A big milestone is coming up for me.
I woke up this morning and realized that in exactly one week, I will be turning 40. Wow! This big milestone has been on my mind for the past few years, yet, surprisingly, as the date approaches, it’s not a big deal anymore.
I remember when I was a teenager, thirty seemed ancient to me. I couldn’t even fathom what life would be like after thirty!
Like the seasons, the decades each hold a special story with many significant events. Each season entirely different from the other, and none better than the other. Each season is special and unique…much like the decades of my life.
In honour of this big milestone, here are 40 favourite moments
- Christmas with my family in Montreal when I was a kid. My cousins, brothers and I all had Christmas stockings that my mom’s youngest sister made for us. We’d pose for photos every year with those stockings. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. It’s the one time of the year that we can all be together. My mom’s family is very tightly-knit and my cousins are like siblings to me.
- Time spent in my father’s homeland of Trinidad and Tobago and I unofficially adopted a kitten there. A beautiful little grey and white kitten followed me back to my grandma’s shop and I kept him. I named him Marlon (after Marlon Brando) because of his beautiful eyes. My Trinidad trip was my first taste of world travel. I thank my parents for giving us the gift of travel and being able to experience different cultures.
- The birth of my youngest brother introduced big changes to our family. Just when I thought our family was complete, the birth of Baby Bro made life even better…and more interesting!
- The renewal of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary showed me what true love was really about. Family is not just important — it’s the most important thing in life (to me).
- Visiting Disney World for the first time was one of my favourite experiences. My little brother was so young the first time we went, and Disney was absolutely magical for all of us.
- Our time in Cape San Blas, Florida when we were kids is significant to me because I remember my Dad sharing with us some things that he was really excited about (like fishing and eating Cajun Catfish). I remember Dad being startled, as a dolphin nearly jumped over him as he was fishing! Family trips to Florida as a child meant spending our days on the beach and having lots of family time. Traveling with my mom’s family was fun. It seemed we did a lot with my mom’s family and I only hope my child will have experiences similar to the ones I had. Family is so important.
- Christmas in New York City. We sometimes spent Christmas in New York and we visited NYC as often as we could, but this one Christmas in particular, my cousins, siblings and I went to Chinatown with my Dad’s family and had Dim Sum with my grandmother. We walked around NY and went shopping, and just enjoyed quality time together.
- My high school graduation was bitter sweet. It seems like the end of childhood, as my peers and I were all heading in different directions and entering the adult world. It was exciting yet a bit sad.
- The time my friend, Avoid Everything and I were in university and had to call his mom to pick us up at 3am at the train station because all the trains had stopped running and we couldn’t get home. I remember trying to jump a fence, but because I am vertically challenged, I got stuck on the fence and ripped my jeans.
- Our Summer weekend trip to my friend Gadget Girl’s family’s cottage brings back lots of memories of just being young adults, going away without parents, and just hanging out at the cottage by the lake. There was a sense of freedom that seemed exciting to a teenager. I miss those days of not having to worry about things like mortgages and bills. I miss the carefree Summer weekends and just being able to go to the cottage with friends.
- The time my Dad visited me for a week when I lived in Japan is probably one of my fondest memories. I was well into my first few months living and working abroad and the honeymoon stage had started to pass and I was moving into a bit of the homesickness stage. Dad’s visit was so welcomed and it was probably the first time I connected with my Dad the way I did when I was a kid. Admittedly, my teen years were fraught with a bit of rebellion and lots of hormonal teenage girl issues. I can admit this now. Bless my Mom and Dad for putting up with me.
- The time my Mom and Baby Bro spent almost a month with me when I lived in Japan is another favourite memory of mine. It felt good to have them with me and I also loved that my Mom had homecooked meals ready for me when I got home from work. When I was working in Japan, I think I only cooked maybe two or three times in the two years I was there! It was cheaper and more convenient to dine out. Groceries were expensive and would often get wasted since it was just me in my apartment. Going to the local izakaya after work with friends was always more economical and more enjoyable. Anyway, having Mom and Baby Bro with me made me feel like I had “home” with me. It was a very special time for us.
- My first trip to Miyajima for some reason is forever etched in my mind and heart. I had traveled to many beautiful places before, but Miyajima seemed so magical to me for some reason.
