Life choices


A few random thoughts for a Thursday, for no reason other than this is what I woke up thinking this morning.

1) If people could choose their shape without having to concern themselves about diet and exercise, what shape would most choose? What would be desirable if it could be achieved without effort?

I am wondering how much the beauty industry relies on those who are slim feeling superior. I know that perceived beauty does not equate to self confidence, but I do think that those who manage to stay slim feel that they have succeeded where the more rotund have failed. If all could choose their shape, then would most women choose to be the extremely slim shape that is currently sold as desirable? Would most men choose the supposedly attractive muscular torso? We can choose the clothes that we wear, and use this to conform to societal expectations or not. We use dress to express our individuality, or to fit in with the expected codes and fashions. If we could easily choose our body shape it would be interesting to see what choices were made. Things that do not cost, be it time, effort or money, are rarely as highly valued.

2) If people could choose, once only, to stop their body looking older, then at what age would they choose to stop? Given that they would continue to age inside, would an outward display of youth be desirable?

I doubt that many would choose to look five or ten or even fifteen years old for the rest of their lives. What about twenty though, or thirty? Would most truly wish to remain looking young?

I am well into middle age and have found a certain freedom in my changing looks that I had not expected. I have attained a sort of invisibility, no longer seen as desirable by the opposite sex or in competition with my own. I have had my career and I have had my kids. The pressure to succeed has been lifted and I am left with only myself and my loved ones to please. I am of little interest to the rest.

I am no longer bothered by sexist fools who think they flatter me by cat calling or attempting to chat me up. I feel safe when I go out alone, there but overlooked. It is empowering, exciting and a little daunting to have no expectations to meet. This is not to say that I am always comfortable in my own skin. When I am out with my children I dread running into their friends in case the way I look embarrasses them. On my own, however, I can relax. I merge with the background; there but of no particular interest to anyone.

There is still plenty that I wish to achieve in this life but I am now doing it solely for me. It seems that growing older suits me; stopping the clock on my looks would have lost me not just this freedom, but a valuable life lesson. Time travel can be as interesting and educational as exploring new places and cultures.

If all could look young there would be issues with couplings. We respond to looks in choosing a mate. Ageing is there for a reason; without it I believe some would feel deceived.

3) When you think of success, what level of success do you dream of?

I like the idea of being the author of a traditionally published book. As I have yet to write anything that could be submitted for publication this is unlikely to happen. If I did though, I wonder if I would really want success. Of course, I love the idea of being widely read, assuming readers liked my writing that is. I have a pipe dream of seeing my book in a bookshop. Financial independence would be pleasing but to achieve that level of success, which is rare even amongst published authors, there is a cost that I know I would struggle with.

I would dread having to stand up in front of people to promote my book, to give talks or appear in the media. I feel no great need to impress the world, what I would like is to impress my little family. I suspect that they are the least likely to admire anything I could produce. Even if I achieved the perceived success of a best selling author my husband would probably criticise the quality and worth of my writing.

Given the number of people who queue up to audition for televised talent shows there are plenty of people out there who seek even momentary fame. Given the efforts that sports men and women put into improving their rankings there are plenty who crave short term success. Would all of these people be willing to suffer the costs though, the life not lived due to the pressure, intrusion and demands of fame?

I think that I would be happier with a small and quiet success, whatever that word actually means.



Growing up

It came to me this morning what is bothering me about the life I am leading: being a grown up is not what I expected it to be. I thought that, when I grew up, I would be able to do what I wanted.

As a teenager I used to get so frustrated that my parents had power over me. I had accepted the much repeated mantra that I needed to gain qualifications if I was to enjoy a reasonable standard of living for the rest of my life. This meant that I was financially dependent on my parents until I was well into my twenties. I had to follow their rules.

I kept going, and it was a struggle sometimes, because I dreamt of the day when I would move away. I would buy my own house, which I bought and furnished in my imagination many times, and I would be free. I would be able to start living my life. Up until then it felt as though I was killing time.

There is no doubt that I felt an incredible sense of elation when I moved away and then bought my own place. I worked and partied and travelled as I had planned. I was also incredibly lonely at times.

Then I got married. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this and was much happier being married than I was living on my own. I adored, and still adore, my husband. What I hadn’t envisaged when I was younger, living in my parent’s house, was that I would not be free to live as I wanted when I was with someone else. It wasn’t just my parents who would expect me to fit in with their rules.

