It’s my birthday on Saturday. I shall be 39. One tiny little year until 4o appears.
Ordinarily, by this point, I’d be frothing at the mouth and panicking about my life disappearing before my eyes without any kind of accomplishment. I’d play a woe-is-me violin to myself, probably accompanied by my usual Bad Day props of beer or chocolate. Then I’d probably write a giant, impossible list of plans for the next twelve months.
But then I read a wonderful blog post which has been in my mind ever since. Kathryn from Kat Got the Cream wrote a blog post about creating a ’40 by 40 list’ with a difference. One of the things you’ve already done.
So often, our focus is on what we have yet to do. Our failings. Our weaknesses. We compare our lives with other people and find ourselves coming up short. We’re so busy looking at the lives of other ‘more successful’ people, that we don’t stop to pay attention to our own accomplishments, adventures and glorious good fortune. A pause for a bit of reflection is exactly what I needed. So I wrote a list.
And, as Kat says, this isn’t me showing off. It’s just that these are the things that I’ve realised that I’ve loved the most. That most of them are travel has shown me a clearer path for my next forty years. But that’s another blog post…
40 by 40 List.
1: I have made two people in my body. I even decided to make a second, after the experience of being pregnant with the first nearly killed me. They’re without doubt the best thing I’ll ever do, and the loves of my life. And the reason that I should treat my body a bit better than I do really. I owe it big time.
2: I got a degree in a subject that I loved. A completely pointless subject, as far as my career has been concerned, but the love of it got me through three years of study so it was totally the right decision.
3: I’ve seen the sun rise and set over the Grand Canyon. Only one of these was accompanied by wine. The other, with a bit of a hangover…
4: I’ve had the enormous good fortune to be taught how to read. And then the time and liberty to read so many amazing books for myself and to my children. Books are a true, endless joy.
5: I’ve grown food to eat and to feed my children, thereby teaching them a little about where food comes from.
6: I learnt how to ride a horse and to look after my own pony. And I can teach other people how to do it too.
7: I’m a qualified Swedish massage therapist.
8: I have been chased by a monkey from the Batu Caves in Malaysia.
9: And I got lost at night in the Australian Outback…
10: Before driving along the Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne…where I navigated my friend the wrong way down a one way street to a youth hostel.
11: I’ve kayaked on Windermere. Where I capsized in to the lake twice and nearly froze my feet off.
12: I’ve been to Paris more times than I can count on one hand.
13: But only once to Disneyland Paris.
14: As a trainee veterinary nurse, I assisted during life-saving surgery for many dogs and cats. Including my own cat…
15: Through blogging, I’ve made so many amazing friends – most virtual, but some I’ve hugged in real life! A sense of community is a wonderful thing.
16: In one ‘pinch-me-I’m-dreaming’ week last summer, I went to Champneys, carved wooden spoons and then to Giffords Circus. So much fun.
17: Then later that summer, drank prosecco sangria with my solo-cycling-adventurer boyfriend in glorious Lisbon.
18: I’ve wild swum in a Northumberland lake, after wild camping the night before.
19: I’ve been fortunate enough to witness many of my beloved family and friends get married and have families.
20: I’ve stayed up for 48 hours in Las Vegas.
21: And seen a bear in Yosemite after a night of camping with people from all over the world.
22: I took my kids to Tuscany, where they were routinely adored by lovely Italians every single day.
23: I’ve ridden a horse on an Australian beach.
24: And swum in the icy-cold sea off the coast of Ardamurchan in Scotland on New Year’s Day, 2000.
25: I’ve learnt to drive and braved the A1 North, driving with white-knuckled terror to reach my boyfriend when he lived 100 miles away. Phew.
26: I cycled 100km in a day to complete the Rapha Women’s 100k race.
27: And walked 42 miles in less than 24 hours to complete the Lyke Wake Walk. I’m now officially a Witch of the Lyke Wake.
28: I can speak really bad French. But I’m always trying to learn more.
29: I travelled by coach from Beverley in East Yorkshire to Hungary and the Czech Republic without going mad. Also, without a mobile phone or ipod, because those things barely existed at the time…
30: I’ve stayed in luxury in Langkawi, and swum in the Andaman sea.
31: I have been to the top of the Empire State Building, sailed past the Statue of Liberty and seen a play on Broadway.
32: And I’ve ridden on the trams in San Fransisco and seen the Golden Gate Bridge on a ferry to Alcatraz.
33: And I’ve run out of steam. I know there are more. Which is a joy in itself. But there have got to be a few spaces left to fill in the next year anyway, right?
Now, go and write your list. I bet you’ve done far more brilliant things than you think you have…
Then go and read Kat’s original post here. And thank you to her for the inspiration.