- A Sunday morning bike ride and brunch at Darren Almond cafe in Fukuyama sticks in my mind as I recall the morning was beautiful and exceptionally cheerful. Co-workers at the school I taught at had the same days off as I did and we would bike to the cafe for brunch. I remember having curried scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel and a cup of tea. I don’t exactly know what it was about that day that makes me treasure it as I do.
- Japanese New Year and ringing the bells (dressed in kimono and geita visiting the temple and shrine). My Japanese friends made osechi and wanted us to experience Japanese New Year traditions. Being far away from home during the holidays, it was really special to be able to celebrate with friends and co-workers.
- My trip to Kyoto was like a dream. Never in my life had I experienced such breathtaking beauty as I did in Kyoto.
- Ohanami has to be one of my favourite Japanese celebrations. Sitting underneath the cherry blossoms and having a picnic with friends was magical. Every time I think of how beautiful it was whenever the wind would blow and cherry blossom petals would whirl around in the wind, it makes me smile. It is this reason that I planted two cherry trees on our farm. It will take years for them to mature, but hopefully one day I will be able to celebrate Ohanami with Little One.
- My trip to Bali came at a significant time in my life. I needed a distraction and some time to think about things. I look back on my time in Bali and think of the beautiful rice terraces, the incredible food, and the feeling of just being on vacation.
- New Year’s in Niagara Falls is another fun memory. One of my former students from Japan came to visit me when I returned to Toronto. My family took her along with us to Niagara Falls for New Year’s. I remember how cold it was and how beautiful the falls were all lit up. Jann Arden was performing for the New Year’s celebration and when she was on stage, it started to snow. So beautiful.
- The day I met my canine baby, Chance was the day I learned what it felt like to really care for and be responsible for another being. Chance is my first baby. I cannot believe he is thirteen years old already! He continues to be my loyal protector and companion. We’ve been through a lot together in the past thirteen years.
- Visiting the Philippines for the first time will always be one of the most important experiences of my life. Though the purpose of my visit is sad (it was my aunt’s funeral), being able to connect with my family there and really learn more about our roots will always be a pivotal part of my life. I learned that my Filipino family roots are very deep and we need to keep the stories alive. I would love if we could record and document on paper some of the stories and experiences of our ancestors.
- The moment I knew Manitoulin would be my new home was pretty clear to me. I drove up to the Island with my parents and the full moon reflecting on the water and the sense of “Ahhhh!” as soon as we crossed the bridge in Little Current made me certain that this was the place I was going to live.
- My courtship with my husband was an entirely different kind of dating experience for me. It was so sweet and so refreshing. We spent many evenings walking on the beach at Carter Bay and our dates consisted of him driving me around the Island and playing tour guide. We’d go foraging and on our edible wild walks, he’d identify the various flora indigenous to the Island and I remember being in awe of his knowledge about a variety of topics.
- Seeing my first meteor shower was exciting. We are blessed with our dark skies up here. We can experience so many spectacular events right from our own front deck!
- Seeing the Northern Lights for the first time was a wondrous experience. I laugh every time I tell the story of the first time I saw the Aurora Borealis. Ever since I was a little girl, I had wanted to see the Aurora Borealis. I thought we had to go as far north as Yellowknife and didn’t realize we could see the Northern Lights from here. My parents were at Baby Bro’s high school graduation and I was manning the motel. All the guests were in bed and in the middle of the night, I thought someone was shining their high beams in my bedroom window! I was annoyed at being rudely awakened and then when I peered out my window, I was scared. It looked like UFOs were flashing lights in the sky. I was half asleep and disoriented, that I was convinced that what I saw were indeed UFOs. It wasn’t until the next morning that friends who own the eco-resort nearby called to ask if I had seen the Northern Lights!
- My former students from Mexico, Colombia and South Korea visiting me on the Island the first year I moved here was very special to me. I loved my new life on the Island, but part of me missed the city, teaching, and my friends and students. Having my former students visit lifted my spirits. I miss them so much.
- My wedding day was definitely a day I will never forget. It was emotionally overwhelming and it seemed to have flew by really quickly though. Family and friends came from near and far. We had family from the United States and the Philippines, as well as from all over Canada. Some of my former co-teachers and students were in attendance as well. Of course, there was the important part of making the commitment to Hubby to spend the rest of our lives together.
