Today is the day I celebrate 40 years of life and it also happens to be Thanksgiving.
If you’ve seen my Facebook post a few days ago, you’ll know how upset I’ve been about how things don’t turn out the way you want because of unexpected circumstances.
My blow up comes from my inability to control things and my compulsion to do so. I know I have this problem. Chill man, Savasana!
Firstly, I don’t know what made the following years special or important to me but in my view of the world, I consider the following birthdays to be of significant importance with a need to celebrate them:
- OMG I’m so cool, I’m a teenager – 13
- Unstoppable at Sweet – 16
- I’m legally an adult – 18
- I’m at my prime and will be forever this way – 21
- Quarter of a Century, OMG I’m so old – 25
- I’m actually an adult and I can’t deny it (but in my head I’m still 25) – 30
- I’m only going to count in 10’s, there’s no denying I’m an adult now (but in my head I’m still only 26) – 40
- OK I’m really old now, maybe I should really accept I’m an adult (but really I’m only 27) half a century – 50
- I can’t wait ’til retirement and my world cruises – 60
- Wow I made it, I’m probably gonna die soon – 80
- I’m going to start counting ’cause I never thought I’d make it this far – 90, 90 and a half, 90 and 3 quarters etc…
- Forget the rest, I bloody well made it but am annoyed I don’t get a letter from Queen Elizabeth II (Unless she’s still alive at over 150 years old, which then means I have new ageing goals) – 100
- I can’t believe my body and brain are still functioning – counting every day over 100 as a miracle
So with that in mind, 40 is the 7th birthday in my life’s important birthday list that I thought was a milestone worth celebrating.
There was a lot of pressure and expectation I put on this day and so when expectations aren’t met, there’s a lot of disappointment. Hence my strop fest the other day.
Let me explain. When I was a kid, I told myself that I’d have a baby by 25. When I hit 24 I thought, OMG there’s no way I’d want a baby by next year, I’m too young – 30 is a good age!
I told myself that by 30 I would have a house, be married, have a kid and have travelled the world. When I hit 30, I had travelled around Europe and was partying in London, single, no kid and no property.
I didn’t care, I was rocking it and I loved my life. I figured, I had plenty of time to get the rest done and I’d certainly get it all sorted by 40.
I told myself that by 40 I would have travelled even more around the world, be married, have one or more properties and have one or more kids.
And then things changed. When I was 32 my mum was diagnosed with cancer. She was hit with a prognosis of death at such a young age (57), after I watched her live such an unhappy life.
She then struggled to fight it on and off for 6 years and died at the age of 63.
What was the point? What was the point of going through life doing, having and being what everyone else wants or expects you to do, be and have, if the end result is just unhappiness, sickness and death?
I didn’t care anymore. For a long time I just got depressed and disillusioned. Life became just life. “What does it all mean!?!?!”
I’d spent so much of my childhood feeling oppressed and repressed and stuck in only achieving things that everybody else said was good for me and doing what everyone else said I was supposed to do.
My childhood was spent with people controlling me, what I do and what I think. I spent my adulthood controlling myself based on what my upbringing, culture and society expected me to do and think.
I’ve seen how that life ends. Why would I spend the rest of my life doing the same?
So I decided to stop telling myself what I SHOULD have, be and do, and by what age, especially if I was living life fulfilling other people’s values, rather than my own.
I chose to let go of other people’s expectations of me. If I could, I wanted to get rid of ALL the SHOULDs in my life.
I was going to just let me be me. Except I was so good at being what everybody wanted me to be, I didn’t know who I was.
Slowly starting at 32, I let go of the SHOULDs and I felt free for the first time.
I simply lived my life as it was, as it unfolded. There was no longer anything I should or shouldn’t do. There is no longer anything I should or shouldn’t have done.
I was finally allowed to be selfish, fulfil my wants, say no, set my own boundaries, be responsible for only me, get to know Me.
Who was I? What did I want? I left the rest to whatever will be, will be.
It was tough, with a lot of conditioning and continued external pressures that I couldn’t let go of.
There was also a lot of guilt for not living my life the way parents, society, friends and family said I was “supposed” to and I felt the fight and struggle all the way.
In that journey, I found yoga, dabbled in vegan/vegetarianism, focussed a lot on health, consciousness, different perspectives, balance, letting go (of habits, beliefs, people etc.)
I now want to grow my own veg to preserve and pickle, make my own all-natural, chemical-free products, creating a cleaner, freer me in body, mind and spirit.
It seems I’ve become Amish without the bonnet or horse and buggy.
When I hit 39, it came faster than I expected. I realised my celebratory birthday was coming so decided, a trip to Costa Rica to live in an eco-village with some modern day hippies would be the most apt way to commemorate 40 years of life.
It was to live the culmination of what I’ve been building up to, especially in the last 8 years. Except, it didn’t happen.
Tony’s mum passed away unexpectedly this year. She was only 67.
3 emergency unplanned return trips from London to Australia (2 for him and 1 obligatory SHOULD flight for me ie it is EXPECTED that you turn up) meant we were £4,000 out of pocket, spending our 5th year of marriage with the most time apart ever and I definitely had to give up my Costa Rica trip.
Resentment much? Minor disappointment maybe?
I spent the last 8 years of my life getting rid of the SHOULDs only to have a SHOULD ensure I didn’t get to celebrate my 40th the way I wanted.
WHAT WAS THE POINT?? Why does this happen? What does it all mean?!?!?
That was my bubble busted and to add insult to injury, after agreeing that we needed to save money, Tony decided to buy a tablet for another £1,000 3 days ago.
So yeah, that was the last straw and I spat the dummy.
I think my birthday is on Thanksgiving this year to remind me that even though I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, I actually have a LOT to be grateful for.
I have a blessed life and I’m very grateful for it.
This year, we were able to go to New York, Rome, Sydney and Las Vegas together. Tony got to go to Sydney twice and New York about 3 or 4 times and Bulgaria once and we still have a month to go before the end of the year, for one final small trip.
In the end, the unexpected came but we were still able to manage the huge expense.
I was also able to invest in various treatments to help Tony with his grief and I tell you what, I’ve never seen anyone come out of it so well. For that, I am very grateful.
So well, in fact, a friend of ours who bumped into him had to ask me if he was coping ’cause he didn’t look as if anything had happened at all!
I had to reassure her that he actually did go through grief, he just had all the tools to process it really quickly.
My life is so good now that all I need to be worried about right now is whether or not my new homemade shampoo has reduced my hair loss and by how much and whether or not I can get into a handstand by myself, before Christmas.
I mean, when your worst problem in the world is the fact that you don’t get to go to Costa Rica after being to Europe, America (twice) and Australia in the same year, you’ve got to have a pretty good life.
More things to give thanks for? Our health. We are both so healthy. We hardly get sick anymore and are on zero pills or medication.
We both had eye tests a couple of weeks ago only to find out that my eyesight improved from 3 years ago and Tony’s, who’s eyesight deteriorated quite a lot every year prior, hasn’t changed at all!!
We have a warm cosy home, we live in a beautiful neighbourhood, are part of a friendly yogi community, have enough money to travel every year and I’ve been at home / working from home 100% for the last 2 years.
So yes, I have a lot to be grateful for.
I might not have gotten to Costa Rica on the day of my 40th but from where I started and everything I’ve been through in my life, it’s turned out pretty amazing!
And yes, we’ve done a lot this year and even though I didn’t sound like it 3 days ago, I do love and appreciate my life and my husband 😊
Om Namah Shivaya.