Trusting The Journey: The Secret to Happiness in Middle Age

Being in constant control of everything. The older we get the more we realize how little we actually control. And there’s no good reason to hold yourself down with things you can’t control. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. Oftentimes what you never wanted or expected turns out to be what you need.”

Neon sign in shop window that says "I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring."
Photo from Logan Weaver on

The above quote is from Marc Chernoff’s article, 20 Things That Will Matter A Lot Less To You in Twenty Years. I assume Marc is younger than me and is predicting the wisdom that should come to someone my age – 50+ – but clearly I’ve been a slow learner, and it’s only recently that his ideas have started to resonate with me.

I recommend you read the post in full, because there’s a lot of useful advice in it, or at least advice I’m finding relevant to my life right now. But the idea that struck me the most was “trusting the journey”, having been a control freak who tries to fix everything my whole life – as my sister recently informed me.

Indeed, it is only now, during middle age, that I am finally accepting that I don’t have the superpower to fix everything, nor should have. No one does, not even those with the money to buy (in theory) whatever they want or need. Money may be able to buy rockets, but it cannot buy your health – as Steve Jobs found out – or love or loyalty.

This is why we must learn to trust the journey, as Marc says, and not let the frustration around our inability to control what we can’t make us unhappy or bitter.

To put this idea into context, I have realised that two things have held me back in terms of accepting my lack of control:

The first has been my preoccupation with the past and the victim persona I have allowed myself to adopt as a result of childhood trauma. Perhaps, the tendency to self-pity is ingrained in my character, because I can clearly remember an aunt telling me that I whined a lot as a child. But that tendency to whine may also have been a symptom of my undiagnosed anxiety, feelings of insecurity, or need for perfectionism to feel in control. What I do know now is that those “why me?” feelings aren’t helpful and I have allowed them over time to detract from my happiness. I’m not negating the emotional impact of childhood trauma, but constantly looking back means you get stuck in time and struggle to move forward.

The second is the amount of time I have wasted trying to change my son. I wish I could say that I have spent a lot of time trying to understand his differences, but that would be a distortion of the truth. For too long, I have tried to change him to the son we anticipated – a clone of us, I suppose – and that has caused an enormous amount of pain for both of us. My abortive attempts to “fix” him and make him fit into the hole we expected him to slot into have threatened our relationship. Worse, I suspect that my attempts to carve out his future was a way to validate our lives in some way – like there is only one way. It has taken me almost twenty-five years to understand that he must make his own journey, take responsibility for his choices, and I must trust his decisions.

I could ask myself why I had to go through that challenge – and trust me, I have, many times – but what is the point?

Without question, raising my son has made me a better person

But if someone were to ask me if what I have learned from the experience of raising our son, I would say, (hand on heart) that it has made me a better person. And trusting the journey is a much simpler way of making the most out of this precious opportunity of life.

I now understand that happiness is directly linked to accepting whatever life throws at us

This narrative is about making the best of the hand we are given. It is about accepting that there is only so much we can do to control our lives and the lives of others. I’ve had countless why me? moments during my journey with our son and there’s no way I could have prepared myself mentally for the anguish we have experienced, but when I look back on the aspirations of my twenties, I realise I was lucky – I got exactly what I wanted, to be happy and loved, many times over.

So maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Maybe, we should set ourselves a lower bar and measure our success by whether we can meet our basic needs, the main goal of so many less privileged people in the world. Can we put food on our table? Is our health good? Do we have a roof over our heads? Because once our basic needs are met, surely anything else is a bonus?

The wisdom of middle age and the experience of a decade of renting houses have shown me that material things – and in particular, where I live – are minor contributors to my happiness. Living in Australia, a rich country where the main focus of the lifestyle is time spent outdoors, may make that more achievable, but for me the value of my home is in its functionalism. It is a place to invite family and friends that protects me from the elements.

“‘The good life’ begins when you stop wanting a better one.” (Nkosiphambili E. Molapis)

These days, “experiences” are where I choose to place my time, money and energy. Because, finally, I understand the power on the mind of a beautiful sunset, a walk in nature, a check-in from a friend, a new food, a new cocktail or an impromptu gathering of friends. They are the things that reset me.

A minimalist lifestyle is the key to happiness

I have that terrible habit of saying things like “It is what it is,” or “What will be will be”, but not as a suggestion that I’ve given up on my dreams, but rather that I’m finally trusting my journey, and I’ve never felt less pressure in my life.


The 25 Best Feel-Good Movies For Lazy Weekends

Are you genuinely still social-distancing?

Same Kind Of Different As Me movie poster with four of the cast.
Same Kind Of Different As Me Movie Poster

Or are you just socially anxious like me, and pretending you still have to?

