It’s my birthday this week. I love birthdays: cake, presents, dressing up, parties, champagne
cocktails, nibbles, invitations, ribbon, to do lists, guest lists, gift lists. I love it all. Luckily I know many fabulous people who have birthdays that need celebrating during the month, and I leave the party decorations up from the girls’ birthday at the end of April right up until the end of May. That redneck woman who leaves her Christmas lights on on the front porch all year long? Thank you, Gretchen Wilson, I get it.
Birthdays are great for celebrating, but they also demand a bit of introspection.
Recently my best friend was promoted to a great job that she will be brilliant at, and she said to me, “I keep wondering why they gave the job to a twenty-year-old. Then I remember that I’m not twenty.” I know what she means, about this feeling that you aren’t quite old enough for the trappings of adulthood, that you haven’t quite learnt or done or achieved enough to be this old. For me though, I feel that my age has brought a clarity of purpose: I don’t know enough, and I haven’t achieved and done all the things I expected (or was expected) to do, but I’m okay with that. I made choices, I tried. I let things go. I’m doing what I do, in my way, and it’s okay.
I officially reached middle age during lock down, and in my memory this milestone has taken on the strange golden glow of the summer that was last year. I planted a tree, I planted a garden, I grew. I started so many things that were good and good for me, things that make me feel strong and happy. It didn’t quite bring me perfectly organised wardrobes or a tidy house, but I took the ‘does it spark joy?’ question seriously and started making better choices. If the last twelve months was a time of re-evaluating life and how it can be lived, then the next twelve months will, I think, for me be a time of change.
To start, this month I am facing a change that I have not chosen, but I am determined to choose how I respond to it. It will have a huge impact on my family, on my income, and on my daily life. And I wish I could say, ‘but for now, we celebrate!’ and leave it at my love of birthdays and sparkles, but actually this month is also full of deadlines and to do lists that have nothing to do with cake and champagne, and challenges that need to be met head on, so that in a months time, when everything is different, I have at least the beginning of a new path.
There will be more changes, and more uncertainties, and more jumping in with both feet in the next twelve months, but the thing with change is that while it can be bad it can also be very, very, good. My husband’s favourite saying is ‘what’s for you doesn’t go past you’ - but you have to be standing out there with your arms open to catch it, and sometimes the universe just gives you a push.
And that is definitely something to celebrate. Champagne, anyone?