60 and counting…

So today is one of those BIG birthdays with a 0 on the end!

They are always momentous as they mark the passing of another decade of our three score years and ten. Just a number? I guess so, but maybe it is good to be reflective of time passing.

At 20 I was quite lonely, bluffing my way through living alone, exploring the world, estranged from my family but full of hope.

At 30 I had just met my future husband, full of hope for different reasons rather than just being young.

At 40 my marriage was miserable and difficult, and would be over in another 2 years. I was a stressed out working full time mum of an amazing 4 year old. Without much hope other than the version I invested in my beautiful, smart and funny daughter.

At 50 I married Nigel and hope was back, I learned to dream again and with his love and support I had started to become the Penny that I always knew was in there.

And today 60 is knocking on my door. Well look at me. Dreams realised, a completely new life that I was probably dreaming of back at 20. Living by the sea, with my best friend, in a beautiful home, and proof that hope is never misplaced.

Yesterday I felt quite sad and there were tears. Regrets surfaced, I thought back about some of the sad or bad things that have happened in my life. This year has seen quite a lot of that. But it has been tempered with kind thoughts and forgiveness. For myself, and for people in my life. 59 has been powerful and a little overwhelming from time to time. No matter how much we tell ourselves that the past is in the past we cannot help but reflect on it from time to time as it got us from there to where we are now. And our stories are important.

When I turned 50 there was a realisation that there was less time left. Less time left for what? I didn’t know, I just felt a bit panicky. But boy did I pack a lot into my 50s! At 60 I still feel as though time is slipping away, but there is one thing that is different from all those other birthdays.

I like Penny.

A simple statement, but one that has been a long time coming. I am proud of the person I have become. I like her with all her flaws. My fat body, my thinning hair, being the emotional one. My talents, cooking, writing, listening. The bad stuff and the good stuff. All of it. Sure, there are still things I wish I had done differently. Things that I let go that I wish I had kept. Things I kept that I should have let go.

I am not sure where the next 10 years will take me. For the first time I have a “job” that I love, that fulfils me and allows me to give back to the community. I have fabulous friends, new and old. People that “get” me. I have my beautiful bay on my doorstep and am minutes away from my beloved Cumbria. I still don’t have lots of money, but I don’t have a mortgage! And I have my best friend beside me, sharing a good life, encouraging me and pushing me forward when necessary, sitting beside me when that is what is needed.

On Saturday we will be holding our first proper party at The Corner House. People are coming from all stages of our lives, many of whom were at our wedding 10 years ago. We will be celebrating my 60 years, our first year in Morecambe and also renewing our wedding vows. There are so many people coming that we may have to have our little ceremony out on the pavement! I am sure the sun will shine.

That little daughter I talked about earlier is making her way. Doing a rewarding job that she loves, full of her own hopes and dreams that I hope will come true. Sadly, she cannot be with us tomorrow, she will be in my thoughts and I hope she knows how much Nigel and I love her. We will miss you so much Zoe.

My lovely friend Nicky just told me that she thinks I am smart and brave. I had a little think about that. I think I have learned to be brave because I am more afraid of what I will miss out on if I am not brave. And smart? One of my favourite phrases from all my learning over the past year is “freeze dried wisdom”. I truly believe that we have everything we need inside of us. We just need to pay attention. That’s the smart bit. So yes, I have learned to be smart. I’m listening.

I spent last Sunday in a wet field in Cheshire at CarFest. And we had the best time. In the moment. Present. Dancing in the rain, high on life, drinking expensive take away cups of tea, riding the wave and enjoying every moment. Life is short, and it keeps getting shorter. The one thing I know is that I am going to make every minute I have left count. I am going to grab opportunities as they present themselves and not worry too much about the consequences. By the time I write my blog for my 70th birthday I will have packed a huge amount into my 60s! I promise.

I gave a lot of thought to which song to share with you on today’s blog. I chose this because she is my favourite, and this is an amazing song. Full of regret when she wrote it at only 24 years old! But this version is sung with the wisdom of age and is heartbreakingly beautiful. I hope you like it.

Thanks as always for your support and friendship.

With love…