I turned 34 a couple of weeks ago. It happened on a Monday amidst the usual family bustle, and also as it happens, at the beginning of a bad stretch of anxiety. A serendipitous meeting the previous month with a PR led to me booking a solo hotel stay at The Gallivant for my birthday, and it ended up coming at the most perfect possible time. It was heavenly.
The experience of being alone was just bliss. I simply pleased myself. I had a pedicure, ordered room service breakfast, journaled in the window seat. I made liberal use of the toiletries kindly gifted by the hotel. I journaled some more. I went for a walk at golden hour and was moved to tears by the sunset reflecting off the wet sand which placed the sky beneath me and above me.
Time spent outside.
Time spent nurturing my body.
It serves as an analogy; a reminder; of the importance of doing this more, putting myself first. Not just for my birthday, but always. These are all elements I have carried with me, and am trying to incorporate into my days, even if it’s just moments.
Because there is knowing and there is knowing. I know the importance of self care. I believe it’s the most important thing we can do, because If we treat ourselves like pieces of shit, we’re no good to anyone. If we treat ourselves with love, if we parent ourselves, if we are kind to ourselves, then we’ll have so, so much more to give to those around us, and the world in general. But sometimes, I forget. Still! My body reminds me, with headaches and tiredness, and tension, and I must, must listen more. I must listen sooner, to the loving whisperings from deep within me about the power of caring for myself. This trip reminded me and I know that even more deeply in my bones than I did.
As I turn 34, I am mostly full of gratitude. In some ways I feel more sure and steady but in other ways I’ve never felt so unsure. I am in awe most days that the boy I met aged 17 is still with me and that we have weathered and grown, and love each other so much still. Motherhood is still a revelation. For someone who felt very unsure if she even wanted children, the depth of love I feel for them is surprising, even frightening, sometimes. Juggling them with freelance work is also a bit surprising and frightening sometimes (!) They astonish me all the time with how funny and clever and uniquely them, they are. There is much I still have to figure out; things that by age 34, a younger me presumed I’d have sorted. House ownership, savings, travelling around the world during our summer holidays. That is not our reality, or anything close to it. But things are improving all the time. This year I feel like I have finally found my voice in what I can offer the world, have started valuing myself more. My anxiety has been pretty bad this year but I recently booked on to have some more counselling which I feel really good about. I’m grappling with how to be a good human and ally all the time in a world that feels increasingly frightening. I feel utterly privileged to be alive, and honoured that I get to experience another year when so many don’t. My work feels creative and fulfilling and I am so grateful I get to work for myself on my terms. I love my friends. I cannot get my head around consistent regular cooking, birthday remembering or neat nail varnish application. I feel slightly slobby most days…
I’m just sitting in the glorious mess of it- i think thats my biggest learning this year. Accepting the dual nature of so much of life; that things can be simultaneously so fucking beautiful and also fucking hard. Allowing myself to change my mind, grow. I’m committing to being ok with not being ok sometimes, elaborating when things feel good, and keeping on going in exactly who I am right now, flaws and brilliance and all.
Dave collected me the following day which means he was able to take some photo’s of me to mark my Birthday. I love them; love that i’m on a beautiful beach, wearing my favourite cardigan, rummaging around for grasses!
Below are some photo’s of the hotel, starting with the treatment beach hut.
And some photos from my room:
I’d love to know how some of you have felt as you’ve got older; which bits feel better, if anything feels less sure. I find it fascinating.
My visit was a press stay courtesy of the Gallivant. The hotel minutes from Camber Sands, and beautifully decorated. It feels luxurious without being fussy. They catered to my vegan diet beautifully. The room was small but calm, colourful and super comfortable.