Thursday, 19 June 2014

Just dreaming

This book is a blast from my past, I remember reading it when I was in my mid twenties like it was a bible. I bought a copy and kept it for years, picking it up now and again to remind myself that I could have anything I wanted. It gave me hope and inspiration for the future, if I followed her example I could indeed 'Have it all'. 
The idea of having it all when I was in my twenties was a lot different to what I see as having it all now. I wanted money, I wanted a lovely place to live, I wanted to travel, I wanted to be pretty, I wanted to have lots of friends to go out dancing with, I wanted to be popular and be with the 'in' crowd. To achieve this I needed fashionable clothes, to get my hair done every week, to wear makeup every day, and to be seen in all the right places with the right people. I thought that by having lots of money meant that you could have anything you wanted. People would like you, people would love you. Oh how shallow that all sounds now.

Today at the age of 65, my outlook on life is completely different. My priorities have changed. It's funny that when you are young you always want more, natural I suppose given that you still have a big chunk of your life left to live. When you are young you set your sights higher, you see what everyone else has and you want the same. Life is a competition when you are young, and when you are winning it can be a blast.

Now that I have dropped out of the competition, life is a lot more sweeter and my dreams are a lot more simpler. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in wanting to do the best for yourself, nothing wrong in wanting a better life. It's a good job that there are people with ambition, but there comes a time when you have to ask yourself what are you willing to give up to achieve your goals. How far should you push yourself? Do you keep on keeping on to get that new car or flat screen TV?

No, I haven't given up on my dreams, I still have some living to do, but it's on my terms. My dreams have changed, the goal posts have moved. Yes, when I was young I wanted the things that all teenage girls wanted in the sixties and early seventies, but when I hit my mid twenties my personality was not defined by material possessions, it was for a desire to enjoy each day as it came. Having it all is generally regarded as being wealthy, having a wonderful spouse, a fantastic job, and a loving family around you. In reality I was never going to have it all because I didn't have the focus or the ambition to push myself to the limit. My work brought me enough income to pay my way in life, and luckily I found a job which I enjoyed. What I didn't know then, and what I do know now is that I did have it all, but didn't know it.

Helen Gurley Brown was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years, the same length of time I was a lorry driver. She died, aged 90, in August 2012. To read more about her life, click here.

Toodle pip.
PS. The beads have arrived today, thank you kind reader.


  1. This article hits home for me. At 27 I couldn't help but notice that friends and colleagues who "had it all" were not happy. Now at 37 I know that I have it all and all I want to do is be thankful everyday and keep those I love close.

    P.S. How can I get one of your bags Ilona?


    1. Hello Salma. I sometimes post out my nicer, stronger, better, bags to lucky blog readers in a prize draw. I see you are in Calgary, unfortunately I can only afford overseas postage once in a while, and to send a shopping bag like those on yesterdays post just isn't worth it. The cost would be a lot more than the bag is worth. So, to answer your question, you need to be shopping at Tesco the same time as I am, then you might get offered one. Sorry to disappoint you, could you try making one yourself?

  2. I think we do grow wiser as we grow older and the wiser part is the ability to learn what is important in life - and it isn't material things!

  3. "I didn't have the focus or the ambition to push myself to the limit."

    I am 68 and I'd been wondering if I'm the only one that feels this way. I realize now that I may have had the talent, but I didn't have the focus or ambition to push myself to the limit. You said it so much better than I could, and I'm a writer! The other thing is that I realize that I am only about 20% as smart as I thought I was! (Still smarter than the average bear, however).

    Don't think this is the ramblings of a depressed old lady. First of all, I'm not old--I'm a baby boomer, after all--and secondly, I am happier and more satisfied with the life I have than the one I thought I wanted.

  4. I used to read Cosmo in the early 90s when I had just started working. I thought I wanted to earn lots, have a company car and all that jazz. I did achieve it and frankly thought it was a right load of phoney baloney. Much happier now, money isn't everything.

  5. You are so right about not appreciating 'having it all' when one is young. I had a day out on Monday with 2 school friends (now we're 54!) and one said 'we didn't appreciate how gorgeous we were! Now I'm very happy to have good health, lovely family and friends and a comfortable home with plenty to eat. I was never really motivated by having more 'stuff' and so much identify with not having the focus or ambition to push myself to the limit - seeing people who have, I'm grateful!

  6. Honestly I would go back to being young again. The pressure to fit in and have the right 'stuff' was painful, competing with others is exhausting and damaging. I think I would like to freeze my years now (41) I have enough, don't have a lot to worry about, I don't care much about what other people are doing with their lives, I've learned how to cope with unpleasant people. Self esteem comes with age and with that you don't need 'stuff' or to be part of the the 'in' crowd. Loved your post. Thank you. Debbie

  7. I can definitely relate to this, when I was in my late teens / early twenties I wanted exactly the same things - to be popular, pretty, fashionable and in the process I ended up in a lot of debt. Spending money on material things has given me 10 years of debt to pay off (nearly there now though at the age of 34). It's refreshing to read how your priorities changed over time and how you realised that you did have it all back then even when you thought you didn't. My priorities are certainly changing even at my age now. I want a simpler life without stress and I want to enjoy life. This is the first time I've come across your blog, thanks for an inspiring post.

  8. I can imagine that the 'having it all' book is responsible for a lot of people being in a lot of debt. Keeping up with the Jones's or having all the things that make you look successful come at a price, usually a price that makes you unhappy and stressed out and the important things suffer.
    I'm glad i've not been ambitious and my sights were set lower, or maybe i'm tight.
    We're well off compared with a lot of people in that we've got a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs, anything above that is a bonus.

  9. Your creative use of texture and colour in the chosen fabrics while making the shopping bags makes them special, though they are a simple pattern.Lovely.I was a flower child in the late sixties and eartly seventies and gravitated to being a veg-head and peace, love and understanding kind of young woman.I seem to have spent my fourties being more materialistic and now at sixty have come full circle again to what gives my life meaning and authenticity. For me, that's my beloved family,doggies,garden,books and not least faith.Your thoughtful words were meaningful to me. Regards, Destemona.

  10. How right you are, I like you had all those dreams , but now in my late 60s I am so contented to just "be". I love my little home full of cast offs and I am proud of my garden . My old mum used to say to me when I was a discontent teenager. Its not what we have its what we value that makes us rich. I didn't understand her, She brought 5 kids up singlehanded and was so capable and content. But now later in life sitting in my old armchair dog at my feet , I know just what she meant. I love your blog , it says it from the heart.
    regards, Sally

  11. My memories of this book which I read a few times, revolve around her advice about money, I think she referred to mouseburgering or something like that. It stuck with me and I was able to take early retirement a 52, am 61 now, no doubt with a little thanks to the seed she helped to plant. Take care. Margo

  12. Hi hun, *Love* your blog as usual :) This post is full of words of wisdom. I agree with you - it's being content with what we already have - I think this comes with age. Wanting more is never ending because when is it enough? Youth is wasted on the young - I always wanted to be intelligent, slimmer, prettier,more outgoing etc..Looking back at pics I was fine as I was. I wish I had a time machine to go back and put my 50 year old head onto my young shoulders! *hugs* Sue :)

  13. Well I guess it just goes to show there are different stages in life depending on age of course 20 yr olds have to be ambitious and have dreams very different to a 60 plus yr old women it's called life, 80 yr old women look at me like I'm crazy cause I need the fan on every night in the middle of winter now I'm in my 40s I don't feel crazy I feel happy I just need some fresh air at this point :)

  14. Thanks for your reply Ilona. They are lovely bags, and yep, making one would be fun :)