What I’ve discovered in my 40s

What I’ve discovered in my 40s

And so I’m 46. I celebrated my recent birthday with style, love and incredible acceptance. I finally got the hang of the 40s and my goddess it’s amazing.

For those of you who read this blog here, which I’d originally posted as I turned 40, you’d know how pumped I was. Pumped is the perfect word for it. You’ve all seen those personal development gurus working a room full of devotees and they get them all pumped. You can, you will, you are fabulous. And everyone cheers, and believes the hype and then they all go back to their real lives and realize they’re still miserable. Turning 40 was like that for me.

I was pumped! I’d listened to the hype about turning 40. Being a naturally positive person, I believed it. 40s is the new 30s. You go girl!

What no one warned me about was the fact that I would die a spiritual death in my 40s. That I had to… because that’s the point.

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Let’s be clear about something. The 40s are not the new 30s. In fact, that completely diminishes the powerful lessons the 40s bring with them. We often start our families later so are juggling the same busy parenting schedules as women in their 30s, but that doesn’t make us 30. There are things I experienced in my early 40s that I know are exclusive to women in this age group. I know I’m not alone because it’s a conversation I’ve had countless times with many different women over the past few years. While my own personal journey had been intense, the collective journey of women of this age group fascinates me.

Firstly, there’s no denying it, we’ve hit middle age. I realise “young” is a matter of perception. One of my dearest friends, who I grew up with, picked me up in a convertible and whizzed me off to lunch on my birthday. “Fuck we’re getting old,” he declared.

I didn’t miss a beat. “When we’re 90 we’ll be talking about the day we were really young and you picked me up in this car.”

So I’m not old. But yes I’m getting older. And I’m getting older in a society obsessed with youth.

When I hit 40 the mirror became my enemy. Lines appeared from nowhere. The slow march of age wasn’t a march any more but a fast run in that first year. I could see the changed to skin tone. And I despised it.

My partner and I started a business. Running that, a house with four kids and trying to write novels took its toll. I didn’t have time for my yoga. I put on weight. I hated that too.

But that was just the external stuff. Internally I was in turmoil. I wasn’t happy. Each month I would be slammed with sadness. Crying jags and insecurity. I said to my best friend, “I don’t know if I’m hormonal or just really messed up.”

“Both,” she said. “And I’m the same.”

The first couple of years of my 40s were such an intense energetic shift for me. I felt like I was disappearing. I was invisible.

Around me girlfriends began erasing their age from their faces. But the results frightened me. I felt like we were missing the point of everything by clutching to our youth. I didn’t want to let go of that either, but I also knew there was something waiting for me just beyond the wrinkles. Just beyond the self-judgement and fear. There was something important… I just had to work out how to grasp it.

I just had to let go.

I went on a Vipassana 10-day silent meditation retreat. It was a version of hell for me but so profoundly beneficial. But even there, I struggled to let go. I spent a lot of my free time packing and repacking my bag while my mind screamed at me. I feel like I was unravelling mentally. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. But on the sixth day I woke up and felt something I’ve never felt before.

Peace.

I was in the moment.

Sounds were clearer, colour brighter, everything more vivid. In that moment I understood the concept of annica: impermanence. Everything changes. So having any attachment simply brings misery.

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Naturally, that moment passed, and I was in hell again. But I’d glimpsed something profound. I didn’t just intellectually understand something. I had lived it.

I left that retreat with a tool for life, but I still didn’t know how to truly reach into the guts of my issues.

So as is the case with many women my age… the universe provided the perfect opportunity.

“I’m afraid you’re going blind. We’ll get the Royal Blind Society around to your house to teach you how to move around.”

It was the week of my 43rd birthday that I heard this. Many of you already know this story, and the outcome. I’ve blogged about this in detail here.

Turns out I’d been misdiagnosed, but I had to wait three months to hear that. For those three months I lived with the possibility of losing my sight. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke, the last thing I thought about as I went to sleep. I researched and studied and found amazing people doing incredible things with “sight.”

There were many powerful changes for me during that time. I learnt a lot the mind’s eye and sight and light. I certainly learnt about control. I had a complete overhaul in how I perceived myself and the world around me. What is happiness but just a shift in perception?

