.  I know it’s supposed to relax you, but bleurgh!!!  Have you tried those lavender things you put in the microwave to pop on achy parts of your body?  Is it just me or does lavender, when heated, just smell of cat wee? Sorry lavender, but you just don’t do it for me!
3.  Strong perfume – of the ladies variety.  Maybe it is just my nose? Years ago I used to sell natural, organic perfume which worked a different set of smell buds, so to speak.  Now when my mum pops on her perfume – OMG! It just smells like a tart’s boudoir.  I think because my nose got used to natural, all it can smell is the chemicals.  Sorry.
2.  School canteens – I don’t know what it is they cook in them, but there’s something that reminds me of my primary school dinners. I think it’s some kind of battered yuckiness.  My primary school dinners were completely revolting – seriously there was no health & safety.  We used to find all manner of stuff on our plates, and as for the grease that used to ooze out of everything when a fork went in…it’s a wonder we made it out alive!
1.  Curry House – I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about the smell of a curry house that makes me feel nauseous.  I’ve never eaten curry, but there’s something about the smell of the restaurant.  It could be the spices, the oil, anything, but there’s something that my smell neurons just don’t like.  Such a shame as I’ve always wanted to go to India!

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What are my Top 5 Favourite Musicals?

Mmm, trying to pick my favourite musical is really difficult – it’s like trying to pick the Grand National winner!

As a complete “jazz hands – musical theatre” girl my favourite musical could be one of the one’s I’ve had the lead in, or depending on my mood which songs I feel like belting out, or even simply what I have in my car at that time (which actually today is Thoroughly Modern Millie!)

I love the old-style musicals from the 1940s and 1950s, but there’s also some brilliant modern ones, so I think I’d have to have two Top 5 categories. One pre-1970 and one post-1970.

OK. Let’s start pre-1970 – which means I get to choose from all those fabulous golden era MGM classics and others 😉

Oh my goodness, this is so difficult – I love them all for so many different reasons, and there’s so many good songs to belt out – but if I had to pick just 5 they would be:

5.  Oliver – lots of great tunes and dancing – had so much fun doing this show, but still waiting to play Nancy 😉
4.  Carousel – how could I not pick this one. Probably one of the very first musicals I ever watched, I always wanted to play Louise because she gets to do some amazing dancing. And yes, I can’t watch it without blubbing big time at the end.
3.  Kiss Me Kate – Shakespeare and musical theatre – just doesn’t get any better 😉 Also contains one of my favourite lines “hope you don’t mind the legs” – always wanted to tap dance on a table like Ann Miller!!!
2.  Singin’ in the Rain – again one of my earliest memories watching this fabulous film. Love Gene Kelly – what a dancer – although my favourite bit is when they’re at the 1st screening of their 1st talking picture and the sound goes out of synch – cue best song in the show “Good Morning” 😉 and I can’t watch Gene Kelly singing the title song now without thinking of either Morecambe & Wise or Paddington!!
1.  Guys & Dolls – why? Just clinching it because it was the 1st musical I ever did. I was 15 years old and a Hot Box dancer and vowed that one day I would play Miss Adelaide … and I did 😉 One of my dream roles. She was so much fun to play. The film is not amazing, but the musical numbers and the presence of Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando (swoon) makes up for it.

Almost made it, but not quite, they’d probably be 5 and 6 – West Side Story (Had to. Again Shakespeare and musical theatre, plus Anita was the first lead I ever got) and My Fair Lady (this time Shaw meets musical theatre with the lovely Audrey Hepburn and some fabulous frocks darling!)

Post 1970, now that’s a tall order. Musicals seem to have come round full circle. There was a bit of a dry patch but some of the shows on stage today are simply phenomenal.

This could be as hard as pre-1970 – so many great shows, but I think most of my top 5 are fairly recent additions to the musical world.

5.  Les Miserables – obvious choice? Yes. But how could it not feature. I saw it about 5 times in London and did one of the 1st masterclasses, where I got to walk on the stage and the revolve (That was so difficult, but now I can successfully negotiate escalators and travelators 😉 )  Yes I blub pretty much for 3 hours, but it’s definitely worth it!
4.  Jekyll & Hyde – WOW! Amazing music, bit of a dark story, but totally mesmerising and more importantly some cracking songs I can belt out when I’m in a stressy place and they instantly make me release those bad emotions and come back to my happy place 😉 Most famous song from it is “This is the moment” – very uplifting and inspiring song 😉
3.  Hairspray – a major league feel-good show, both on stage and the film. You can’t help but dance or come away feeling great. The musical was adapted from the 1980s John Waters rom-com musical film starring Rikki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, Divine, Debbie Harry and Sonny Bono!!!

