I’ve been dreading this birthday since the beginning of last year. The first thing I thought of in January 2017 was next year I’m going to be sixty, how did that happen where have the years gone. I wasn’t even 59 when the anxiety started to creep in, well I hit 59 last February and today I’m 60. I was going to keep this quiet as in my head all I could think about was how old I had become, who would want to read a blog post or follow a Instagram account written by me.
In reality I’m no different from who I was yesterday so with my head held high (or as high as a 60-year-old women can manage) I’ve decided that a number is not going to define me or interfere with who I am.
Even though I wasn’t looking forward to becoming another year older and hitting this significant milestone I was looking forward to spending time with my daughters. My birthday celebrations started early as my three daughters had planned a special weekend for me. It’s hard to remember when we last spent a weekend all together, just the four of us, it was such a precious time.
I have been thoroughly spoilt, we started with brunch and cocktails on the Saturday morning at Cloud 23 Bar which is at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester. This was a first as though I’m partial to a cocktail or a gin and tonic I’ve not usually had two before 11.30 in the morning, this could become a birthday tradition. After lots of fun and laughter we then went to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel and spent 3 pampering hours in the spa, we finished with a glass of wine in the bar and then our chariot was awaiting as the girls had arranged for their dad to collect us.
After such a busy day my daughters decided on a PJ evening so we spent the evening watching dvd’s eating yummy food, lots of sweet treats, champagne and prosecco. Going back to the sweet treats have you ever had a haribo candy kebab, if not you must check them out.
On Sunday we had a leisurely start, it felt as though I had really gone back in time with the girls coming into my bedroom sitting on my bed, chilling and chatting. Then we had to work out a bathroom rota so that we could all get ready for the next birthday outing.
After breakfast we went to the Treacle Market which is a busy monthly artisan market in Macclesfield’s cobbled market place. It has up to 150 stalls to wander round, with exceptional local produce, tasty hot food, vintage finds and unique crafts. I always manage to buy myself some special treats. We had just enough time to have some lunch before everyone had to return home to get ready for the busy week ahead, poor Kate had to travel back to London.
Today my actual birthday I’ve had lots of birthday cards and lovely gifts to open I feel very special and cared for so maybe 60 is ok.
One of my presents from Kate is a book called “A Glorious Freedom” written by Lisa Congdonan author, illustrator and fine artist. According to Lisa the glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. I have only had time to dip into the first chapter so will report back my findings after reading the book.
Although thinking of Lisa’s words when I was working full-time I was defined by my profession. Life was busy with my job, children, home, grandchildren, parents the list goes on. I never really sat down and thought what do I want and am I happy am I fulfilled. I had gradually over a 20 year period worked myself up the NHS ladder and moved from a hands on community nurse to an Associate Director with a big remit, big budget to manage, difficult decision-making and very long hours.
As most of you will know nine or ten years ago I had to leave my job due to ill-health which was really upsetting at the time but the difficult decision was made for me. You could say that this gave me freedom and the power to pursue new endeavours, as I wouldn’t actively have looked to leave my job.
Time has moved on and I am in a totally different place now, I occasionally miss the busy work environment, the stress and adrenaline buzz of meeting deadlines and challenging situations. But now I have the freedom to plan my own days, which commissions to work on, where and when to run workshops and the ability to build in time for designing. Of course it’s not quite as easy and straightforward as that as my chronic illness does tend to get in the way. But I have found that most of the time we work hand in hand and I’m fairly at peace with my illness I try not to be defined and ruled by it and keep the control. Some days this is a challenge and I will feel really frustrated when I want to do something but my body or brain has other ideas.
I do feel lucky though and try never to dwell on what ifs, I had to leave work and end my career but where one door closed so many more have opened. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, helping with the care of my grandchildren much more than would have been possible if I had still been working.
I sort of fell into my career as a crochet teacher and designer, I had learnt how to crochet as a child but hadn’t crocheted for years. When I left work crochet became my occupational therapy it kept me busy and my mind occupied. Three years ago I met a great group of women on a felting course and after the course was finished we continued to meet monthly and took turns in hosting a craft day. My first hosting involved teaching Soozi, Susan and Rachel how to crochet and that is how my little crochet business started. After lots of encouragement from my friends I placed a small advertisement on a local Facebook crafting site offering beginner crochet lessons and haven’t stopped teaching since.
Earlier this month I was approached by the Knitting Network who in collaboration with Womens Weekly have asked me to work on a project with them which is very exciting. More information will be available later in March so watch this space….. although I have included a sneaky peep at what I have been working on. I love these spring colours they have brought colour into my home during the last few cold grey days.
I have another collaboration to share with you but I will save that until next time.