When you get to half a century, you start to take stock of your life.
If you’d asked me at 20 what made me happy, I would’ve said Sunday Sessions and black Russians. (The drink. Not the men.)
If you’d asked me at 30 what made me happy, I would’ve said, husband, house and kids.
If you’d asked me at 40 what made me happy, I would’ve said, career, and alone time.
Ask me at 50 what I wanted, and I’d realised true happiness only came from gratitude. So what was I grateful for?
I knew I was already grateful for clean sheets, coffee, post-it notes, fairy lights, the car radio, my dog, Roma tomatoes and basil.
I was also grateful for a Dad whose driving lessons made me the best indy car driver our suburban streets had ever seen. Yes, that was my Pajero behaving like an RX7. Thanks to Dad I also knew that changing down through the gears would save my brake pads.
I was grateful to a Mum whose life lessons taught me there was no such word as can’t, that dishes won’t do themselves, and that you should feed people in the way you wish to be fed. Or was that treat people in the way you wish to be treated? Either way, it was sound advice.
I was grateful to siblings who took note of that sign on my door and did not enter my room; for making sure I never won at Monopoly, for dobbing me in for smoking (you probably saved me money), and for making sure I never got away with taking the biggest piece.
I was grateful to friends for some of the best memories of my life: Disco night at the Toogoolawa Pub; B52 cocktails and vomit in someone’s bed (I think I was framed); the beer alphabet at The Waterloo; dancing in the rain at an outdoor concert; raspberry vodka slushies at Sirromet – fun but deadly, like a smiling assassin.
I was grateful for a workplace that let me grow as my family grew, and for accepting that my E.Q. was sometimes higher than my I.Q. especially if I was deficient in coffee and post-it notes.
I was grateful to children who loved me no matter what, even when they didn’t like me. For singing the nursery rhymes with me so I didn’t look like an idiot; for hugging and not letting go, and for giving the best foot massages (even if I had to pay them.) For running as fast as their legs would go when the bins weren’t out and I was screaming, “The truck is coming!” For accepting that I was probably a little weird and not ringing Department of Children’s Services.
And last but not least, I was grateful I found my soul mate. (No honey, I said ‘mate’, nothing remotely about mating. *sigh* No, I haven’t seen the remote!)
I would not have been able to do the things I’ve done without those 3 little words, said over and over. Those 3 little words that encouraged me, that pushed me forward, that stopped me from being afraid.
‘You’ll be right’.
Thanks to my husband and those words:
I’ve used a squat toilet in a Venice Train Station. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
I’ve stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower and felt it’s subtle sway. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
I’ve snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and had a panic attack when I saw fish. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
I’ve trecked to the bottom of Australia’s tallest waterfall and all the way back up again – 4 months pregnant. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
I gave birth to four humans. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
I’ve looked in the mirror lately and complained about my changing shape. ‘You’ll be right’, he said, ‘just don’t look down.’
So my advice on turning 50?
Believe in yourself – surround yourself with people who believe in you.
Be kind – even when someone is plain mean.
Smile – it’s contagious.
Find the fearlessness – fuel it with self faith and you will shine, braver and brighter.
Laugh at yourself – it will make you funnier.
Be in the moment – sometimes the most beautiful things are over in five minutes. And that’s okay.
Be generous with your time – especially if it’s spent with people you love.
And when you’re wide awake because you’re worrying about something that’ll never happen, have Baileys in bed. (The drink. Not a man.)
Find friends who calm your crazy. Or make you crazy. It doesn’t matter, because your crazy is what makes you, you.
Here’s to being 50 and to being grateful. Remember… ‘You’ll be right, just don’t look down.’
Kim Horwood is an Executive Officer in the engine room of a large school, who credits surviving the day-to-day crazy with a healthy post-it-note to coffee ratio. Mother to the Fabulous Four and wife to Mr Ed (a human, not actually a horse – which you will only get if you’re over 44), she has a Diploma in Business Management, a Certificate III in Education, and is a member of the Qld Writers Centre and The Writing Room Ashgrove. Kim has had short stories published in anthologies, an 8-word story appear on Goa Billboards, and her carrot cake won first prize at the 1995 Gladstone Show. She has a Young Adult Fiction manuscript waiting to be published and loves car karaoke, fairy lights, and reading in bed. Kim can be found at http://horwoodk.wix.com/kimhorwood