As it turns out turning forty has prompted some unexpected soul-searching. I've watched many of my friends approach the big "four O" with dread over the years and seen them become unsettled by the attainment of this milepost, as if somehow life were from now on an inevitable downward spiral of reducing horizons. I wondered whether it would be the same for me.
Not, as it turns out.
Becoming 40 has had the opposite effect, sweeping out old outdated things and releasing the future.
In the last couple of weeks I've made some major life-changing decisions: I've sold my horses, cleared out my cupboards, got rid of useless stuff I've been carrying around for years, thrown out clothes, packed stuff off to charity shops, put things I don't want on ebay, cleaned the house (now that is startling) revamped finances, thought about changing the car for something less expensive and started looking at university courses for this autumn.
I want to study Ecology and Conservation Management with an emphasis on wild birds, although part of the point here is to begin and see where it takes me.
I am fortunate to be married to someone who is a bundle of energy and has a "go gettum" attitude to life that refuses to accept ordinary limitations (he's a marathon runner which says it all). He supports making changes that are beneficial even if they are momentous and that helps me enormously. We are currently enjoying a robust debate about who will attain the highest academic qualification if I return to uni. M currently leads with a Masters; I am countering by threatening a PhD, something that is unfinished business for me from twenty years ago and now seems possible again. I'm sure he won't let it rest at that but that is good for me- it spurs me on.
So I'll keep you posted. If it's to be this autumn I need to enroll by June.
It's all rather exciting- life has opened up again. It has a habit of popping these surprises when you're least expecting them and I appreciate the salutary shake up. It's easy to get stuck in a rut doing the same things the way you have always done them and not noticing when the thing or the doing of it no longer suits you.
To anyone reading this contemplating change but feeling uncertain or nervous about it I would simply say take your courage in your hands and see where it leads you.