Last week it was my 38th birthday – Hooray! Being away from home on my birthday was both exciting and a little daunting too. I have always been one who likes to celebrate in various ways; with friends, family, me & Nath and the kids too. I like it to stretch for a week of fun things, treats and making memories doing things I love, with the people I love. And so, being in a new place, away from friends and family, away from countryside walks and some of my favourite treats and norms, did make me a little sad that my usual traditions and fun things I do with them around my birthday, wouldn’t be something I did this year. But, even so, it was lovely to hear from everyone, reminisce, feel the love and receive gifts to treat myself (thank you!).
My first birthday here in Kuwait was wonderful though, and I couldn’t have really asked for more. While the weather has cooled down here, on my birthday it was warm and sunny and so I took a walk along the sea front with the kids, had a burger and coke zero for lunch and then when Nath got back mid afternoon, we all went to the beach for a swim in the sea, and then out for Arabic food. The next day I met new friends for lunch at a Turkish restaurant and enjoyed so many lovely treats with the fam!
As I looked out on the bluey green sea at 8am in the morning, felt the sun on my skin and then swam in the sea at sunset, I felt so thankful for my life. What a unique opportunity this is, and how novel to swim in the sea (and not freeze with hyperthermia) in November – an actual dream! And doing different things I love on my b’day!
I struggled a bit with turning 38. I know it’s absolutely not true, but it just made me feel OLD! I think what I am actually feeling is not that I am old per se (because I’m not really), but it’s more of a feeling that time is rushing by, life is moving forward, and there is just so much I want/wanted to do with my life, that I wonder if it will ever happen. With that, I am also working through the feelings of sadness and regret I have for things left undone in my life, or generally things I hoped to do, but I never had the chance to.
But, when I look at my life at 38, I realise those moments and days have gone, and all we have is here where we are in the here and now. And while I would have loved to have joined the RAF or done something different in my studies/completed other things… while I regret not doing this or that, I didn’t and that wasn’t the path I took. And, while I wished other parts of life might have been different too (personally and as a family), the tears, pains, struggles, dreams, hopes and graft have all led me to here – 38 years old in Kuwait!
And when I look at the bigger picture, I realise my life is what it is because of all of the things done and not done.
I am here as a result of each moment, and I am so thankful for life at 38.
Success isn’t about how much we have, earn or even our qualifications (though these things may make us feel successful). Maya Angelou said that; “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” And if we all looked at life through that lens, I think a lot of our regrets, unaccomplished goals/dreams and even disappointments, might be diminished.
As I approached 38 last week, I looked at life and wondered how successful I was in relation to what I had set out to do. But also, I checked myself and I looked again, and I can see that I love who I am at 38 (my struggles and work… mothering, studies, travels, friends, family and experiences have all shaped me). I love my life and what I am doing right now in it. So at 38 I do feel pretty successful; I have been married for 13 years to my fave person. I have had 5 kids, we have a house and also live in the Middle East. I have seen and done so many amazing things and overcome things I never thought I could. I became a Forest School Leader this last year (love it!) and also worked with some wonderful people in our local care home over the last few years (caring, but also doing activities – so rewarding while also being challenging). I have training in counselling (which I might still build on and mash up with my forest school training, I don’t really know yet), and I have bonds and friendships with amazing people in my life. I have a great family and I love God and the lifestyle I have based on faith in and trying to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Life isn’t always plain sailing, and it can feel quite heavy or even disappointing at times. But, as I turn 38 I can’t help but look at life right now, and feel thankful for all I am, all I can be and all I have – my heart is bursting with thanks for the life I have and have created (with my love and God). And I still love that I got to swim in the sea on my birthday!
I can’t wait to ride a camel for my birthday gift too (desert safari – hello) and make more memories this coming year of life!
Don’t forget, especially on your birthday, to celebrate YOU! Just take a moment and look at how far you have come. However hard life is (and trust me, when I turned 30 I was in a terrible place) there is always successes and blessings to see and celebrate!