I was 15 years old when my mam turned 39. The year was 1993 and life was all about me. I don’t remember what we did that day, or how she celebrated but I do remember I thought she was old. Not physically, in a frail, doddering way but old in her soul. Subconsciously I believed that her life was complete. She was the mother of two children, the wife to a husband, what more was there for her to become? I was so wrapped up in my own hopes, dreams and ambitions it never occurred to me to ask hers. I never saw her as a wanting, hoping, striving, living being. To me she was just mam.
Fast forward 24 years later and here I sit, on my 39th birthday. If anyone within earshot was to dare suggest that there is nothing more left for me to become I would make the Tasmanian devil look like a pussy cat. I’d be a whirling, incoherent storm of gnashing teeth and bared claws and most likely when the whirlwind abated there would be tears, so many tears.
You see even as a child I’ve always been an old soul. People would often say “She’s been here before” and in truth I feel I have. I’ve always felt a deep sense of responsibility for the people and the world around me. An unspoken knowing that somehow I could make a difference, more accurately that I should make a difference. As the years passed the knowing turned into questioning and those questions still remain, except now a rising sense of urgency accompanies them, as if the sand in the timer might be running out.
At the age of 39 one thing none of us knew was that my mam had less than 8 years left to live. I often wonder how different life would have been had we known back then what we know now. It’s this knowledge I carry within me every day that simultaneously spurs me on and fills me with terror. Because my list is long and the timelines may not match up.
In my head it’s safe to say I’m in my early 20’s. Although my physical body defies this with every workout, ache and reflection. I still hold many of the dreams and goals I had for myself back then, only now they are weighted with wisdom. The blank faces in the vague stories I told myself have morphed into the familiar features of those I hold dear.
Over the years I’ve let many temporal notions go, the penthouse loft/studio space, the glamorous career in editorial photography, the passionate love affairs with tortured artists, my photo but not my face on the front cover of Vogue. They sound silly to me now to say out loud but once upon a time they meant so much. These were the easy things to release as they no longer appeal to the person I’ve become. The ones I’m more invested in will be much harder to let go.
It’s unlikely I’ll live in all the countries I intended to, but perhaps I can still visit them and stay a while? There are more books in me than I could ever hope to write, but maybe if I start actually making the time to write at least one will materialise before long. I have neither the time in my day or the space in my home for all the animals I hoped to rescue but the ones I do share my life with have taught me more than I never knew was possible to learn from a non-human being.
I’ve realised not only do we begin to let go of the wants that no longer serve us but also the parts of ourselves that we’ve outgrown. The shy schoolgirl whose name nobody knows has morphed into a confident woman with much to say. The awkward teenager that hated everything about her appearance will likely be the 1st one to swim naked in the moonlight. The angry young woman unwilling to show vulnerability for fear of appearing weak has given herself permission to relax and feel safe. The pleaser has given way to the activist. I’m still truly everything I’ve ever been but the years of being shaped or defeated by those parts of me have led me here and I’m ok with that.
I also believe in showing gratitude for the things that are. The dreams that have lived or are still living and the way they will shape the future.
- I’ve been lucky and determined enough to travel and see some of the world. From moving to London with nothing more than a backpack to being paid to work and sail the Caribbean. ✔
- I married and get to share my life with David, my best friend and kindred spirit. ✔
- In the next few months I will welcome my 1st nephew or niece into the world. ✔
- After years of hard work and saving we are finally mortgage free and moving towards our own idea of freedom every day. ✔
And so despite what my 15 year old self once thought about women my age there are many goals to still accomplish and so much still left for me to become. An aunty, a writer, an entrepreneur, a backpacker, a philanthropist, a millionaire, a smallholder. There is no sense or pattern to it and no direct path from one to the next. One thing that’s never changed is that I’ve been a daydreamer since childhood. I’m pleased to say that continues except now we call it manifesting. As I’ve done for the past 39 years, I’ll envision, grow, change, adapt and make the rest up as I go. Who’s with me?
Whatever your age next birthday let me know 1 dream you still have for this year in the comments below so we can cheer each other on.