If so, let me plan out next weekend for you because Angela at Heritage Films has asked me to give a shout-out for this wonderful, feel-good movie starring Renee Zellweger that they are premiering online between the 29th and 31st May. It’s called “Same Kind Of Different As Me,” and for each ticket sold (drum roll) a donation will be made to the Salvation Army and its Red Shield Appeal, who have been hit really hard this year.

Check out the movie trailer here:

A bit about the movie…

Ron Hall, played by Greg Kinnear in the movie, wrote the original story of “Same Kind Of Different As Me” – about a couple, whose lives change forever when they develop an unlikely friendship with Denver Moore, a homeless man – and sales from it have raised over $100,000 towards homelessness. As soon as Angela described it as “a true, inspirational story about a woman who transforms a city with kindness,” I knew it would be right up the street of a feel-good movie aficionado like me…especially now, during these dark, COVID times.

Who hasn’t loved Renee Zellweger since she dished up blue soup in Bridget Jones?

Evidently, Angela knew that flattery would get her everywhere (when she described me as a blogger with compassion in her pitch to me), but there are other (less shallow) reasons I want to endorse this movie premiere. Firstly, there are those massively important donations to The Salvation Army who “leave no-one in need” – and I know from personal experience how easy it is for any of us to suddenly find ourselves in a position of dependency on awesome charities such as these – and secondly, this is not just any old movie, it is a story with heart and soul, with an amazing cast, and I think most of us could do with a little of that right now.

Did You Know That Ugly-Crying Actually Enhances Your Mood?

This movie is guaranteed to release all those pent-up emotions of the last two months – which is a good thing because (interesting fact) a big, ugly cry actually ENHANCES your mood. And, frankly, it sounds like a) the perfect antidote to the Corona blues and b) the ultimate way to waste a lazy weekend afternoon for the professional couch potatoes among us.

But if those aren’t big enough incentives, remember that feel-good stories like these force us to think about how lucky we are – a really important reminder for those of us fortunate enough to come out of COVID-19 relatively unscathed.

Anything that gives us pause for thought and time to reflect on our priorities is a good thing, right?

AND FINALLY, THE BEST BIT. With your invitation to watch this movie, you are ALSO invited to the pre-movie program which includes interviews with the stars and the author, i.e. the perfect excuse to put on your glad rags for the first time (in what feels like a decade) and crack open a bottle of bubbly.

You can buy your movie pass HERE, and once you receive it you’ll get 48hrs to complete the movie and two weeks to start it.

And remember, the MAIN reason I’m giving you permission to take an afternoon off is because single and family movie passes make a direct donation to this year’s RED SHIELD APPEAL.

Cast of Four Weddings And A Funeral
Four Weddings And A funeral movie poster

And while I’m on the subject of THE BEST FEEL-GOOD MOVIES, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of my own. I’m not an idiot, so I realise that anyone worth their salted popcorn (when it comes to tearjerkers) will have seen most of these already, but if you haven’t, hit up a box of Maltesers, get out the blankets and give them a shot.


  1. The Green Mile – Starring Sandra Bullock, the queen of feel-good movies.

2. When Harry Met Sally – Who hasn’t been in the situation this couple finds themselves in “the morning after”? Harry’s expression says it all. It always reminds me of the look on the old man’s face the morning after we (drunkenly) decided to try for a baby.

3. Chocolat – Anything French is “HOT AF!” I would definitely turn for Juliette Binoche.

4. Love Actually – So yeah, in terms of political correctness, this movie hasn’t aged the best, but who can forget the magic of that wedding, THAT funeral, or the brutal bedroom scene caused by Snape’s infidelity.

5. Notting Hill – The fairytale. “I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking him to love her.”

6. Steel Magnolias – The best story about friendship. Hankies a must.

7. Ten Things I Hate About You – Heath Ledger. *Sob*

8. Pride and Prejudice – Where Mr Darcy’s awkwardness is almost as sexy as a man carrying a baby.

9. Four Weddings And A Funeral – This movie always reminds me of the year of our wedding, minus the funeral. So many memories, so embarrassingly nineties.

10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – John Corbett at his sexiest. We learnt what a bunt was and we’ll never say I.A.N the same way again.

11. Forrest Gump – An epic journey of kindness.

12. The Shawshank Redemption – The best bromance.

14. The Holiday – Cutest cottage, kid, and dad.

13. Bridget Jones Diary – The most accurate depiction of those angst-ridden years of our late-twenties and early-thirties. The best song to sing with a hairbrush.

15. Grease – The first movie I saw at the cinema with friends.

16. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – The subtle introduction of Leonardo to the world.

17. Silver Linings Playbook – The most romantic take on love with mental illness.

18. Dead Poets Society – Robin Williams “Oh captain, my captain…’

19. Bend It Like Beckham – An inspirational tale for young girls everywhere.

20. My Left Foot – The courage and determination of Christy Brown.

21. The Full Monty – Finally, some titillation for the ladies.

22. Bridesmaids – Too many hysterical moments in this movie to mention, but…every bride’s worst nightmare has to be a bad case of diarrhoea in your wedding dress.

