Something Happened on the Way to 40

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I’m big on birthday’s. I always have been. Some dread turning another year older but I celebrate getting old(er). I celebrate the fact that I have lived another amazing year and that I have the gift of another year ahead of me that I can fill with adventures, loved ones, music, joy, happiness and all those beautiful gifts that comes for free. You have to remember in life not to dance around the perimeter of the person you want to be. It’s best to dive in fully and completely…. Living wild and free is its own reward. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life!

To be honest, this year started off a little differently. January 2014 rolled around and suddenly panic set in because for some stupid reason I was taking to heart the panicked looks on people’s faces when they told me I’m 40 this year and I was listening to the words of how life as I knew it was almost over. What was I thinking?

I love growing older.

I’m more me than I have ever been in my entire life and I love who I have become and who I am still growing into being.

So for all the nay sayers that say my life is over, to honour my turning 40 later tonight (8:40pm exactly and still very much 39 until then cause you can’t waste a bit of life!!) I’ve made a list (cause I’m a list-making-lover) of 40 things I’ve learned over this incredible journey of 40 years.

  1. My nieces think I am ancient when I tell them my age, this just makes me laugh. They are 4 and 6. I laugh even harder when they try to decide how old there granny is. The 6-year-old with her eyes practically popping out of her head usually answers with “Whhaaaat?” and then laughs hysterically. I’m grateful for the laughter lines these times will give me.
  2. Live in the moment and play with child-like wonder. Always.
  3. Stop making life so complicated. It’s only complicated because you are making it complicated.
  4. I’ve learned to dance and to be free and to move my spirit every single day. Everyone should have a rule to dance before leaving their house. It lights up your spirit, puts a smile on your face and makes you feel alive.
  5. The best lesson yet, I’ve learned that “No” is a complete sentence and the earth still maintains her orbit when I say it.
  6. Spend time often with children. They teach you to see the world through their eyes. My two baby girl nieces do this for me. And their laughter is contagious, but then again they probably get that from me! I laugh. They laugh. We all laugh. It is a beautiful thing.
  7. I’m fitter than I have probably ever been in my life mostly due to the fact that I have a love of climbing high altitude mountains. How many 40-year-old females can say that!
  8. I know how to truly love someone for who they are. Fully. With passion. And with all of me.
  9. If you experience an embarrassing life moment or failure, you need to own it – Openly, loudly, and with lots of laughter. There is nothing more captivating than someone who wears their imperfection proudly.
  10. Never forget for even just a moment how blessed your life is. There is always someone who is worse off than you. Celebrate and be grateful for what you have. Trust me, it’s a lot!
  11. As you get older your inner circle of friends gets smaller but so much stronger. I have the most amazing, incredible, dear and loving friends. One’s who are genuine, real, honest, and full of love for life. It may have taken me near to 40 years to weed out the manipulators, the drama queens and the fibbers but the friends I have now are the real deal. They are always there to cheer me on when I succeed and they stick around when the going gets tough and they know I’ll do the same for them. Surround yourself with good people.
  12. I once read this somewhere “There are no wrinkles on a balloon.” What a great life lesson – When someone offers you ice-cream, the answer is always YES!!
  13. I’ve learned to meditate every morning, really early while the world is still sleeping. It’s good for my soul. That hour when everyone still sleeps is always really worth waking up for. Then I dance wildly around the house as I get ready for work. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day. Do this daily!
  14. If you have an inkling to do something nice for someone, you should definitely do it. Don’t over analyse, just do it.
  15. In my 30’s alone, I faced the fear of death staring me in the face twice. I was 32 and 35. If I didn’t get life was short the first time, I certainly got it the second time. Don’t waste another moment putting anything off.
  16. I am resilient. I have been through some really rough times but I’ve always come out the other side. I know what constitutes a true crisis and I have experienced real trauma. I got the t-shirt, numerous times. I also know how to handle all kinds of gnarly situations and I’ve been there for others when they have gone through tough times. Yes, I’ve got this!
  17. Value your parents and having them in your life. I am blessed to still have both my parents but have witnessed over the last few years many of my friends losing a parent. Spend time with the parentals. Listen to their stories about life. Be present for we won’t all always be around. Love you mom and dad!
  18. I’m taking confidence from fashion queen Coco Chanel. She once said: “You can be gorgeous at 20, charming at 40 and irresistible for the rest of your life.” I choose all of that!
  19. Life is entirely too short to not live your dreams and to be miserable. No matter how impossible your dreams seem or how far away they look, fight for them every day. Believe in them. And strive to realise them. I am living proof, the craziest of the craziest dreams do come true.
  20. Take photographs every single day. Snap things that look beautiful in your eye, the faces you love, and moments that take your breath away. Snap all the moments you want to remember for one day you will glimpse back and smile at all the memories you created. I learned this from my mom and I got my first camera as a young teenager and haven’t stopped taking pics since then.
  21. It is cliché but learn a few good rules so that you can break them. That’s where the fun in life really lies. And it keeps you young!
  22. Keep learning. Always be on the lookout for new learning opportunities. I spent most of my 30’s studying two degrees, the 2nd which is coming to an end now. I crave the new knowledge and its kept my mind active and young. Don’t be afraid to learn something new, whatever it is.
  23. Step out of the past. You live in the present. And I think you will like it here. Try it sometime.
  24. Stop suffering. Most suffering is self-inflicted and it makes you miserable. You have a choice in everything you think or feel. It comes back to living in the present. This is where the good stuff happens.
  25. A lesson I learned just the other day. Blind spots are called that for a reason: YOU really can’t see them. Ooops!!
  26. Every now and again, switch off or leave that smartphone behind. My friends sometimes get frustrated when they can’t get hold of me. But life goes on and I’ll eventually call back. When I don’t answer my phone, I’m out living life ~ remember that next time!
  27. Happiness is a choice.
  28. I thought I knew what I wanted when I was younger. It turns out it took me getting older to figure it out. If you don’t know what you want yet, don’t beat yourself up about it ~ It will happen.
  29. Telling someone I love them has become easy. Life is short and far too often I’ve lost ones that are so dear to me. Don’t waste a moment, tell those you love that you love them. And definitely, hug more. And kiss more too.
  30. One of the best things I’ve learned is that what you focus on expands. It’s a universal law and it’s a simple practice really but so many get it so wrong. Focus on the good stuff and watch it expand. YOU get to make your life beautiful, no one else does.
  31. Love deeply and enthusiastically. There is just no other way.
  32. Treat your body well. You will need it to take you on your adventures.
  33. No matter who you are, remember you got this. You are awesome. You are unique. And you are perfect just as you are. Never let anyone convince you otherwise, including yourself.
  34. Stop moaning about something if you are doing nothing to fix the problem. You just add to the negative, miserableness of this world. And goodness knows we have enough of that already.
  35. Get rid of self-limiting beliefs. Drop the “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never be good enough”. Change your thinking and you will literally change your life.
  36. Always take the scenic route.
  37. Fresh flowers bring a room to life. Even if you have to buy them for yourself, it’s always worth including into your budget.
  38. Being “too busy” is a myth. You can always make time for the people and things that are important to you.
  39. Monsters exist.
  40. But so do miracles.

