a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Aug, 2014

What has this baby learned in 42 years?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Baby me.

The eldest and I went for a walk the other night and somehow got to talking about Traumatic Teenage Events and how they tend to stay with us over the long haul.

Seventh grade was the most challenging year for me. I was tall – all knees and elbows and pointy bits –  and although I had a few good friends in my circle I mostly lived inside myself. I was at a new school among kids who knew each other from kindergarten. I wasn’t one of the pretty girls. I was one of the smart girls, which was somehow a breed apart. I felt like I was born to the role of The Observer, to hover on the outskirts taking everything in but never really being a part of it, whatever IT is. As I type that out I realize that this is a part of me that never really changed although I’ve learned to accept and appreciate it.

Looking back, I think the 40s are the best decade, at least, the best so far. I can honestly say that no longer care about being one of the pretty girls because along the way I have collected some things that are more valuable than smooth knees and perfect hair, things that no one can take away from me. It’s taken me a long time, but I now know myself, and this is no small thing.

1) I know when to say no, and that it’s ok to say no. My time is my own. When it comes down to it, that’s all I really have.

2) Related: I don’t accept bullshit.

3) I know what fuels my fire, whether it’s brain food or eye candy or a giant salad. And I know that if I don’t care of myself, I suffer for it.

4) I am more mindful of the little things, because life is really just a collection of little things, all strung together.

5) I know my limits but I also know when I need to push myself.

6) I am comfortable doing what I do and being who I am. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain really changed my attitude about my perceived “shortfalls.”

7) I know there is no limit on love, courage, kindness.

8) Everyone has a different definition of success, and it is usually not the same as mine. Living up to some one else’s idea of a success is a mistake.

9) Life is too short to be embarrassed by things. Public displays of affection, spontaneous sidewalk dancing or a moment of song are ALWAYS WORTH IT.

Edited to add because I hit publish too quickly:

10) It feels good to be charitable, and to help and elevate others where one can.

11) The view from the high road is always a good one. And there is always karma.

Is age a state of mind? I wonder.



4 Responses to "What has this baby learned in 42 years?"

1 | Pam Dillon

August 19th, 2014 at 12:29 pm


Happy Birthday, Andrea. Smart girls rule.
(I’m still working on #1, btw. : ))
Don’t know about age being a state of mind, but I do know it’s something I embrace and relish. Wishing you joy and adventures in the year to come.

2 | Susan Ovington

August 19th, 2014 at 1:53 pm


Happy Birthday Andrea! I also love my 40’s. You realize what is most important in your life and finally start to feel comfortable in your own skin. I have learned to take care of myself instead of everyone else’s needs outside of my family! I finally learned to say no to others especially if I wasn’t comfortable with the request! Enjoy this special time!

3 | Bob LeDrew

August 19th, 2014 at 2:37 pm


“I felt like I was born to the role of The Observer, to hover on the outskirts taking everything in but never really being a part of it, whatever IT is. As I type that out I realize that this is a part of me that never really changed although I’ve learned to accept and appreciate it.”

Ohhhhh, yeah.

4 | Mark

August 20th, 2014 at 12:01 pm


This quote from Bruce McCulloch of Kids in the Hall Fame sums it up nicely “In your 20s, you think about what the world can give you. In your 30s, what the world thinks of you. In your 40s and beyond, what you think of the world”

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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