Sorry, couldn’t choose between these 2, so they get joint first place:

1.  Wicked – the untold story of the Wizard of Oz. Truly spell-binding, brilliant and wonderful and yes I cried at the end!
1.  Avenue Q – Sesame Street for grown-ups.  Totally brilliant concept, the most non-pc show you will ever, ever see.  I first heard a song from this years before it came to London, and I bought the CD and fell in love with it.  When I finally got to see it in the West End, I got to meet the creators as well – major bonus. And from Avenue Q one of the creators went on to write the music for a little known Disney film called Frozen!!!

So many I could have chosen, but didn’t. Clearly Spamalot, Priscilla and Rocky Horror are all brilliant, but I think my only “sorry you didn’t make it into the Top 5” nod is to a little known musical called Wonderland.

It has never been to the West End and only had a brief run off-Broadway, but it is amazing. Written by the same man responsible for Jekyll & Hyde, Frank Wildhorn. It’s basically a musical of Alice in Wonderland and there are some great numbers, I think my favourite is “One Knight” a song in the style of a boy band sung by Jack who just wants to be Alice’s knight in shining armour (everyone needs a “Jack” I think 😉 )

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What 5 things would you ‘have to have’ in your perfect house?

Wherever we are, we always dream about things we don’t yet have – from the perfect job to the perfect relationship to the perfect place to live.

And like everything when it comes to that perfect place to live everyone has different tastes and desires. We all dream about the amazing pad we would buy if we won the lottery.

But what would yours be like?

For me a house is just bricks and mortar – it is people who turn it into a home, and wherever the people I love are then that is home.

So my gorgeous SC aside, what would my perfect house be like.

Obviously the main thing is it would be totally energy-efficient – recycled water, geo-thermal heating, solar panels, etc.

I’m actually not fussed about the period issue. I love old buildings, I love thatched roofs and latticed windows but I also like the complete flip side of major-league minimalistic open-plan contemporary.

BUT, and it is a big but there are 5 things that my perfect house would have to have:

outdoors5.    Garden

I need outdoor space.

Space for SC to play – and maybe a tree with a tree house.

Space to relax – one by the house so SC and I can eat outside and just admire the view and another maybe hidden away with chairs to relax and read.

Lots and lots of flowers – scented so that all year there are different smells to experience.

And a vegetable patch with a couple of fruit trees.

fireplace4.    Open Fire

Whether it is a contemporary or period property, my dream house must have an open fire. For me there is nothing like it! The smell, the noise, the very essence of an open fire is so inviting. Either curled up in my favourite chair with a mug of tea reading a book or sitting hearthside warming my toes. It is the best feeling in the world 😉

rustic-kitchen3.    Kitchen

I love cooking, so the kitchen would have to be the centre of the house and always full of enticing aromas. A kitchen with space for me to make a mess 😉 All the essentials based around a central island – bliss – along with one of those hanging racks that you can hang pots and pans on alongside drying herbs.

bathroom2.    Bathroom

The main requirement is a really powerful shower – one that really whooshes the water out to wake you up and invigorate you and makes you feel like you’ve been pummelled all over by several masseurs – sheer heaven! Mind you, if I had one of those I think I’d spend even longer in the shower 😉

On the flip side, and not that I’d use it, but one of those stand-alone baths – styled depending on the type of house, either a Victorian type one with claw feet, of totally modern, but something that stands in the middle of the room – just in case the mood ever took me to have a soak with candles and flower petals strewn in the water!

house1.    By the water

The best place for my dream house would be by the water – be it beach, river or just  a really big pond in the garden 😉 Somewhere that I can hear the calm, relaxing sound of water. I don’t know what it is about that sound, but I just feel totally peaceful. The best thing in the world is to be able to hear the sea from the window, or even just the patter of raindrops.

