35 Things I Learnt In My Forties



There’s nothing like facing a new decade to make you take stock of the years that have gone before it.  So before leaving my forties I decided to write a list of 35 Things I Learnt In My Forties.



I also wanted to take this opportunity to say that I’m taking a little break from writing my weekly posts.  You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been sporadic in posting on Not Givin In this year.  My time and energy have been needed to take care of family matters, which are obviously a priority, and to be completely honest I just don’t have the head space and time to think about my little space on the internet right now.  I will return when time allows.  Til then, thank you so much for our weekly chats and here are my 40-somethings musings.


Lots of Love


Gail xx




  1. My forties were some of my best years. By the time you dive in to middle age it’s likely that you’ve experienced some dark times along the way, but it does make you rejoice even more so when the good times roll in.  I don’t just want to visit Ayers Rock, I want to drink champagne on the back of a Harley Davidson going around it.  Because I know those dark times will happen, still happen, but if I load up on the good days, then maybe they’ll override how I feel when the crap ones turn up.


  1. Belts are not the enemy. I definitely had a drawer full of belts in my twenties, but somewhere along the line I thought drawing attention to my waist was a waste of time and only drew attention to how thick it was.  How silly was I?  It helps the situation, giving you feminine curves.  All hail the belt, which I only recently discovered, is my saviour.


  1. It will cost around £6,000 to rid me of my double chin. I asked a cosmetic surgeon. She said it would be cheaper to lose a little weight.  It’s true, I lost some weight and the double chin, but they’re both back and I’m trying to lose them again.  I’ve set up a savings account.


  1. I can’t ignore my mobile phone, but I’m trying to. It’s not that I dislike it, in fact the problem is I love its ability to keep me in touch with my nearest and dearest, but I’ve really got to work on being present. Texting while walking, running, cooking dinner, talking to SP, visiting family, all comes with a price.  Have I concentrated on what I’m doing, who I’m with and what I’m saying?  Possibly not and it’s not fair and sometimes dangerous, so I’m trying to keep my priorities in order


  1. The coil isn’t as scary as I thought. I have always had short, punctual periods but around my mid-forties my ‘monthlies’ really started to play me up and I was having a lot of trouble managing the flow. Numerous doctor appointments later and I was offered the coil.  I didn’t want it, but, other than the discomfort of having it put in it has been the best thing for me. I’m a no show nowadays and couldn’t be happier. It will also last five years and I’m hoping it will see me through the menopause.


  1. Forgetfulness can work in your favour. If I ‘forget’ the clothes washing, Steve will do it. Win


  1. People’s noses can get bigger as they get older.   Google it.  Mine has.


  1. I’m not a slave to fashion but wearing it is fun. I used to love fashion when I was younger but lost my mojo somewhere along the line.  Fed up with the way I looked, who wouldn’t be, same old sloppy jumper and jeans, I started to really take an interest again. I don’t go mad, there’s no credit for this savyy shopper, but if buying a new style top for the season or a trendy pair of jeans gives me a confidence boost I need I’m on it.


  1. What I weigh still matters to me. No-one is sniggering behind my back in the playground and SP (thankfully) hasn’t left me cause I’ve eaten all the ice cream, yet still my weight continues to be a source of angst, after all these years.  You would think I’d give up and relax into middle age, but I can’t.  I blame it on those sodding eighties supermodels, but I always want to be the better version of myself.


35 Things I Learnt In My Forties – 10-20


  1. Colour my happy. That time I spent on a floor in a friend’s lounge with a woman holding squares of coloured fabric against my face in my twenties was worth doing.  Getting a colour analysis and knowing the colours that make your complexion look fantastic is the quickest way to getting a compliment and not looking like death warmed up.


  1. Jamie’s fool-proof dinner trick is a real people pleaser. I can’t remember where I read it, but this Jamie Oliver tip has helped me out on more than one occasion. Basically, if you don’t have time to make dessert just buy good quality bars of milk, dark and white chocolate and break them into pieces on a plate.  Voila!


  1. Multi-tasking sounds great but it’s a total wind-up. I can do several things at one time, balancing campaigns and clients in one hand while hanging out the washing and calling Sky to complain about a lack of Wi Fi in the other, but it makes me so stressed.  It’s a bit like the high I would get from smoking a cigarette, which is also horrible.  Now I try and start one job and complete it before starting another.   I don’t want to juggle plates and its way more satisfying than running around like a headless chicken.


