Turning 37. ARGHHHHHH.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel to be honest. It’s a bit of a mix of ‘holy shit I’m closer to 40’ and ‘I finally feel like I’ve got my shit together and am on the right path’, combined with ‘I really need to get my ass moving to keep it the size it is…’.
‘holy shit I’m closer to 40’…
Regardless, as tradition states – or rather, the tradition I have set myself since the age of 34 – here is my annual list, which this year is 37 reasons why I am celebrating turning 37 – and do bare with me, it’s gonna be long.
I’m bloody alive, and so is D. I will especially celebrate that D is still with us after nearly losing him over 2 years ago. Life is short – celebrate it!
I am blessed to have the most amazing friends who support me through everything. I’ve tongue in cheek nicknamed you all the ‘Janine believer’s’, because, without your support belief in me, I really don’t think I would have gotten this far at all! You definitely keep me moving forward and upwards!
I had been going to plan a party or at least a meet up somewhere to catch up with everyone I haven’t seen in what seems like FOREVER…but time has escaped me in the whole planning thing, so in some way I will celebrate with friends. Even if its just online. That is totally cool. After all, I’m an introvert and parties actually freak me out – especially my own! I mean, I’m cool being the centre of attention online, but in person HA! It’s something I’m slowly adjusting to. I might get there in time for the wedding…whenever that may be.
3. The Pooch
Any list would be incomplete without my pooch. The little ball of fluff that has bought so much joy into my life, helped me through the hard times, licked up my tears, and who just hangs out with me all day as I work from home. I celebrate her life and the joy she brings me every single day.
I feel so much love right now, for people, for life, for myself, and for my amazing man. This is especially special, as I’ve always had a problem expressing my love for people, life and myself…it took me years to say the ‘L’ word to someone, and for most of my life it just sat uncomfortably with me. I mean, I felt love, but saying it…woah…that was a whole other ball game!
So today, with the ability to express my love for people, life and myself – well, it’s the most amazing feeling that even thinking about it is making my heart swell and giving me that warm and fuzzy feeling.
5. Good Health
Cheers to good health!
I don’t want to jinx myself (touch wood – I’m superstitious to an extent) BUT I’m the healthiest I have ever been (touch a whole lot of wood!). This is such a blessing, and I thank leaving the corporate world, doing a whole lot of work on myself, and mindfulness and yoga. All of that adds up to one thing really – there’s a whole lot less stress in my life AND I am now better equipped to deal with stress.
Oh, I’ve also realised that good health is the most important thing of all, and to put if first before everything.
I haven’t announced this to many people at all, but – no I’m not preggers – I do believe we have turned the corner in regards to D’s recovery!
Ever since we got back from Phuket in June, things have looked better and better, and it appears that things are returning back to normal – or rather, our new normal, since we have both changed so much. A near death experience tends to do that to you!
7. Warmer weather
We are experiencing the warmest August on record, which, as an August baby, has made me incredibly happy as it’s usually the coolest and rainiest month in Perth. Of course, it doesn’t really bode well for summer and the guaranteed water restrictions…but I’m still lapping up the warmer weather. The question now remains – will it rain on my actual birthday? Only time will tell! [Okay D tells me rain is forecast DOH!]
8. Getting my shit together – kinda
Finally, I’ve got my shit together (in some degree at least). I’m on my way now, anyway 🙂
9. Becoming a reformed people pleaser (slowly but surely)
I admit it, alright. Most of my stress has been caused by my people pleasing tendencies. I have pretty much always put others needs before myself, in some degree or another. And if it wasn’t people, it was work…which involved people, both good and bad.
But since I made the decision to think about myself and check out from the corporate world in April 2014, there has been a real shift, which has seriously been triggered from my mindfulness practice, and from attending an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The whole ‘I am enough‘ realisation, and looking at myself and others without judgment and with loving kindness has been amazing.
10. And a reformed perfectionist
My ‘I am enough‘ realisation has lead to me dropping the need to be perfect, or the constant striving for perfection. It’s really quite liberating!
11. Opportunities abound
It really is true what they say. Once you open yourself up to opportunities, things do come your way. You can’t just rest on your laurels though – you HAVE to put yourself out there, talk to people, share ideas, ask for help, network, and work hard. You also have to know what opportunities to pass up. That’s the tricky part, as not all opportunities are good for you.