It’s not getting what you want, or getting rid of what you don’t want, but seeing things differently, as they are right now.

It’s about changing the way you see your world.

The threat of going blind also changed the way I viewed myself when I looked in the mirror. My foe became my friend. I realised I really wanted to see myself age. That realisation was a gift. By the time I turned 45, I was here.

I no longer criticize what I see in the mirror now. I simply don’t. I’m grateful. I don’t give a shit about my lines. I’m happy to see them. I believe one of the most rebellious things a woman can do is grow old gracefully and naturally.

By my mid-forties, things were unfolding for me internally. I was practising what I’ve now developed into my Travel Light Self Development Program. I wrote my novel The Happy Endings Book Club, which is a book about how seven women find happiness through discovering how to have a shift in perception.

What does it mean to see?

I turned 46 last week and I realised I see myself more clearly than I ever have before. There is an inner calm and acceptance that I feel and I’m proud of.

My friendships and relationships are deeper. My partner and I are stronger than ever. I find more joy in my kids. Sex is freaking awesome (oh yeah, come on, it totally gets better with age!)

And I really care about myself. And I use the word “care” rather than love. It’s important to take care of yourself.

I’ve stilled my mind with meditation, strengthened my body with yoga, and balanced my hormones through completely eliminating sugar from my diet, and with the help of a Chiropractor and natural bio-identical progesterone (a miracle in a jar).

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And beyond all that, in a deeper Space, I’ve found a powerful new version of myself that wasn’t there in my thirties. Couldn’t possibly be there in my thirties. Because you have to be consumed first by your forties, and the loss of your youthful self before you can even fathom who you’ll become next.

Women in their 40s experience a spiritual death that they must face. If they don’t, they’re doing their 40s all wrong. I’m not done with it yet, but I’m happy to be here embracing instead of battling this decade of my life.

It makes me wonder what excitement the 50s will bring.

 

 

VINTAGE BLOG: Thanks thirties… and goodbye!

VINTAGE BLOG: Thanks thirties… and goodbye!

I’ve just cracked an old blog of mine and am saving some of my favourite blog posts. It’s a bittersweet experience… many of these blogs were written in the lead-up to when I turned 40. Tomorrow is my birthday and I turn 46. My sons who I write about below are now 16 and nearly 11. Time flies.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past 6 years, which I’ll share in a post tomorrow. But today, here are some vintage blogs that give an insight to how I felt about turning 40.

 

My thirties began:

Holding my newborn son, Buster… He was two weeks old, yet his stare was ancient. He seemed to say, “Not how you expected to celebrate thirty, aye!”

Buster turned ten two weeks ago.

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This pixie-like boy defined my thirties. He is my mirror, my teacher, my greatest worry, an infinite love, my sidekick. I often look at him and wonder how something so magnificent came from me.

Together we navigated my early thirties:

Five years of wandering through airports together, hands held tight. New countries, new adventures. Trudging through snow in New York to get him to school, running through forests in Europe, blessings in Japan. Our flat in Sydney, our beach house near Byron Bay, him in a kiddie seat on the back of my bike. The curve of his neck, the shape of his bottom, the freckle on his lip, the secret signals we have that silently declare our love to each other, our songs… He introduced me to Demeter within. Sometimes I struggle with her, usually I embrace her… occasionally I resent her deeply.

There were tours and plays, Buster sitting at the sidelines, his little legs swinging. I miss the theatre, the smell, the camaraderie, the late nights, the highs. Theatre was my first love. We broke up a few years ago. We’ll get back together soon.

I was halfway through my thirties when…

Vesuvius entered my life with a roar. Oh how I worship this child with his free spirit and curly mop, his fearsome temper and eccentric outlook. While Buster has lived a million times before and carries the weight of those lives around with him, Vesuvius is new here… He has no shackles, no cares… no real empathy for the human condition because for him it’s just a game. He is the most outrageous creature. I watch him and I’m in awe at his complete lust for life.

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Twelve years of wandering the world came to a standstill when he was born. I returned home to live, although it took some time to call it home. I was more relaxed, less obsessed, willing to embrace free-range parenting, often through sheer selfishness, but mostly because it’s what he needs.

I spent all of my thirties writing. Obsessively.

