Year 40Tuesday, September 06, 2016
I had such a lovely birthday. I started celebrating a week before and have only just finished. I was utterly spoilt, and have a pile of books, DVDs, and boxsets big enough to see me through to Christmas! Not to mention jewellery, clothes, and booze too.
Not to sound ungrateful for all of the lovely gifts I received, the best part of my birthday was spending time with my favourites. I am always so surprised how much time goes by between each meeting, time seems to go by quicker and quicker with each passing year. Remember when the six weeks school holiday seemed to last for ever? Now it's over in the blink of an eye.
After my last birthday I pondered what I wanted to achieve before my birthday this year. The list wasn't an exciting one but were things that I felt would have a positive effect on my daily life.
Create calm (by living in a tidy, organised home)
I wouldn't say I've created calm, but it is a bit calmer. Which is progress. Decluttering is taking time (Marie Kondo would not be impressed at my tardiness), but even if I am taking my time, it is getting done.
Improve my surroundings (by getting on with the long list of home improvements)
This also helps to add to the calm. I haven't finished as many jobs as I'd have liked but progress has been made.
My favourite improvement has been in the kitchen, we moved some cupboards around, replaced a damaged piece of skirting board, put up some shelves, and bought a new oven. These simple tweaks made a huge difference, the bits that niggled and irritated me every time I looked at them have gone.
It's by no means my dream kitchen, a shiny new kitchen a long way off, but it's better, and I'm much happier with it. I'm always surprised by what a big difference little changes can make.
Feel stronger and healthier
I started going to a Clubbercise class every Monday night, and I loved it, but the thing that happens to kill the enjoyment of every single class I've ever been to happened. It got popular. Which is good for the instructor - more money for them - but it meant the class was too full, I spent more time worrying about bashing into people than actually exercising. Most annoying.
I also tried a pilates class but the timing of it was not convenient and after a while I gave up. Which seems to be my strength when it comes to exercise - giving up.
My exercise seems to be limited to gardening, which I do a lot of these days but it's not enough.
I'm succeeding here - most of the time. There are odd days when food just doesn't seem that important, days when thinking about what to eat and preparing food seems so boring. I spend the day grazing on whatever I can find in the fridge instead, but these days are becoming less and less frequent.
The first change I wanted to make was to cook from scratch, to seek out recipes of our favourite dishes instead of cooking from jars. I now have recipes for chilli con carne, chicken curry, cottage pie, and spag bol that are tastier than anything out of a jar, and Mary Berry's Express Lasagne was a huge hit until my doctor suggested I go dairy free.
I've tried lots of other new recipes with varying degrees of success, and I can't remember the last time I cooked anything from a jar.
Thanks to my tick list I'm eating breakfast daily, and therefore snacking less. I've also found that seeking out recipes and writing a meal plan makes me more aware of what I'm eating and as a result I'm eating more fruit and veg too. Gone are they days where I would buy vegetables, put them in the fridge only to throw them away when they started to wilt.
Make memories (by planning experiences and adventures)
This has been a success too. My plan was to simply get out more and see more of my favourite people, and I have - with husband in tow where possible.
It doesn't always go to plan though. Having bought tickets to attend at outdoor cinema screening of Top Gun with my best friend, we decided at the 11th hour that we were both old farts and seeing a film that started at 9pm was too late for both of us. I had to chuckle that evening as I got into bed with a book at 8:45pm. I text my friend and she was already in her PJs too. We decided on lunch and an afternoon movie later that week instead.
That aside, spring was uncharacteristically sociable with Andy, and when he's been at work I've been out and about with friends and family.
My favourite memories of Year 40 have to be the weekend I spent in the Sahara, and the day we cooked Christmas lunch for 17 people. Latitude and Jimmy's Harvest Festival were pretty cool too, but more often than not the best times are the simple things - a coffee with a friend, a woodland walk, an amble around the charity shops with an enthusiastic shopping partner.
I'm happy with how Year 40 turned out, my only regret is not having a party to celebrate entering a new decade. But it's never too late for a party.
What would you like to achieve before your next birthday?