On my birthday two years ago I posted a list of 40 things I want to do, achieve and experience before I turn 40 years old in 2023. I’d originally started the list when I turned thirty but I hadn’t launched my blog at that point so it existed solely in the relative privacy of one of my numerous notebooks for a few years. By the time I actually (finally) shared it in my little corner of the internet, aged 33, I’d already ticked off a few items so it felt like I had a tiny bit of a head start.
I write an update each year on or around my birthday so I can keep track of how I’m getting on (and keep myself accountable). This one documents my achievements for the year to date as I celebrate my thirty-fifth trip around the sun.
In the last twelve months I’ve only ticked off one more thing – #16: Take the girls to Disney in Florida. At first I felt quite disappointed to have only managed to complete one item off the list but in all fairness it is a pretty big one! I have made a start on one more as well (#9: Re-read all the Harry Potter books) and #12: Create a beautiful garden; is still also a work in progress.
It’s actually been much harder than I thought it would be to move forwards with the list. I’m noticing that I have to be really intentional and in full-on ‘planning mode’ for some of them – it’s very much down to me to create the opportunity in the first place and make it happen. My intention for 2018 is ‘taking action’ and I’m hoping that this will help me complete a few more by the time my birthday rolls around again next year. Whereas others are more about being completely spontaneous and taking advantage of an opportunity by grabbing it with both hands when it chooses to present itself.
Plus, some of them are pretty expensive (see #4, #15, #28 and #40!) and others are time reliant (see #12, #29, #30 and #40 again) so it’ll be closer to the big 4-0 that I eventually tick those ones off. Still, I’ve made a good start and overall I’m pretty pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.
Own a kitten (completed November 2015, age 32 and then again November 2017, age 34)
Two and a half years ago we adopted a feisty little ginger kitten called Pumpkin. He very quickly became part of our family and all of us adored him. He had a purr like a motorbike, a wonky leg and a habit of getting himself into tight spots with the other neighbourhood cats. At the start of November last year, just two weeks after we got back from our holiday-of-a-lifetime, Pumpkin went missing. He never stayed out all night so when he didn’t come home one evening we knew something was wrong. We searched everywhere and eventually it transpired that he’d been fatally hit by a car. In short, losing him absolutely devastated us. The memory of it still does.
After several weeks we couldn’t bear the silence or the loneliness any more. Pumpkin had taken up such a big space in our hearts and all of us felt empty without a feline presence in the house. We began to think about adopting another kitten – not to replace him because he was utterly irreplaceable. More to give us somewhere to focus our love. Within a couple of weeks a litter of four kittens came available and we fell in love with Felix and Luna. They’re now seven months old, have settled in well, are completely bonkers and we all adore them.
2. Get another tattoo
3. Start writing a book
4. Go to New York
5. Embrace my natural curls
Get married! (completed June 2014, age 31)
We celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary next month (and fourteen years together in August!). I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. We don’t really do much to celebrate our anniversaries, though we’ve already decided we want to do something special for our ten year wedding anniversary. In a way I’m glad we did it the ‘wrong way round’ and got married after we had children – I loved that they could be a part of our day and they still talk about it now.
7. Learn to dance
Start a family blog (completed March 2016, age 32)
I’ve been blogging now for just over two years and simply can’t imagine not doing it. It’s become a big part of my life and I’m continuing to work hard to be able to turn it into a viable career path. I’m enjoying immersing myself in all the new things I still have to learn and I feel like I’m slowly building up a little community of online friends. I have met quite a few in person now (along with their gorgeous kiddos): Kerri-Ann from Life As Our Little Family; Jenny from Let’s Talk Mommy,; Lucy from Capture By Lucy; Laura from Little Ladies Big World; Penny from Parentshaped; and Katy from Otis and Us.
It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking meeting new people, especially ones from the internet that you feel like you already know but don’t really – not properly anyway. Of course it turns out that they are all just as lovely in real life! I’m slowly and gradually beginning to build up a few followers too – I’ve more than doubled my Instagram account in the last twelve months – and I absolutely couldn’t do it without Neil and the girls, my biggest supporters. I am forever grateful to them for putting up with my crazy requests, letting me shove a camera in their faces without warning and spending hours glued to my laptop and/or phone. I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow over the next few years.
9. Re-read all the Harry Potter books (work in progress)
I haven’t crossed this one off the list yet as it’s not quite finished. I’ve read numbers one to five of the series over the course of the last twelve months and am just having a break and reading something different before I dive into number six – ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’. Having first read the Harry Potter books so many years ago I’m finding that I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened and keep coming across loads of sections that I must have missed the first time round. I love the Harry Potter books – they’re so full of messages that I want my girls to know. Things like loyalty and bravery and friendship, standing up for what you believe in and finding the light in the dark, and family. And of course Dumbledore’s infinite wisdom is inherently present and woven through every story. They’re wonderful.
