40 Was a Good Year

I never, ever thought I would say that.  In fact, when I was turning 40, I didn’t think much of it.  It happened during the crux of our terrible first year here in the Netherlands.  So more than anything, I just wanted it to come and go without any fanfare.  I had no friends here to celebrate with and my family (other than Josh and the kids) were 4000 miles away. What was there to celebrate?

But in fact, 40 turned out to be a pretty awesome year.  One of my best I think.  Ok, it goes without saying that the year each of the kids were born were pretty fantastic as was when Josh and I got married.  But we’re talking personal growth, not so much about milestones. Here were a few highlights.

  • Sold my company
  • Took a photography class
  • Started changing up my routine
  • Started a programming class
  • Sold our house
  • Built some really great new friendships here in the Netherlands

They don’t seem like super exciting things, but honestly, for me, change of any kind is rather significant.  Funny coming from a person who has picked up and moved countries a few times now, I know.  But seriously, I’m not a big fan of change and I held off on selling my company for YEARS because I was afraid of “what’s next”?  So for me to make the leap and do it, was big.  It was the same feeling when I told Josh I wanted to see a career coach. And honestly, my sessions with her were life changing.  And while I haven’t decided on what I want to be when I grow up, I feel like I’m heading in the right direction and that I got so much more out of our sessions than just about what kind of job I want next.  Same with deciding to do some continuing education classes – my only regret?  That I didn’t do it sooner. I’m truly loving learning new things and it’s a shame that I wasted all those years doing the same thing day in and day out.

However, forty didn’t start off great – in fact, it started out on a bit of a disastrous note with me in total meltdown mode.  But it ended up being a year to remember which just goes to show, you can’t put much value in the day itself.  Thus far, 41 seems to be following the same trend so hopefully that means great things are to come.  Actually, I’m hoping for even better.  Older and wiser perhaps?

The day itself was a clusterfuck of disaster.  I was an emotional basket case and it wasn’t pretty.  My poor husband probably wonders why he even tries because he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.  So why am I a hot mess on my birthday each year?  It’s not because of the age.  I believe that age is just a number and I feel no different at 41 than I did at 40 or 39.  I think it’s a culmination of things – the end of the school year (which for me is huge because it means we are going home soon) and being away from family and friends on birthdays and holidays are hard for me.

I spent the week of my birthday in pure misery.  And everyone around me radiated those emotions right back at me – it just goes to show that people feed off of the emotions you project.  It took a lot to pull myself out of the pit of despair but I did it.  And this week, thus far, has been a lot better.  41 is looking up…

I didn’t set any specific goals for 40 and I don’t want to do it for 41 either.  I want to let the year take me where I’m meant to go.  So much unexpected happened last year and it was because I was finally learning to roll with the punches rather than plan everything out that I think maybe that’s the way to go.  I’m learning to (finally) care less about what others think and focus on how I feel and what’s important to me.  It only took 40 years to get there 😉  I’m trying to take back my life and doing so successfully.  Or attempting it at least!!  I’m no longer just a mom, wife, sister, aunt, daughter… I’m me.  I’m Julie – I’m all of those things and more.  And I’m recognizing that I have a lot to contribute and need to stop holding myself back.  I’m confident that this self growth with continue – again, I’m only sorry it took me so long to recognize what it was that I was looking for in life and then to go out and get it.

However, one of the best parts of the last year is that Josh and I have reconnected in a way that I did not expect.  I didn’t realize how far apart we had drifted until it was almost too late.  And through a lot of hard work and MUCH better communication, I’m happy to say we are stronger than ever.  Feeling more connected to him is a significant part of why 40 was such a great year and why I know that 41 will be a great one too!

Knuffels en kussen and a big shout out to the guy who handles all my crazy with a grain of salt,


6 thoughts on “40 Was a Good Year

  1. Not much here to say about 40, but your story (and the way you are telling it) is very inspirational. Not sure the balancing act can really be cracked 🙂 but reading about someone’s highs and lows on this road gives a new perspective.


    • Thanks for the compliment! And I think while as expats, there is a certain common ground that many of us share, the perspective is always going to be unique depending on the time of life, your location and how well you integrate into your new society…not to mention those “left behind” and the feelings associated with that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have been an expat for nearly 10 years now, and what I see is that with time, other expats become your main group pf friends, because people who have never lived abroad can’t fully understand your perspective, really. You still love the friends you left behind, of course, but with time you get less and less in common. Someone once told me that expats make up for less than 8% of the world’s work force, and I was shocked: to me, expats were everywhere 🙂


  2. I couldn’t agree more. I think that we are just pulled towards those we feel a common connection with. Most people don’t “get it” and why we live the way we live. And that’s ok. I do think that with today’s low cost transportation and more and more flights available worldwide that we’ll start to see an uptick in that 8%. I think my kids’ generation will be more likely to live abroad than previous ones but I think we’ll start to see less and less expat “packages” because it will become more common to move about, just live moving to a new city. You are right about seeing expats everywhere – I never gave much thought to that but I think we just gravitate to them now!


  3. I don’t blame you! I use to cry every year too. Last year was fun, but now I am living in a small village in Germany (not in San Fran anymore). Congratulations on your achievements and your photography class. Looking to take one here too.


    • In the end, it’s all good… but for those few days, it’s total meltdown mode! Hopefully 42 will be an improvement next year 😉 Good luck finding a photography class! I don’t know that I’ve improved my photography much (yet) but I’m definitely learning a lot more about my camera which is a good start!


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