- The birth of my nephew, Kenny was a huge event for our family. Middle Bro’s son was the first baby of the new generation. He was the first nephew, grandchild and great-grandchild.
- Our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic was the first big trip Hubby and I took together. It was also the first time I saw Hubby so relaxed and not worried about the farm.
- Finding out we were expecting was an interesting story. We spent fifteen months trying to conceive, but to no avail. Then one day, we “Let go and let God” (an expression my Mother-in-law always tells us). If it was going to happen, then it was going to happen. If not, then things would still be fine. The minute we just let go, we found out that we were pregnant. We also discovered that I was pregnant on the anniversary of Hubby’s father’s death. Hubby thought that was special.
- The birth of my daughter was the most memorable day of my life. Little One delivered herself (no doctors were present in the room when she cannon-balled herself into the world).
- The day we finally got to bring Little One home from the hospital was the second most special day of my life. It was a long time spent in the NICU and Level II Nursery. The day we finally got to take her home was like a dream.
- Our first Christmas at home (as parents) was special because we got to be at home with our Christmas miracle. Our first Christmas as parents was spent in the NICU with the bright lights, alarms, leads and attachments, and our very tiny preemie.
- Bringing my three year old to the Philippines was so special for her and for me. It was Little One’s first experience of international travel and she was a champ! We traveled from Manitoulin to Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver, Vancouver to Tokyo, Tokyo to Manila, and Manila to San Jose. She was a trooper. I love that she got to see where her Lola grew up. She was so open to everything and ate whatever was served to her. The most important thing was she got to spend Great Lola’s last days alive with her. She also got to meet her relatives in the Philippines.
- Girls’ Weekend with my Mom and Little One was memorable because Little One got to have lots of quality time with Lola. We went to the city, stayed in a hotel, and had an enjoyable, restful weekend.
- Going to Hollywood for the TOMS and Target event is one of my favourite experiences. I remember being excited to be in the same room as Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba and Soleil Moon Frye (I loved Punky Brewster when I was a kid). I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to go to California for the One For One For All launch.
- Meeting Commander Chris Hadfield was one of my starstruck moments. How often does one get to say that one has met someone who has been in space and who has seen our planet from space?!
- Taking Little One to Disney World for the first time made me smile. Seeing the look of awe and her reaction to everything at Disney reminded me of the magic of childhood. Little One was at a great age for the trip and I will never forget her smiles from that day.
- Taking Little One to Ripley’s Aquarium just the two of us was special because it was a great chance for us to go away together and she really enjoyed the educational aspect of our trip. Since Little One has been learning to read, she was a reading machine at Ripley’s and was reading everything!
- The time Little One took her birthday money and bought groceries to donate to the local Food Bank was definitely my proudest Mommy moment thus far. Her giving heart always makes me so happy.
Trying to think of individual memories and events was tricky. There are so many experiences that create the tapestry of our lives.
From the experiences in the past few decades, I have learned a few important things.
- Who cares what other people think? People are going to form their own perception of you no matter what. As long as you live a life you can feel good about and that will make your grandma proud, that’s all that matters.
- It’s okay to say NO. In fact, it’s often necessary to say no and I need to learn how to say no more often. Being a people pleaser can wear a person out.
- Let other people take the reigns sometimes. If people do not show initiative, it doesn’t mean that you always have to do everything. If something doesn’t get done, it can either wait, or it just doesn’t get done. The world won’t fall apart if you don’t do everything for everyone all the time. Someone else will eventually pick up the slack.
- Patience is a virtue I still clearly do not posses. I need to learn to be more patient with my husband and my daughter and not place too much expectation on them.
- FOMO is a thing of the past. Fear Of Missing Out was always a challenge for me. I have always been one who wanted to be super involved in activities, events, work, and everything. This year, circumstances have led me to recognize that I need to slow down and scale back on my involvement in activities, committees, and everything else.
- Be thankful every day. No matter how crazy your day has been, be thankful for what you have. We are blessed with amazing family, friends and so much more.
Okay, 40s! I’m excited to experience what is yet to come!