Archive for the ‘birthday’ Tag

Turning Fifty

When I turned 40, I embraced it. I felt good. I was a lot more confident and ‘together’ than I’d ever been before, I had a novel coming out, and I felt ready to face the world.

2009 Sara

Me in 2009

That was 10 years ago. In a few days I hit 50, and I don’t feel quite so enamoured about that number.

The main difference between 40 and 50 is the reality of having to face my own mortality. I always looked to my grandparents as the genetic marker of how long I had, biologically, to live on this earth. They all lived well into their 80s, but none of them made it 90. In addition, I am not aware of anyone in my family who lived long enough to get that birthday card from the Queen. So logic would dictate that I now have more years behind me than I have in front of me, and that’s a somewhat sobering thought. There is also the unescapable fact that age does tend to catch up with you. Every time I look in the mirror I see more grey hairs and more lines on my face. I have arthritis in my knees, and when it’s cold and damp they ache. I am firmly in the midst of the perimenopause, a life stage that royally sucks and I really wish there was more discussion around this, instead of it being hidden away as a taboo subject.

Being 50 seems to mark a significant life change. I am most definitely middle-aged. I move into the age range for Saga holidays and the ‘over 50s’ funeral plans, the ones with the appallingly patronising adverts on TV with Michael Parkinson. But I am unable to stop time from marching on and this birthday will arrive whether I like it or not.

There are some significant changes I’ve made over the last couple of years to try and deal with impending old age. One of them is to start an exercise routine that involves a personal trainer. Exercise and me are not friends, as I’ve often said. But one of the undisputable facts of getting older is that you get to a stage in life when your body starts punishing you for not looking after it properly. Exercise – like vegetables – is necessary for good health, and I endeavour to tolerate both. But apart from swimming, which I do try to do on a regular basis, I hate all forms of exercise and find any excuse not to do any. So now I have a weekly 25-minute one-to-one session with a personal trainer, and I have to go because she’s expecting me. I still don’t enjoy it, but it’s only 25 minutes. And I have to say after nearly a year in, I am seeing some benefits. My knees don’t hurt quite so much. I am able to take stairs a lot easier. I have a bit more flexibiity – something as simple as doing up a dress with a back zip I used to struggle with, and now I find I can reach behind my own back in a way I couldn’t before.

2019 Sara

Me in 2019

I am also once more on the Weight Watchers plan, in an attempt to lose a few of those excess pounds. My sweet tooth is most definitely my downfall, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been playing ‘hide and seek’ with the same twenty pounds all of my adult life. I successfully lose those pounds. Then somehow I slip back into the old habits and they find me again. So I get on the wagon once more and lose them. Well, you get the idea. Since re-joining WW in the summer, I am down about ten pounds. So roughly halfway there. I have to say, it’s taking a lot longer than it used to to lose the weight this time, and not just because the Weight Watchers plan has changed – that’s another consequence of my changing middle-aged body.

But, gradually, I am getting there. For the last twenty years I’ve had a ‘thin wardrobe’ (UK size 12) and a ‘fat wardrobe’ (size 14). It’s time to go back on the diet when I struggle to get into size 14 clothes. I am not yet at a point when I can fit into my size 12 dresses, but the size 14s all fit a lot better.

However, despite feeling rather old some days, I am actually hitting my fifties healthier than I’ve probably every been, and I will be celebrating with a big party. Music, dancing and food. And alcohol. Lots of it. If I must enter this decade, I will do so with fanfare.

I bought the party dress back in June, as I found it on sale and decided it was The One. It actually didn’t fit at that point. I tried on the size 16, which was slightly too big, and the size 14 was too small. I bought the size 14 and pledged to myself I would get into it by October. I tried it on the other day and it’s now a perfect fit. This might be a small win, but it’s something else to celebrate.

50 is round the corner. I see it there. I am facing it down and saying, come and get me, then. I am ready for you.

Another Year Older

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Today is my birthday. I am 43. I am slightly bummed about this – I rather enjoyed being able to say I was the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything when I was 42. 43 just doesn’t seem to be a very interesting number. Though it is a prime number, and I guess there aren’t too many of those.

