Another Year Older – And I Am Glad

It’s my birthday tomorrow, another year older.

And I’m glad.

I don’t have to go to work; I have a lovely day planned. Cards have already arrived, yet to be opened; and if I am lucky I may even get some gifts.

But it is not for those reasons I am glad it’s my birthday tomorrow: I am glad because I have lived another year, and I am growing older.

I am not going to pretend to be 21 again. Instead, I’m proud to be just two years shy of the big 4-0.

Why this gratitude and pride to be growing older?

Because it is a privilege, a gift denied to so many. An occasion to celebrate.

My last birthday felt like it was just another day: the pain of Hugo’s death still raw, I did not feel like celebrating, nor did I feel like I had anything worth celebrating. My son had died in my arms just a couple of months previously; my pregnancy had ended prematurely in a very traumatic fashion; my life had gone so very awry.

Last year, I felt incapable of feeling happy, or even that I should ever allow myself to feel joy.

Fast forward a year, and some things have shifted. My heart remains broken, the trauma remains, my life still has gone awry. But those things now feel different, and I have a different perception of life.

This year, I feel more capable of feeling happy, and that I am allowed to feel joy. Indeed, I need to feel joy – and I find it in the small things like nature, the seaside, a cuddle.

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It’s an irony of life that when as children we are eager to be older, to be an adult with responsibilities and to make our own decisions. Yet when we are an adult we wish we could liberate ourselves from those wished-for responsibilities, slow down the clock against ageing.

A decade ago, I was dreading my 30th birthday. It felt so old! Of course, when I reached the milestone I felt no different. In fact, if anything there are ways in which my thirties have been my best decade from the point of view that I am comfortable in my own skin, feel better able to be myself, and I have a direction in life. I wouldn’t like to repeat my twenties (and my teens? Don’t go there), even considering the benefits of a body that has not been ravaged by ten or more years of ageing….and life.

And life is what is all about, isn’t it?

Yes I have grey roots. I visit my hairdresser every two months to get them covered up and to be honest, they start being visible again after two to three weeks – I don’t stress about it.

I have wrinkles around my eyes, despite using eye cream. Again, not worth worrying about: they are a sign of ageing – and of laughter and tears.

Those tears have helped me find a balance in life:

I don’t spend time worrying about what I can’t change – with myself, and with others.

I don’t get involved in gossip, or other people’s dramas.

I recognise that I am me, I am enough.

The balance helps me find more time for laughter. Laughing loudly, not worrying what others think of me.

Instead of criticising what I see in the mirror, I reflect that I am fortunate to have what I do. Instead of wasting time worrying about things that I can’t change, I try to make the most of what I have.

I know life is too short to not indulge in a little of what I fancy – we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. That said, while tomorrows are not guaranteed I strive towards achieving a healthy balance to make sure I can enjoy the tomorrows I am blessed to receive.

And tomorrows are what birthdays are all about. The traditional salutation for birthdays is “Many happy returns of the day”.

I hope my birthdays return many more times in the coming years and decades.

I hope I have to visit my hairdresser more regularly to cover my ever-increasing grey roots, and that I have even more lines around my eyes from laughter. I cannot say I hope to not add to those lines through tears, because that is something I cannot control.

Another year older tomorrow, and I am glad.

I hope for many happy returns of the day.

26 Comments on Another Year Older – And I Am Glad

  1. kaitlynva
    July 29, 2015 at 5:00 pm (2 years ago)

    Missed your birthday but I hope it was a good one. I have my own coming up in about a month, and I really appreciate reading about your thoughts, and especially how this year’s birthday was different from last year’s.

    Reply
  2. Natalie Smithson
    July 24, 2015 at 8:22 am (2 years ago)

    This is one of my favourite posts of yours. I’m with you, all the way.

    Hugo must be looking down so very proud of his Mum.