  1. Being a smoker is a big regret. It’s probably the silliest thing I ever started, and I hope I never pick it up again.  To clarify, I puffed on my first cigarette that I had pinched from my mum’s packet before I started secondary school. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I finally kicked the habit.  At times it ruled my life and it wasn’t until I realised it made any anxiety worse that I finally stopped it, for good.  That said I would say I am a smoker.  I will always have been mindful that I could easily do it again, and it scares me to think I would


  1. You’re not a failure when a career choice doesn’t work. Although it feels like it at the time, I’ve been employed twice where I didn’t feel that I fitted in.  However, it wasn’t the end of the word, it just meant I had to keeping moving forward until I found the right role.  Square peg in a round hole sounds about right, but it’s not anyone’s fault and a better opportunity is likely to be just around the corner


  1. Love was worth the wait. I had boyfriends, some serious, some not, but when it came to me being settled, I guess I was single half of my life.  However, I really did marry my better half, soul mate, truest companion, love of my life, but it was a hell of a wait and one I loathed at times. I wouldn’t wish singledom, unless they’re happy with it, on anyone. If not keep looking he/she might just be out there.  I hope so, I really do. And I hope you don’t have to wait like I did.


  1. I still want to dance into the dawn. I don’t, of course, I can only imagine the looks I would get going down to Motion on a weekend throwing some Saturday Night Fever shapes.  But I love dancing, I do!  Probably why I love Vegas so much.  I can go dancing and the guy next to me is 92 (true story).


  1. Wine packs on the pounds. Call me stupid (please don’t), but I didn’t realise how much weight you gain from drinking wine (and other alcoholic beverages) until I slipped into my forties and staying in was the new going out.  Wine goes with cheese, crisps, cake and chocolate as does other alcohol, but there’s less calories in gin…so avoid unless you want a double chin or other problematic areas of your body


  1. I’m not an imposter, I’m just me. I know I’ve felt like it so many times, imposter syndrome is a ‘thing’, a feeling that someone is going to find out that you’re not as smart, funny, successful, clever as you feel you need to be.  And it’s bullshit. I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone feels this way in some way or another at some time or another and it’s just a trick to hold you back from bigger and better achievements in life. Feel the fear and do it anyway


  1. I’m not good at everything. Steve is really good at hanging out washing….and bringing it back in, folding it and lying it on the bed ready to be put away. WIN


35 Things I Learnt In My Forties – 20-30


  1. You really should brush your teeth twice day. I don’t know when I started the habit of not brushing my teeth at night, but boy have I paid for it, and feel there is more squirming in the hot chair down-the-line.


  1. Fad diets are not the answer. Any routine that suggests cutting out a food group to ensure weight loss is likely to fail.  I have tried them all and although I have seen good results with some (anything with less carbs works for me) it is NOT sustainable.  We don’t live in a protein only world, or a world where cabbage soup is in every store.  Follow the fad knowing that it will help you be party ready, if that’s what you want, but know you’ll be eating greasy pizza come 3 am.


  1. Always have a back-up. And my back up I mean good quality hard drive.  There’s no going back, we are paper-less people, and if your lap top or other device breaks you’re screwed, let alone broken hearted to lose all those precious memories of holiday past.  Worth the investment and the time, it takes to set it up (yes, I hate this bit too).


  1. Wardrobe basics will see you through. You don’t need to follow fashion, but if you have some good quality basics in neutral shades in your wardrobe you’ll be ready for anything. Think dark jeans, a white shirt, black trousers, striped T.shirts, ankle boots, trench coat, black turtle neck, checked blazer and khaki jacket.  You get the gist.  Then keep an eye on the sales for on-trend pieces. The sales start so early you should get plenty of wear and most pieces can be kept for the following year.


  1. Unless you exercise like an athlete you won’t lose weight just by working out. There’s a reason why those in the know say Eat Less, Exercise More in that order, the first rule is the most important.


  1. Camping doesn’t come easy to me, but I can survive it. A boyfriend once said that I wasn’t an outdoor pursuit kind of gal, which I took as a compliment.  However, with the right amount of positive thinking, a case of ale, warm socks and a bobble hat I can get through a long weekend under the canvas.  My hair meanwhile cannot.  Fine wavy hair equals tangled bird’s nest by day three, but thankfully by then it’s time to head home.


