Forty reasons to smile

Happy birthday to me, I can’t believe I’m 40, my spirit’s still young, but my back is creaky!

Hi world. I woke up today and realised it’s my 40th year of existence. Wow, where on earth did the time go?

Last year I went through a short period where I didn’t like the sound of turning 40 – it sounded OLD. I guess working with a team of younger millennials didn’t help (nor did the reoccurring sore back and stray grey hairs on my beard!).

But I guess the experience of COVID helped me to put things in perspective; life is precious and it can be snatched away from you at any time. So instead of worrying about trivial concerns, I gravitated towards gratitude and allowed myself to reflect on my past learnings. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the ugly beautiful.

So on this day of days, here are 40 reflections and insights from my journey on earth thus far.

  1. I am perfectly imperfect. And I like it.
  2. Up until my early 20s, I lived as a perfectionist but this created deep insecurities, especially when comparing myself to others. Accepting myself took time, so reflection #2 became a strong mantra for me.
  3. I love using cheesy humour and puns in my daily life. What did the grape say when it got crushed? Nothing, it just let out a little wine.
  4. Yes, mum and dad were right about a lot of things.
  5. I have the most boring middle name, John, but I am proud of it. It’s not only my dad’s name, it’s also both my grandfathers names too.
  6. I love wearing really colourful socks. They make me feel strong and confident.
  7. When I was younger I struggled with being sensitive (I used to cry almost daily up until the age of 11), but it’s a trait I value and feel more in control of.
  8. I don’t have my own kids, but cherish making a difference to the youngsters around me, especially my god-children and little cousins.
  9. My hand writing is sloppier than it used to be. I blame the constant use of technology.
  10. I confess, I am a movie snob. My favourite movie of all time is still Mike Leigh’s “Secrets and Lies”. Yes, I can easily recite lines from the movie.
  11. How do I describe my ‘tribe’? People who are good natured, caring, arty, empathetic, a tad nerdy, liberal, cultural, dorky (okay, maybe just me!).
  12. I was painfully shy as a kid and there are still moments where I feel shy when I meet new people.
  13. I am more particular about how I spend my time with people. I was a real people pleaser in my younger years, but learnt it simply isn’t possible to be available to everyone.
  14. I’m so glad I did Bollywood dancing classes in my early 30s. Dancing is one of my favourite things to do and I felt the lessons removed all inhibitions.
  15. I thrive when I trust my instincts.
  16. Over the past 10 years I have gone through multiple highs and lows during my professional working career. Climbing the ladder isn’t as fun or satisfying as it seems, and unfortunately there are many dodgy leaders out there. One major thing I’ve learnt is not to tolerate unacceptable behaviours.
  17. As my parents and in-laws get older, I get more conscious of their health and wellbeing and want to ensure they make the most of their family and leisure time.
  18. I am grateful to my husband Ben for giving me strength and for always encouraging me. I never thought I would be in a long-term relationship, so learning how to put deep trust and faith in another person has been an awesome experience.
  19. It is important to allow yourself to be vulnerable. In doing so, you learn more about yourself, as well as allowing others to learn more about the real you.
  20. Volunteering at Lifeline at the age of 27 was life-changing for me. It set me on the path for pursuing a career in the helping profession.
  21. Social media is a blessing and a curse! I enjoy using it both personally and professionally, but it can certainly suck you up into the vortex at times.
  22. I am grateful to have two sisters who I trust implicitly and who have never been competitive with me. I love the fact we share similar humour and outlooks. But yes, they can be annoying at times. Ha!
  23. It’s so important to pick yourself up after a challenging experience at work. I remember flatlining in several workshop deliveries, so it’s important to seek support from colleagues and to not be hard on yourself.
  24. At the start of my professional career it was common to still wear formal shirts and ties in the office. Thankfully it’s more smart casual these days.
  25. Workplaces can be a wonderfully social place to be. In the past I’ve been involved in social clubs, sports teams including dragon boating, indoor netball and touch rugby, and of course attended lots of dinner outings.
  26. I seldom use paper diaries and books now. I find it much easier to capture ideas, thoughts and notes on digital devices.
  27. Travel is a privilege. I feel fortunate to have travelled to many places around the globe and those experiences really do inform and shape my world views.
  28. Uh huh. Going to cafes truly is a hobby of mine. I remember studying at uni and thinking that I wanted to be able to have the means to check out new cafes and eateries (despite the constant flack I get from my parents to this day… “all you do is coffee, coffee coffee”…
  29. It is so important to stay young at heart. It’s so easy to feel ‘past it’, but having young energy is intoxicating and liberating. I especially love being a clown with my god-children!
  30. I am a huge advocate for counselling therapies. I have received help from various counsellors over the years and they have made challenging times feel less scary and overwhelming. There is absolutely no shame in reaching out for support.
  31. I didn’t have my first alcoholic drink until I was 21, and drank socially in my 20s and early 30s. To be honest I drank because it seemed to be a socially acceptable thing to do. Now I’m happily a non-drinker and it suits me fine.
  32. Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think about the hardships facing people and the planet. But then I take comfort in knowing that any act of kindness DOES help.
  33. Having attended a Central Auckland high school, I felt shame in telling people I lived in South Auckland (the stigma was real back then). Now I happily embrace my roots and feel grateful for my upbringing in Mangere and Manukau.
  34. As an older Millennial (or Xennial), I feel lucky to have witnessed the sharp changes in society, especially in regards to technology and social attitudes. Only one student in my form 7 year had a cell phone. I went from using typewriters for school assignments, to using overhead projectors and floppy disks at University. I grew up seeing no Pasifika MPs in Government, to suddenly seeing a range of intelligent brown faces in 2021. I also lived in a period where being gay was looked down upon, to being able to get married to partner in 2014! Times a changing and I’m all for it.
  35. People are infinitely interesting with a unique story to tell. Having worked as a careers practitioner for near 11 years, I have dealt with hundreds and hundreds of clients over the years, and no two stories are ever the same.
  36. Pets have brought so much joy to my life. Charlie, Franklin, Sharkey, Mr Furley, Barnaby, Bam Bam, Winsey, Bertie and Moli – thank you for being amazing family members!
  37. I love being a Kiwi. I celebrate the fact that I am a New Zealander of Samoan-Chinese heritage. I am also a bonafide Jafa (“just another f**ing Aucklander) and staunchly remain so.
  38. Ukulele is a way of life.
  39. To this day I still hold superstitions about doing things on the ‘left’ side. As a left-hander, I simply have always enjoyed this lefty quirk!
  40. I feel much more comfortable in my skin as I enter 40. Yes, I like style, but I’m not consumed by brands or expensive things. I am more accepting of my looks and my body (I will never have a 6-pack and I’m totally fine with that).


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