Recently, I blogged about turning 37, and the mixture of feelings and emotions this scary event brought about.
37 is a funny age. It’s officially your late 30s. Does it mean I’m supposed to be a grown up now?
What it definitely does mean is that I have now had 37 years to work out what I love about life. So here goes: 37 reasons to love life, now I’m 37.
Warning – some of these points are quite serious, and some plain stupid, in no particular order.
1. Family. Most of us would place this at the top of their ‘love life’ list. My children, my partner and father of my children, their grandparents, godparents – being surrounded by loving and supportive family enriches me in so many ways, I am sure I could write about fifty blog posts on the subject.
2. The wonder of children. I wrote about this when I was privileged enough to be part of The Mothers project by Rebecca Lupton. As my blog demonstrates, my two girls provide me with constant inspiration, laughter and hope (with a bit of exasperation thrown in).
3. Close friends. It’s so much fun having close friends. I have a core of friends I’ve known since school, and I’m also lucky enough to have made many other friends who have become close throughout life. Friendships are really special- I’ve learned to hold them dear and to embrace new friendships whenever the opportunity arises.
4. Scaring myself stupid. Thought I’d throw in a curveball here, after three very serious ‘things to love’. I absolutely adore, when my partner is out, switching the lights off, putting a good old horror film on (preferably one that really messes with your head, like The Shining or The Amityville Horror) and scaring myself stupid. I don’t know why this is – I guess it’s a different form of escapism!
5. Cats. Cats are amazing, aren’t they? I’m in love with cats. They sleep a lot, usually in the hottest/warmest nooks and crannies of the house, depending on their mood. They nibble their food daintily. They bring you ‘presents’. They occasionally fall off something or run into something, but when they do, they have a knack of pretending that didn’t just happen. Most importantly, cats are our friends and companions. I had my own cat for twelve years and miss her lots.
6. Knowing I can be a Mum, and make a decent job of it. It is a real sense of achievement, being a mum. Sometimes I’ll be doing something quite mundane, such as sterilising bottles or making sandwiches and I’ll realise that I’m just ‘doing it’ – getting on with what’s become the daily routine of our lives. My girls are happy, so I must be doing something right?
7. Achievement. Linking to the previous point, I’ve always gained great satisfaction from achievement. This is probably why I was a student until the age of 24. I did an English degree and Masters, then decided to change tack and did a postgrad in library studies. I’ve got an NVQ in family mediation, something similar in counselling studies, and a diploma in Indian Head Massage! This isn’t bragging – I’m just highlighting how I love not only learning, but a nice piece of paper to prove that I’ve learnt something new.
8. Feeling valued and recognised for those achievements. Of course there’s no point in achieving unless someone says “well done, you’ve done a good job”. It’s motivating and encourages me to achieve further. When that doesn’t happen ( for example in certain jobs I’ve had), I’ve tended to sit back and just do what I need to rather than go that extra mile. It’s taught me to value others as I know I’ll get more from them in return.
9. Baths. At the end of a busy day, after putting both daughters to bed, I find it hard to wind down without first having a bath. I read my book in the bath, mess around on my phone, and just chill. Baths are ace.
10. Relaxation. Linking to the above point, relaxation in general features strongly in the list of things I love. I have a number of relaxation apps on my iPhone, which I rarely use but I do like them! Rather, my relaxation ritual of a typical evening begins with the above mentioned bath, during which I read my book (see later point, number 28). Then I may do a spot of tidying up, have dinner with my other half, watch something on TV, and maybe read some more. However you choose to relax, I find it’s so important in order to achieve some calm and to just catch your breath. Recently, a friend and I visited a spa, and spent a lot of time in their ‘deep relax room’. It was worth
Hmmm…I could just rest my head on this lovely pillow…in the bath.
11. Comfort. Again, along the same theme, we all take comfort in certain simple things. For myself, I just love being tucked up under a nice, clean duvet in bed, listening to…
12. Rain. I love the sound of rain, particularly when I’m warm, cosy, tucked up in bed where I can’t get wet. The sound of rain is mesmerising, unless you’re getting drenched in it.
13. Sunshine. Conversely, of course I love the sunshine. Plus, living in the UK, I feel enormously privileged whenever it deigns to make an appearance. Sunshine instantly enhances my mood and makes me feel positive about the day ahead. It makes the day easier and more relaxed, as myself and my children can visit the park or play in the garden. Sunshine is nature’s instant pick-me-up.