Four years of my thirties were spent breastfeeding. 2 x 2.

Two years were spent as a stranger in my own country… wondering where I’d go next… and then:

I fell in love… with Sydney.

I separated from my husband, and discovered that he is the greatest man I’ve ever met. He treats me like gold, which teaches our sons to do the same. The bar is high for future lovers. So far, no one has come close.

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My friendships have become more significant, more profound, more necessary. I love my motley crew of friends deeply… My family means more to me than ever. My family has expanded in the most unique ways. Finn was born… what a journey for us all, this child not of my blood, but of my soul.

My plays, awards, children’s books, published pieces, it all started to happen. Every spare second I had… I wrote. My first novel was published… finally!!!! I give gratitude for my amazing managers in LA, who encouraged and guided me.

I am healthy. I am happy. It’s rare that I’m not. I’m positive, hopeful and grateful. I’m relentless in my quest for me. Focussed on my inner journey. I make no apologies for who I am. What other people think of me is not my business. I refuse to be chained, caged or suppressed by society or individuals… or myself. I embrace my wildness. I give free reign to my personal power. I am in an excellent place.

Thanks to my thirties.

I am now ready for my forties, and all the wonder the decade will hold.

What has this decade held so far? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog.

Staying positive: 5 fabulous and inspiring sites

Staying positive: 5 fabulous and inspiring sites

Are you struggling with finding inspiring and positive media to immerse yourself in? Here are 5 fabulous and inspiring sites:

  1. Pinterest… I’ve talked about the rabbit hole of news and negativity. Well Pinterest is a rabbit hole of pretty pictures and positivity. Spend some time surfing Pinterest and you’re bound to be inspired.
  2. Positive news sites: Let’s focus on great news stories. We hear enough about what’s wrong with the world. Here’s what’s right with it.

http://positivenews.org.uk

http://goodnewsau.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/good-news/

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org

  1. TED: It’s been around for a long time now but TED is still an amazing portal into speeches and ideas that educate and inspire. Make it a regular hangout this year.
  2. TINY BUDDHA is a lovely site where you’ll find posts about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, mindfulness, and letting go. Bookmark it this month.
  3. What’s your passion? Travel, food, parenting? Go in search of your top three sites within that genre, bookmark them, and regularly spend time feeding your spirit there.

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February challenge: why are we doing it?

February challenge: why are we doing it?

Space is important. It’s vital for change. I don’t mean space from loved ones, or your own personal space. The Space I’m talking about is an essence that’s more difficult to access. It’s deeper. It’s not just pushing your partner over to his or her side of the bed.

This Space is where you connect to the True You.

When you understand what this Space is… once you can connect to it… it’s in this Space that change takes place.

More than that… it’s where you can consciously create change.

You can alter vibrations, and create your reality.

To grasp and access this Space you should go and sit in a cave for a year, with no TV, no one to talk to, nothing to read… just you and your mind.

Only kidding. Who has time for that? Instead, let’s fit this into our lives, and take it slowly, step-by-step over the next ten months.

I’m taking you on a journey to destination SPACE. It’s an internal destination and once there you’ll never want to leave.

In January, we cleared the Space around us at home. Continue doing that.

This month we’re clearing a lot of the negative chatter that comes from what you read and watch. You are training your mind. It starts with what you put into it. Choose wisely.

Month-by-month you will feel clearer. Your energy will be vibrant. You’ll be more productive and have more opportunities coming your way. Month-by-month you’ll feel happier and more balanced.

It’s not difficult. Follow the Travel Light program and it will happen. It’s simply the laws of this amazing universe.

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Remind yourself to follow through

Remind yourself to follow through

“I keep forgetting to do the program. I really want to do it, but I only remember once I’m in bed trying to fall asleep.”

That’s a quote from an email I got last week.

Sound familiar? If that’s you, create some visual triggers around the house to remind you to spend time focusing on the program.

Changing a habit takes work and persistence.

Use post-it notes, or something similar, as a reminder.

Before long, you’ll remember without the notes. The habit is formed.

January

January was clear-cut: declutter.

Whether or not you really did clear your external space, only you know. But the great thing about each monthly challenge is that they continue all year.

CONTINUE DECLUTTERING ALL YEAR FOR THIS TO WORK.

