So, welcome to my last installment of deep thoughts and reflections upon turning 40 and advice for my daughters (when they are ready for it).
But first? Here’s one last artfully done Caitlin Moran quote!
I pondered doing a blog post a while back on the many, many roles I play: wife, mom, employee, manager, cook, runner, public speaker, blogger, swimmer, friend, volunteer etc… But then I struggled with what to say on the topic that had not already been said about the many hats women wear.
While I embrace it all, this quote perfectly sums it all up. Golf? Sure! But I don’t have golf shoes … Dancing? Sure! Now I just have to go buy a new top which will require a special bra… Formal dinner? Sure! Wonder if they’ll notice I’ve been wearing the same dress to these things for 3 years now…
That said, here’s my last ten reflections on my life by 40:
10. Still Not a Director
While my 25-year-old self would be horrified by this, I’m more than good with it.
What I thought I wanted in my 20s isn’t what I actually wanted by my mid-30s. It took some time to work that through, and everyone’s decision on “work-life balance” will be different, but I’m good with where I am. It lets me do and invest in all the bits of life that matter to me.
9. Know Your Value
Confidence comes with knowing yourself and your value. I know I don’t have to jump at every opportunity to prove myself. Two years ago I was confident enough to ask an employer to wait five months for me – and they said yes. Five years ago, I never would have had the courage to do that.
8. Know Your Limits
Motherhood – at least with young kids – has a lot of physicality. Lots of need, lots of touching. I call it claustrophobic love. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but pair it with full-time work, volunteering and the other general commitments of life where it feels like everyone constantly needs me to do something for them now and sometimes I need to curl up and be alone. My husband gives me Sunday mornings and is pretty good at reading the signs for when I might need a bit more. I also know when to ask for help and book staycation weeks for myself twice a year now to re-charge.
7. Have the Courage to be Yourself
My About Baby Gates Down page covers this. My first blog, during my first maternity leave, was under a pen name because I was concerned it would be career-limiting or that people might laugh at me or think less of me for it. Having the courage to hit publish here in my own name was a big deal for me. And so far? The world hasn’t ended.
I also have a big thing for vampire fiction. There. I said it.
6. Your Body Doesn’t Just Hold Your Brain
Last year I signed up for a program at my gym called Viva.
It was a lifestyle coaching program where we met weekly for three months and talked through a series of themes from fitness, to food, to time management, to mental health focusing on the fact that healthy living is about so much more than exercise and food.
The quote that stuck with me is the title above. It was said by the instructor about why she decided to change her habits.
There are times I don’t treat my body well. But I try to focus on my health more often than not because my body doesn’t just hold my brain. And I’m hopefully gonna need it for a long time to come.
5. That Said, a Few Vices are Good for the Soul
I like wine. I like coffee. I like cognac. I’m not giving them up. The end.
Indeed, my parents even bought me this beauty for my birthday:
4. What You Want is Worth the Effort – Persevere
A few years ago I found myself in a job that for a number of reasons wasn’t the right fit for me. Once I figured that out, I didn’t rush to leave. Instead, I took some time to figure out what exactly I wanted out of my job. I then worked to get myself there. It took about two years all told, but it worked. So figure out what you want. Make a plan. Go get it. Then be happy with the result. And know there is never perfection.
3. Time, not Money
Once I hit a certain level of financial stability, it took a while for me to figure this one out. But once I did? Ahhh. Doing renovations? Second time around we hired a firm that also project managed, so I didn’t have to. Because finding a plumber, and an electrician, and painting yourself … after a while I figured out my free time was worth more than the money saved by doing it myself.
Another example? My gym has a playcare. They watch my kids for up to two hours and fifteen minutes. That’s time for a workout, a soak in a hot tub, a shower and then a bit of quiet reading. Fully worth the cost.
A last example? See #10 above. Kids are young once. I also think living a full life beyond work is important. And as someone once said:
No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.
Make time for what matters.
2. Volunteer to Feed Your Soul
I have always volunteered. For most of my 20s I volunteered for Frontier College, a national literacy organization. I ran reading circles and homework clubs for kids. When funding for Ottawa programs was cut in 2005, a group of us volunteers coordinated to keep the programs running. We made a difference. I’m still proud of that.
I am currently the volunteer President of the Carleton University Alumni Association. Through that, I now give back to my university, help students, and help a community that did a lot for me. Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life.
1. The Little Things and Not the Grand Gestures
My husband routinely filling my coffee cup, saying “I love you” as he walks by, and emptying the dishwasher without prompting? Those are the things that fuel my happiness in marriage.
With the kids? Last December I wrote about coming home from working late one night at around 9:00. Kids were in bed. My husband had been great taking care of everything. But there I was with a case of mom-guilt. I sat down to a late dinner in front of the television when my 4-year-old arrived, out of bed, to snuggle. No demands. She just wanted me. Like she knew that’s exactly what I needed.
It’s all those little moments over time that are the memories that build a life.
And with that, I bring this series to an end. Any other advice for me as I enter my next decade?