It's nearly the end of the first year of a new age decade for me. I'm going to be 41 on Friday.
So what have I learned and how have I changed over a year punctuated quite often by good coffee and pastry?
It's quite ironic that as a person who works in a field that deals so much with ageing, it's only in this past year that I've really thought about how it pertains to both myself and those nearest and dearest to me. I front up to routine check ups for various things and early signs of wear and tear are noted by my care provider. I feel it a little at the gym where I now know there are certain things I just can't do because they'll aggravate my bad shoulder. Not that I'm actually going to get the dodgy joint checked out because what if someone suggests surgery or some kind of joint injection? Being forty something means catastrophizing every little niggle in your body.
I've had close friends lose parents through some horrible illnesses. I've lost an aunty. I've seen the effects of dementia take their grip on close family friends. It can be hard not to fear that these things will circle closer and closer. How will I know what to do and say? What do I hope and pray for? How will the rest of my life continue as it must and will? There's a lot to be said for only dealing with things when and if they arise. But that's not a real solution, is it?
More so than when I was younger (whenever that actually was), this year has made me live in the here and now. To enjoy the holidays and intrepidly explore all that I can of wherever I find myself when I step off a plane. To have that glass of champagne, to have that dessert, to go ahead and make those plans for dinner during the week.
And when life's either giving you lemons or raining on your parade (or both...)? Being fully engaged then too and not avoiding the issues or filling up my day with distractors so I have no time or energy to address what's really important. I've also come to learn that good or bad things are seldom purely that. What seems great right now might not be so later on while what may be bad or unjust right now often leads you someplace that made dealing with the negative worthwhile.
I've also become a fan of the big picture view of life. To have a general direction I wish to go and where I don't but not getting too bogged down in detailed plans. On a day to day basis, this translates to knuckling down and getting things done and leaving the rest to God. I'm also beginning to ask Him more for strength and guidance. It's a work in progress as to how well I listen.
This post has turned out to be a bit bleak and sombre, hasn't it? I guess I'm at that stage in life where the more painful lessons of life need to be learned. But that's not to say I'm living life in greys and blacks. I just happen to love wearing those colours.
Other things that haven't changed include that blog forming love of shopping. Only these days, I need the miracles that Mecca Cosmetica promises for my skin. Plus a walk under the age erasing lighting of their stores every now and again.
I still love All the Big Names and a good animal print accessory.
Still love the endorphins of exercise.
And I still love the (not so) little guy to bits. He's been a constant test and challenge to my character while, ironically, I'm meant to be here for him as a consistent role model and support. We're getting there together though. I'm learning to take that valuable step back as I take that even more valuable deep breath when I need to.
It's a good and a bad thing that parenting isn't taught to us as a syllabus with periodic assessments or feedback to let us know how we're going (or is that the job of fellow shoppers at the supermarket or Westfield?). I'd quite like to have a parenting study group. It'd just be like normal study groups only we'd treat our alone time in an adult environment as a kind of precious gift whose value was lost on a lot of us when we were undergrads without the responsibilities of families of our own.
I do wonder, though, what his memories will be of his childhood? Will he cherish the same little things that I do? Or other things? Or will it be more of a feeling that he remembers rather than actual events or objects?
But I also have a new found appreciation for the balancing act that life is. Perhaps it's a peculiarity of the forties where so many competing interests and responsibilities seem to converge for the first time on you and your one brain, two arms and two legs. I've come to enjoy trying to balance those ever moving blocks and I've come to know for a fact that when those blocks come tumbling down, something stronger and better will be built in their place.
Has the first year in a new age decade crystallised a few things about life for you?
If you're forty something or beyond, what do you remember as some of the key things you learned about life in that year as a forty year old?