These past few weeks I have been feeling better about the way my life is going than I have for quite some time. I feel that I have managed to retake a little autonomy. Except the results of that selfishness are now coming to my attention and I am having to suppress a growing sense of irritation. If I don’t wash the dishes then they remain unwashed; if I don’t clean the house then the dust and cobwebs soon build. Nobody else in the house will think to do anything about the mess, and I can see that this is my fault because I have never attempted to delegate these tasks.

My husband goes out to work and thereby supports us all financially; it is only fair that I should look after these housey jobs. My kids have their school work and social lives; getting them to do much else is too often a harder battle than doing the jobs myself. They point out that I am home all day and they are not. But still, but still…

I find myself longing for an escape. for the ability to do more of the things that I want. And then I look out from my privileged, little bubble and I feel huge waves of guilt for thinking these thoughts. I have it so easy with my loving family around me and my financially secure life. I feel so selfish that I am not permanently happy and grateful.

My kids are growing up. All too soon they will be moving out and I will long for their messy bedrooms and impenetrable demands. I will be able to buy myself a new item of clothing without my daughter asking if I needed it (in her eyes, it is she who always needs new things). I will be able to cook dinner for a time that suits me rather than trying to accommodate the needs of others, who cannot decide if they wish to go somewhere until the last minute, but will blame me for their inability to attend if I have not yet fed them. Yes, I will have more freedom, but I know I will miss their never ending demands.

I used to think that, when I grew up, I would be able to go out when I wanted, stay in when I wanted and eat what I wanted. These days going out is a major, logistical exercise that requires multiple permissions and forward planning. I always seem to put someone else out with such requests for cooperation. When I eat what I want I put on stupid amounts of weight; if I then try to cut down my daughter berates me. My parents controlled me with the knowledge that I was financially dependent on them; my husband and kids control me with guilt.

This is not what I thought being a grown up would entail. Cooking and cleaning; dishes and laundry; living my life quietly and without fuss whilst supporting those I love. I read back on that and I think about how good my life sounds; how good my life is. But still, but still…

Perhaps a part of it is that I have not changed inside. I look my age (at least) and have the aches and tiredness that go with that increase in years. I have an older generation’s expectations weighing me down and a younger generation’s demands filling my day. If I grab some time to do what I want (which I have been doing more often lately) then the price I pay is a backlog of tasks that must eventually be completed. And a voice inside is telling me that this is all my fault because I have allowed it to happen.

Does being a grown up mean living unnoticed, without emotional support? Whilst the things that I fail to do cause inconvenience to others, the things that I achieve are expected so not noteworthy. What makes me feel good: a fabulous view discovered on a long walk, an insightful book, a piece of writing where the words mange to convey the feelings I am trying to express; I try to share my inner satisfaction and encounter blank looks from those around me. My attempts to join in with their wordplay are increasingly met with irritation. I am required to be seen but not heard.

Perhaps we never really grow up, we merely grow old. Perhaps I am longing to have my achievements recognised and lauded as I did when a child. Perhaps all that has changed is that I have learned to act as expected, for most of the time anyway.

It is the weekend. I have a house to tidy, an oven to clean, laundry to sort and meals to cook. I have taken on the responsibility of a family and raised my children to act as they do. If I ever feel unhappy with my lot then it is up to me to orchestrate change. Perhaps accepting that is a part of what growing up means. Whilst the child in me throws herself on the floor in a hissy fit, I will get on with the jobs to hand with as good a grace as I can muster. But still, but still…

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Taking care of myself

‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.’

I have been enjoying a couple of sunny days at home with my family and we have managed to complete a number of time consuming jobs around the garden. The most labour intensive of these was emptying out our seven compost bins, transporting the usable mulch to our borders and flowerbeds and layering the remaining material with straw from the chicken runs and grass cuttings from the lawn ready for another few months of decomposition. My husband and older son completed this task together, chatting away as they dug and barrowed and raked the heavy material.

My younger son’s list of jobs included washing down the garden furniture, cutting the grass and oiling the tables and chairs. He was not keen on being removed from his computer games but completed his tasks well and even stayed out to play football and mess around on the trampoline for a short time after his work was done. It was good to see him enjoying being outside. His mood is always so much more cheerful when he is occupied away from his screens.

