How to not grow old


On my mind

Age is on my mind more than it should be these days. Not so much the mechanics of growing old, although, of course I’m aware of them too. Who wouldn’t after waving goodbye to their fiftieth birthday spend a little more time than usual examining wrinkles in the magnifying mirror; notice that ‘long in the tooth’ is not just an expression, or mentally listing the creaks and groans emerging from unwilling joints? All these are small potatoes compared with the alternative – not reaching a fiftieth birthday!

So why is growing old on my mind?

I guess two reasons.

  1. Have I achieved enough?

I guess I’m no different to most when I look back on my life and ask ‘Could I have done better?’ and the funny thing is I really don’t know the answer. I did the best I knew how.

  1. Have I laughed enough?

The answer to that is absolutely NOT. It took a visit from the unchanging Nathan McCree to remind me what I’d been missing.

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Last week Nathan travelled all the way from the Czech Republic to give a guest lecture at NHTV. On his last night with us, he and Mr Sunshine went out into Breda. I guessed from the laughter and rather noisy banging of doors that trumpeted their return they’d had a good time. I promised myself I wouldn’t go to go down and tell them to be quiet. I’m rubbish at promises!

I found two grown men hanging on to the wall giggling uncontrollably. They looked so free I didn’t have the heart to moan. I muttered something about little girls sleeping next door.  They tried to lower their voices, but something funny, so side-splittingly hilarious was burning away every scrap of their control. What was it that was driving these two, almost, respectable, reasonable serious individuals to behave like six years olds? All I could gather was it was something to do with basil.


In the shade of the basil

The next morning, on a napkin, a piece of toilet paper, a notepad and scrawl across two sheets of printer paper I found the phrase ‘In the shade of the basil’. That’s it, that’s all it was. I was stumped for a moment, what was so funny? Then I realised it wasn’t the phrase that was funny. It was the sense of liberty and release that’s comes with spending time with someone you  whose history you share.

It’s times like that I realise how much I miss my family and friends. I want to hear my brother tell the joke about the man who wants half an orange for a head; watch my sister wipe tears of laughter from her face; listen to my niece’s obscure reasoning, or just sit by a log fire and watch two old friends heckle Mr Sunshine. With a bit of luck I can have all these things for Christmas, which is exactly what I need not to grow old.


One Of The Greatest Contributing Factors To Happiness

This morning I clicked on one of those Upworthy links, Then I spent all day thinking about it.  Apparently scientists have ‘proven’ that one of the greatest contributing facts toward happiness is how much gratitude you show.

I’d decided to try it out.

The link suggested writing about someone who influence in your life you were grateful for – then reading it to them. This posed two problems:

1, if I were to do that I’d end up flapping my hands about and being flippant, trivialising my gratitude.

2, I had so many people whose influence I was grateful for it felt mean to single one out.

In no particular order

I am grateful for my sister’s influence in my life – she has proven to me over and over again that with determination and tenacity you can make your dreams come true. She has also shown me how to see beyond the obvious, and to judge not as society dictates, but as your heart commands. And for being there for me every single day when I was struggling young mother.

I am grateful for my brother’s influence in my life – for his honestly and nobility. For standing up for what is right, and backing up his convictions with action. For forcing me to watch athletics and boxing, sharing my excitement on Christmas morning. For being my childhood friend.

I am grateful for my mother’s influence in my life – for being the most amazing enabler. For her, not so quiet, pride in everything her family achieves, for her tears when we fail. For being the perfect role model, an icon whose capability for love and dedication towards her family has never wavered.

I cannot count the ways in which I’m a grateful my children’s influence in my life – I am still grateful for every smile, every time I hear the words ‘I love you too mum.’  I am grateful each time they reach a birthday and for teaching me that love and fear walk side by side.   gems

I am grateful for the influence of friends in my life – I’ve learnt that friendship isn’t about time or distance, but sharing giggles and tears, confidences and dreams, for celebrating moments, and for littering the sometimes ugly road of life with gems.

Finally, I am grateful for Mr Sunshine’s influence in my life – for insisting I can do more, for telling me every day ‘You are good enough.’ For slogging so hard to make this life work, for saying ‘no’ to bullshit, and for propping me up every time I think my dreams are too high to reach.

OK. I could keep going, but I’ve promised Mr Sunshine I’ll keep the blogs under 500 words.

So did it work do I feel happier? Surprisingly yes.

Who are you grateful to?