Monday 4 May 2015

Not quite 42 things I've learned over the last not quite 42 years.

One week from today I turn 42. I am hoping that I'll find the answer to life the universe and everything. If not, well I'm not sure what I'll do. Probably sit apathetically on my couch and pluck salty chip crumbs off my dressing gown like most other days.

42 seemed so old to my child's mind as I sat watching episodes of Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy on Mum's tiny portable black and white. I would plonk myself on the end of her lace covered bed and sit, glued to the TV, chomping on my plate of dry Weet-bix, topped with a thick layer of margarine and huge globs of glistening strawberry jam, taking in lessons about the importance of always having a towel. 42 seemed the fare of science fiction, not something I would ever apply to myself.

I don't feel 42, or almost 42, whatever 42 feels like. My body feels what I imagine 80 feels like (until I see a shot from the Masters Games and realise that I wish I was 80.) In my head I am still stuck in my late teens and early 20's. I still believe (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) and think The Only Way is Up. And that there is nothing wrong with being Too Funky. I still want to party like it's 1999 and I can't even think of 42 things I've learnt since I sat in Mum's bedroom in our old farmhouse all those years ago. I can't be bothered with lists but feel I should probably make the effort to impart some of my 42 years of knowledge. So here goes.

  • No one knows what they are doing. Some are good at hiding that fact, but most of us are just winging it.
  • If you want to dye your hair blue, do it. Don't wait. Don't worry what anyone else thinks. 
  • There will always be someone telling you what you are doing, like, or think, is wrong. For the most part those people are twats and don't deserve your time. There are a couple in amongst the yammering crowd who do deserve your time. Spotting those people is the big challenge. Because if it's you acting like a twat, you want someone to set you straight.
  • You will have doubts. Big buckets of doubts. Recognise them. Accept them. Challenge them. Like most people telling you that you are doing life wrong, those doubts you are carrying around are arseholes. Don't let arseholes run your life.
  • Don't be a dick. If you are a dick, apologise. 
  • Screw trends. Wear what you want. If it makes you happy wear it. Confidence shines far more than squishing into the latest trend in jeans. 
  • If you believe in something don't be afraid to have a say. Fight for the good. Shout it from the roof tops. People will shout back, but if you believe passionately it's worth the effort.
  • If an opportunity comes your way take it. You can lie awake at night worrying about it afterwards, or worry about peeing in your pants as you roll up to the stage, but odds are you can do it. Or stress will wipe the memory from your mind so it is all a blur and you'll agree to the next opportunity to speak in public. 
  • Breathe.
  • Give yourself the compassion you 'd give others.
  • Eat the chocolate. 
  • Life sucks at times and it's okay to say so.
  • Life is amazing and beautiful at times and it's okay to enjoy it.
  • Dig your toes in the earth. Or the sand, or the water. 
  • Always challenge your beliefs. If they are worthy they'll stand the test. If not, you have new knowledge. 
  • Change is good. Same old same old leads to stagnation.
  • Different isn't a bad word. Embrace the infinite variety of life. You don't have to want to live your life the same way as someone else, to respect and accept their choices. The world opens up into a beautiful place when you yourself are open.
  • The world will not end because you don't eat the kale and think green smoothies look like the Slime in a Can, you used to get in your showbags when you were a kid. It is okay to say you would rather eat the slime, or a Tim Tam, instead. 
  • You have more to offer the world than beauty. Beauty is a construct. An ever changing and ever limiting construct. You can be intelligent, strong, kind, brave, or all kinds of things other than beautiful. Open up a dictionary and find ALL your words. 
  • Similarly, happy. We have a happiness industry these days and yet happiness seems more elusive than ever for many. Happy is a basic word to explain a complicated concept. My happy isn't your happy. And that's okay. It's also okay to NOT be happy sometimes. We have a variety of emotions, use them. 
  • Laugh. 
  • Fart jokes are always funny.
  • Read. Read a lot. Read crap as well as the classics. Just read. 
  • Watch bad TV. If Judge Judy floats you boat, watch. If you like your Housewives, watch them. I would never have learnt about the Smize, if not for watching America's Next Top Model. 
  • Hate is a blight on the world. We are so busy hating others we cannot see our own flaws. When we hate, we dehumanise. And when we dehumanise it makes us capable of acts and thoughts we would never normally entertain. Hate serves no one and minimizes us all.
  • You will make mistakes. Lots of mistakes.  
  • You will have the opportunity to do good. Big and small good. Take those opportunities. Not for any personal reward. Just because it adds to the communal ether.
  • Religious or political affiliations do not make you a good person. Actions are what matter. Especially how you act towards those who are vulnerable, different, or can do nothing for you in return.
  • Wear make up or don't wear make up. Neither decision makes you a better or worse person. Same with tattoos and hairstyles and peircings and.....
  • You are not your past. 
  • Someone who holds your hand as you sleep, is worth their weight in gold. 
  • Sometimes you just need to do something forbidden even if you pay for it later. I'm talking a forbidden glass of wine, not bank robbery. Rebellion, even small rebellion, is good for the soul. 
  • Politicians suck.
  • Media reporting sucks.
  • Media reporting of politics sucks.
  • Don't believe everything you see on TV or read on the internet. Be skeptical. 
  • There are far to many hate and fear mongers in the world. Be a do gooder. I'm not sure when doing good became a bad thing, but screw that. Wear that do gooder label with pride.
  • Love, Kindness and Hope should be sprinkled liberally. 
  • When shit happens you'll think you wont make it through. You will. It just doesn't feel like it at the time. But you will.
  • You are worth it. 
  • It's okay to change your mind. When you learn better, do better. 
  • Life is full of possibility.
  • Dog cuddles are smelly and wonderful. 
  • Sing badly and sing often.
  • Singing along to Vogue and doing all the moves, is a great panacea on the bad days.
  • I still have no clue what I'm doing.

