Today is my 40th birthday. When I thought ahead to the big day I really wasn’t bothered about how I spent it. Overall, I felt positive, and not worried about the number. I’m not precious about the actual day, because birthday celebrations last weeks in my family. Given the events of the last few years I really just felt generally, overwhelmingly grateful to reach this point with healthy body, healthy family and healthy mindset. I didn’t feel I needed to dwell on the significance of the day.

I already planned months ago to visit my sister and her husband and their brand-new baby in Southern California, which I was really looking forward to: listening to new baby squeaks and basking in new baby smell; uninterrupted cooking and kitchen experimentation; helping out while the new parents grappled with sleep deprivation, returning to work, getting out of the house for the first time, and all the other crazy things happening in the first weeks. So I was contentedly focused on other things and other people.

When my sister insisted I take some time to myself today to enjoy the gorgeous 22-degree weather and explore the local beaches and hiking trails, I couldn’t understand why I would want to go hang out on my own – I travelled all this way to be with them!

At some point I accepted it was important to take a bit of time to mark the occasion, celebrate, enjoy the day, and really pause to listen to and receive good wishes – from others and from myself. So I took my sister’s advice and headed for the beach and the hills.

Walking around Dana Point was the perfect time to do some reflection. With a view like this, and the sound of only sea lions barking below the cliffs, I had finally given myself the gift of space and silence.

And what a difference it made. I realised I had the opportunity to create the whole day, and by extension, set the tone, direction and intention for the decade and how I want to consciously choose how I experience my 40s.

So what did I choose? With a combination of deliberately creating the day’s agenda along with a bit of exploring, discovering and child-like curiosity, I decided the experiences I had today could characterise the decade:

  • Striking a balance of freedom from a schedule and pursuing deliberate, tangible goals
  • Consciously enjoying natural space and my physical environment
  • Connecting with people I love, wherever we are
  • Practicing suspending judgement and creating energising thoughts
  • Feeling grateful
  • Curiously exploring the unknown
  • Taking good care of myself and others
  • Keeping myself moving

I felt great after my walk. I enjoyed several phone calls and messages, some treats and some more time connecting with my family. I learned so much and set out some expansive, realistic intentions that feel relevant to every aspect of my life. A day well spent.

We have an exciting opportunity to create our lives – in every moment and every day. A 40th birthday, a New Year, Thanksgiving, springtime, the return to work after a leave of absence are all reminders that we have this opportunity. But we don’t need an occasion. We can start today to live our lives in consciousness and choice.

What will you do today?