As we head into a new decade, I’m making a list of ten life-changing (OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) truths I learned in the past ten years:
1. No one dies from speaking their mind.
Oh god, I wish I had known this a decade ago. Being (1) British, and (2) a woman, we’ve been socialized into being nice, kind, and not too much of a bother. For fuck’s sake, I’m done with it. I’ve embraced my inner-Israeli and discovered that being honest with those around me – starting with myself – is liberating, refreshing and so much bloody easier. But don’t confuse this with being kind and polite. I always try to be kind and polite, especially when being honest.
2. Shopping is not an enjoyable pastime.
This decade brought us online shopping in abundance, and today retail-related apps are my most used, with the most recently introduced Zara app becoming my favorite “video game” (fill the cart, empty the cart and then refill it again!). I get little pleasure from strolling around stores, when the digital world offers ease, comfort, speed and a much better range of sizes. And no people – all those annoying people.
3. Don’t save the scented candles for special occasions.
Without a doubt scented candles are the best low-cost luxury available. You feel pampered, decadent and expensive. They instantly relax me. I literally buy them at every opportunity. Take them out of the cupboard. Burn them. Enjoy them. Then buy some more.
4. My patience for masses of people is limited.
Apropos to my first point, over the past few years I’ve been conducting my relationships more honestly, speaking my truths and along the way made some changes in who I decide I want to be around. From most significantly, getting divorced, to allowing other relationships to shift and reform – it’s all good. It means I’m living more honestly and authentically than ever. Our time here is limited; make it count with the people who are most special to you.
5. Nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to the feeling of having your oldest trusted girlfriends around you.
Even if they’re thousands of miles away. My girlfriends this decade stood up and stood by me on many, many occasions. Most significantly we forged a solid, sacred tradition of spending every June together in Provence (11 years running). We’ve celebrated countless bar mitzvahs together, sang drunken songs in public to the embarrassment of our offspring, and our kids have even forged a knockoff WhatsApp group. They’ve surprise-visited me, we’ve slept in beds together talking all night, and shared summer vacations. On a serious note, they’ve just simply shown up to be by my side when I needed them the most, sometimes when I didn’t even know it. I wouldn’t be ending this decade in this positive spirit without them. Simple as that.
6. You can still make fantastic friends in your 40s.
Some of my closest friends today are people I never knew a decade ago. I never believed this could happen – always believing we’ve set our paths and are set in our ways by the time we get to this stage in life. But no. When you open your heart to new possibilities, stuff happens. And while most of my closest friends have been in my life for 30+ years, over the past decade I have been blessed with surprising new friendships which have become significant, meaningful and treasured.
7. My young adult kids are not my friends but they’re really fun to hang around with.
I started the last decade with a five-year-old and two ten-year-olds, and am ending with three young adults, the youngest of which is several centimeters taller than me, and all of them much wiser than me in many ways. The last few years have been tough – we’ve tackled disability, eating disorders, learning difficulties, ADHD, depression, the army and to top it off, we threw in a divorce. They took it all on with strength and courage, even when it was crushing me. I look upon them in awe, each one unique. I see much of my young self in them, but mostly I see more self-assurance, more insight, much much more knowledge (well, they have access to endless information today), better taste in clothes and music, a much sharper sense of humor, more creativity — but mostly, much more openness and communication. We TALK. They fill the home with a joy and energy that, well, only your own kids can. I can’t wait for what the next decade will bring.
8. Eat the full fat cheese. And the real butter. And the best chocolate.
Low fat foods may be a fad of the last decade but … yuck. Eat delicious foods and good wines and just bloody enjoy it – in moderation. It’s healthier for mind and body. If you need proof, just look at French women.
9. Gel manicures – life changer!
Ladies, can you believe a decade ago we would sit for two hours waiting for our nails to dry? Only to have it chip off the next day. Like I said – gel manicures are a LIFE CHANGER. Oh, and keratin hair treatments. Don’t call me shallow, but when you live in 90% humidity for most of the year, saying goodbye to frizz this decade is definitely list-worthy.
10. Taking care of physical health is not optional.
This decade I fell in love with running as my “thing.” And like in any loving relationship, there are ups and downs and times you can’t stand to look at each other. But the amazing thing is that physical activity has become part of my daily routine, even when I can’t stand to do it. Even recently when I couldn’t run due to injury, I discovered other exercise to replace it because, you know something? Being sedentary is not an option for me. Along the way I’ve made great new friends, had exciting adventures, pushed my body to extremes and achieved milestones I never believed I could (four marathons!) and all this knowing that I am no natural athlete. I just made a decision to make this part of who I am – and stuck with it. I’m 47 and want to live a long healthy life. So this is not an option.
Happy, healthy 2020 to all. Hug your loved ones, drink the wine, eat dessert, and go run tomorrow morning. Bring it on!