Life Begins At …

40++ nationalities and cultural differences, 40 degrees Celsius hell weather, 40 square meters more or less of a home and 40 years of age. This is I, Malaya.

I have been living in Dubai since 2012 of February, an expat from the Philippines. Left the country and the rest of the brave who can still face the brutality and savagery of politics, the government and how the country is being eaten alive of commercialism, greed of the affluent and an unequipped self-serving leader as usual. Struggling to fight and hoping for a glimpse of an improvement or simply accepting faith that there’s no other choice or option for them. So here I am, far from it, miles and miles more than 40 miles that’s for sure… And life had just begun a few days back for me.

I was looking at my face at the mirror for a good solid 2 minutes and 18 seconds, before midnight of the day, yes, timed it, and I tried meticulously to count the lines that will appear adding on to my older me, somehow I didn’t see anything. I was in denial of course… But what the heck, it’s my birthday!

It’s just a number right? But somehow it seemed that I was beamed up from somewhere, transported to this space and time that is the 40s. My 40s. It’s like being in a limbo. You’re not anymore in your 30s when you’re youthful yet somehow experienced but not in your 50s where when I get to that point, I will concede that I am… definitely old… a grandma.

As I write this, I have no job, which really magnified the limbo I am in. Single, with no boyfriend or boytoy, (maybe when I get into my 50s just like JLo). Not fit too, but trying to get there somehow. No work hence no money.

Thinking of 40 ways to go forward with my life here currently in Dubai, UAE. Whether to stay or not, maybe do something else other than graphic designing, or find me a husband and be a simple housewife. Somehow, being where I am now, paths are being cleared in front of me. It’s kind of a do-over. Maybe this is a good thing.

First stop, this blog site. With four other of my friends from art school, we form this ‘Arte of 5’. These are our Points Of Views.

 

I’ve never bungee-jumped, but I imagine it’s similar to turning 40. I’m down to my last few months as a 39 year old, and I’m staring at this gaping ravine before me, trying to fathom how I got here, worrying that my harness is going to snap in mid-flight.

I hated being a teenager. In hindsight, I disliked all the things I was supposed to love at that age: discos, proms, clothes. In my mid-twenties I left the Philippines, and suddenly the world opened up, and being different and awkward became, for some reason, acceptable. Our thirties, I feel, is a period where we stop, look at our lives so far, and start drawing circles on the ground we’re standing on. These circles expand and contract, accommodating people and things and feelings and lessons; they exclude all the bullshit, the insecurities, the excess, and the stuff we just can’t bother to care about anymore. Thirties? It’a an era of zero fucks given, and I’ve loved every day of it.

So what’s next? That’s what I keep asking myself. My knees buckle just thinking about taking the next step (giant leap?), and many scenarios are playing out in my mind: panic, confusion, tears, a massive breakdown. Or it could be as simple as blowing out candles on a cake, getting drunk and high, and waking up the next morning like nothing’s changed. Here’s hoping it’ll be the latter.

 

My name is Honey, a stay-at-home mom to a five year old boy, and wife to a husband who works during the day (and night). During the day (and night), I go about the daily “mom chores” but once cocktail hours creep in (11pm-ish). I stare at my phone in the dark, with my feet up and feast on shiny, random things the internet has to offer. Did you know that Kanye West is now named Ye?

So yeah, we are your typical “old school family” where the dad works and the mom cooks and takes care of stuff at home, and the kid is so…lucky. We have been living in Singapore for quite a long time now. Hubby is Indian, I am A Filipina, so that makes Mikey (our son), a Findian. Yes, I made that word up.

I’m not yet 40, but almost. What difference does it make when “40” has been sneaking right behind my back, since I was 37? The nerve. At 36 I was thinking along the lines of: “Yeah, I still feel 25. Let’s smell the flowers, talk to butterflies, eat cinnamon buns, la la la!”. Then then all of a sudden…bam! Out of nowhere, this combative “40” comes crashing in, pouncing on you like a cheetah on a meek gazelle. It’s so strong, it knocks you out. And then it hits you, you’re officially an old person. 10 more years and you’re 50. Don’t get me started on 60. That’s way too far for now.

