If I could sum up my 30s in one word, it would have to be ‘family’. I got married at the start of my 30s, lost my dad a few months later and then we started a family of our own with the arrivals of Jessica, Sophie and Thomas. My 30s was the decade of my life in which Jessica was born, lived and died. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
I changed a lot in my 30s. I’ve mellowed and become less self-centred. I’m more accepting of other people’s flaws and there are a lot of things that used to stress me out that no longer bother me. I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I’d like to think I’ve become a kinder and more compassionate person. My 30s have been quite a rollercoaster ride but one that I would live all over again if I could. I’m not bothered about turning 40 in itself – age really is just a number – but it is a sharp reminder once more of time moving on without Jessica and that is hard.
Looking back, I’ve learned a lot over the last 40 years – and in the last ten especially. Here are 40 thoughts I’d like to share on my 40th birthday:
Life in general
1) Getting older is a privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.
2) As I’ve got older, I’ve become less bothered about what other people think of me.
3) Be kind. You really don’t know what pain another person might be living with.
4) Everyone has a story to tell.
5) Tomorrow is never promised. Today is a gift – make the most of it where you can.
6) Looking out for the little things to be thankful for can change your life for the better. They might not always be easy to find, but there is always something – even on the hardest of days.
7) Everyone has bad days. Having bad days does not make you a bad person.
8) Riding the wave of emotions and allowing them to come and go is easier than trying to fight them.
9) Love is stronger than death.
10) You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
11) Not everything happens for a reason. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people sometimes.
12) A smile and a hug can make a big difference on a bad day.
13) A good night’s sleep can work miracles!
14) Grumpiness can usually be eased with food, coffee, sleep or a big hug.
15) Getting outdoors for a walk can work wonders for boosting one’s mood.
16) There is no Planet B. We have to start taking better care of this one – and fast.
17) Worrying about what might happen rarely makes it easier to deal with if it does. The only benefit of worrying about what might be is if it makes you take practical steps to make a positive difference.
18) There can never be too much love or kindness in the world.
19) Capture the little moments where you can. Those memories are so precious.
20) Never be afraid to apologise. The words “I’m sorry” carry a surprising amount of power.
21) Sticks and stones might break my bones, but words can leave wounds that are much harder to heal.
22) Joy and sorrow can co-exist. It is possible to feel happy even when sadness is always there beneath the surface.
23) Sometimes the best thing to do is to listen and say nothing.
24) Things often seem at their worst around 3am but much better by morning.
25) A little bit of kindness goes a long, long way.
26) God is not a magician with a magic wand and prayer is a conversation, not presenting a wish list to be granted.
27) You never stop learning. I am sure I get more interested in things as I get older rather than less.
28) Miracles can, and do, happen.
29) There is nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it.
Friendship and relationships
30) Friends will come and go. Some friendships last for a lifetime; other friends are for a season. People change and move on – it doesn’t make that friendship any less valid or special to be part of your past instead of your future.
31) Sometimes people come back into your life when you least expect it.
32) Good friends are worth their weight in gold.
33) The people who are there for you when you need it most can be the ones you least expect.
34) Good communication is so important. Most of the disagreements my husband and I have had during our married life have been due to us not communicating properly.
35) The way someone behaves towards you often says more about them than it does about you.
36) When you look at the world through the eyes of a child, you rediscover the magic in it.
37) My children are my world. I will always want to talk about all three of them.
38) The best cure for children bouncing off the walls is to take the walls away – i.e. get outside.
39) Taking time just to stop and snuggle with my children is so important. They are only little for such a short amount of time.
40) The laughter of a child is the most beautiful sound in the world.