I’ll apologise now for the fact that this year’s posts will probably revolve heavily around the turning-40 theme, but milestone birthdays are there to be analysed aren’t they.
So, this is me in 2019…..I have three school-aged boys and I’ll be 40 later this year.
(I’m not sure why I have this thing that writing it twice and putting it in bold will help it to sink in.)
Anyway, I think this is one of those times in life when a few things start to happen. Firstly, it’s clearly the time for a bit of introspection. For wondering how it is possible to have gone from the Sixth Form common room to here when I still spend a lot of my life feeling like I’m just playing at being an adult. For thinking back to what I imagined 40 might look and feel like; and realising that being nearly 40, or actually adulthood in general, isn’t really what I imagined it would be at all. It feels like a good time to do a bit of thinking about who I am and what makes me happy, rather than worrying about who other people want/expect me to be…….which is what tends to consume us through our teens and twenties.
The other thing that happens when you’re a mum is that it becomes very easy to hide. You suddenly have these small people who provide the perfect distraction if ever you want to change the topic of conversation or pretend you haven’t heard a question. They are the perfect excuse for not going out if you don’t want to, for not going to work networking events, for not putting yourself forward for things. You are suddenly able to make yourself very small, and sometimes that’s quite appealing. And then before you know it, those children are a bit more self-sufficient and all those excuses you’ve been relying on aren’t really there anymore; but you’ve spent so long hiding behind them that you then need to spend some time reminding yourself who you are.
So this is the first of many attempts to address some of the above. It is my happiness alphabet – just what it says really. Things beginning with every letter of the alphabet (well, almost every letter) that make me happy. I haven’t explicitly included my family in here because it goes without saying that they make me happy (as well as frustrated, furious and exhausted – sometimes all on the same day), so these are some of the other things. It is easy to forget about the happy things when you’re caught up in the everyday chaos but thinking about this has been a good little project, particularly for the start of a new year, and one that I’d recommend if you’re also approaching a milestone or just want to spend a bit of time focusing on the positives.
So here we go…..
Autumn leaves and adventures (big and small) make for a nice easy start.
B is a good one. Bobble hats and ballet (watching, I mean); a good book, a blue sky, baking and bunting. A bit of bunting can make everything feel brighter.
C is for strong coffee, chats, cake and custard.
D is for Danish Pastries, preferably in a beautiful….
European square, with an espresso.
Friends – the ones you can be properly yourself with. They are precious. And I do love a good frosty morning too.
Grubby little faces after a day outside.
H is for a good hearty dinner. I’m all about comfort food.
I is for Italy and all things Italian…..apart from their chaotic politics.
Jumpers. Cosy ones (I know, there’s a bit of a theme here isn’t there…..I’m a cold weather sort of person).
K is obviously for Kettle Chips…..how can they not make you happy? And unprompted acts of kindness.
Little legs running free. Oh – and libraries, which have saved many a rainy day for us. We love our libraries.
M is for Mary Poppins and mince pies. Mince pies whilst watching Mary Poppins is a bonus.
N is for a good amble around a National Trust. Bobble hats on and little legs running in all that lovely……
P is for a bit of poetry – something I have got into over the last couple of years. It brings me a nice sense of calm……reading it, not writing it obviously. And a cosy pub with a fire.
Q is for quiet. I know I will miss the noise when it’s gone but a cup of tea and a bit of quiet is precious.
Reading something special. AND reusable coffee cups – it’s a simple change but a positive one. Let’s all start carrying one around and ditch the disposables.
S is for staying in when it’s cold outside. Staying in with Strictly Come Dancing is what Saturday nights were made for.
T is being at the theatre. I have this crazy idea that I might work in one when I’m a proper grown-up…..which obviously I’m not yet. And also ticking things off my around-the-house to-do list – I’m just not very productive, so any small achievement at home makes me happy.
Unexpected, spontaneous fun is U.
V is for an almost-veggie diet. I’m not a fully fledged vegetarian but cutting down dramatically on the amount of meat that we, as a household, buy and eat is a positive change which I feel really happy about.
W is obviously a nice glass of wine.
X is just silly, I’m not going to waste time thinking about that one.
Y is for Yuletide. Now there’s an old-fashioned word we don’t use much anymore….in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever used it before now. But I’m a sucker for Christmas, for the twinkly lights, the cosy evenings, the mince pies and the family traditions.
Z is for zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Which is cheating a bit, but seeing my boys tucked up and fast asleep in bed still makes me feel all warm inside.
And that’s it. Give it a go – it’s fun. The only downside is that I now can’t stop thinking about Kettle Chips and mince pies.