Forty-two

So, today I am 42 years old! For the next 12 months I will be the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”. But please do hold all questions until the end.

I started my forties with no uncertain trepidation but two years in, I’m feeling better. In fact, looking back over Year 42 of my life, it’s been a better year than I realised. 

That’s the point of this; to look back and reflect. It’s 6 am and all is quiet. It’s a cool, wet autumn morning and as I listen to the birds I am feeling an enormous amount of gratitude.

In the last year I’ve built on the promises I made myself when I turned 40. It’s been an upward curve.

Professionally, 2019 saw me reach my 15th anniversary of working for myself and running a small business. There have been big changes at work this year. I’ve been a graphic designer at heart since forever (creating cut and paste magazines as a child and designing mixtape inlays on my Amiga as a teenager), and professionally since my first paid job back in 1995. 

We’re moving more into video and live streaming now. We converted an office into a purpose-built green screen studio and it’s become so successful that we are now building a larger studio. Whereas I would traditionally design for print, I am now getting to explore new territory by designing onscreen graphics and creating virtual studios. My professional life has never been so challenging or as rewarding as it is right now!

This last year I’ve been a lot more reflective than I used to be. I’m taking self-care more seriously and I’m getting better at looking after myself. (I’ve put on an unhealthy amount of weight though… that needs to change this year!)

My partner and I celebrated 17 wonderful years together this year. There isn’t a day that passes where I don’t feel supported, encouraged and loved. Oh, and Coben turned 12 years old and he’s as beautiful now as he was as a puppy!

I’ve collected Transformers toys for the last 35 years but since last summer I’ve totally fallen back in love with my hobby. I’ve rediscovered a passion for the originals, especially those I had as a kid. I guess you could call that vintage now! I’ve met and made so many wonderful like-minded friends through this hobby and just last month we all (some 1,300 of us) got together for the TFNation convention.

My three favourite albums on CD from the last 12 months have been: “Kingdoms in Colour” by Maribou State, “Kids” by The Midnight and “No Geography” by The Chemical Brothers. My favourite 12-inch (vinyl) single this year was “Aurora” by Zero 7. Yeah, I still get CDs and vinyl.

Movie-wise, I went to the cinema just twice and that was to see “Bumblebee” both times! I used to love seeing movies at the cinema but, and this is a 42 year old talking, it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I prefer watching movies at home, and it’s a perfect set up even though I still haven’t upgraded to 4K. The old me would have adopted 4K like a shot.

Since turning 40 I’ve been a lot more active with volunteer work. In December I was voted into the position of Vice Chair on the board of trustees of a local mental health and housing charity called The Lyme Trust. We celebrated the charity’s 45th year with a “family fun day” in June and it was such an amazing experience to be part of. In fact, if there’s one thing you can do for me on my birthday, it’s to donate to our outreach programme. Twice a week we have teams going out early in the morning to provide care and support to rough sleepers.

My one regret of the past year is that I haven’t travelled. I’ve had wonderful weekends and days out in York, Manchester, Birmingham and London with friends but I’ve missed travelling further afield. In fact, the last trip was to Paris in 2015 and I really want that to change… I love nothing more than exploring somewhere new with my camera. One of my goals is to travel more.

Another this I’m noticing recently is my memory isn’t what it was. Photography really helps with that and so it’s handy to have a camera in my pocket everywhere I go. Today I’m starting an “instajournal” on Instagram to record my 43rd year. You can follow that here if you like!

My third goal for the coming year is to carry on looking after myself. I need to lose weight and generally be a bit more active. And my fourth one is to read more. I’m disappointed I only managed to read six books last year. Maybe I can somehow combine reading and exercising? Turning pages burns calories, right?

I really feel like I’m taking life in my stride, taking my time to not rush through the months like I used to, to be better at recognising my limits and managing myself as I go. Year 42 has been positive and I have so much to be grateful for and I hope the trend continues!

Thank you for reading!

–Graham (@grhmthmsn)