So that’s my whittled down list – but as I said at the end of the day a house is just that, a house. It isn’t a home until you fill it with love and laughter 😉

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Top 5 Musical Theatre Tunes…

… that I love to belt out to make me feel stronger in myself 😉

  • Maybe This Time – from Cabaret
  • I’m the Greatest Star – from Funny Girl
  • There Are Worse Things I Could Do – from Grease
  • A New Life – from Jekyll & Hyde
  • There’s a Fine, Fine Line – from Avenue Q

Obviously that’s not a finite list – there are so many great songs out there – anything goes on my sing-a-long list 😉

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Top 5 Retro Kids TV Programmes

When you become a parent you get to enjoy the thrill of children’s television – all over again!

But of course, it’s never quite the same as you remember, is it? Times change, technology changes and with it the storyboard of children’s television.

CBeebies is very big in my house. Not that it’s on constantly as an alternative babysitter. No, SC has certain programmes he likes and I let him watch at certain times, i.e., after he’s dressed for school until its time to leave, and then after tea as a wind down.

They have a wide selection of fab programmes (some not so fab in my humble opinion), great presenters and, a distinct advantage over their Channel 5 morning rivals “Milkshake”, no adverts! especially those which are wholly inappropriate to be shown in a schedule aimed at pre-school children, but that’s another point.

But what of the shows from my past?

The things I enjoyed and can still remember watching. According to my mother I used to cry when Andy Pandy and Rupert Bear finished (the original not the animated version with the dodgy theme tune that’s on these days)

Thankfully, some bright sparks have put some of the programmes of yesteryear on to DVD so we can all step back into our childhood again. I have bought several of my favourites, and SC loves them as well.

The other thing I noticed after buying complete sets of them, is that not many of the programmes had more than 15 episodes made. That’s 3 weeks worth of programmes! And yet, you never noticed when you were small.

So here is my Top 5 Retro Kids TV programmes, in reverse order:

5. BOD – Voiced by the unforgettable John le Mesurier – a, quite frankly, rather bizarre programme, about a boy called Bod. Very basic animation, bright colours, and an animal band led by Alberto the Frog, and you always had to guess which flavour milkshake he would have. Quirky and very 70s!

4. The Wombles – yes of Wimbledon Common. Love the Wombles, they practically invented recycling – way before any think tank came into operation! Can you name them all? I’ll give you a week and then edit this post and put them in. I have a very old video, yes video, with about 5 episodes on. SC loves them, and he also has the complete set of Womble books – they are totally brilliant 😉

3. The Mr Men – the original version with Arthur Lowe narrating, none of this “in your face” rubbish programme that’s on now – the characters in the new show look nothing like the characters in the books! Surely that would have been a “must-have”, as it’s very confusing if you see Mr Grumpy on the new programme where he’s green, when in actual fact in the book he’s blue? Or are they just assuming that children don’t read books these days? Despite 40-odd books being written, and yes we have them all, only 28 episodes were made. SC’s particular favourites are Mr Chatterbox, Mr Grumpy and of course, Mr Tickle. I think I’m going to have to buy a replacement DVD, we’ve watched them so many times the DVD is wearing and the picture sticks and jumps!

2. Camberwick Green – and Trumpton and Chigley – Brian Cant was to children’s television in the 70s what Justin Fletcher is nowadays. SC loves these too. Chigley for the steam train, Trumpton for the fire engine and Camberwick Green for Mr Crockett the car repair man! All these programmes interweave, and characters from one series appearing in another. Watching again, in my adulthood, I find the costumes a bit on the bizarre side. On one hand the men at the factory and some others are wearing 70s garb, whereas Doctor Mop and Windy Miller are wearing clothes that wouldn’t look out-of-place in the early 20th century. The women too, most of them wearing long, almost Victorian gowns apart from the baker’s wife who’s very 60s in appearance. Costumes aside, watching again, you still find yourself whistling for the wind, or making the noise of the windmill, and having the tunes stuck in your head all day long!

But my number 1, all-time favourite has to be Bagpuss. That old cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams, along with Professor Yaffle, Madeline the doll, Gabriel the toad and of course, the mice on the mice organ. A total classic, that never loses its appeal. Favourite episode? Well, who could forget the chocolate biscuit factory one? I think everyone does.

These are my top 5, what would your’s be?

And don’t forget, let me know if you can remember all the Wombles names

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