I was left with the job of brushing off the areas of decking that we have had built down the slope of our garden. Once this was completed my husband oiled the wood while I tidied the chicken garden. My older son came with me to dig over and sanitise the ground where the now unused run had been, as my back was suffering from my couple of hours sweeping. He had washed out the empty chicken coop the day before so we are now ready to add to our flock if we can source suitable pullets.

It felt good to be working outside, particularly as we were all busy together and the weather was pleasant. With so many onerous tasks completed we came inside late in the day with a sense of achievement. The boys sat down for dinner feeling satisfied; I sat down wondering if I would be able to stand up again.

My body is showing many signs of ageing. I can exercise carefully so gym work, swimming, long walks and cycle rides are all fine. It is the hard labour that I now struggle to cope with; digging, carrying heavy weights or continuous bending. I am fortunate in not suffering from any chronic injuries but I find that my joints ache regularly and my back complains if I try to do too much. What is too much for me probably looks so little compared to the work that others can complete with apparent ease.

Other parts of my body are changing as I grow older. The texture of my skin is drying out and developing a dull, leathery appearance rather than the bright, supple look it used to have. My hair, which has been prone to greasiness since I was a teenager, no longer needs to be washed every day in order to look acceptable. If I sleep badly I wake up with puffy eyes.

I am not overly concerned with the way I look and choose to balance a lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise against the enjoyment I get from eating indulgently from time to time and drinking wine. I wish to take pleasure in living as well as being sensible with the only body I will ever be given. Good health is a great gift but there are some illnesses that cannot be avoided however carefully we live.

I have friends who suffer from unseen illness: fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, clinical depression. There are others whose chronic ailments are more obvious but equally challenging. As we age there is an expectation that health issues will develop. How we cope with them can have a big impact on how we are treated by others. Stoicism is often admired yet there is no way that we can judge the suffering of another. Pain thresholds and severity of condition differ between individuals and some will not wish to share how they feel. Others will allow their illness to be the ruling factor in their lives and expect to be treated with the sympathy and consideration that they consider their due.

It is too easy to judge what we cannot fully understand. Our ability to cope with pain or illness is as much to do with our mood as with our physical well being. The emotional support we receive as well as our attitude to the challenges we are dealt can affect outcomes as effectively as medication. The severity of an illness or injury and the ability of the sufferer to cope should not be judged based on how we ourselves have managed in the past with something we consider to have been similar. If we cannot offer gentle empathy and understanding then it is probably best to keep our peace.

Ageing is a chronic condition but need not be an affliction. I wish to celebrate that my body is continuing to serve me as I age, even if it does complain more than it used to when I ask it to work harder at unfamiliar tasks. I will listen when it needs rest but not indulge it too much. I do not wish to be ruled by the health advise that sometimes seems to suggest that we will live forever if we cut out certain pleasures. It is my view that pleasure is a necessary part of healthy living.

The most useful support that I received when I was feeling down came from unexpected quarters. Perhaps those who know me best found my difficulties hardest to deal with; they felt that they knew me and could not square the many privileges that I enjoy with my unexplained outburst of pain. It can be so very hard not to judge others, particularly those who seem to have so much. The longer I live the more I see that we must accept others as they are. I will be judged but need not take notice of these judgements. Spending time with toxic people can do as much damage as any other foolish lifestyle choice. I am responsible for my well being. I need to concentrate on taking care of myself.


On being old and incorrigible

My children amuse themselves by asking me if I miss the pet mammoth I had as a child. We have named him Arrhg as, in my youth, man would not have been sophisticated enough to have developed complex spoken language. To them, I am just so unimaginably old.

It is my children who make me feel my age. It is not only their smooth skin, lithe bodies and use of new slang (which I try to keep up with to at least understand what they are saying), but also their ability to quickly adapt to their constantly evolving world. Just as my own mum struggled to operate the VHS recorder, so I can never seem to remember how to switch our home media system between the various games machines, audio systems and video options available for our entertainment. I can still play a CD or DVD but apparently these are becoming obsolete – a bit like me perhaps.

