My birthday started with early morning yoga and ended with late night bubbles... not a bad birthday sandwich for 53.
I can't tell you how happy I am to be here, still standing (actually, dancing) feeling so grateful to be where I am, and so full of potential for what's ahead.
I can only imagine what my 13, 23 and even 33 year old selves would have thought about this age. They'd likely have thought I'd be devastated, simpering with sorrow as I retreated into the background to knit. (Mind you, I was knitting in my 20's and don't have time any more!).
By 43, I was beginning to change my tune. I'd been brought up in a time and a place where ageing was the worst thing you could possibly do. I mean, we are literally bombarded with "anti-ageing" creams screaming at us from the chemist shelves. I was also noticing that the whole definition of age, and midlife in particular, was being redefined. We have an extra two or three decades, to be living in midlife, not old age.
By 43 I was also beginning to understand that not only is ageing a privilege, but an action. It isn't a passive activity, and as I say in my latest book:
Who wants to age gracefully?
Let's age powerfully!
I thought I'd share the ten gifts I've learned, adopted, experienced, decided and created in the last ten years that are helping me do just that:
1. Asking for help.
Total. Game. Changer. Being vulnerable made me stronger, understanding it's not all on my shoulders helped me shoulder my responsibilities better, and reaching out to improve my ability to manage my life, emotions and circumstances has given me life-changing, life-enhancing skills.
2. Going into recovery for perfectionism.
Oh the feckin' relief! Now I'm all about progression, not perfection. It has opened up my life in so many ways, and I'm no longer bound by ridiculous standards and expectations that ruined my enjoyment of life. Well, most of the time anyway (progression, not perfection, remember?).
3. Investing in my mind and emotional well-being.
Using coaching, therapy, personal development, curiosity, learning, reflecting, growing my knowledge of myself and how to navigate this world without imploding, and being honest and vulnerable when needs be (see 1&2) are now in my life-tool kit. Investing in my emotional well-being is now a life-long, non-negotiable practice.
4. Investing in my body.
I might be an avocado advocate, but I'm not militant. I commit to eating a healthy balance of good food, along with healthy balance of treats that make me happy. The key has been to be really intentional and know what my body needs.
5. Investing in my health.
I'm peri-menopausal and I pay attention to what's happening in my body. I see a menopause specialist as well as have a GP and I advocate all women to do this.
6. Investing in my fitness.
I'm not aiming for marathon-fit, but I'm intentional about what my body needs at this time in my life - strength training, flexibility and cardio so I walk a lot, do yoga and something my previous selves would NEVER have thought - go to the gym!
7. Having some fun!
It is so easy to become the practical person in everyone's life: the practical daughter looking after parents; the practical partner, the practical parent, the practical colleague. The moment I realised I could be practical AND playful changed everything. And frankly, I work bloody hard raising my 3 girls and working, so fun is essential to remind me I'm a human being, not just a human doing.
I don't meant dancing in my kitchen, although I do love this too (see points 3, 4, 6 and 7). I mean the dance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. Accepting who, how, where I am in all the good, bad and ugly of life, so that I can enjoy every day of my life, while striving to improve myself in ways that will make my life better, bolder, and brighter.
9. Choosing love.
First and foremost with myself. But also as an intentional decision for those around me.
10. Respecting, loving and cheering for my future selves.
I've developed a very dynamic relationship with my future selves... be that my future self of later today, next week, next year or my 63 year old self in ten years. When I don't feel like any of the activities above, I remember how my past selves felt when I didn't, and I care too much for future me to ruin her life!
My life is still very much a work in progress... and I hope it always will be. At 53 I get to say stuff now like "I know things." This is what I know: Investing in yourself now, even with small changes, will have a profound impact on the rest of your life and future you.
Decide how to invest in you every day - setting boundaries, understanding what you need, and living in a way that enriches you (even when life is really hard) is how you will age, live, love and grow powerfully.