Thinking Out Loud

My 40 Year Old Gift…

Obviously I knew it was coming, I have after all had 40 years to prepare for it! So it was no surprise that in recent months I found myself thinking about what this strong age meant to me (strong seems to accompany this number for me so I’ll gladly take it) but what was a surprise was my realisation of how I felt about turning 40….. very happy and very excited!

Usually I shy away from fuss or anything that makes me the centre of attention, I don’t even let Facebook notify the world it’s my birthday! I’m more a low key kind of gal, quality over quantity, less is more kind of person but this year I had an overwhelming understanding of the absolute privilege it is to arrive at 40, alive and smiling. To not celebrate this gift would not only be a dishonour to myself but to all those who couldn’t.

Something else that pleasantly surprised me was the difference in the person I am a decade after welcoming my 30’s.

When I was younger I used to think by the time I’m 30 I’ll be married with my own family and living a happy little existence somewhere, working as a pilot or a photographer, as well as a few other chosen careers as one never seemed enough – at least that was the general gist of it anyway. However, a decade later I’m still not married and still have no children. And whilst I dabble in my passion for photography when I can (note to self, make more time to get back to this) I am certainly not a pilot, not yet anyway! So why am I happy dancing about celebrating this birthday more than any other when I so obviously haven’t achieved what I thought I wanted to? Because in the last decade I walked a path that lead me to truly discover who I am, what sparks joy within and what’s important to me….what I thought should tick those boxes pre thirties is completely different to what I got but I have to be honest and say I am more than happy with every inch of it.

I may not be married yet or have my own family but I do have a wonderful loving partner and an amazing little step-daughter who together we get to see the world through her eyes. And then there’s Milo, our somewhat nutty but ever so cute and cheeky dog. There isn’t a day goes by where he doesn’t live mindfully and in turn keep me grounded by doing the same. Yes, apart from a couple of much needed licks of paint, our home is happy.

I have my health, some minor tweaking needed but nothing that can’t be fixed!

I have an eclectic mix of supportive friends, some I see regularly, some I don’t but they are the kind of soul connections that you can pick up where you left off no matter how long between seeing each other. As for my family, well, I’ve been very fortunate to have grown up in a family that is so open with their love and laughter.  I have the coolest Dad (who quite often falls into that same nutty category as Milo), a Mum who loves unconditionally, a quirky brother who lives from his big creative heart and a sister who taught us so much about miracles when she entered the world three months early weighing only 1lb 6oz. I am blessed.

I have work that I love, work that fulfils me and makes me feel alive every time I’m in that space. My work has lead me to some amazing connections and introduced me to so many different types of people, all of whom I continue to learn from and grow.

Arriving at 40 has shown me how much I have grown – this is not to be mistaken for maturity! I know what I like and what I don’t like, what I will and won’t tolerate, how deep rooted my ethics and morals are and have a wonderful accepting sense of self. I also love the fact that there are still things to discover about myself, life is like a beautiful masterpiece in the making and it takes time and effort to complete the bigger picture.

Of course this doesn’t mean that my life is perfect, nobodies is but with thanks to my unwavering belief system I have a whole different perspective than I did a decade ago which enables me to see the good in every situation life throws at me. I can be unhappy or I can be happy, I choose the latter.

As I absorbed all this I struggled with capturing the essence of what I was truly trying to say. I couldn’t quite convey what I wanted to. It wasn’t until I tried to describe the privilege and excitement I felt turning 40 to my mum that the words came and echoed through my whole being like a penny in an old tin can. My mum simply said….it’s the gift of getting there, the experience of the journey’. That’s exactly it! It’s the journey and our life experiences, each birthday we get to is a gift as is each and every day.

I’m living that happy little existence I always hoped I would, just in a different way than I imagined, a better way and that my friends, is a gift.

So how did I celebrate it? This low key kinda gal didn’t need a big party or extravagant gifts for her 40th, I had everything I could possibly need  and more –  on the day itself my phone needed to be recharged within 3hrs of waking such was the constant stream of messages and calls of love, I was surrounded by great friends for lunch, family for dinner and had enough various celebrations with different groups of friends lined up to warrant a major detox and signing up to weight watchers, a postman whose smile got bigger each day delivering all sorts of happy vibes from the world over and to top it all off, a soul filled trip to my beloved sleepy seaside village in the South of France  – I had love and for me, love will always be enough.

It is a reflection of my 40 year journey, it is my life and it is a gift. I am grateful my heart now recognises this.

Having been inspired by my fellow soul sister Helen and in my humble attempt to give thanks I decided to embark on 40 Random Acts of Kindness, one for each year. I will be posting regular updates on these through my Facebook page for those of you who want to find out more and for even more inspiration you can connect with Helen and her kindness mission here.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Beth @ Ahimsa