    Happy Birthday 🙂

    Reply
  3. Harriet
    July 22, 2015 at 8:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Bravo, Leigh – here’s to you, Martin, Hugo’s legacy and the future. I hope you are proud of everything you’ve survived and everything you’ve achieved xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 24, 2015 at 4:44 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you for your lovely comment Harriet xxx

      Reply
  4. Vanessa
    July 22, 2015 at 8:49 am (2 years ago)

    Happy Birthday Leigh I hope you can celebrate the gift of being another year older, you have a gift, of helping others who have tragically gone through the same as you, helping them and giving them hope, best wishes xxx

    Reply
  5. Mary @TheHeartyLife
    July 22, 2015 at 7:11 am (2 years ago)

    Happy Birthday Leigh! Hope that it was as wonderful as anticipated!

    Somebody said to me that 2 years is a good time frame with grief because the second year creates better moments and things you can look back on and say “last year was good because of….” where as now its as you describe – last year was a hard birthday..last year was awful, survival etc. Keep enjoying the moments of this year and I hope you create more happy pages for your life. You are amazing to have lived through all you have, kept hugo alive in peoples thoughts and hearts and helping to make a difference for others x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you lovely Mary, I had a great day.

      What you say about the two years makes sense – thank you for your kind comment xxx

      Reply
  6. Tim
    July 21, 2015 at 10:22 pm (2 years ago)

    Happy birthday for tomorrow, Leigh. I hope you have a day filled with happiness and celebration of another year packed full of life, even though some of those experiences have been painful ones.

    I know exactly what you mean about growing into your own skin with age. In truth, I think I was closer to 40 than 30 before I finally started to feel comfortable in mine. It’s been a long journey getting here, but now that I’m here I can see it was worthwhile.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm (2 years ago)

      Youth is wasted on the young, as they say Tim – it’s a long and tough journey isn’t it, but I like knowing what I do now xx

      Reply
  7. Kim Carberry
    July 21, 2015 at 9:40 pm (2 years ago)

    I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow! Many happy returns of the day x

    Reply
  8. Deborah the Closet Monster
    July 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Happy birthday.

    Like you, I relish each birthday. I will be happy to celebrate my 37th birthday this year.

    I hope I will have at least another 50 beyond that.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:51 pm (2 years ago)

      I hope so too. Thank you for your kind wishes xxx

      Reply
  9. Mummy Tries
    July 21, 2015 at 6:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Hope you have a fabulous day tomorrow hon and are spoilt rotten. I love the wisdom you’ve imparted here, it only comes with age and experience. Not getting upset with the things we can’t control, and not getting involved in other people’s dramas is sound advice for everyone. Much love xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Absolutely – we need to put things in perspective, and you’re right, these things come with age and perspective. Thank you lovely xxx

      Reply
  10. poutinginheels
    July 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Many many happy returns my beautiful wise friend. I adore this post and commend your attitude. People – particularly women- always seem to be amazed when I say I don’t care about getting older. But the truth is I don’t.

    I hope I live to be a ripe ol’ age, I hope to earn more laughter lines and I hope to enjoy of much of this life as I possibly can, making wonderful friends like you along the way.

    You’re so right Leigh. Getting older is a privilege denied to so many. Have a wonderful joyous birthday my darling. Much love xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you darling Katie. I wish more people realised ageing is a privilege – we’d maybe have a better perspective on life xxx

      Reply
  11. Amber
    July 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm (2 years ago)

    Many happy returns, beautiful and wise friend.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      July 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s very kind lovely, thank you xxx

      Reply
  12. Tara
    July 21, 2015 at 5:13 pm (2 years ago)

    Lovely post. Many happy returns for tomorrow, just in case I don’t get to say it on the day 🙂

    Reply
  13. Casey Bottono
    July 21, 2015 at 5:13 pm (2 years ago)

    What a beautiful post, Leigh.

    You’re a beautiful person, too. I hope you soak up every moment of that lovely day. Happy Birthday for tomorrow.

    Best wishes,

    Casey

    xx

    Reply
  14. babylossmama
    July 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm (2 years ago)

    You look wonderful, you are wonderful. Sometimes celebrating birthdays is hard – its inspiring that you are embracing yours as a gift!

    Reply

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