However, looking back on the past year it does seem I have cause to celebrate. The last 12 months have seen the release of my third published book. Maybe I’m not making loads of money from the writing, but I’m getting published, and that’s something to cheer about.

It seems a lot of our friends have lost one or both parents recently. Mine are still around. Some people have been dealing with losing their jobs, or debilitating illness. I still have the day job, which lets me pay the mortgage, and I’m still alive and kicking. So it seems there’s a lot to celebrate.

I’m off to raise a glass to being another year older. Bring on 43.

Why I’ll Never Be a Glamour Girl

There was a weekend earlier this year when we were rather busy with social events – a 40th birthday party to attend on the Saturday, followed by a wedding on the Sunday. The birthday party had a theme of early 60s glamour.  Nothing in my current wardrobe seemed to be appropriate, so I was obliged to go out and buy a new dress. I eventually found a black and white prom dress from Bravissimo, which I thought was appropriate to the era. It was a nice dress, but it proved to be uncomfortable to wear. The bodice is quite restricting, so I had to sit up straight. There’s a lot of lace going on under the skirt to make it stick out the way it does, so sitting down requires a great deal of care.

I didn’t want to go out and get shoes – I hate shoe shopping – so I wore my patent leather court shoes. I will say at this point I hate all women’s shoes. The only shoes I can wear that don’t hurt my feet in any way are trainers. If I wear shoes with heels, they make me fall over and I get burning pain in the balls of my feet. If I wear flat shoes, they rub my feet and give me blisters. At least they do for a couple of years, until the leather gets worn and soft, by which point the shoes are looking a bit shabby.

The following day, for the wedding, I wore a mauve dress I’ve worn to other weddings. And the same shoes – because I really haven’t got many pairs of shoes (for reasons cited above).

The wedding invite said the ceremony was at 12pm. So I had to start getting ready fairly early, to do the whole hair and make up thing, which I don’t normally bother with. There was a big gap between the ceremony and the rest of the celebrations, and since the venue was rather cozy, the group I was with decided they’d rather spend time in the gardens of the venue. We’d had a lot of rain the week before the wedding. Every time I walked over the grass, my stiletto heels sank into the mud, making it even harder to walk. By about 6pm Hubby was commenting that I was decidedly grumpy. Yes, I was. I’d been wearing the uncomfortable shoes by several hours by that point, and my feet were killing me.

I tell this story to illustrate why I don’t ‘do’ glamour. Shoes I’ve already mentioned. Having a reason to put a nice dress on once in a while is fine, but I find doing so a great effort. You can’t slouch in a nice dress as it’s unladylike, so I have to remember to sit up straight. If I have make-up on I have to remember not to rub my face, and I hate lipstick marks on tea cups and glasses, which is why I generally don’t wear it. Wearing make-up also means I can’t fall into bed at the end of the evening; I have to spend extra time taking it off and cleansing my face before I can go to bed, to a avoid waking up with a face full of spots – on top of all this I have sensitive skin, and it reacts to make-up if I keep it on too long. And have I mentioned I’m allergic to perfume? I just can’t wear it; it sets off the asthma.

A fancy frock also means tights. It seems I can’t wear a pair of tights without them getting laddered in ten minutes. I’ll snag them against something, or I’ll pull them up a bit too vigorously when I use the bathroom. And this is assuming I’ve managed to make it out the front door without one of the cats getting her claws snagged in them.

Then there’s nail polish. It takes half an hour to put on and dry properly, only for it to chip the moment I do anything with my hands. Opening the tin of cat food. Putting the door key in the lock. Even rummaging around in my hand bag seems to chip nail polish.

So on the whole I can’t be doing with this ‘glamour’ business. It requires far too much maintenance. I’m far happier slobbing around in jeans and a sweater, most of the time. At least I can be me then.

I learned a lot about colour and style when I had my style session a couple of years ago (which those of you who’ve been following this blog a while might remember), but I’ve been rethinking my attitude to clothes recently. All this ‘trying to be stylish’ business is just not me. Ultimately if I like an outfit and wearing it makes me happy, then why should I not wear it, regardless of what others think of it?