  1. I can also do festivals, if they’re fancy schmancy. I absolutely loved my first-ever festival.  It was at Wilderness in Oxfordshire and we stayed for the whole four days.  It was fun, interesting, exciting and the toilets stayed clean right up until the last morning, when I was very glad to leave.  We were also lucky that the sun shone gloriously, every single day.  Rose tinted glasses, you bet.  Highly recommend it


  1. Saturday night TV sucks. Just because I’ve hung up my disco pants for family life does not mean I want to spend my much-loved Saturday nights watching a dog do tricks on the box or watch an Irish guy dress up like his mammy.  It’s supposed to be entertainment, but really, I’m glad to go to bed


  1. Make sure your car battery never runs out. On my return from a trip to London I found that I had accidently left my car headlamps on all day, which in itself is a pain in the ass, but was made 10 billion times worse by being parked in the middle of nowhere in a car park known for dogging.  Waiting for the AA man was the longest hour of my life and luckily a friend was with me, though that also meant creepy old men kept coming up to our vehicle, flashing torch lights to watch us “make out”.  It was hell on earth and kept me awake for weeks to follow.  I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been on my own.


  1. You don’t need to worry about bumping into an ex past 40. Uh uh, life’s journey is just as hard if not more so for them (I would hate to lose my hair) and if you don’t have your glasses on you won’t see them anyway


35 Things I Learnt In My Forties – 30-35


  1. Say what you want, but I love Botox. I started to notice the two vertical lines shooting upwards between my eyes from my early forties and by around 45 it was all I could see when I looked in the mirror.  Obviously by this time I had read everything I could on Botox and was interested but scared, then one day I couldn’t face seeing the 11s anymore and made an appointment.  I’ve never looked back and have minimal injections every six months that clear those “concentration lines”.  It doesn’t hurt, there’s no side effect and honestly, it has given me back my confidence.  I love it, and no-one can tell me otherwise.


  1. Pick an exercise that easily fits into your routine and you’ll keep doing it. I go running.  Strictly speaking it’s a jog, but I do it three or four times a week.  It’s become second-nature to exercise before I shower and get dressed, so part of my daily routine. I wouldn’t be as keen if I had to drive to a gym, but it’s free and fits my schedule. I have no excuse.


  1. Saying thanks goes such a long way. I blush when I think of the times I received cards and gifts as a child and didn’t acknowledge it.  My parents didn’t instil the discipline in me and now I’m older I realise how much the gesture means.  I try to remember now


  1. Working with young people motivates me. I notice it more and more, people in charge are now younger than me.  Whether it’s the store manager, policeman, or doctor, I’m always thinking how young people look.  How able they are.  It frightens me a bit.  It means that I’m in the generation that has passed its first flush of life.  That said, I love working with and surrounding myself with young people.  It rubs off, that youthful motivation, goal-driven passion for all that can be achieved in a day.  It gives me a kick up the backside to do my best.


  1. An eyebrow is important, two are preferred. I don’t have much beauty advice, but after Botox the one treatment that I can’t live without is Microblading.  It has changed my face.  I can’t see for toffee, so pencilling in my eyebrows was a joke.  Eyebrows frame the face and this tattoo-like treatment means I only need pluck a few stray hairs and I’m good.


  1. Be careful what you say. I’m always going on about my love of flying.  It generally means I’m getting out of dodge on a big old aeroplane and heading somewhere far more interesting.  For my 50th Steve has bought me an hour’s flying lesson in a two-seater plane!!!  I’ll let you know how that goes….


  1. Pam
    August 31, 2018 / 9:58 am

    I loved reading and nodding along with this honest appraisal of your life at 50. You truly are 50 and fabulous Gail. Big love x

  2. gailpainter
    August 31, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to read it Pam. I hope people can identify with a few of these xx

  3. September 2, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    Interesting, entertaining & inspiring stuff Gail!!! Loved reading it👌I hope I arrive at my 50s as glamorously and as full of life as you! 😍

  4. gailpainter
    September 4, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    I’m glad that you read and loved it. Thanks so much Claire. It’s not so bad being 50 and you will definitely be arriving into a new decade super stylish when you do xx

  5. September 8, 2018 / 7:34 am

    Great post, very relatable. I’ve just turned 51, recently single and trying to feel happy with me. I have become a bit of a recluse over the last year and that’s the one thing I need to change. Find some girlfriends and get a life. Andrea x

  6. gailpainter
    September 9, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    When I found myself on my own in my 30s I joined a Learn to Speak Spanish evening course – I didn’t want to speak the language, I just needed to get out. Book clubs are good too and exercises classes. Anything that takes your mind off feeling lonely and being alone. Even one night out a week is a starting point and it’s better to take baby steps, tackling it in small bites than worry about the bigger picture. Hope that helps. xx

  7. Suzanne W
    November 14, 2018 / 7:35 pm

    I finally find a blog that I can relate to and you’re off! I understand though, I had a difficult period in my family life and stopped blogging for 6 months. It’s hard. Best of luck with everything.

  8. gailpainter
    November 19, 2018 / 11:08 am

    Thank you Suzanne – I’m coming back soon. Just doing a little thinking behind the scenes to come back with a new-look…x