A couple of years ago, I wrote about how I have come to see making a big deal about my birthdays as the ultimate act of self-love.
And I stand by that; here, now, closer to 40 than anything else and no matter how crass or gauche it might appear.
Life can be busy, stressful. Responsibilities are legion – and I have depression. Getting older is brilliant and something to be celebrated, and against that backdrop taking some time once a year to remind myself of another year well-spent, adventures had and people loved is important, necessary and positive.
I did this last year, and it was a really fun exercise that made me feel really grateful and content with my lot. I actually finished this year’s list a week or so back, but then I had to throw it out the window. So, with half-hearted apologies to everybody who’s already sick of the sight of the following photograph…
…here are the 35 greatest things about having been 35.
1. Yeah, so meeting Taylor Swift and talking together about our cats (the show was pretty damn special too);
2. Appearing on my first radio panel show;
3. Having my concerns about the lack of women in festival headline slots dismissed as “female paranoia” live on the radio by a top Scottish music journalist (of the male persuasion);
4. Delivering a workshop about blogging to teenagers. Twice;
5. Making over £900 from freelance work in a single month;
6. Seeing Tommy Stinson with the boy I met on Tommy Stinson’s MySpace page.
7. Hitting 5,000 followers on Twitter (and getting verified!);
8. Learning to play Shithead long into the night with my favourite people on holiday in Spain;
9. A night away with my sister in a comped hotel, playing kids’ games and talking about everything and nothing;
10. Seeing my hard-working, clever, talented and hilarious husband get shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize (Scottish crime novel of the year).
11. Dancing the night away to an all-female Bruce Springsteen covers band;
12. Had an essay on my “invisible” bisexuality accepted for – and published in – a pretty kickass anthology;
13. Taking part in the Bloody Scotland opening torchlit procession with people who think my husband is as awesome as I do.
14. Getting my portrait taken by the brilliant Euan Robertson;
15. A weekend away with Jehane in Derby;
16. Donating my first “Jane Austen tenner” to The Dahlia Project;
17. Enjoying my first proper spa day (and my second!);
18. Walking miles and exploring a sunny Toronto with my love.
19. Discovering the concept of a bubble waffle;
20. Seeing Dirty Dancing for the first time – at an open-air cinema;
21. Getting my first proper arts feature in The Herald;
22. Seeing Jason Isbell cover Tom Petty in Glasgow;
23. Experiencing New York though my sister’s eyes;
24. Watching the sun set over the Empire State Building from the Rockefeller Centre.
25. Seeing Mamma Mia with Charlotte;
26. Finding New Orleans-style beignets here in Glasgow;
27. Brunching at Gleneagles;
28. Talking about the Irn Bru sugar cut live on BBC Radio Wales;
29. Being made a mental health champion at work;
30. Seeing Evita – one of the first musical soundtracks she bought me – with my bezzer (and getting her to write about it for me!);
31. Watching my best friend get married in the loveliest small ceremony at Gretna Green;
32. Surprising my baby sister in Dubai for her birthday.
33. Going dune-bashing in the desert;
34. My first – and second, and third, and fourth – times seeing The Greatest Showman;
35. Meeting a guy down the front at a Hold Steady show who said he reads this blog – and who it turned out I’d met down the front of a Hold Steady show about a decade previously.
Here’s hoping for another year lived like a Design The Life You Love meme. Happy birthday to me!