It’s this attitude that prompted me to buy some biker boots recently. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to wear them, but I am looking forward to doing so. They might not be stylish, but I think they’re cool. I will endeavour to post a picture soon. In the meantime, make the most of this picture of me in my early 60s glamour, ready to go to the party. I don’t think it’s an outfit I’m going to be wearing very often – it requires far too much effort.

Birthday Weekend

This is the last post going on about my birthday – honest. But after all the anticipation, I thought I should summarise.

The party was a huge success. 80s music and karaoke all night. There were a lot of fabulous outfits. We had Marc Knopfler, Toyah, even a fantastic Indiana Jones (being a character from an 80s film). Plenty of generic ‘yuppies’ in suits and red braces, and girls in neon leggings, fingerless gloves and plastic day-glo beads (which are apparently available in abundance from Claire’s Accessories). We had all manner of 80s hairdos – big back-combing; crimped hair; side ponytails. It was great to see everyone dressed up.

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Rock Chick


And of course, there was me in my rock chick outfit, which actually went down rather well. I’m not sure my stylist would approve. The 80s ‘rock chick’ look is not exactly an icon of understated style – especially the rather bad wig. But it worked, and it’s certainly a different look than is usual for me which was, of course, the intention.

I’ve had a houseful of relatives all weekend who came down for the party, and it’s been a fantastic weekend. There were a few minor hiccups. I got lost at Gatwick airport picking up my dad, trying to find ‘Domestic Arrivals’ and walking past it three times before realising it was just one small door, and he wasn’t waiting there anyway.

We bought party poppers to put on the tables, and then were told that the venue wouldn’t allow us to have them (something to do with them not wanting to clear up, I think).

And there is the mysterious parcel from John Lewis that turned up Saturday afternoon containing two bookends and a ‘birthday girl’ wine glass. Clearly a present from someone, but as there was no note or indication of sender, I have no idea who it was from. If anyone can enlighten me, it would be appreciated.

Now the relatives have all gone home, and I am still tidying up. Tomorrow I go back to work, as a forty-something. But it was a top weekend, and thoroughly worth all the organisation.

Bring on fifty, I say, as an excuse to do it all again.

Birthday Surprises

One of the wonderful things about where I currently work is that birthdays are a big deal. Everyone in the department buys everyone else a present on their birthday. The down side of this is I have to buy 14 birthday presents throughout the year for colleagues, in addition to gifts for family and friends. The big up side is that on my birthday, like everyone else on theirs, I arrive at work to a lovely pile of presents on my desk.

It’s also tradition to get people a cake when they leave, or they hit a ‘big’ birthday. One of my colleagues is married to a baker – the cakes come from his bakery.

So, I had an inkling there would be a cake – and when suddenly all my colleagues appeared round my desk about 4pm today, I had a suspicion of what was coming.
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The cake is in the shape of a book. Its title is “Death Scene: The Karaoke Murders”. “Death Scene” is the name of my crime novel, and karaoke is one of my guilty pleasures. The cover of the ‘book cake’ is a chalk outline body with a karaoke microphone as a noose round its neck. It’s brilliant. And I am touched.

My colleagues were all quite keen I should take the cake home and present it at the party. Of course, getting it home on the daily commute was quite a challenge. The underground was out – the Victoria Line is far too crowded to get a cake box home in one piece. So I found a bus to Victoria Station. Takes longer, but I and my cake had a seat each.

The train home wasn’t too much of a problem either. The cake box was safely stowed in the overhead luggage rack. The walk from the station home, though – that was another matter. Now, it’s not a long walk. About seven minutes. Felt a long way clutching a cake box in both arms, though, with the box seemingly getting heavier by the minute.

However, I have managed to get the cake home in one piece, and it can stay in the kitchen until the party on Saturday.

I had another suprise when I got in today. Our cleaner comes on Thursdays. She’s a nice lady, not too much older than me, and she’s been invited to the party. I arrived home today to find that she’d left some flowers for me, nicely arranged in our best vase, on our coffee table. Propped up next to the flowers was a box of chocolates and a birthday card.

So I’ve got cards to open on Saturday, and chocolates and cake. What else could a girl want?

I’m feeling loved.

Generation Gap

I was at my beautician’s earlier today, taking care of some depilation before the party. I was telling her all about my birthday party, and that it’s an 80s theme. When she asked me what I was going to wear, I told her I was going as Joan Jett.