I was very excited about receiving my first smart phone earlier this year and looked forward to reading the manual and learning how it all worked. It didn’t come with a manual. I now have to call on the services of my youngest son to sort me out when it does anything unexpected. I have yet to get it to access the internet when it cannot connect to our WiFi. I used to be able to turn to my husband to help me out but now he too just shrugs his shoulders and tells me to ask one of our sons.

All of this irritates my older son immensely. He has been told that I once worked with computers and held down a decent job. When he looks at how I cope with the technology he is so familiar with I think he regards these tales of my past life as on a par with Norse mythology, but a lot less interesting.

I am very comfortable making use of the modern technology that I can learn to access easily. As a former systems designer I hold the view that all machines should be made easy to use. If it is not intuitive then it is badly designed. My argument fails to hold when my children can pick up whatever I am struggling with and work out how to use it in minutes if not seconds. They are genuinely perplexed that I cannot immediately see what needs to be done. To them it seems that I am just a foolish, old woman.

Apart from my struggles with new technology I do not feel old. Actually, that is probably a lie. When I exercise hard my joints can ache for days. I struggle to read without my glasses. I do not sleep as well as I once did. I go upstairs to fetch something, spot several jobs that need doing and return downstairs without the item I first wanted. I avoid looking in mirrors so we won’t even go there.

My daughter asked me recently how I planned to be when I grew really old. I felt quite chuffed that, at that moment, she didn’t consider I had got there already. It brought to mind the poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph ( Although I have no intention of learning to spit and do not especially like pickles this appeals to me because it allows us to look forward to a bit of fun in old age, especially at the younger generation’s expense. Well, they have laughed at me often enough…

I wonder why there always seems to have been this generational divide. I would like to be able to talk to the old and the young in the same way that I can talk to my peers yet it is so hard to do. The old seem intent on giving advice and the young on not listening. I would like to just chat, share news and relax in each others company without concern about how we will be perceived or judged.

I have little time for people who make sweeping statements about the young of today having no respect and having things so much easier than those who went before. Respect must be earned and the young people I know do not have an easy life. There are many similarities and many differences from when I was their age but they still have exam pressures, friendship issues, concerns about their bodies and how they are going to achieve the future they dream of. Growing up is not easy.

I wonder if the elderly look back on how they were told to treat the older generation and resent the fact that they are not treated that way. The world has moved on and we must all live with how things are now. I know of many older people who have managed to adapt and accept these changes and I have enjoyed many a good conversation with them. Their views can be as fascinating and succinct as anyone’s. They do not try to influence unduly but to share and discuss. They are not overbearing and arrogant, they are interested and understanding. They do not try to condemn others for not treating them as they believe they should be treated.

As I have never liked being told what to do I have no illusions that this will change when I grow old. At least I hope not. I guess that I will become more forgetful and even less able to operate machines. I hope that I will still gain the pleasure I do now from watching young children emerge into adolescence and develop the characters that they will carry into adulthood. Our young people are the future. If previous generations don’t mess up their world too badly then I have great hopes for what is to come. I also hope that they will be willing to include me in their lives, however old and incorrigible I become.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple... ...

In need of a good sleep

Sleeping all the way through the night and then waking feeling rested is becoming a rarity. There are small things that I could do to help myself, but as often as not there seems to be no obvious reason why I am losing my ability to sleep well. It could be my age or my dietary habits, it could be disturbances from other family members or concerns running through my head. Whatever the reason, I am awake in the wee small hours too often. I cannot remember when I last enjoyed the recommended eight hours of sleep we are told that we require each night to maintain good health.

Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest challenges that new parents must face. Despite it being a common issue, there is rarely a great deal of sympathy from those who have been through it before. It is regarded as inevitable, just something to be got through. There is an ‘I coped and so must you’ attitude that can leave the new parent, already exhausted and unable to think clearly, feeling that they are failing if they do not carry on with some semblance of normality however wretched they feel. Sleep deprivation is a recognised method of torture yet those who suffer from it are expected to put up and shut up. It can exacerbate one’s susceptibility to a wide range of debilitating illnesses yet society will not generally take seriously the way a sufferer truly feels.