Do you remember the days when you could plow through a giant chocolate chip cookie, a Mars bar, Jolly spaghetti, take a nap, and not gain weight? Yes, those days are gone. Two blinks later, you’re prepping your spinach smoothie for breakfast and carefully calculating how many carbohydrates are in a handful of almonds. This turning 40 situation is very real. The expression “Life begins at 40” was created for the sole purpose of cushioning the blow. We were tricked. When we were 30, we didn’t care about 40: “Who cares, it will never happen.”

Everyday, I try my best to run and workout in the park, then, do groceries. Recently, I made a new Filipina friend who works there and is married to a Singaporean. She would always say, “Wow, pa-work-out work-out nalang, sana ako rin, kaso kailangan kong mag trabaho.” (How I wish I can also work-out freely just like you, but I can’t because I need to work). To which I’d reply “You should feel lucky because you have a job. You earn your own money, I don’t. I have to stay home, do chores all day. And that’s just a tiny aspect of being a stay-at-home mom. With a kid, the last remaining bit of alone time is squeezed out to the last drop.

The question is, am I happy at “40”?

If I were to answer this question 7 months ago, I would have answered: no. No because everything was going haywire in my life: marriage, health, stress of raising a child, you name it. Everyday, I would put on a mask to cover the real me: sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, tired, full of regrets. Hell, I miss my young, care-free self. Imagine 15 years ago, the world was my oyster. I was golden.

Fast forward to now. I am happy to report that things are looking bright. It’s almost equivalent to: “Yeah, I still feel 25. Let’s smell the flowers, talk to butterflies, and eat cinnamon buns, la la la!” Everything seems to fall into place. All because of a single, powerful decision I made 7 months ago. You can read about it here.

So, to answer the question: am I happy at “40”? The answer is: yes at the moment 🙂

 

I’m Flem, a mother to 3 kids and a wife to a doctor. Nowadays, mornings are a chaotic brew of kids getting ready for school, a husband shuffling stuff looking for his glasses, and an abused coffee machine spurting anger. Eventually, cups of coffee are consumed, husband finds glasses and kids are sent off to school. And when I’m by myself again, I take in the thick New York air (yuck, I know) and then I get another cup of coffee on my way to work, by foot by the way. My office is just a 10-minute walk from our apartment. I work at an advertising agency as a creative director for five years now, handling accounts from fast food to airlines. People always ask me how do I do it? How do I balance work and family life? I always tell them, It’s not perfect. I had to accept the fact that lego pieces will always be lying around and an 8-hour sleep will not be possible anymore. But, I love every minute of it. Sure, sometimes it feels like all days are the same. But, there are special days too. Once in awhile, before I reach my office door, I receive a kiss emoji from my husband, whenever he forgets to kiss me goodbye.

What can I say?
This is the life.
THE life.
The life I was supposed to have.

In reality, I’m Flem, sans the big apartment, sans the doctor husband, sans the boss title, sans the New York life, sans the 2 kids. I only have one, for now. A manipulative 2-year old girl whom I love with my whole being and obligated to raise well.

What happened? I also ask myself.
I graduated from the best university in this country and became a dean’s lister, ONCE, you guys! (high-fiving a million angels)
I was young. I was slender. My skin was flawless. I WAS BRAVE!
I had a map for my life. I had a plan. But midway, not so smart choices are made, opportunities are wasted, love ones said goodbye.
Life happens.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy. Even though people constantly remind me of life boxes that should have been ticked by now. They can’t understand that unlike them, my journey is non-linear. Baby first, check!

I live by this simple wisdom (that I totally made up) for a year now.
“Everything can be fixed. Something broken shouldn’t be left broken. You can put it back together. Give it a new life. Start again.”

We are not failures. I am not a failure. Just like what Jason Mendoza from The Good Place said, I am “pre-successful.”

So here I am, here are my friends, trying to figure out the rest of our awesome lives. All of us are writing our second act and it’s scary and exhilarating!

Anyone who’s reading this, let’s make a pact! Let’s be brave and let’s not be realistic!

So pull up your spanx and drink down your vodka because life begins, now.

 

Coming soon!

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