14. Wine. I don’t think I need to say much more about this. Wine, in moderation (which of course I always adhere to), is a relaxing and highly enjoyable tipple. It has been known to entice me to dance on tables, but this must be a hitherto unknown side effect.
15. Learning to laugh at myself. We all make mistakes in life, some big, some small, some just plain stupid. Accepting these and learning to laugh at yourself, either by yourself or with others, is surprisingly one of the simple joys of life.
16. Change is good. Over the years, I’ve learned that change can only be a good thing. I’ve learned to anticipate change positively. When I was a lot younger, I used to fear change- for example leaving home to go to University. What would it be like? Would I make any friends? But it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Having children was the most major life-changing event to happen to me to date. It literally rocked my world, but it’s been great. Now I feel that life is changing again, with my return to work and my children approaching three and one.
17. Being nosy. I’m a very nosy person, and it brings me joy. Honestly, I take great joy in turning the lights off so no-one can see me, and curtain twitching. I like not only finding stuff out about people, but trying to work stuff out about them – like a mini investigation. I’m a social media stalker, which leads nicely on to..
18. Social media. What did I ever do without it? I’ve been an avid Facebook user for years and find it such a valuable tool for keeping in touch, sharing key moments of my life and being nosy. Of course I’d like to know what my classmate from 1988 who wanted to be a model and called me “ugly” is doing now (working in a rubbish shop in our old town haha!). I’ve also used Twitter for a few years, but have only very recently increased my use and discovered its true power. Somehow, twitter enables me to be more ‘myself’ when using social media – it’s quicker, more ‘on the fly’ compared to my more considered Facebook posts. It’s also been extremely useful for my blog, which I am still relatively new to – a great way to share posts, reach a wide audience and introduce me to other blogs and blogging networks.
19. Blogging. When I first started this blog, the main reason for doing so was that I felt a pressing need to write about my experiences following the birth of my two children. I now feel that blogging has not only given me the mental space I craved, through the act of writing down and visualising my experiences, but has introduced me to a whole new world! New friends, networks and lots to learn and explore. My friend even started a local group of blogging friends, the #bloggirls, who not only bounce ideas and thoughts off each other, but host their own linky each Thursday. I think I’ll blog forever. I’m sure my children will be very embarrassed when they’re older.
20. Feeling part of a community. This is a big part of blogging, I’ve discovered – the sense of community in sharing posts, commenting on others’ blogs and receiving feedback/comments alongside signing up to established networks such as Mumsnet bloggers and Tots100.
I also feel part of a community in many other ways, for example via certain friendship circles, in my line of work or being a member of a local church.
21. Belief. Now I’m not going to get all godly and churchy on you here, as I personally feel it’s important to understand and be at peace with your own beliefs without enforcing them on others (unless my opinions/thoughts on this subject are specifically requested). Yet I do wish to say that I have my own beliefs and feel stronger for it (partly due to the sense of community and support I gain from the church I belong to).
22. Helping others/feeling that you’re doing something worthwhile. As part of my work, some of my colleagues have worked on an initiative called Five Ways to Wellbeing. One of the ‘Five ways’ is to give i.e.
“Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile.
Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in.
Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be
incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.” New Economics Foundation (2013). Five Ways to Wellbeing.
I’ve found this to work for me. Over the years I’ve participated in a number of volunteering projects, including family and community mediation and helping out with the creche at my local church. It’s definitely a reciprocal feeling, helping others.
23. Food. Clearly we all need food to survive, but for me, it was only in my early twenties that I really began to enjoy it. From a very early age, I had an aversion to meat and my Mum would find chewed up pieces of it at the back of her oven where I used to hide them. I also had nightmares that it was coming to life on my plate! I couldn’t articulate at such a young age that it was meat I didn’t like, and vegetarianism wasn’t so well known. Meat and two veg was, as with many families, the staple meal. This meant, through nobody’s fault, that I just didn’t enjoy my food until I was much older, when I realised what I did and didn’t like and could cook for myself.