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A funny thing happened to me on the way to 40; I grew up but I will always have that childlike spirit in me and a naughtiness and sense of adventure that comes from my dad. I got his stubbornness too, but that’s ok I got my mom’s big heart. There seems to be so much horror about turning 40 but that’s all just rubbish. Trust me on this one too.

There is magic and promise in every sunrise.

A new day is always a new beginning.

Make sure you make the most of it.

Being 40 is going to be awesome.

Because I’m gonna make it so.

Forty is not the new 30.

Forty is the new f*cking amazing!

If the first 40 is an indication of what’s to come, I’m truly excited to see what’s next and after 39 years of not being 40, I’m going to give it a try!

I’m ready to stumble gracefully into this.

With laugh lines appearing around my eyes, I smile as I look in the mirror, not shuddering at the sight but celebrating the simple blessing that my life is filled with laughter, adventure and love even on the days when life hands out the proverbial lemons.

I’m ready.

Bring. It. On!

~ Happy 40th Birthday to Me! ~

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Celebrations on a Mountain Top and Down Below

The alarm sounded at 5:30am and it felt like my best friend and I, who had been up late the night before, had just gone to bed. I didn’t budge and in fact kept my eyes shut tight. Minutes later the next alarm was sounding and my best friend who was sleeping in my bed, bounded onto the mattress on the floor where I was trying desperately to ignore my alarm. Singing happy birthday and dishing out a huge big bear hug, it was certainly a great way to wake up ~ laughing!

But there wasn’t much time to waste as we were heading out to the Kalk Bay mountains for an early morning hike.

The most perfect day had dawned, not a breath of wind and for the first time in a few days, the sky was blue once again. At 7:30am we all met at the start to the Ou Kraal hike out above St James. The sea, smooth like glass glistening in the early morning sun’s rays. It was the usual four hiking again and we headed out with Natalie leading the pack with a good pace. The views unfolding before us were out-of-this-world beautiful yet again and I couldn’t think of a better way to start my birthday than to spend it on the mountain, in the country that I love.

Natalie driving us out out to Kalk Bay, I managed to catch the sun was just popping over the hills across the vlei.

Natalie driving us out to Kalk Bay, I managed to catch the sun just as it was popping over the hills across the vlei.

Arriving at the start, we parked our cars and this is the view that greeted us.

Arriving at the start, we parked our cars and this is the view that greeted us.

Another Sunday and another beautiful hike about to start.

Another Sunday and another beautiful hike about to start.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Soon we would enter the magical forest.

Soon we would enter the magical forest.

The group enjoy the last of the sun's rays before entering the cover of the forest.

The group enjoy the last of the sun’s rays before entering the cover of the forest.