“Who’s that, then?” she asked cheerfully.

I just thought, My God I’m old. It’s one thing to be unable to connect with teenagers – most people over the age of 21 can’t do that. It’s something else to discover there’s a generation of ‘grown ups’ that are so much younger than you are, they are moving in a different world.

My beautician is in her 20s. I suppose she must have been born at the end of the 1980s. She will have no memory of the world I was young in.

I’m starting to realise that this is going to happen to me more and more often, and that’s a sobering thought. It’s not that I’m getting older, to my mind. Just that everyone else is getting younger…

‘P’ Minus Six Days…

The celebrations for my aforementioned imminent 40th birthday include a party, which I have actually been planning for a long time. For ten years, in fact. I had a party for my 30th birthday, and it was so much fun I decided I couldn’t wait for my 40th, so I would have an excuse for another one.

It’s also very fortuitous that my 40th birthday happens to fall on a Saturday, so I can have the party on the actual day.

I decided to give my 40th birthday party a theme – “Back to the 80s”. This was the decade during which I was a teenager, and I think the music you listen to as an adolescent you identify with more than the music that’s around at other points in your life.

With my being a bit anally retentive about these things, the arrangements have all been in place for some time. The venue has been booked since March. The pub whose function room I am hiring for the party will lay on a buffet, and that’s all arranged and paid for in advance. The DJ is booked, and he will be getting my 1980s play list later today. Invites were sent out in September, and I’m expecting about 40 people to attend. I am intrigued to see what everyone will turn up wearing, as 80s fancy dress is being encouraged. Though I don’t think costumes will be hard to get hold of – it seems that 80s fashions are popular again at the moment, and the shops are full of ra-ra skirts and leggings (I feel old. Don’t they say if you can remember a fashion the last time around, you’re too old to wear it this time around?).

I myself have decided on an ’80s rock chick’ look, and I have now managed to acquire all costume pieces for it (including 80s wig, as I decided going back to an 80s hair style for real was a bit drastic).

All that’s required now are balloons and other such adornments to decorate the venue with, and I am rather counting on getting some help with that on Saturday afternoon, as it’ll be a bit strange hanging “happy 40th birthday” banners for my own birthday party.

Apart from that, now it’s just a matter of waiting for the big day. Sadly, I feel I’ve been waiting so long for this event, it’ll all be over before I know it. I guess I should make the most of the anticipation.

Six more sleeps!

Approaching Forty

I now have less than three weeks left as a 30-something. On the whole, I feel comfortable with turning 40. When I look back on pictures of me from 20 years ago, I think actually I probably look better now than I did then. Part of that is down to confidence, which affects the way you carry yourself and the way you come across to others. I feel very comfortable with myself now, and as a teenager I had no confidence whatsoever

The other reason I might look better now than then has to do with my dreadful fashion sense in the 80s. If my stylist thinks I don’t have much of a sense of style now, she would have had heart failure if she’d have known me then because there has actually been a great deal of improvement!

I find myself in a philosophical mood as I approach the 40th anniversary of my birth, and have been reflecting on the life lessons I have learned in my years on this planet.

1. The most important lesson is that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. I have my dad to thank for teaching me this one.

2. Closely related to 1, never be afraid to be yourself.

3. Own up to any mistakes you make and take the consequences for them. Then learn from them.

4. You can’t change the world single-handedly. However, if you can do one small thing to change someone else’s life for the better, in some tiny way, then it’s probably worth doing.

5. Life is too short to waste on reality TV.

6. Reading is never a waste of time.

7. Everyone’s body is beautiful, and no one’s is perfect. Learn to love yourself, including your imperfections.

8. Try not to worry about things you have no control over (I still struggle with this one).

9. Let go of the past. It does no one any good to hold grudges.

I’m sure there are more. These are the things that have been in my mind of late. I find myself more reflective as I get older.

And although I wouldn’t go back to being 20, and am embracing being 40, there are still times when I am reminded that I am getting old. Like the fact it takes me longer to recover from a few glasses of wine these days, for instance. But if age is the price we have to pay for wisdom, then I can accept that. I guess that’s another life lesson right there.