23. The Untouchables – A mesmerising story of friendship and hope.

24. The Body Guard/Field Of Dreams/Dances With Wolves – Something for everyone. Who knew that Kevin Costner was such a feel-good film maker?

25. Benny And Joon – A beautiful film about love and “difference”.

Any movies I need to add to my list?

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We Owe It To The People Suffering To Live Our Lives To The Full

27047393_10155000472936277_225680280_o-684x1030+2The news doesn’t seem to get any better and I expose myself to it daily in search of inspiration for my writing. While physical empaths are people that absorb the physical symptoms of others, I absorb the anguish of others and the unfairness in their lives, and that transference has a direct impact on my mood and mental health.

Poor me!

Stories such as the shooting of the two teenagers by their father last week in Sydney and articles and fiction I’ve been reading about the victims of our under-serviced mental health system can turn a promising day into a bad one.

And then, occasionally, a post like this one from catches my eye. I shared it last week on my FB page because I recognised it as an important reminder not to wish our lives away or forget to make the most of every opportunity. Many of us are guilty of packing so much into our lives that we find ourselves looking ahead all of the time rather than relishing every precious moment. In my case,  I waste far too many hours brooding about the problems that I can’t change in the world. I consume the pain of others and carry it around with me. It diffuses through my pores and weighs me down until the shame of my privilege feels like survivor’s guilt.

And seriously, what right do I have to pretend to know anything about the suffering of the mother of those teenagers?

At one point during the lunch I described in my last post – as I was sinking the final mouthful of perfectly-cooked lemon meringue tart into my mouth whilst bemoaning the migrant crisis – one of the other guests pointed out to me the danger and futility of absorbing everyone else’s pain. The point he was trying to make, I believe, was that life is too short to waste beating ourselves up about things we cannot change. We have one journey and we need to make it a good one.

Which is selfish, right? And for a second, the serial (wannabe) do-gooder in me, reared up defensively like a snake on behalf of all of those suffering right now in the world, while I digested the perfect steak with my perfect friends. I wanted to remind him that we should all be doing more. I wanted the eight of us to get up the following morning and enlist in a world aid association or train to become mental health nurses.

But instead, I bit my tongue – because, as painful as it was to admit, I knew that he had a point.

My own time is running out. Each of us has an internal timer, and none of us knows when it will stop. And there is another part of me – that I secretly despise – that wants to put myself first now as illness begins to ravage people my age to remind me of my mortality. Life is short – indeed, it is getting worryingly shorter. We get one bite at the cherry. And while we can be mindful of the plight of others and lend our support in whatever small ways we can, we have to make the most of this, our one opportunity at living.

While I thought about those boys and their parents in Thailand, I recognised that they needed something greater than my compassion – whether that was a God or the wonderful people that risked their own lives to save them. We can’t fix everything.

I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity of a good life. No road is free of dips and I have been forced to fix some potholes along the way, yet I have never looked at the smooth tarmac of others and felt resentment. To use a monetary term, we live within our means, with the hand we are given.

How many times have you been shocked to hear someone who has been seriously ill or faced a tragedy admit that they are glad it happened? Because it made them recalibrate and appreciate life for what it is – in all its beauty, brevity and fragility. Those people are our inspiration, and we owe it to them to live our lives to the full. 

I’ve Never Been Very Good At The Whole Friendship Thing.

Far too long ago, my virtual friend and blogger, Michelle Weaver from Pinky Poinker nominated me for a blogging award. To fulfil the award I needed to tell my readers several things about myself that they might not know already.


I’m pretty candid on this blog so most of you know most of my sordid secrets but one topic I do shy away from are my thoughts on friendships.

Friendship, Göteborg, Sweden
Friendship, Göteborg, Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I’ve never been very good at the whole friendship thing.




Then I stumbled across this quote from Meryl Streep this week, and it summed up exactly how I feel at this moment in my life, about how my relationships with friends and my tolerances in life have changed with middle age. I couldn’t have verbalised it more succinctly myself.


“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”


It might be argued that Meryl has far more reason to feel arrogant about her lot than I do with mine, but like her, I can’t be assed with things that I take no pleasure from these days. In the past I’ve tried to attract friends through wining and dining them and pretending to be much more fun than I am, but I’ve come to realise that faking it doesn’t cultivate long-term friendships and many abuse that strategy anyway.


Which is how I’ve reached this point in my life where I’m finally brave enough to accept that if people don’t like me, I won’t slink away with my pride in pieces – we are all very different as people, have come from very different nurtures and developed very different nuances to our personalities and sometimes they simply don’t gel. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t want to waste any more time trying to please people who don’t have a natural connection with me – because a forged connection cannot be sustained anyway.


