Below are 11 things that surprised me in my 40’s for one reason or another. Some of them are a bit depressing so I apologise for that now. I find reflection a good tool for taking stock of where you are. Welcome along for the journey.
Learning to play Chess
This one came as a total shock. I have spent my entire life looking down on chess players and then a TV series comes a long with a cute redhead and now I spend my evenings mastering my end game.
I find how well thought out the game is quite fascinating. I went from zero to playing reasonably okay in a couple of weeks. This is a lesson in how prejudice can hold us back from experiencing some of life’s great conquests.
It has also been a great opportunity to break the language barrier playing with some of my wife’s family members. Chess is big in Russia and most people can play to a good level.
Becoming a Father again
This one was in the planning for a long time but due to some struggles it took a lot longer than we expected. Thanks to the miracle of science we got our long awaited little girl.
I suppose the surprise aspect was realizing again how much work it all was. Somehow you handle a lack of sleep much better in your 20’s.
On the other hand, having done it a few times already there are few surprises and its actually a lot more fun when there aren’t so many career stresses and financial worries. There is also more time to interact and watch the child develop.
Struggling to Raise Teenagers
I always expected that raising teenagers would be easy despite what my parents told me. I suppose part of the difficulties come from doing it in a very different world than the one you grew up in. Challenges like Device addiction, Social media and Cyber bullying were never a thing when I was growing up.
Supporting the academic side of High school has been straight forward but the social side has been hard work. I just don’t understand why kids have to be so cruel to each other. Isn’t the world a cold enough place already.
On the bright side I have been able to keep a healthy dialogue with the kids and they seem comfortable about sharing their challenges and successes.
Losing a bunch of Weight and then putting it all back on
Alright I might as well get all the depressing ones out of the way. Back in 2020 I strangely found motivation to lose a bunch of weight and it was awesome! I felt great and had so much energy.
Then the cold winter came and I was struggling with motivation to exercise and just binging on a bunch of sugar. Watching the pounds pack back on was like watching the Titanic slowly move towards the iceberg.
Well the good news here is that I am back on my horse with new strategies on how to knock off that excess weight.
Addiction to Pedicures
Okay, maybe addiction is a strong word, but I have definitely come to appreciate a good pedicure and highly recommend them to anyone.
I suddenly started to get the issue of skin cracking on my feet which was very painful. A few pedicures later the problem was fixed and I was able to regain full mobility.
I haven’t quite moved to the point of wanting my nails painted but it is highly satisfying to watch your feet get cleaned up and all the extra skin trimmed away.
I find Horse feet trimming just as satisfying and can recommend you some videos.
Feeling Fearful of Change
I used to love change – it was exciting and kept me on my toes. Now I feel myself fearful of change, especially when there seems to be so much uncertainty in the world at the moment.
Feeling depressed, struggling with energy and motivation are all signs that it’s time to do something different. I find myself reaching to my younger self to find some reckless courage.
Maybe some success with smaller changes first will help build the courage for bigger changes. That and possibly simplifying life to make changing direction even easier.
Realizing I have become European
For the last 20 years I have been dreaming of getting back to my country Australia. It was never my plan to live in Europe but after I got divorced from my first wife I needed to make a choice to stay and raise the kids or tuck tail and run home.
As the time nears when I can go home I realize that apart from my sisters, parents and a couple of old friends all my life is in Europe. I see myself thinking more like a European than an Australian and I wonder how it would be being so far from the kids and family here.
I have met many old European immigrants in Australia who talk ever so fondly about the country they grew up in. When asked though if they plan to go back they sigh and say, well the family is all here now. Is that going to be me?
Falling in love with Tenerife
My wife booked us a trip to Tenerife for 3 weeks. I had heard Finns often talking down about the Canary Islands and I heard there were only black volcanic beaches so my expectations were very low.
We left the December cold and darkness of Finland only to land in paradise with 24°C and blue skies. Food and accommodation were cheap, there were heaps of things to do and who cares if the beaches are black (they actually made an artificial beach with sand imported from the Sahara).
The most surprising thing though was the beautiful nature and massive Volcano. It was the first time I said to myself, I could actually live here.
Becoming an Anti-Monarchist
I come from English pedigree and was raised a Monarchist. I still remember holding a flag at primary school when the queen visited Australia.
In all fairness Queen Elizabeth II did a great job of setting moral standards and being a role model for generations. Let it be noted though that this was a departure from tradition – most of her forebears dedicated their lives to warmongering, exploiting and immorality.
The switch for me came very quickly when I realized Charles was going to take the throne. He unfortunately has none of his mother’s redeeming graces. Much of the pro-monarchy debate in Australia has been around keeping our “English heritage” or losing our identity – I don’t buy that.
Fundamentally I believe all people should be born equal and having a bunch of people who are told they are better than everyone else doesn’t help that outcome.
The whole mess with Russia
I never would have imagined Europe as it is today, I didn’t think it was possible. The events of the last 6 months have been absolutely devastating. I have seen how it has deeply saddened my wife and put major strain on family relationships.
Now we find ourselves taking care of Ukrainian refugees, struggling to pay fuel and electricity bills and worrying if the dispute will spill into neighboring countries.
We used to love to travel to St Petersburg or down to the south of Russia to see family. Holidaying in Ukraine and Belarus was also fun. How did we get here and more importantly where do we go from here?
Getting interested in Sustainably and Self sufficiency
We have always recycled because that is what everyone does in Finland but I have noticed a change in myself over the last year especially. It’s probably been triggered by the COVID pandemic and all the instability in Europe.
I find myself watching Youtube videos on Tiny living, Aquaponics, Sustainable farming and improving Energy Efficiency. I am starting to care a lot more about where my food comes from and what is in it.
We have been picking a lot of berries and mushrooms the last few years and my summer garden has been going well but it might be time to step it up a gear. I Just heard today that tomato and cucumber farming will be shutting down here in Finland during the winter due to high energy costs.