It wasn’t before long we entered the Spes Bona forest, a beautiful forest which is made up mostly of milkwood and yellowwood trees and a wooden boardwalk guiding you through the forest, protecting the tree’s ancient roots.  The forest was as magical as any forest could be, with tree branches intertwined and moss-covered rocks and charming looking tree trunks. It was a place that makes you believe in fairies, goblins, little people and all those magical things again! More often than not we had to bend down really low to walk under tree trunks, our backpacks often getting stuck and manoeuvring our way around protruding branches, swing left and then swinging right.

Entering the forest, everything just turned magical!

Entering the forest, everything just turned magical!

A forest like this could make anyone believe in fairies and goblins again.

A forest like this could make anyone believe in fairies and goblins again.

The coolness of the forest and the song of the birds all added to the magical setting as we made our way up through the forest. As we neared the top of the forest we passed a beautiful moss-covered cliff which was dripping water, making the cool shaded air even cooler. We decided to stop here for a quick snack break before heading on up to the amphitheatre.

Almost at the top of the forest we stopped here for a quick snack break. The water dripping down the moss covered cliff behind us.

Almost at the top of the forest we stopped here for a quick snack break. The water dripping down the moss-covered cliff behind us.

As we moved on again it wasn’t before long that we left the forest behind and felt the glorious sunshine on our skin again. As we headed up and over the other side, the most magnificent views unfolded yet again before us and our mid-morning lunch stop was to be perched on some high flat rocks overlooking the absolute beauty of this place I call home.  The sun warm on our skin we all lay back, took in the sounds of the mountain far away from any city noises and just breathed in life. I didn’t want to leave!

Making our way up and out of the forest and on to the Amphitheatre where we were going to stop for our lunch break.

Making our way up and out of the forest and on to the Amphitheatre where we were going to stop for our lunch break.

On the other side, more beautiful views were to be seen.

On the other side, more beautiful views were to be seen.

With spring finally here, the flowers are beginning to bloom everywhere!

With spring finally here, the flowers are beginning to bloom everywhere! Everything is new and fresh!

Me in my ultimate happy place ~ what better way to spend my birthday!

Me in my ultimate happy place ~ what better way to spend my birthday!

Lunch was had and then it was time to lie back, have a snooze in the sun and breath in all that mountain goodness!

Lunch was had and then it was time to lie back, have a snooze in the sun and breath in all that mountain goodness!

As we were on a time schedule and I had some birthday afternoon celebrations to get to, we had to start making our way down again. We took the circular route that would lead us back to where we had begun and going over the Spes Bona Valley we came up on the other side and walked over the top and before us lay even more beautiful views. Over in the distance the mountain peaks were capped in snow, gloriously glinting in the sun.  It was views that literally stopped us in our tracks and had us grasping at the beauty that lay before us.

Far off in the distance, the snow capped mountain peaks.

Far off in the distance, the snow-capped mountain peaks.

Reflections in the water.

Reflections in the water.

A heart shaped rock balanced on the edge of another rock with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the background.

A heart-shaped rock balanced on the edge of another rock with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the background.

I know I say this all the time but I seriously live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

I know I say this all the time but I seriously live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

The beach, the sea, snow capped mountains and hike all make for a perfect day!

Views of the beach, the sea, snow-capped mountains and a hike all make for a perfect day!

Feeling adventurous on the way down, I had an idea for a photo I wanted to take considering I was celebrating my birthday and I am all for living life fully! It didn’t quite work out as I had planned, I had forgotten to include things like  my age, the weight of my hiking boots and that fact that I was no longer a 16-year-old supple ballet dancer who could do crazy things with her body! With the camera ready behind me, I launched myself forward, hands outstretched. My fellow hikers laughing behind, I though it wasn’t a bad first attempt! My hands didn’t buckle underneath me and I think I may just have managed to get my legs half way up! I tried again but it all seemed to go downhill from there and eventually after much laughter I decided I would go home to practice and when I’m ready I will get the perfect upside down shot.  Watch this space!

Finally the path split and the we headed back down to the cars far below.

Finally the path split and we headed back down to the cars far below.

The walk back down was fast paced and took us far and wide and finally back down again along the first part of the path we headed up on.  As we walked the last bit, Clinton spotted a whale frolicking in the sea.  It this day wasn’t perfect enough, it had officially just hit a fully rounded 10 out of 10!  Then we spotted another whale playing nearby and then a third.  Three whales all playing in the ocean, flapping their tail in the air as if they were waving at us and then bringing them crashing back down in to the water making a splash!

We passed a local shark spotter sitting on the edge of the trail watching out for sharks. Asked if any about he said, “No, not today.  Just the whales out there playing.”

Back on level ground, we headed back to the cars and headed back home where a small gathering of family and friends awaited me, a good old South African braai (bbq for the British and American), a glass of red wine and a perfect Sunday afternoon!

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~Thanks to all those who shared my birthday with me, for all the wonderful wishes and for all the amazing hiking gifts, which will all be coming up to the top of Aconcagua with me! ~

~ Currently I am laying low, practically eating sleeping living exam study, work and training for Aconcagua but once my exams at the end of October are over its full steam ahead with planning, training and getting ready for my next mountain and you’ll get to read all the updates here so stay tuned! ~

~ All Photos by Me ~

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