24. Cheese. My ultimate favourite food. I haven’t found a cheese yet that I don’t like. I eat it everyday- in sandwiches, on pasta, with crackers, in a sauce or on it’s own. When I cook a roast dinner for my family, I bake myself a whole Camembert as a treat and dip my veg in it (warning- this isn’t diet food haha!). I daren’t have my cholesterol levels tested.
25. Coffee. Another of my staple faves. I can hear many a friend tittering as they read this, as I’m well known for designing my life around latte stops. I’ve been known to drink a good seven cups in a day, so obviously I had to seriously cut down during my pregnancies, and actually wonder if the withdrawals contributed to the hyperemesis I suffered. The research around coffee drinking is a mixed bag. One minute it protects against Alzheimer’s, the next it increases the risk of osteoporosis. Well, I just like it. And need it, these days.
26. Listening. Sometimes during conversation, it’s easy to chip in too early and say “yes, I did that” or “well, the other day, guess what happened to me?” A few years ago I had a sudden realisation that I was a big culprit, and found to my amazement that if I shut up and listened to what people have to say, I find out a great deal (good for nosiness – see point number 17, above), much of which is very useful and helpful.
27. Learning from my elders. Quite ironic this one, as like many of us, I didn’t particularly relish listening to my elders when I was younger. Since having children, I ask them anything and everything, ranging from cooking tips to sleeping or health issues! You can’t knock experience.
28. Books. Recently , I wrote about my other life – books. As far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed reading – unravelling a story, learning about new or different experiences, imagining different worlds. It always helps me to relax, unwind, and encourages my own creativity. I won’t write much more here, as I’ve previously written a long post about the genres I like to read and the benefit I feel I get from writing.
29. Ancient history. I’m no historian – or, at least I did an A Level in twentieth century history, but that’s where my academic prowess in history ends. I have developed a personal interest in ancient history, and as I sit here thinking about why this might be, I realise that it’s because we can learn so much about ourselves from the way our ancestors went about their lives. There’s no strategy or pattern to the subject matter I read; I’ve read books on Stonehenge, the ancient Incas, and I’m fascinated with Egypt. As an example, I recently read a magazine article about ancient Egyptian beauty practices, and how the Egyptian ladies smothered their faces in various fats and oils. Not much different to today, then.
30. Mystery and conspiracy theory. I’m a complete sucker for all this and have been known to subject my friends and partner to entire nights’ worth of Most Haunted Live. i love anything about ghosts, UFOs, crop circles – anything that screams “WEIRD!!”, in fact. This boils down to the fact hat I love a good mystery – linking to my love of gossip (see number 17, above). I like to work things out, try and understand them but with an open mind (yes, I’m still rational – really!).
31. Children’s TV. I missed my calling, here. I like to make a fool of myself (see next point, number 31) and don’t tend to care what anyone thinks if I suddenley break into a silly dance or walk in the middle of the park. Oh I wish I was a children’s TV presenter. I love watching it and I’ve even been knowing to have Cbeebies on when my children aren’t there. I want to do the songs about summer and winter. I want to do the Show Me, Show Me dances, grinning inanely all the while! *Sigh* – oh well, can’t have it all, I guess.
32. Being silly. My two-going-on-three-year-old has recently coined the phrase “Silly Mummy!”. Enough said. See above point, number 31.
33. Yoga. I’ve experimented with various forms of exercise over the years, including running, swimming and exercise classes such as combat, legs, bums and tums etc. The exercise I’ve always loved the most is yoga – particularly ashtanga yoga. Yoga has the power to help us tone up and feel stronger and more flexible, whilst relaxing our minds.
34. Fashion. Ok, most of us loves clothes and jewellery. I, too love to shop- I just don’t get much chance these days!
35. Beauty products. I’m a big fan of beauty products – especially creams and bath oils. My ultimate favourite beauty purchase is a really good facial moisturiser or serum. I recently blogged about one of my favourites. Both fashion and beauty provide a time out for us often harassed mums – a bit of much needed self indulgence.
36. Holidays. Holidays!!! I’ve had girly ones to Tenerife and Majorca, and more recently family ones to Centerparcs or Cornwall. Our family deserves a much needed break and lots of quality time together every so often.
37. Me. This sounds very vain, but it is important to love ourselves. Takes a while – especially when you’re a spotty teenager with a back perm – but I think I’m finally there.
Phew! That took me ages. I’m glad I’m not 50!