Okay so that was longer than I expected. There's probably more. Maybe even 42. But I need to pee and there are also the meds I just realised I forgot to take. 

No doubt after next Monday I'll still have no clue about life, the universe or everything. I'll still be muddling through. And that's okay. Muddling has gotten me this far. It'll do for a while yet.

I have two birthday wishes.

1) If you know someone living with chronic illness give them a hug and let them know you care. Because this shit is hard.

2) If you are living with chronic illness, know you are a superhero. Because this shit is hard.


And because in my head I'll always be that teenager singing into her hairbrush in front of her cassette recorder, I give you one of my all time favourite 80's songs, Don't Leave Me This Way by The Communards (1986) with the amazing vocals of Jimmy Somerville (of Bronski Beat fame.) 


  1. That was awesome! For the record, I sing loudly and quite well. I was even asked to change my major to music when I was in college. :) Seriously though, your blog posts are gifts and I hope next week you will have at least that many gifts bestowed upon you, you wonderfully amazing woman, you!

    1. HA! Maybe that was more my admission that I am tone deaf. :) I am in awe of people who can actually sing. Thanks Suzanne, if I can have some triple choc macarons and bubble bath I'll be pretty happy xx

  2. Happy Birthday for Tuesday Michelle! Ah, laughed so hard at all those eighties and nineties references! I love your list of wisdoms. They are worth framing. Love your outlook on life and if I could I'd give you a real hug to let you know I care. Until I get to do that, here is a virtual one... and so many good wishes for a brilliant birthday on Tuesday. PS. You rock 42

    1. Aw thanks, Rach. I wondered how many would get the references, but for those of us who had our formative years in the 80s you can't miss them. I probably could have summarised it all down to 2 points, don't be a dick and be nice to people, because that's what it basically comes down to. Big hugs to you to my Kiwi sister! xx

  3. Sending you hugs. Big smooshy or gentle ones - whatever works best in this moment. I loved your post. Your thoughtfulness and love and learnings and patience (and impatience) shine through in the best possible way. One of my favorites, which I've had to learn from my husband is "Sometimes you just need to do something forbidden even if you pay for it later. I'm talking a forbidden glass of wine, not bank robbery. Rebellion, even small rebellion, is good for the soul."
    Sometimes I just need to pull a few weeds... transplant a plant or two even if I'm already overtired... or skip my evening "oxygenation" walk...I'm still working on expanding my repertoire where the payback isn't too bad, although I've been making good progress at overdoing things a little less!!!
    Happy - Gentle - Loving Birthday to you, however it shows up, macaroons and all.

    1. Thanks Veronique. :) Those little forbidden moments are so good. I love to garden, and will push to do little things too, when I know I really shouldn't. But to know you've pulled those few weeds or planted those couple of seedlings, it's just so good. xx

  4. Happy birthday Michelle love this post ..

  5. Happy birthday and what a great list.


All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx

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