You don’t need to declutter daily, like you did in January, but it’s important to continue the habit… THE HABIT. And if you followed through on the January challenge then it should be a habit now. If not, you can still make it one.

This program is about creating twelve new habits that together will completely change your life in amazing and positive ways.

Got it?

Great, now choose five things that need doing next week. Don’t do them now… just choose which ones you will do.

Next, stick a Post-it note to each. The notes will remind you to do one each day next week… and toss the note once it’s done.

Alternatively, write a list of seven things that need doing and stick that to the fridge… and cross them off as you go. Notice the list, see what needs to be done on that day… and do it. No matter how small the task is the act of doing it keeps the energy flowing.

Do it regularly. Be consistent. Don’t forget… if you forget it’s not habitual. Use triggers to stop you from forgetting.

Feb

February is more challenging: filter your information.

It’s so easy to fall down the Internet rabbit hole and surf crap online. Let’s create a new habit where we use that time wisely.

As a reminder, find a photo or a meaningful quote and use it as a desktop image to inspire you to actively search out positive media and reject negative or inane media.

This is an important challenge, which I’ll write more about in my next blog.

Until then, love and light.

focus

 

Declutter your mind

Declutter your mind

 

We spent a month decluttering our external environment. This month we’re starting the internal declutter.

First challenge is to FILTER YOUR INFORMATION. Diminish the meaningless and often harmful chatter. Mindfulness is about awareness. It’s not just about sitting in meditation for twenty minutes a day. It’s about being aware of every action, every reaction… every thought.

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We begin this journey by becoming aware of the chatter—the information we absorb.

  • Is it positive?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • What are the ripple effects of those feelings in your life? For example, does watching the news make you fearful?
  • What will you gain from switching off to negative or meaningless information online?
  • What will you lose?
  • What are your trigger points?—Those moments in the day where you find yourself surfing sites online that don’t nourish your spirit?
  • Can you consciously use those trigger points to add information to your life that will nourish your mind and spirit?

Think about it.

Don’t think about Kim Kardashian, or ISIL, or the cute kitten video that’s going viral at the moment…

Think about the information you consume and how you can use it to help change your life this year.

Be mindful of information.

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FEBRUARY CHALLENGE

FEBRUARY CHALLENGE

Okay, January is over (but not forgotten… so keep decluttering!)

This month… your Travel Light challenge is… filter your information. 

Studies have shown that your typical social media user consumes 285 pieces of content daily, which equates to an eye-opening 54,000 words, and, for the truly active, as many as 1,000 clickable links. Everyone is bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day.

Each day we take in 5 times more information than we did in 1986.

Most of it’s meaningless. Much of it is negative. And each piece of media and information has an impact on how we think and feel.

It shapes our world.

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This month we will take care and be aware of what we’re reading, watching and absorbing. Don’t click on the links that take you into a world of violence. Don’t spend your time on things that are superficial or inane. Use your time online wisely… Search out positive images, videos and stories. Or turn off and read books.

Inspire yourself. Motivate. Learn. Be mindful. 

You will be amazed at the difference a month makes when you commit to consuming positive rather than negative media.

Decluttering my emotions

Decluttering my emotions

January is nearly over, but I’m still tearing the house apart. I keep finding more areas to declutter. In my last blog I talked about going in deep. Really question why you keep certain things.

Hit the discomfort zone and declutter there.

There’s a very good reason for this.

It’s not just your external world that you’re decluttering… it’s internal too.

We feel good when we clean our space.

We feel even better when we declutter.

But when we really address the baggage we have stored away… we address the emotional baggage that goes with it.

The emotional response can be quite overwhelming.

I’ve always had things neatly stored, both in my home and internally. This week I’ve ripped the lid off everything and thrown, tossed, faced and finally… let go.

I have cried. Boy have I cried. I’ve been surprised by the waves of emotions that have swamped me at times, for all sorts of things.

The passing of time.

The mistakes that I’ve made.

People I’ve lost.

The end of my first marriage.

The areas of my life I still haven’t healed, haven’t mastered… or simply haven’t addressed.

As my past came out of boxes, it came out of other places as well. A great aunt told me mind-blowing family secrets. My parents told me things that had never been voiced before. Generations of pain and secrecy have been released.

