I am thirty-four years old. In less than six months, I’ll be thirty-five.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog long enough will know I had a lot of trouble coming to grips with the big 3-0.

A lot of this was because of:

21 – Moved to Melbourne
22 – Bought a house
23 – Got engaged; had a breakdown (rotten timing)
24 – Got married
25 – Had first baby
26 – Went back to university, quit
27 – Had second baby, started blog
28 – Went back to ‘writing’
29 – Published Surprise!
30 – Dad died

In retrospect, while significant and wonderful things happened, I also had to deal with… well, you can see.

So far in my thirties, when I thought I’d be ‘mature’ I still feel, deep down, like the girl half my age who, at 17, went through a whole lot of horribleness, too.

As does everyone, at some stage.

Throughout all of it, I bit my nails. I chewed them down to nothing, then ate the skin, peeling back the layers with my teeth, until they bled. The ugliness of my hands was infamous among family and friends.

Then, suddenly, I couldn’t bite them anymore.

They grew and grew, stronger than I could have ever imagined, even more than what the hormonal ‘power boost’ of pregnancy offered. I had my first ever manicure and Shellac nail paint. These hands were mine; it was hard to wrap my head around.

Not only for me, but for my friends and family who saw me, or saw an occasional photo on Facebook. One of my oldest friends on the planet messaged me: “I cannot believe it. Look! I would’ve never guessed that was you.”

This is why, if you remember the ‘old’ version of the Living List, you would’ve seen this item on the list: “Investigate hypnotherapy for my nail biting”.

I can confidently say I don’t need to anymore.

Shellac nails

This week I went to the funeral of our neighbour. During the eulogy her daughter mentioned the story of a little girl in the neighbourhood, who’d come across the road on her first day of school, busting with pride and excitement in her brand new uniform, to show this lady and share her experience.

This little girl was Keira.

As I sat in the congregation, I let out a sob; I couldn’t quite believe that that had made such a significant impact to warrant a mention at a funeral; at the simplicity of it; its naturalness; its normalcy.

And that is the wonder of life.

Which is why my updated ‘Living list’ is fuller of these wonders I’d like to see and experience. When before I might have been shyer to reveal the audacity of my plans, I’ve realised the greater audacity is not to acknowledge them at all.

We love you, Norma. Rest in peace.


Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity