I write this blog post on the eve of my 41st birthday. I woke up this morning with a sore neck, some kind of sciatic hell going on in my right arse cheek, a snotty nose and a banger of a headache. And I'm telling you it was approximately 364 days ago when it all kicked off.
Now I'm not saying I've been decrepit for a whole year - sometimes I am high on chocolate and caffeine, obvs. But these aches and pains and general age-related afflictions honestly started right as I entered my forties. And I am at a stage in my life when I have never had a healthier relationship with food and exercise and all that jazz so why oh why do I regularly feel I should be sent to the knackers yard?
There's a Louis CK sketch that exasperates / amuses me in equal measure where he describes visiting the doctor about a pain in his ankle. The doctor just looks at him and explains that because he has turned forty, he just has a shitty ankle now. That's it. Medical diagnosis. Shitty ankle.
And it's not just the aches and pains. I'm absolutely certain, in a twisted fairy-tale type of way, as soon as the clock chimed midnight on my 40th birthday last April, my jowels drooped, my neck sagged, my hair thinned, my middle spread in every imaginable direction and my kids found utter joy in sentences like "It's ok mummy, you don't have THAT many wrinkles." It was like that scene from Indiana Jones that used to frighten me when I was a kid - where the bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and ages in one terrifying instant.
So not only has bearing two massive children given me regular hormonal corruption / a belly to rival a punctured beach ball / stretch marks where I didn't think it was possible and things slumping where they should never, ever slump - but this Fortyness now brings a whole torrent of new complaints. No wonder I practice mindfulness. What other hope is there for me, really?
And tomorrow I turn 41 meaning I can't even expect to be made a massive fuss of. Actually, that's not ever what I really want (I've never been one for the spotlight) but last year, because my age hit a conventional decade, I escaped to Cornwall SANS ENFANTS with my beautiful hubby and at least we could bask in the anonymity of a different town. We ate and we laughed and we hid in our hotel room and none of the Fortyness mattered. None of it at all.
I want to embrace ageing, of course I do. It really is the better option. And on most days I can ponder on what a privilege it is to have got this far and to keep breathing and thriving and experiencing the world in all its splendour. I have friends who I went to school with who didn't make it to today and I must remind myself I am lucky, lucky, lucky to be fit and well and here.
And this morning's ailments were probably telling me something. To slow down. To take it easy today; that it's ok to let the kids walk to school themselves for one day; to do my admin in my pjs; to skip yoga for once. Age has at least brought me to the point where I can listen to my body and respond in a more skilful way.
And maybe, if I wasn't listening with practiced skill and awareness, if I wasn't eating my greens and stretching my limbs and laughing with my kids and meditating to within an inch of my life - maybe the Fortyness would be a hell of a lot worse. Maybe that sciatic hell would floor me rather than give me a few twinges. Maybe that headache would take me out. And not out in a good way with heels and Prosecco and the like.
Speaking of heels and Prosecco, despite all this Fortyness (oh, ok, because of it), I'm going out with my mates this weekend. And I am lucky enough to have mates - near and far - who are right there with me, living it, breathing it, gathering it all in so we can share it, mix it up and release it in a glorious, glittering cloud of lustral liberation. And then we can bloody well get on with things. It's almost witchy isn't it?
Maybe I'll ask for a cauldron for my birthday.
Oooh, I'm totally going to do that.
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