My elderly mother has complained of insomnia for many years. She has followed numerous suggestions in her quest for a good night’s sleep but still finds herself wide awake in the small hours of the morning unable to attain the rest she craves. As I grow older I hear many tales of woe from friends who are suffering from this complaint. It is so frustrating to lie in bed feeling tired yet be unable to sleep. Lifestyle choices, medication and stress have all been suggested as causes but these offer no real solution other than to make us feel that an inability to provide our bodies with healthful rest is somehow our fault. Whilst recognising that there is much that can be done to alleviate the problem, these factors do not always explain the whole story.

I am not an expert in anthropology but find it interesting when modern habits can be recognised in studies of our ancestors. Looking back at the role of the elderly in tribes I note that they were often tasked with night time guard duties. Their natural sleep patterns enabled them to sleep early then keep watch through the rest of the night. Napping periodically in the day allowed them to attain the rest they needed. I have never been able to sleep during the day, even when my children were babies, and can feel quite annoyed when my husband dozes off on the sofa after a big lunch at the weekend. Perhaps I should be more accepting of what may be a natural requirement as he ages. Perhaps I should be listening to my body and simply allowing myself a time of wakefulness at what seems like a most antisocial hour of the morning.

There are many avenues that I can explore in an attempt to combat my current sleep problems and I am hopeful that I can help myself to feel better by making some sensible choices to attain a few good nights of sleep. I suspect though that this issue is not one that is going to go away completely. Just as my eyesight is deteriorating and my joints ache for longer after exercise, I suspect that I will be more prone to night time wakefulness as I grow older. I am not ready to give in to the afternoon nap though. Not yet.

Blue alarm clock

Technology and me

This weekend I took delivery of a new mobile phone. It is my first smart phone so, as well as downloading and updating my contacts and personalising the screen and ringtones, I have been learning to link it in to our network and my various social media. So far I am impressed with it’s capabilities and very happy with how easy it is to use. There are still plenty of functions for me to explore but I am enjoying getting to know my new toy.

My usual means of keeping in touch with the cyber world is the Chromebook that I am using now. This is also a fairly recent purchase and I am delighted with it. The build is light, sleek and not too big, it powers up very quickly and it is simple to use. It suits my needs perfectly. Along with my straightforward, point and shoot, digital camera I am equipped with the technology I need. None of it is too complicated but each item does it’s job. This suits me well.

When I was thinking about my requirements for my new phone and looking at the specifications now available for the high end devices that most manufacturers are producing (I do not need all that functionality), I realised that I have been using computers regularly for over thirty years. My children are right; I am a dinosaur.

My first computer was the newly introduced Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K. I taught myself the Basic programming language and wrote code for simple games on it. I went on to study Computer Science at university where I had access to their mainframe computers, learning to program in Pascal, Fortran and Lisp. My first job in the computing world was for a small engineering firm where I had to work with Assembler programs. I also gained my first experience of 4GL programming on a PC – the company had a selection of IBMs and an Amstrad 1512 which controlled the printers.

I was not a natural programmer. Having worked in the industry for quite a few years I can now see that, whilst many people can learn to program a computer, it takes a certain mindset; a certain type of person; to be a good, intuitive programmer. I am married to such a man. Thankfully I realised early on that this was not the career path that I wished to take and retrained as a Systems Analyst. In this role I could use my knowledge of computing and programming but work with the business side of the industry and with those who used the machines. I enjoyed this work a lot.

During the ten years that I worked in the industry I designed computer systems for IBM mainframes, networked desktop PCs and the growing market of laptops. I helped design software for a sales force who carried their laptops and a small inkjet printer in a specially designed briefcase about the size of a pilots bag. Each sales person was equipped with a mobile phone the size of a brick with a battery life of just a few hours. This portability was innovative at the time but the weight and size of the equipment now seems archaic.

When the price of laptop computers fell sufficiently, my husband bought himself a Dell Latitude with a P3 mobile 1G processor. It still cost about three times as much as a decent laptop would cost today. Twelve years later we still have it and it still works. It struggles to run modern software but, unlike it’s modern equivalents, the build quality was good. We already had a desktop PC and it too was still working when we were forced to upgrade due to lack of processing power. I think that all our computers since have failed in some way – some suddenly and others piecemeal. Those early computers were built much better than their modern equivalents.

When I left full time, paid employment to concentrate on raising my children I only really used our computers for financial (spreadsheets), administrative (writing and printing letters) and social (email) purposes. As the years passed and we were forced to upgrade our hardware due to the ever increasing complexity of the software I started to lose touch with how the operating systems and interfaces functioned. From being something of an expert I have become fairly inept. I do not use the complex functionality available enough to be confident with it.

