Saturday, 17 March 2018

Turning 40

It's been so long since I posted on this blog. I've written about 6 draft posts but not published any, because I've never been back to them again to add images / edit them. Apologies for the radio silence, and hope you are all well.

Blogging in this Instagram-era is tough, we all want quick visuals and don't have the time or energy for longer articles. But I still read blogs, and I want to keep this blog active with parenting / lifestyle content as I still feel it's a great way to connect.

I'm interacting with some of you on social media, whether through Facebook groups, Instagram, or seeing you in person at my self-care events through my business The Wellness Clinic ( So it feels like I'm still in touch with my readers. I know lots of you are keeping an eye on the blog and re-reading my posts, and for that I am really grateful. You can search for all articles of a certain topic (breastfeeding / days out etc) in the search bar on the right (web version) and at the top on a mobile.

I took up roller skating for the first time since I was 20, such a buzz!
If you want to keep up with me more frequently I'm on Instagram as @thewellnessclinic, and feel free to friend request me on Facebook (Niamh O'Connell). Ok, that's the housekeeping out of the way, let's get into the real topic for discussion.

Turning 40.

It still gives me a little shock, seeing the birthday cards, hearing the phrase "Happy 40th", I have to keep reminding myself, yes, I am 40.

My parents had me in their early 20s, so I remember them turning 30, and when they turned 40 I was in college. So to me 40 has always seemed middle-aged, grown-up and yes, over the hill.

While I do feel grown-up (having an almost 10 year old child will do that to a gal), and sometimes middle-aged (getting upset when I lose my slippers), I do not feel over the hill. I still feel 28 or so in my head. I keep wondering where the last decade disappeared to.

Aged 31 (and dh at 28) with our first child

Nearly 10 years later, on my 40th

On paper I've done a lot since I was 30: had 3 children, home-schooled them, closed one business, retrained and started another, travelled a bit, learned lots of new skills (gardening, herbalism, roller-skating to name a few). But I also feel it's flown by in a haze of nappies and baby talk. I have probably only read 50 books in the last decade, compared to about 50 books per year before children. I don't think I've completely stagnated, but I have certainly changed the way I work.

Before children I worked in a linear fashion: set days per week, set hours per day. I switched off on holidays and plugged back in after a holiday. Now I've had children my work revolves around them a lot. I work when they sleep, when they're not needing me, when they're healthy, when they're otherwise occupied. I work through my holidays, being self-employed it's hard not to. I do turn off my phone / laptop one day a week, but otherwise I'm emailing and answering requests every day and night. I arrange my work around my menstrual cycle as much as possible, taking a week off client work every month or so, and working doubly productively when I am feeling energetic. I don't sit and daydream when I'm supposed to be working, I identify a task and get it done. Kids certainly teach you how to best use your limited time.

Ageing-wise I'm pretty ok with being older, though I did pull out a grey hair I found on my head a couple of weeks ago. I'm ok with the wrinkles and keep reminding myself ageing is a privilege, while half-heartedly looking up face yoga to keep myself looking young! For now I'm happy with how make-up works and I don't have the impulse to go working out my face more than I have to, but a natural facelift is definitely on my agenda. I bought Eva Fraser's book when I was 19 and have still not opened it, but will probably do so in the next few years.

Brain-wise though my short-term memory is shot to bits (don't ask me what I did yesterday, every day is so full and the days fly by so quickly, I have to check my phone's photo gallery or my work diary to remember what I got up to) I'm still as eager as ever to learn new things. I attend lectures, do online courses and have taken up a full-contact sport in the last few months. My youngest child is 2.5 years old so I have a bit more physical freedom, and I can get away for a day or a night if I want/need to.

In terms of celebrating my 40th, rather than the pressure of a big party (which would actually be my idea of hell - the pressure! the expense! the social anxiety! the planning!) I'm having lots of smaller celebrations and treating myself a lot this year. It started with a solo overnight trip to London to catch a friend's gig in February. 36 hours of solitude, apart from the night out, bliss after nursing sick kids the 2 weeks previous. I window shopped, walked, ate, relaxed and generally had a ball, plus my first full night's sleep in a decade. Guys, I slept like the dead. It was amazing! I have a blog post coming on how little I packed for the trip. I was pretty chuffed with my minimalism so want to share that!

Solo brunch in my birthday week

Last week I had a meal out with some friends and family, chatting over pizzas and prosecco, reminiscing and catching up. That was fab. Others are joining me for roller disco and drinks this weekend, and I've some more trips and treats planned for the coming months. My actual birthday was a romantic affair with my husband, and a meal with my immediate family.

Turning 40 does feel like a momentous milestone and I did have a bit of existential angst the week before the actual day. Am I ready to turn 40? Can I say goodbye to my 30s? Are they over already?! Where am I going exactly? Will the next decade go so fast? Where will I be then? I've kind of distracted myself from those big questions this week, but I do want to sit down and do some journalling about it all soon. Make some plans, set some intentions for the next decade. Check my overall goals and make sure I'm doing enough to get there. I like having long-term goals, they really help my day-to-day motivation, which is important when you're self-employed. 

My view from work the other day - you'd never know this was Dublin city centre!

I'm really enjoying my work, The Wellness Clinic is a dream job, and the people I meet are all fantastic. I'm seeing private clients for nutrition and self-care coaching, including sleep, stress and lifestyle habits. I'm working with corporate clients on wellness programmes in the workplace, running wellness programmes in schools and doing speaking engagements too. It's never been busier, but I get such a buzz from it I feel energised on my days off too. 

Ok, this has turned out longer than I expected, but it's been great to catch up. I will upload the travel article soon and have lots more to share. Drop me a line at the usual or let me know in the comments what kind of articles you'd like to see this year. 

Enjoy the bank holiday!
Nee x

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