It’s hard to believe I’m fast heading to be half a century young. Fifty years is quite a long time! Here’s a selection of lessons I’ve learned along the way, whether they were learned the hard way, were wake-up calls, or even ‘Who knew?’ moments.
Some of these lessons took longer to sink in, or it’s an ongoing process to keep reminding myself of them. Others, once learned, are unforgettable!
In no particular order, here they are. I hope you enjoy my 49 lessons in 49 years. (Or would they be lemons?)
- Walking is under-rated.
2. Changing your mind is perfectly acceptable.
3. If something feels wrong, just don’t do it.
4. Twenty seven is not, in fact, the magical age at which you will be married with 2.4 children with a dream job, a lovely house, and everything fallen into place.
5. If you take over the phone number on a device your tweenaged son was using, change your WhatsApp Profile info. Unless you’re happy for new phone contacts to read: ‘I am a sock’ (what?).
6. Failure is just an opportunity for learning. Grow from your mistakes and work out how to do things differently next time. ‘For every mistake we must surely be learning’ (George Harrison).
7. Don’t worry about what people think about you. Nobody actually cares much anyway.
8. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy you freedom and choices – two pretty important factors towards contentment.
9. Baking is fun! It took me until having children (who have birthdays and need cake!) to learn this one.
10. If your special ‘Space’ birthday cake doesn’t come out of the spherical mold on the actual day of the birthday party because you haven’t done a test – and the kids are due to arrive… blag it! The perfectly formed planet you had planned can easily be transformed into a crashed asteroiod which, in turn, could morph into ‘the best cake ever!’ (my daughter’s words).
11. You can eat every part of a cauliflower. Yup. Even the leaves!
12. It takes different people different lengths of time to grieve. There’s no right nor wrong way to do it, no set amount of time nor formula. Respect that in others and allow yourself to grieve your own way and in your own time. It’s okay.
13. It’s rarely a good idea to accept something because it’s free.
14. The only person you will be with for your entire life is… you. It’s a really good idea to get comfortable with yourself, enjoy spending time with yourself, and treat yourself well.
15. Add ginger and salt and just about any dish can be transformed from tasteless to yumsters!
Bonus tip: this doesn’t apply to cake!
16. Plants that grow together taste good together (basil and tomatoes anyone?) – equally, plants that taste good together, grow well together. They protect one another from bugs and stuff… how cool is nature?
17. You never know what you’ll get – you often don’t get what you expect, but what you do get will completely astonish you and make you marvel. (I’m talking babies here, but it could apply to pets and just… life.)
18. Baby steps add up to long distances and big changes.
19. Drinking can be so much fun.
20. Drinking can be no fun at all, and the source of many, many, …many problems. That third drink is rarely a good idea!
Aside: If you feel in any way uncomfortable about your drinking habits, it’s worth making the effort to stop for just enough time to investigate your unease. Try The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace (where you give up alcohol for 30 days).
21. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, do your nails. Then, every time you look at your hands, you’ll feel calm and in control of something.
22. ‘Done’ now is better than ‘perfect’ tomorrow.
23. Parents are just people (yes we are!). They are flawed like everybody else. They don’t have all the answers. Their advice might not necessarily be the right advice for you.
24. Every day counts. If you can see every day as a gift, and manage to do something to move you forwards towards your goals, if you can go to bed knowing you’ve done something good for somebody else, imagine the accumulation of these good deeds over the weeks, months and years. Result: you’ll be making the world a better, brighter place! (And if some days it all feels like too much and you need to just huddle under your quilt, that’s okay. If this happens a lot, and you’re feeling hopeless, please reach out! X)
25. The only constant is change. I know. It’s a biggie!
26. You’ll never be ready for the scary things. Sometimes you’ve just got to jump in and do it! (Thanks, Linda, for telling me that about having a baby…)
27. If you write, you’re a writer. Do you sing? You’re a singer. If you (fill in the blank), you’re a (you get the picture).
28. You know your child best. Listen to them and trust yourself. Pay attention. It’s true – they grow up so fast (and you won’t be able to do it all again no matter how hard you wish upon a star!)
29. If you don’t know something, don’t feel stupid. Ask! Find out!
30. Don’t judge people. We were all born in a different set of circumstances and grow up with our own unique experiences. Instead of looking for differences, look for what you might have in common.
31. There is no rush!
32. Nobody can read your mind (apart from those super-powered guys from The Alan Parsons Project, of course).
33. You need to have the difficult conversations. Don’t spend your life in hiding.
34. Stick insects aren’t the most interesting pets. In fact, they’re pretty rubbish.
35. Don’t try and change anybody but yourself. If you want somebody to change, hold on a minute! Howcome you’re taking the focus off… yourself?
36. Dandelions can be made into rather delicous and pretty fritters.
37. You don’t need to buy much at all before having a baby. Forget the baby books (unless you have unlimited cash that needs to be spent). You have everything you need already (clue: mostly, yourself). And don’t worry – there will be plenty of spending to do over the next, ooh, 30 or 40 years!
38. Never check your Facebook messages on your phone once you’re over 35. Your fumble fingers may accidentally activate an ‘angry face’ emoji 😠 in an inappropriate place but without your glasses you may not realise until the damage is done. It could also be the ‘surprised face’ emoji 😲 If you can’t work out how to take those little yellow faces away again until you’re at a laptop, it could be disastrous! 🤭
What? That’s just… me? 🤣
39. When you go for a walk and it might be windy, if you have long hair, make sure you have a bobble. If your ears get cold, bring a hat. If you have children, bring water, food, hats, gloves, spare change of clothes, money, tissues, sunscreen (that doesn’t hurt their skin – I first wrote ‘sunscream’ – oops!)… and more food. Also, plasters, a complete mini first aid kit, bags for the kids to collect things into. And the knowledge that you have forgotten something that they will ask for once you’re miles from home!
40. Be kind. It costs nothing. Smile at people. It all makes a difference.
41. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. (Alfred Wainwright said it first!)
42. Aim to do more of what makes you feel good and less of what you don’t enjoy. You’ve only got one life and all that…
43. If you ever decide to not drink, your reasons are nobody’s business. If somebody asks and you’d like to share, that’s completely up to you. Otherwise, you don’t have to justify yourself. To anybody. About anything for that matter – as long as it’s not hurting anybody else, obvs!
44. If you fancy a bit of cake sometimes, have your cake. Same goes for chocolate or watching a bit of crap telly. Probably best to lay off the hard drugs though…
45. Rats make great pets. They’re intelligent and fun. And they lick you (seriously!). But they’re a lot of work and take a lot of time and energy (and their pee smells strongly and gets everywhere – particularly the male version).
46. Good enough is… better than perfect. It’s far less stressful, and really is… good enough.
47. Your body sends you messages constantly. Be aware of what it’s trying to tell you. Really pay attention as it always has your best interests at heart.
48. Self-care is the opposite of selfish. If you don’t know what I’m going on about, here’s a little explanation and an invitation to my free self-care starter kit. Sign up, sign up!
49. If there’s something you’d like to do but you’re scared to try, it’s really important you do it. These are things that are life changing. Everybody has to start with a first time for everything.
This post was fun to write although I’m sure I’ve forgotten the best lessons.
Thank you for reading (and a big ‘Thank you’ to anyone reading who’s helped teach me these lessons).
I’d love to hear about your own life lessons. Maybe you could teach me something new before I hit the big ‘five oh’!
Watch this space to see whether life really does begin at 50. (Who said that? Hopefully, a really wise person.)
And if you decide to share, you’ll be making this (quite young still) woman very happy!
© 2020, Images and text: Eilidh Horder