My teenage children are, of course, very comfortable with modern computer software. They each need their own device to keep up with their schoolwork and use them with ease, confidence and knowledge. They learn to program with a tool called Scratch at school and one of my sons has started teaching himself Java. My husband is still a computer programmer but seems to spend as much of his working life advising and teaching others as actually generating code. My children do not understand how I can struggle to operate new software on a modern laptop when I claim to have worked in the industry. My current computer, my little Chromebook, suits me as much for it’s simplicity as for it’s portability.

Like our first laptop, our first mobile phone (a Nokia 3210) was made to last. We still have it and it still works. The clamshell, slider phone and touch screen devices that came after it as we started to use our phones as back up camera’s, MP3 players and, more recently, for internet access, have all failed in some way before being replaced. I discovered that I do not get on with touch screens when I was given a simple tablet computer around eighteen months ago. Whilst I loved it’s portability and made good use of it to keep in touch when I was out and about or travelling, the touch screen infuriated me. I kept inadvertently pressing the wrong icon and ending up on the wrong screen. It was good for browsing news sites with a lot of text but I found typing on it an irritating and slow process. Only my children use it now; I concede that it is good for playing Angry Birds.

I very much enjoy being connected with the cyber world and make a lot of use of the various social media sites available. I do feel rather ancient knowing that I have seen so many changes in the technology we enjoy today. I get frustrated when a device offers complex functionality but is not intuitive to use for the simple, most used functions. As a front end systems designer that was the most important achievement – that the user could get the machine to help with a task without having to think about it. The machine is a tool. If it becomes too hard for the user it is aimed at to drive then, in my view, it is not fit for purpose.

English: Sinclair 48K ZX Spectrum computer (19...


I count myself fortunate that my age does not bother me. As a child, of course, I wanted to be older, to grow up, to reach double figures, become a teenager, become an adult, attain that heady self sufficiency that adults seemed to possess. As the various age related milestones have gone by I have watched family, friends and acquaintances both celebrate and berate the passing of the years. It does not seem that important to me. I idly wonder if I am missing something in not feeling either the excitement or the despair in which so many indulge as the years pass.

Like Christmas (which is, after all, a celebration of a very special person’s birthday), I find that birthdays can raise people’s expectations in unknowable ways and, as an unfortunate consequence, lead to disappointment. Whilst we may wish our nearest and dearest to remember that it is our special day there are many who do not wish to shout it from the rooftops. Not everyone enjoys being the centre of attention even for a day but those who wish it to be acknowledged can feel let down if ignored or forgotten.

I have a lovely friend who firmly believes that, on her children’s birthdays, it should be she who is honoured for bringing them into the world. I suspect she feels a little bit of resentment that she is not appreciated as she feels she should be. I cannot see my brood going along with the idea of me being feted on what they, and I, would consider their day.

And then I have another friend who, although well into middle age, still desires the excitement of a party each year on her birthday, with presents and attention and a general feel-good celebration. Good for her I say – especially when I am invited to join in the fun! Birthday parties are not just for the young.

In general though, my friends and acquaintances reach a certain age and seem to start feeling that the passing of the years should be slowed down. Those ever increasing numbers become an embarrassment, not to be thought about, not to be divulged without the cloak of wry, feigned humour. The thought of ageing brings some people down – I find that rather sad. Ageing is a privilege, not a right.

My mind has turned to birthdays because tomorrow my eldest child turns sixteen. For me, that is a significant milestone. I have enjoyed every stage of my children’s lives and, as they get older, I can remember more clearly exactly how I was feeling at their age. There is little sweet about being sixteen. I believe it is an age when one is approaching the pinnacle of the transition from childhood to adulthood – a time when, whilst family may provide the strong foundation on which a life may be built, friends provide the key to happiness. And how fickle young friendships can be.

We will celebrate this birthday in the usual way with cake, candles and presents. Even though it is a busy school day I hope that my child will enjoy her special day. I hope that, in years to come, she will look back and remember her birthdays with pleasure and continue to enjoy celebrating them, knowing that she is always special, particularly to her family and friends.

Preparing to bake a cake.
“The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence.”