My Darling Daughter
You turned 40 this week which made me feel old for the first time ever. Being forty feels like a major milestone – not just for you but also for me because you really aren’t a child any more but of course you will always be my child. It has made me think a lot about myself at forty and what I wish I had realised at that time.
So, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts about whether “Life really does begin at 40.”
Firstly accept the fact that there are some things about you that cannot be changed however much you wish they could. I will always have big hips and you will always be exceptionally tall. I spent many of my first 40 years hating my shape and torturing myself with diets weird and wonderful. I wasted time and energy spent in the pursuit of something unattainable. I regret every second of the time I spent beating myself up for having eaten (a packet of) digestive biscuits.
Secondly, enjoy your children’s childhood.
I was in such a hurry for you and your sister to grow up. I was so full of plans and schemes which could only be realised when you had both attained a degree of independence. The frustration that I felt meant that I wasn’t always the most patient of mothers. Children can drive you mad at times, but they do need you to give them time and attention. I regret not giving you more of both.
Thirdly you have lots of time left.
Nowadays 40 really is no age at all. When my mother died at the young age of 67 when I was 42, I panicked that I might only have twenty-something years of life left. As it has worked out (happily) I have had lots of time to do all the things I have wanted to do. Since my fortieth birthday I have started two businesses, built a house in France, travelled to all sorts of exciting places and bought a run-down property at auction. I know I have been extremely fortunate, but I have also worked hard and been prepared to take some risks.
That brings me to the fourth thing – don’t always play it safe.
I am a natural risk-taker and still enjoy the feeling of putting my life on the line to see what will happen. You might feel that 40 is the age at which you stop challenging yourself. On my death bed I am pretty sure that the moments I will recall will be those when I felt a bit scared (but did it anyway!) I launched Look Fabulous Forever at 65 because I needed to take a new and exciting direction and I have no regrets whatsoever – I am loving every minute and I especially enjoy working with you.
Fifthly keep nurturing your friendships.
I have had quite a bumpy ride since my fortieth birthday – divorce, the loss of people I cared about, the birth of a very sick grandchild and through it all I have been sustained by my brilliant friends. Some friends go back 50 years or more and others have fallen by the wayside. But whenever I have really needed their love and support I could count on some very special friends who were always so generous with their time (and occasionally a shoulder to cry on.)
So – you are now embarked on the second half of your life. I hope you have a very happy, fulfilling and satisfying next 40 years and, like me, that you will have few regrets whatever choices you make.