Go shorty, it’s your birthday!!! I literally start every birthday blog post with that line but I’ll always love 50 cent and that track!!!
Whoop! It’s my 40th today and there’s no denying it, I’m now a fully grown freaking adult so the time has come to impart some pearls of wisdom age has afforded me (FYI, mostly from those FAR wiser than me) so check out the 40 Life Lessons I’ve Learned at 40 list below!
First though, a little Oscar speech!!! Seriously, I’m deeply grateful for another year around the sun and for so many incredible people in my life who make me cry with laughter, pick me up when life feels shite and who love me unconditionally. Thank you xoxoxo
I also want to give some honorable mentions to two special ladies here: cake maker extraordinaire Kerry of The Berkshire Bakesmith who my parents commissioned to make me an epic 40th drip cake (it’s vegan as my sons can’t eat egg and dairy respectiviely, and believe me when I say it’s the most delicious chocolate cake you could ever eat), and my folks also commissioned Leeds-based Emma, of The Jewellery Makers to create personalised gold studs for me with my boys’ intials on them, I shall be wearing every day. Emma very naughtily also gifted me the V gold pendant you can see here, too. Kerry and Emma have become lovely pals to me since we met during book tour events of mine, a few years ago and it’s wonderful to share their talents here with you on my special day.
Shout-out too to Katya, founder of the beautiful Bombshell Dresses for this leopard print number I’m rocking here. It truly made me feel 40 and fabulous, darlings!!! I also grabbed a snap in a monochrome Next summer number I wore before popping on the leopard frock, because why not have a little dress change on your birthday hey! Yes, I’m THAT extra!!!
Last but not least a big smooch to Peter, my husband and rock who has spoilt me rotten and filled our home with beautiful red roses (thanks to my wonderful friend Maggy of blog Red Ted Art whose rose and lily bouquet can also be seen here too), and the presents, cards and messages from my family and friends (I’m blown away by everyone’s thoughtfulness and during such a tricky time in lockdown). I couldn’t be more grateful for the blanket of love I’ve been wrapped in. What a lucky lady I am!!!!
40 Lessons at 40:
1. Always make eye contact when you speak to others and smile. Don’t forget to smile while on the phone and when recording voice notes, too. People can hear you smiling 🙂 and it will always put them at ease.
2. Follow your goals but please be realistic. No dream is worth sacrificing health and relationships for. If it’s meant for you, it will happen, I promise.
3. Never compromise on your values. You are YOUR values. Lean on them and you will never lose sight of who you are.
4. All relationships require work. Water, feed and nurture friendships and relationships as if they’re sweet little pot plants on your bay window which depend on you for their survival. When you do, they’ll grow and blossom! Equally, not everyone is for you. If in doubt, leave out.
5. Health is wealth. Eat well, move your ass and de-stressing.
6. Where possible, learn to focus on preventative measures rather than being reactive whether that’s in business or when it comes to your mental and physical health.
7. Regular yoga is the gift that keeps on giving. Again, prevent problems so they don’t arise. Make exercise part of your weekly routine.
8. What other people think of you is none of your damn business. ‘Don’t believe the hype, don’t believe the shite’ is my motto.
9. You’re only as strong as the weakest member of your team.
10. It’s more important to hire people you can trust who might require upskilling/ you to teach them than people you can’t depend on who know it all!
11. Exercise boundaries and become comfortable comfortable with saying ‘no’.
12. All relationships require an element of compromise. No one is perfect and stubborness is futile.
13. Sleep is certainly not for the weak. Work out how many hours you need a night in order to function happily and stick to that consistently when you can.
14. Life without music is soulless in my opinion so pump up the volume and dance around your living room.
15. Always sing your heart out and dance like no one’s watching because usually they’re (HONESTLY) not.
16. Stay away from people who make you feel hard to love. They’re not your people. Stepping away from toxicity opens windows of precious time and energy you can dedicate on new and existing relationships as well as spending time with yourself.
17. Gratitude lists really work and if you commit to them, they will uplift you. Note down all that you have and value in life. Remind yourself of quite how lucky you are.
18. Be charitable and donate time, money and care to those who need it.
19. Memorable writing always hinges on rewriting. Write then write some more.
20. Do not fear rejection. It’s an important part of the creative process. Not everything is meant for you. Pick yourself up when you hear a ‘no’, learn from your experiences and commit to growth and improvement. Perserve. Turn that no into a yes.
21. It’s never too late to change direction/ jobs/ cities/ countries.
22. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun, laugh loudly and relish this gift of life.
23. Be humble and keep your ego in check. We are all equal.
24. Make sure those you love know that you love them. Tell them often.
25. Throw your hands up in the air and say sorry when you mess up.
26. Then, forgive yourself.
27. And forgive others.
28. You often have to break down into tiny, shattered pieces in order to rebuild yourself back, stronger and happier than before. Overcoming adversity builds compassion, strength of character and resilience. Remember how far you’ve come, today, and everything you’ve overcome. List it. Recall it. Honour the steps that’s you’ve made.
29. Don’t fear therapy, it could change your life, replacing your negative voice with your therapist’s positive one, until it becomes your new one. Therapy provides you with the tools to heal and thrive.
30. Be honest about your needs, don’t leave yourself last. You don’tt have to be martyr to be a good mum/ friend/ partner.
31. Parenting can be the most diffult challenge on earth at times. It can also be the most joyful, funny and life affirming role you’ll ever experience.
32. Text messages and dms will never come close to face-to-face meet-ups and phone calls. Make time to see/call friends and family when you can.
33. Dreams can come true. However ludicrous and impossible they might seem to start with, they can be realised so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Other people might project their own fears onto your dreams, trying (usually unknowingly) to stifle and stop you, on your way. Find a tribe that makes your feel unstoppable.
34. Don’t live beyond your means. Get your head around the numbers, learning how to save and not overspend. It’s never too late.
35. Knowledge is power. Keep learning.
36. Listen to your kids when they ask you to play with them, even if it’s just for a short while. Quality time over quantity time matters most and you’ll never regret time laughing with your kids.
37. Whatever is troubling you, however hard life might feel right now, it shall pass. Remember that when you’re in the eye of the storm.
38. Everything feels better after a cup of tea ( I learnt this growing up in Yorkshire)!
39. Learn as many languages as possible. Don’t underestimate the power of communication.
40. Be yourself. Unapologetically you. Your human, brilliant, flawed and fabulous self. You were always enough. Always.
Birthday bonus: Life can be long (as much as it can be short) so make the most of it, yeah, take risks, love fearlessly, don’t expect anything in return for your kindness and never stop shaking what your mama gave you. Here’s to 40 and the next chapter!