And healing has begun.

I opened boxes and I found letters and cards from my first husband. I cried for a lost love, eight years after it died. I’ve been able to place a few of these letters away for each of my sons. It’s their history now. And it’s a lovely history. It was a beautiful romance. It just died. I cried not because I held out hope but because enough time has passed now and I can finally see how wonderful that love was. That’s a healing.

I have laughed, and cried, and even felt like I was going to throw up. And as each bag of stuff gets tossed in the bin, there is space, both in this house, and inside me, that I haven’t felt before.

These boxes were full… now they're gone.
These boxes were full… now they’re gone.

I lay in bed last night and I could feel the space. I also feel raw, but I feel clear, and energized… and there is space.

SPACE.

I’m travelling light.

Sign up to my newsletter for more tips on decluttering your internal and external world. And find out what February has in store for us.

Travel Light with me this year.

 

Childhood baggage: let it go!

Childhood baggage: let it go!

We’re over halfway there in our major decluttering month.

January is not just about cleaning the house. It’s about shaking up the energy around us—starting the year by getting the universe to take notice. You can desire change… but unless you actively put it into action, nothing will happen.

By decluttering constantly this month, we’re shouting out, “I want change… I am changing.”

We are taking consistent steps towards forming a new and healthy habit—the ability to let go.

I’ve been decluttering for months now, but really gone in hard recently. This month I’ve been away from home so taken my decluttering to a new and often uncomfortable level.

Remnants of my past...
Remnants of my past…

I’ve cleared the things I’ve had stored at my mother’s house for years. There were:

  • Boxes of childhood toys and books
  • Some clothes I’d kept
  • Boxes that I’d had sent back here from overseas
  • Boxes of baby treasures that I’d left here when I went travelling with my son
  • Schoolbooks, letters, old love letters and diaries
  • Years of things I thought were important
My toys! All gone.
My toys! All gone.

Some things were easy to toss. I got my sons to look at my toys and choose one each for any future granddaughter I might have. They didn’t seem that enthused and said all the toys looked creepy.

ME: “No, they’re vintage now.”

SON 1: “They look like they’ll come to life tonight and stab us.”

ME: “They’ve been here for years.”

SON 2: “Yeah locked in a box. But they’re out now. Watch out.”

Later my two clowns were seen leaving on a friend’s car.

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So the toys were easy to throw. The majority was a little uncomfortable… I knew I had to let go but still… it was bittersweet.

Letting go of some things was really tough. But let go I did, because unless we let go of our baggage, how will we Travel Light? And it’s when we travel light that we feel, experience and receive all that life has to offer.

She's staying with me for now.
She’s staying with me for now.

Did I let go of everything? No. I couldn’t part with Raggedy Ann, or my half-written romance stories from when I was young. Or the romance story I wrote for school with the note from the teacher: “Interesting ideas but you should lay off the melodrama.”

I also kept this patchwork dress my great-grandmother made me when I was 5. Irreplaceable.
I also kept this patchwork dress my great-grandmother made me when I was 5. Irreplaceable.

 

There’s one last thing I need to toss. I’ll share that with you later and get your advice.

How’s your decluttering going?

Goodbye vintage clothes… sob!

Goodbye vintage clothes… sob!

I have a collection of vintage clothes. I used to wear them all the time and figured when I got too old for them, I’d pass them onto my daughter.

Then life gave me four sons.

So I clung to them for a few more years, hoping my best friend had a daughter. She understands a great vintage piece. She lugs around a collection ten times the size of mine. It’s a phenomenal collection of clothes that she figured would one day be passed onto her daughter.

But life also handed her a male child.

So being daughter-free, with no one to pass our vintage creations on to, we recently had to decide

  1. Do we save them for when we’re over seventy and can safely wear them again? (Make a choice now… will be eccentric ole broads with pink hair who ride bikes and wear vintage dresses?)
  2. Do we save them in the hope that one of us will have a granddaughter?

Or do they go?

I love my vintage dresses. I had such a wonderful time wearing them. I looked fabulous in them. It’s only now, in retrospect, that I see how truly great I looked.

But it’s time to let go.

What are you holding onto you stuff for? And is it worth it?