Italiano: Stella di Meryl Streep sulla Hollywo...
Italiano: Stella di Meryl Streep sulla Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles (California) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Meryl, I am drawn to intelligent people – that is to people I can learn from whether that is intellectual intelligence or emotional intelligence. They certainly don’t have to be academically brilliant. But I won’t tolerate arrogance of any sort either. I have always despised competition and confrontation and nothing makes me put my runners on faster than feeling that friends are competing with me or if I feel a pressure to compete with them.


I am absolutely the worst friend you could have, in many ways. My few close friends will vouch for that.  I forget birthdays, I am crap at being thoughtful and I never phone anyone unless it is an emergency or I need something from them. But I won’t ever let my friends down either. I am loyal to the point of stupidity, like a puppy dog, and it takes a lot to push me away as a friend. However, once that trust is broken, I will walk away and never come back.


I tire of people who only talk about themselves and never ask questions about me or mine, or who make assumptions about how I think when they know nothing about my skeletons. And I am super-sensitive to negativity because it wields a power over me that can drag me down into the reeds below until I can’t breathe, which is why I try to avoid it these days. Like Meryl, I judge people on their reaction to animals and the way they treat and talk about their friends.


In a nutshell, I don’t ‘suffer fools’, and that’s probably why I’ve never been very good at the whole friendship thing.


Middle-Aged Grinch Asks: What’s With Having To Be Perfect All The Time?

Found on
Found on


‘Do more of what makes you happy.’


But what if that’s putting dog food in your husband’s food because he upset you?


But what if my dog just died or my best friend just stole my husband?
But what if my dog just died or my best friend just stole my husband?


‘Start each day with a grateful heart.’


But what if my dog just died or my best friend just stole my husband?


It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live up to the inspirational shit reflected back at me on social media these days.


When I’m in a good mood, the concept of a Tibetan, Utopic existence of unlimited happiness where I drink a cup of fresh lemon with hot water for breakfast, don’t require alcohol at all and eat quinoa three times a day and feel full puts a smile on my face, but when I wake up like I did this morning, (a bear with a sore head because the Princess Spoodle is still in our bed and kept me awake all night licking), those words can be hard to digest.


I do wonder sometimes, if everyone really, really tried to be perfect and happy with their lot ALL the time, if we would all be able to sustain that feeling or if it would eventually get boring or if some of us would just become bitter and twisted anyway?


I quite enjoy having bad thoughts. They don’t harm anyone if I keep them to myself… (although therein often lies the problem).


It begs the question, though, of where those imperfections that make us ‘real’ and not Pinterest people come from?


And what’s with having to be perfect all the time, anyway?


Perfect people, in the sense of those people I judge to be sickeningly, SUPER NICE people, (those people who always remember your birthday and sacrifice everything for others), get on my tits almost as much as those people who harbour grudges on Facebook and rant on and on about how their friends ought to treat them.


Does that make me a bad person? Or just a person who has lived, dealt with knocks and knows that flaws are normal and can in fact maketh the woman, right?


In principle, I think I’m a decent person, but I also recognise that I’m far from perfect in spite of my best intentions. I don’t agree with the old man’s philosophy that a leopard can’t change its spots (although it’s a fabulous excuse for not trying) and I do self-analyse and try to change those aspects of my personality that I’m not proud of.


But my mean streak can be pretty stubborn and I do believe that part of the responsibility for my dark side is rooted in nurture’s knocks. Babies respond to love, people are ‘broken’ or tarnished by tragedy, sadness and abuse. Nurture shapes us and sometimes it’s hard to plane down those sharp edges from the past as we evolve.


Admittedly, I try to change other people too and I admit that that is a fault. I only really try to change the people I really care about, though. Many women want to change their partners (understandably) and many mums want to change their children to push them in the direction of successes they never personally achieved.


I have been guilty of pushing Kurt in his musical direction, not because I want him to be famous or wealthy but because I want him to carve a career doing something he loves, rather than flitting around and dabbling with no real direction like I did. NC now wants to become a high school teacher, (which I admit to thinking was a waste of her talents initially), but having had time to digest the fact that she won’t be the first female rock specialist in NSW, I have come to the conclusion that it’s a wise and practical goal for her and one she will be good at.


We parents continue to learn all the time.


It’s quite a female trait that, to want to ‘change’ people for what we perceive to be the better and it gets me in a lot of trouble at Dysfunctionality Box. But the old man is wrong in his accusation that it’s because I believe that I’m perfect or that ‘my way is the highway’; it’s more about being a control freak – a strength that has developed out of the need to be independent from an early age.


I don’t believe you have to be ‘perfect’ all the time.  I am drawn to imperfections – flawed people and those that have experienced life’s knocks are far more interesting.