10. Embrace my inner hippie
11. Learn how to put on eyeliner
12. Create a beautiful garden (work in progress, started Nov 2016, continued March 2017 and April 2018)
I’ve not crossed this one out yet either as it’s obviously going to be a work in progress – it takes time and patience to create a beautiful garden. In November 2016 we finally bit the bullet after saving up for ages and had landscapers come in to sort out the scrubby patch of ‘grass’ (ahem, weeds) that was our back garden. We now have a raised lawn, borders with space for plants and flowers, a trellis to hide the bins, and a patio. Sadly we lost the pretty jasmine I planted to the crazy snow we had earlier this year during what felt like the longest winter ever. I feel quite sad about that – it was doing so well. I’ve now planted a couple of roses and some evergreen shrubs too so fingers crossed they fare a little better.
13. Experience hot tub cinema
14. Swim in the sea
15. Go to Paris for a long weekend
16. Take the girls to Disney in Florida (completed October 2017, age 34)
I didn’t go to Disney as a child, though I loved listening to the stories my best friend told me about her trips to Florida (her parents had a Timeshare property there). I knew without a doubt that when I had children of my own I would take them there – I wanted them to experience the magic she told me about. The husband and I spent many hours talking about when might be the ‘right’ time to go – we wanted the girls to be old enough to be able to remember the trip and at the same time we wanted to make sure they were young enough to still believe in the magic, at least a little bit. We spent years saving up (for a family of six it’s a huge expense – totally worth it of course, but an awful lot of money for just one holiday, even if it is a trip of a lifetime) and eventually booked the trip in January last year. We managed to keep it secret for nine whole months, eventually telling the girls about the surprise a month before we were due to fly. The video of the moment they found out is below.
Of course we had an absolutely fantastic time! The Disney magic is real, for sure. It was hard work – keeping six people with very different wants and needs happy, with jet lag, heat and overexcitement added into the mix is quite tricky – but despite that we loved every second of it. We made so many memories, reconnected in the way we hoped we would and had a lot of fun. We’re already planning (and saving up for) a return trip so that we can see all the areas of the parks that we missed first time round as well as explore what else the Sunshine State has to offer. Of course I took hundreds of photos and had so much to write about that I ended up writing five posts in total: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five. I also created a vlog of our time there which I absolutely love watching and so do the girls (also below).
17. Have a love-bombing day with each of the girls
18. Upcycle a piece of furniture
Meet a celebrity (completed October 2016, age 33)
Up until the end of last year I worked in Harley Street in London and I used to quite regularly see celebrities wandering around the streets. I was nowhere near brave enough to actually approach them and ask for a selfie though! Besides, I wanted this one to be meaningful so I’m really happy that I managed to fulfil that requirement. Meeting Cheryl Strayed at her book signing after the talk she gave in London was quite poignant for me as I love her book ‘Wild’ (and, unusually, the film adaptation too – I normally hate films based on books but Reese Witherspoon did such a fantastic job that it was impossible to do anything other than love it).
20. Girly day with my daughters
21. Take some online photography classes
22. Proper spa day
Climb a tree (completed September 2016, age 33)
This happened completely spontaneously when we discovered some very climb-able trees whilst out exploring a new walking route. It was super fun (and challenging) and now every time we go for a walk down the canal we have to visit the ‘Ladder Tree’ and climb up as high as we can go.
Join a yoga class (completed October 2015, age 32)
Yoga is one of my few ‘non-negotiables’. I’ve been doing it for two and a half years now and I go every week without fail – absolutely nothing gets in the way of it (apart from a sick child or us being on holiday). I wrote this post about my journey after I’d been doing it for a year and I can honestly say that it still makes a huge difference to my overall mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and I am incredibly grateful that I found my wonderful teacher when I did.
26. Ride on the back of a motorbike
27. Be a tourist in London
28. Move house
29. Do an Open University degree
30. Watch the sunrise and the sunset on the longest day of the year
31. Raise £1000 for charity
Go to a gig (completed July 2016 and March 2017, age 33)
I’ve actually been to two gigs now! The husband and I saw James Bay perform in the beautiful outdoor setting of Cannock Chase Forest in the summer of 2016 and what an experience that was! Watching the sunset as he played was incredible and we were so lucky with the weather. We then went to see Olly Murs perform in Birmingham in March last year (a belated birthday present for the husband who has a little bit of a man-crush on Olly). Both gigs were absolutely brilliant in completely different ways and it’s given me the bug again now – I’d love to see Ed Sheeran live too.
33. Have a boudoir photo-shoot done
34. Get my ears pierced again
35. Take the girls to a festival
36. Do a Colour Run
37. Go paintballing
38. Do ‘Go-Ape’
39. Take a 3 month sabbatical from work
40. Have my 40th birthday in Hawaii
So there you have it… eight items ticked off and thirty two still to go. That means I need to average completing six or seven items a year if I’m going to complete it all by the time I’m forty. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me over the next five years. It blows my mind more than a little bit to realise that when I turn forty my stepdaughter will be 21, my eldest daughter will be 16, my middle daughter will be 14 (very nearly 15) and my littlest will be 13! It seems so far away when I think of it like that but I know that five years is going to go incredibly quickly. I can’t wait to choose which ones to complete next.