It wasn’t until my mid-30’s that I actually started feeling like a woman (rather than a girl). I now embrace my femininity, wear dresses, play around with hairstyles, and rock a pair of heals (when I’m not falling over and twisting my ankle that is…). It’s a weird, but wonderful feeling, helped along by the development of a thing called confidence.
I’m a late bloomer, and used to be as shy as a mouse, but as I get older my confidence only grows. It certainly helps that my anxiety isn’t as bad as it used to be. Feeling calm does wonders for confidence!
14. Self-acceptance… finally
I still have my moments, but accepting myself as I am (‘I am enough’) has been life-changing. I think it has also contributed to a few extra kilos though – which I still stress about occasionally.
I must state that self-acceptance and the whole ‘I am enough’ mantra does not stop be wanting to develop myself further, to learn or to grow. It just means that I don’t strive for it because I’m not good enough and need to improve myself. I do it because I want to, and because I am passionate about it.
15. Embracing creativity
I have never felt as creative as I do right now. The urge to write is great, and the ideas are there…I just need to make time to actually write. Which is what I am doing now, as I sit outside in the spring sunshine – which was totally pleasant until the neighbour decided to go mow their lawn.
16. Working from home
It’s no secret that I work from home since I liberated myself from the corporate world, and to be honest, I hated working in an office. There’s just something so unnatural and unhealthy about it! God help me if I ever have to go back to one. I do know that I am going to continue to work my butt off to ensure that I don’t!
I am an incredibly sarcastic person, something which has also developed later in life. I have the master of sarcasm to thank for that. As I tell D regularly, he taught me too well. I must learn, though, that sarcasm is not often conveyed over Facebook…a shame really, because it has caused a few issues! Ah well, it’s also caused a hell of a lot of laughs and witty repartee!
18. Well, I made it to now!
When I was a teenager I attended a sleepover party which involved a ouija board and a bunch of teenagers camping in a paddock on a farm on a stormy night. It also involved a whole lot of stupid questions and screaming. Being the dark fatalist I was in my youth (hell, we were raised on a diet of movies such as ‘The Craft’), I decided to ask the ouija board if I would live past 21 years of age. The ouija board (or those pushing the stone) said ‘no’.
As I was superstitious, dark and depressed, it wasn’t until I surpassed the age of 21 that I believed I would actually live past 21. And I’m still living…
19. Finding happiness
I am the happiest I have ever been. True that. I catch the feeling wash over me every now and then and it still shocks me. It’s addictive, and I’m afraid it won’t last. I know there isn’t such a thing as ‘permanent’ happiness, as life is all about the ups and downs, but it is so good to finally feel happy, regularly!
20. Embracing authenticity
Do you know the feeling when you finally start living according to your values, saying what you think and feel, speaking up for yourself…being TRUE to YOU?
Yes or No?
Well, I finally do. I’ve finally chosen to show up as ‘me’ in life. I have embraced all that is me – warts and all – and it feels good. It feels right.
Of course, what I am also discovering is that it doesn’t exactly seem right to others who have known you as you once were. They will adjust – it will just take time and patience.
21. Releasing shame
The realisation that I have spent most of my life in a shame-cycle has been confronting at best. In working through the emotions and thinking process associated with the arrival of an epiphany, I have felt saddened, angry, tired, disappointed, retiring and empty.
Following on from that has been a release – a release of the shame I held for having a mental illness. For having had depression for a long time. For having treated people badly, including myself. For having fucked up on more than one occasion. For having done some really stupid shit. For having wasted opportunities of a lifetime (living and working in Europe/UK wasted).
I now accept all of the above and more, and embrace it. I am no longer shamed of my depression, of my anxiety, of things I have done. I am no longer ashamed of who I am.
I am no longer shamed of my depression, of my anxiety, of things I have done. I am no longer ashamed of who I am.
My family is spread out all over the countryside and world. Some are connected, some aren’t. You could consider us dysfunctional – but every family is (those who profess they are ‘normal’ are usually the most abnormal!). But I am lucky to have my family – all of them, regardless of being full, half or step.
I am truly blessed to be surrounded by and connected to some truly inspirational people doing some truly amazing stuff. I am so incredibly blessed.
24. The love of a good man
I’m not one of those gushy women who shout and flout their man and their loved up life for all to see. But I will admit now that I am very lucky to have D in my life. He has taught me so much, and we have something very special. We’ve been through hell and back, through good and bad, had near break ups, travelled, experienced cultures, eaten, drank, danced, bought a house, seen 2 wonderful kids grow and change, and my pooch has finally accepted him into the pack. We will get married one day, when money allows. Until then, we will continue to do all of the above, and more.
