Thoughts: 50 not out

So, today is my 50th birthday. I’ve been approaching this date with a degree of trepidation. For me it’s a big number. And no, before you think it, 50 is not the new 40. It’s 50.

I have returned from a few days flying solo in Raglan. Raglan is quite possibly the best town in New Zealand to head to for a time of reflection and resetting. And reflection and resetting has been very important for me to do this week.

At the top of the list: My life has not turned out the way I expected.

An upbringing in an environment of Mum, Dad and the kids probably set the expectation that that was what life was supposed to be. Study hard, get a good job, find a girl, settle down etc. etc.

This is the Kiwi multi-generational procedure on repeat.

I did these things.

And they never quite fitted.

I find myself at 50 on the cusp of something new.

I don’t have the ‘happy family’ I once expected and was conditioned to expect. But I do have a happy family and I am happy and content. My kids are my pride and joy. They inspire me.

I don’t have the house, boat, bach and BMW which was the aspirational cry of my youth. Life has thrown me curveballs, which I seriously miss-hit. I’ve de-materialised significantly. Yes, circumstances dictated that I needed to, but it’s also been of choice. Some things have simply become less. It’s healthy.

I have learned what is important to me and what isn’t. I have learned what adds to my journey and what doesn’t. I have learned what values I hold true to and what values can be improved upon.

Most crucially, I have learned to choose wisely.

I have learned a lot about the nature of people and being human.

I’ve learned that people come into your life for a reason. I have learned that It’s not immediately apparent what that reason is and I’ve seen that sometimes years pass before the reason manifests. But it always does, and you have to be open for it.

I’ve learned that human connections are not things I can control. So I relax and see them for what they are and enjoy them. I do like to meet people and connect, recognising that that connection could be for a lifetime, for some years, or only for some minutes.

People come into my life and leave, sometimes without a trace. And you know what? I’m cool with that. They are on their own journey. As I am on mine.

All I can do is strive to make the connection, however fleeting, as meaningful and healthy for both of us as possible.

I’ve learned that the people you surround yourself with influence who you are. Your character. Your attitudes and beliefs. I am who I am in part due to the friend choices I have made. I have learned that it’s ok to end friendships if they are causing harm and making me a worse person.

Choose your people wisely.

I’ve learned about work/life balance. I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s no such thing. It’s just life, and you only have one life assigned to you. Everything you do with the hours in your day is subject to choice.

Choose your time investment wisely.

I’ve learned to look for the good, the humour, the fun, in everything. It’s about getting of the beaten track. Walking down that alley. Going around that corner. Just because it’s there. I adore exploring and talking and discovering.

I’ve thought long and hard about success and failure. I’ve had my share of both. By conventional standards and expectations it could be said that I’m a failure but I thankfully no longer hold conventional standards as my yardstick.

I’m still standing. I’m still smiling. And I have new goals and aspirations.

I feel that I have lived several lifetimes in my 50 years and I am looking forward to seeing what the next few lifetimes bring.

For me:

I will continue to care.

I will continue to communicate.

I will continue to listen and to learn.

I will continue to be open.

I will continue to risk being hurt.

I will continue to tell people I value them.

I will continue to tell people I love them.

I will continue to trust.

I will continue to wander and to wonder.

I will continue to be the best Simon I can be.


Thoughts: Birthday Gift Panic Guide for Men

Guys, sometimes you have absolutely no idea what to give that special female someone. This could be for a variety of reasons of course, whether it’s financial, whether they haven’t given you any indication of things desired, or possibly you just go blank when you sit back in your chair to consider your gifting options.

I have a birthday coming up that I need to buy for.  I’ve been through some thought processes, and come up with a few suggestions, and in the interest of supporting my fellow men, I’m sharing here to help you make your significant other’s day just that little bit more special.

As you know, I like cooking. I’ve spent time and money researching and acquiring pots and kitchen implements that do the job well. She may not have such good pots and kitchen implements, and this will never do if you need to cook at her place.

Suggestion 1:

Decent measuring cups.


Suggestion 2:

Decent measuring spoons.


Suggestion 3:

Decent pots and pans


Kitchen stuff really is the gift that keeps on giving. She will be so happy she’ll want to cook for you every night using her new gear!


Right on to other ideas. Is her place clean and tidy? Does it need a spruce up?


Suggestion 4:

A quality vacuum cleaner. Godfrey’s usually has these on sale.


Look at her. What about her clothes? Are they a bit crumpled?

Suggestion 5:

A new ironing board will rock her world and spruce her up a bit for when you take her out to the local McDonald’s drive-thru on your next date!


Note that it is important to get one with a cover that is her favourite colour. If you happen to know it. Otherwise just get one in pink with a floral design. It’s a winner every time.


Now here’s a true story: I remember once going through Farmers with my then girlfriend. We were in that ‘getting to know each other’ phase so I was paying clinical attention to her every word. We went past the Pond’s counter and she said “I need some more face-cleaner”. Absolute GOLD!!! Her birthday was coming up, so I went back sneakily and bought her some. Spent quite a bit actually. At least $20.

I gave it to her with a nice card.

She was NOT impressed. I didn’t know quite what to make of this. She told me she wanted some. I got her some. It was the best gift I could think of at the time.

Women are strange.

Right, where was I? Oh yes, ideas.

Does she have a garden? Is it a bit overgrown? It may be that she just doesn’t have the right tools which makes maintaining just a little bit hard.

Suggestion 6:

A garden fork and spade. Be classy. Get a matched pair. These bad boys are going to get a lot of use, let me tell you!


My aged Dad likes to garden. He likes to get fertiliser on his birthday. My aged Mother always approves, so this one is totally thinking outside the box…

Suggestion 7:

Sheep Pellets! Awesome.


Actually, that leads to another true story: A relative moved to a lifestyle block in the country just out of Auckland. He bought a flock of sheep, and couldn’t understand why they were not interested in eating sheep pellets for food.


The benefit of the last couple of suggestions is that you can get them from Bunnings or Mitre 10. And buy yourself a new power tool or table saw. You never know when you might need one eh?

Anyway, I’d best get out to the Mall and get gifting for tomorrow. I hope this post helps you all.



Thoughts: Another Birthday

And the birthday weekend draws to a close.
‘Achieving’ 46 hasn’t felt good. I usually live by a mantra whereby age is but a number, but this one aches a bit.
Still, it was celebrated well. I took Friday afternoon off and spent it doing things I like. Catching up with old friends, playing Destiny in my underwear. The usual ya know?
The lovely KT picked me up and we went hunting for wine in Herne Bay. Have to say, the Elbow Room scene at 5pm on a Friday is horrific. Great staff, but the clientele are pretty much ‘men contemplating their ageing’. It wasn’t ideal. But the free peanuts made up for it.
A gentle wander past Goodness (and catching up with my pal Ange) and then on to Dida’s. A much more lively crowd, but too much crowd.
Dinner was at Siostra in West Lynn. I’ve wanted to eat there for a while and it felt good supporting my local. I have to say, the food was outstanding. The service was outstanding. Such a great unpretentious vibe. I’ll definitely return. And I have no hesitation in recommending them.
A quick wine at Frieda’s before heading home. Again, a backdrop of ageing men deep in their cups was a little raw.
I hate the idea I’m growing old. I can’t avoid it, so one needs to make sure one makes the most of life don’t you think?