May 6th, 2013

helen and alan cropped


The lovely mr.ncot surprised me with an afternoon party yesterday! When I was 30 he threw me a surprise party in london, which went on late into the night, with drinking and silly hats. Yesterday was more child friendly - an afternoon party with scones, bubbly, birthday cake, flowers and balloons :-) It was wonderful.... Here begins my week of celebrating 40! The big day is tomorrow... Today I am going to the airport with the boys to watch planes and play in the playground!

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The other surprise contributor was...

... my sneaky friend Karen. We had a lovely lunch, glass of bubbly and cake at Cafe Schober, then she made some feeble excuse (along with her Alan and my Alan) and accompanied me home for the party! Before meeting her I spent some time at lake. Another friend Alison gave me these beautiful tulips - 40 in total :-) Yesterday really was a perfect day!

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The 4 decades of Helen (part 1)

My first challenge @40 is to reflect on what I have achieved in my life so far (as a wise friend suggested!)
I did a quick trawl of the photos that I have on my laptop and tried to pick four per year ie 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013. There has been a bit of artistic licence, but here I am - I think my smile has stayed the same!

Baby and toddler Helen
1973ish (1) 1973ish (4) 1973ish (5) 1973ish 2

Gawky family girl Helen
1983ish 2 1983ish 1986 1989

Happy student Helen
1993 1993ish (3) 1993ish (4) 1993ish (5)

Living in London and loving it Helen
2003 (1) 2003 (2) 2003 (3) 2003 (4)

Happy Mum, wife and zurich career woman Helen
2013 (1) 2013 (2) 2013 (3) 2013 (4)

The 4 decades of Helen (part 2)

Before I went away on my weekend alone (at start of April) I was worrying about turning 40 and all the things I hadn't yet done with my life. Zurich friend J wisely said - Reflect on what you have done so far with your life :-)

Over dinner, I started scrawling notes in my glossy magazine, per decade, what I had done, personally, professionally, where had I travelled, what volunteer work had I done. I love the fact that my life bears no relation (and will never a bear relation to) the glossy life as advertised in the magazine.

From 30 - 39 I ...
moved to Switzerland with Alan
finished my masters degree and graduated with distinction
Started work with Credit Suisse, travelled for work to USA, Poland, Singapore, got promoted to AVP
Travelled with Alan to Thailand, Australia, Europe
found my online self, set up my blog and other social media sites
led the Professional womens group of zurich for 4 years
had two operations and IVF
had Markus and Patrick!

From 20 - 29 I ...
Met Alan, fell in love, moved in with him, proposed to him & we got married
Studied for my German degree, lived in German for a year, graduated
At University was social secretary, then president of a student society
Sang in the University choir, Travelled to Taize
Worked during university holidays for UWE
Worked for TCS, Sunrise, DTZ, travelled for work in UK and Europe, lived in USA for 3 months
Volunteered for the Samaritans for 3 year
Ran the London Marathon
Travelled with Alan to Canada, South Africa, California, Nashville, Russia
Volunteered on several Regional and National Guiding Committees
Volunteered as a Brownie Guider for several years

From 11 - 19 I ...
Played in Youth Orchestras at various levels, from age 11 to 18
Was part of Guide Association, up to Young Leader and Guider
Was awarded Queens Guide
Volunteered in Sri Lanke for 3 months
Worked at Bristol Central Library
Travelled to Norway, Sweden, Canada

And from 40 - 49 I will ...
Enjoy my family
My kids will start School
Start and finish my PhD
Buy a home?

@40Challenges: #1 done


My @40 Challenge starts tomorrow... 41 ideas!

... after lots of deliberation, here is the (nearly) final list! I sat by the lake this weekend and thought not just about the things on the list, but about what this year really means to me. I have 41 things listed, couldn't quite choose just 40....

My year of being 40 is about celebrating and stabilising the fabulous life that I have, but working towards some bigger goals and also finding ways to inspire me (and by extension my family) to do new and creative things, to shake myself out of my comfort zone.

It feels like a transitional year, of deciding what our family and our future looks like. Of appreciating everything that we have. Of me accepting that I am now finally grown up!

It is a year to get fit, get healthy, find the right weight for me that i can sustain. I want to build a healthy foundation that will see me through to old age and keep me working and active as long as possible. I want to establish long term, sustainable, exercise habits.

It's a year to decide on the next stage of my career, of deciding how I want to develop professionally.

So, the list, grouped into 4 categories. I will try and do monthly updates on how I am getting on. I vow now to focus on what I do achieve and not berate myself for what I don't achieve! If you can help me with a challenge, please let me know!

Family, Friends, Community
1. Reflect on the 40 best things I have done in my life so far
2. Find a userpic for @40
3. Plan a family holiday in Canada in 2014
4. 40 cups of tea with friends
5. Family Palmer weekend in UK
6. Monthly dates with Mr.Ncot
7. Night away with Mr.Ncot (without boys!) at Montana Hotel, Lucerne
8. Visit Cheryl
9. Plant a Tree
10. Create a time capsule box for when I'm 80! (40 photos / cards / momentos)
11. Replace engagement ring
12. Weekend in Brussels
13. Weekend in Manchester
14. Visit Parents on barge

15. Swim across Zurich lake in summer (and/or limmat river swim in December)
16. Half Marathon in Cape Town, Easter 2014
17. Learn 40 new recipes
18. 40 hours of Yoga
19. Walk on Uetliberg once a month
20. Find spiritual director / church / nourish my spiritual self

Creative & Having Fun
21. Attend TED zuerich in Oct 2013
22. Sail on Zurich Lake
23. Blog weekly
24. Go tandem paragliding
25. Family Photo Shoot
26. Create album for me about being 40
27. Attend 4 cultural events
28. Redesign (using flavors me)
29. Go to a radio or tv recording in London (have I got news for you, the news quiz, the now show etc)
30. Complete my patchwork quilt
31. Relive my student days in Sheffield
32. Create photo album of professional shoots
33. Cake baking / decorating course / cooking course
34. Take a private skiing lesson (either downhill or cross country)
35. Finish wedding sampler for M&M
36. Finish our wedding album !

Work & Study
37. Find a PhD supervisor (and therefore a topic)
38. Find my next job
39. Become a mentor

40. Alan's Joker