The not-40 before 40

What is it that makes us think that round numbers are somehow significant?

We seem compelled to mark them in some way; to say I am still alive as if getting through a decade is specifically more significant than any other period of time. And I’m as susceptible as the rest; I approach my fortieth, which is in the pleasingly rounded year 2020, with a feeling that it marks an inevitable turning point in my life. I’m not waiting for it to get stuff done – in fact, my year of Doing has already borne personal fruit – and I’m not expecting it to be all sunshine and roses; there is no stage of a woman’s life that doesn’t come with a patriarchy shit sandwich.

Yet in my mind, it has acquired some important punctuation. It’s not a full stop, but it does mark the end of a clause; perhaps it’s one of my beloved semi-colons. With a little over 18 months to go, I feel increasingly itchy to set myself some small challenges; no skydives or lion-wrangling, necessarily, but just a few things to pledge to myself – a birthday gift from the past promised to the future.

There won’t be forty of them (necessarily). They are not in any particular order. There are no consequences for not carrying them out. Some are specific tasks to be carried out by the time the decade switches; others more like resolutions for a better life ongoing. They are a clustered hope of things to come as I steer for the next harbour, shared so that others in a similar boat might enjoy the glow from the lighthouse.

  1. Finish the first draft of my current project. I’m 30,000-odd words in. This is definitely doable.
  2. Develop the *brilliant idea* that came to me over the weekend; not allowed to draft it until the first is completed though.
  3. Launch my pin business (more on this to follow – in progress).
  4. Visit Japan. Booked for next year!
  5. Make my halting and irregular yoga practice less halting and more regular. I never regret this when it happens. (Also check out Dana Falsetti’s pay-what-you-can, accessible online studio.) I’m not setting a weekly minimum, but I know when it’s better and when it’s worse.
  6. Read a book in Greek. I’m so slow, and it might have to be a kids’ book, but I’ve never properly committed to doing it. It’s time. And might encourage me to actually teach my daughter some of my second language (yes, I know, I know).
  7. Learn to put my damn clothes away. This one’s really for my long-suffering, much neater husband.
  8. Get sensible about saving and spending. I do not need about 60% of the stuff I impulse buy. And clothes where I already have a similar version, unless there’s a very good reason for having two, should have a one-in, one-out policy.  Setting a budget a using a pre-pay card to stop the lunacy.

 

That’s it for this sitting, but I’ll return to add more as and when they become important to me.

Do you feel that sense of mounting momentum as you approach a ‘big’ birthday, or are they all same-old to you? Did you make a list? I feel quite excited about all that middle-age promises to reveal, so feel free to bring the chat.