25. Slowing down
I’m trying out this crazy thing called uni-tasking. Yep – UNI-TASKING.
As a chronic multi-tasker, it’s a real challenge BUT I seem to be getting through my to do list and getting more things done. I’m also less all over the place and focussed. My days of multi-tasking awesomeness may be over! (actually, they were over a while ago when I cracked from too much multi-tasking for too long…).
You may think I’m cray cray CRAZZZZZY, but I am so thankful for that day I chose to write my first blog post. Blogging has allowed me to find my voice, both written and spoken.
Blogging has helped me overcome my depression and help others.
Blogging has opened up a world of opportunities for me, and helped with my introvert ways.
Blogging has also led to the creation of so many beautiful friendships.
I can’t imagine my life without it. If anything, my blog will be my legacy.
27. Uncovering passions
Pursuing and living your passions – it’s a fairly new concept to me, since I actually, finally, started doing it. Of course, you need to know what your passions are in the first place – and that’s half the battle. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.
Amassing knowledge, constant learning, keeping the mind stimulated, exploring old and new…
I’ve started listening to podcasts. Yep, late to that bandwagon, but I’m glad I’ve hopped on!
I’ve also delved into the world of non-fiction – a big move for a fiction lover.
I’m also joining lots of Mastermind groups – although to be honest, some are real duds, extremely cliquy or just downright bitchy…so I make a quick exit hoping I haven’t been noticed.
29. Positivity. Optimism. Faith.
Through changing your mindset you change your life. Like I said, I’m a late bloomer who had depression and anxiety. If I can turn around my thinking at this stage of my life, well, anyone can! I’m serious! It really works. Try it out sometime.
Change can be scary or exciting.
For most of us, we tend to shy away from change for fear of upsetting the status quo, of making things worse before they get better, or worst of all, upsetting those we are close to. There is also the fear of the unknown…So we stay put, or put up with things the way they are, rather than putting in the hard yards to change.
I’ve done my fair share of procrastination and staying put, but I’ve had enough. It’s time for living. After all, we only have one life!
I don’t know if it’s working from home, or becoming more ‘settled’, but I’ve started doing things such as cooking and gardening…and liking it. I never saw that coming!
32. The love for laughter
There is still nothing that compares to a big, guttural belly laugh with friends.
As I’ve got older, my laugh has got louder and louder, so much so that I attract attention for it – mostly in the form of looks and smiles. At it’s worse I have been threatened by a General Manager. Humiliating much? That just proved that I didn’t belong in an office!
Exploring the world and it’s diversity – it’s people and cultures, history and art, food, nature…there is so much to see and to do and to experience. The world is such an amazing place and I cannot wait to see even more of it!
My all time favourite place is still Paris, but walking the Great Wall has been the greatest moment so far.
Getting older isn’t bothering me, and I’m still holding firm on my anti-cosmetic surgery stance. It could change, but at this time in my life there is no way in hell any botox is getting injected into this body of mine.
In regards to wrinkles, they are definitely coming on, which was one of the reasons for donning a fringe over the last few years. They don’t bother me much at the moment though. I actually hardly notice them.
White hairs on the other hand…At the rate I’m going, I’m gonna be renaming my blog ‘reflections from a white-haired lady’ by the time I’m 38, so I’m treating myself to a little hair love, courtesy of my trusted hairdresser and friend, Samanda Yang. Tomorrow, I will don another shade of red in order to cover the whites that are at war with my natural red hair.
35. Helping others
When I started Reflections from a Redhead in 2010 I don’t know if I had ever intended to help people through my writing. It was more of a way to get back into writing, after having suffered from writers block for many years. But, as a bonus, I am incredibly thankful that I have been able to help people through sharing my story throughout the years, and that most people have accepted me as me. The way I look at it is this – if I can help one person get through one shitty hour, day or experience by sharing what I’ve been through, then my job is done.
Check out my very first post here!
Ah for the love of bubbles! Bubbles make me happy, until the inevitable hang over that is…I will be celebrating over a bottle of champers, even if it’s at home on the couch.
What is a celebration without good food?
There is so much good food in the world, so of course, there will be good food – whether cooked my D or a chef at a cheap restaurant. At the moment Thai and Vietnamese is tantalising my tastebuds. Bring on the Thai Green Chicken Curry and Thai Beef Salad…mmmmmm…okay, I’m salivating already…
Why not check out my other posts celebrating getting older:
So You’re Turning 36
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