Hello, 40!

What a blessing, what an honour to turn 40. Forty years old! It’s a big number yet not even middle age (by God’s grace!). Even harder than believing that I’ve been on this earth for 40 years is believing that my parents have a 40-year-old—imagine! I feel much more like a child than my parents were at 40; maybe because they had four children by my age!

I thank God for keeping and sustaining me (and my family) for all these years. I thank Him for who I am, flaws and all, and who I’m becoming. Speaking of…

I had a picture of who I wanted to be by 40: someone who knows what she wants and lives in a way that’s congruent with those things (for example, wanting to be a full-time entrepreneur means working on my business every day, period, and for me, it means waking up earlier because evenings don’t work as well as they used to). I want to be the friend who brings out the best in others (I was better at this when I was younger) and I want to surround myself with friends who do the same for me. I want to be positive and not let fears, anxious thoughts, and a negative mindset hold me back. 

There were things that I wanted to accomplish by my fortieth birthday, long-held dreams that I had, like having triplets (for real!???), and I remember being disappointed when I realized that Sayo’s papers wouldn’t be processed in time. I want to be a full-time entrepreneur, but I also remember not doing the work needed to get there, despite “running” a mastermind of supportive and encouraging women for over three-and-a-half years (and counting!?‍♀️). And my oldest dream of losing weight—which is no longer a priority as long as I remain healthy—is on the list out of habit.

I had big plans for my fortieth birthday: a prop-filled photo shoot with all these meaningful details, a huge, fabulous party, a special gift (a purse, because my current one is falling apart) to mark the new decade that I’m entering, a solo trip that combines being in the Caribbean (a first!) with an educational component (business retreat, maybe) but over the past few months that I’ve been thinking about all this, the only thing that happened is the photo shoot, and let me tell you about it.

I had been thinking about it for months. I booked a photographer a month in advance and sent her access to my Pinterest inspiration board and a description of what I wanted. Even before booking the photo shoot, I spent weeks ordering outfits online (and buying in store), trying them on, and returning the ones that wouldn’t work. I debated making a pink tutu and wearing a tiara (for real!?). When I realized that I was getting carried away, I decided on the elements that were “me” and focused on including those things.

One of the important props for the shoot was a tall cake. I wanted it to be about a foot tall, four to six inches in diameter, and I wanted it on a pink cake stand. Months before I decided on having a cake in my shoot, everyone and their dog were selling pink cake stands. Do you think I could find a pink stand three weeks before the photo shoot? Of course not—the closest that I found looked more like a bird bath! I bought four potential cake stands in the process; settling on a white one with a ruffled edge (I’ll be returning the ones that I didn’t use). I tried to order a cake but when the average quote was $50 for a cake half the height of what I wanted, I told myself I could make my own cake for less than that, thank you very much. 

I borrowed the perfect cake pans from Ves and absorbed her best tips for smoothing the icing to the perfection that I saw in my inspiration pictures. She also gave me pretty much all tools that I needed to achieve the perfectly iced cake, including the link to a great video. Two days before the shoot, I baked the cakes, making a rookie mistake that I had never made before: I baked the cakes on the wrong rack, so far from the heat source that by the time the timer went off, the cake was like pudding. I realized my mistake near the end of the baking time and opened the oven (a no-no) to move the cakes to the proper location in the oven. Then I broke part of two of the cakes while releasing them from the cake pan. I remember my frustration over those errors; little did I know I’d be crying over another aspect of the cake: the icing! 

The night before the photo shoot, I began icing the cake. First you have to do the crumb coat, where you cover the cake with a light layer of icing, before the real icing. It went relatively well, but it wasn’t perfect, so I started fixing it. Sayo came and we tried to work together, with one turning the turntable/lazy Susan and the other holding the smoothing implement. Then we tried a different smoothing implement. Things were going well but my attempts to make it perfect made it worse as the icing began to dry. The tears began. Sayo tried to console me but I was a mess: the cake wasn’t going to be perfect and I was embarrassed to have it in my photo shoot. I tried to cover up the imperfect icing job by adding sprinkles but my sprinkles didn’t stick (because the icing was dry), and the sprinkles that I pressed into the icing looked awful (like sand; so much for sparkling gold!); it looked like a kid’s project! 

Sayo kept working on the cake and I told him to give up while I worked feverishly on the poster. Poster? Oh yes: one of the props for the shoot was a poster that was supposed to be an “all about me” summary. After going to countless stores looking for the huge frame (which I finally scored for $11 at a second-hand store), I had writer’s block and I hated everything that I wrote. As I tried to figure out the poster, Sayo kept working on the cake. I told him I hated the cake, that it was hideous—but that it wasn’t his fault. I told him that I couldn’t pose with the cake because it was embarrassing. He ignored me and kept working on the cake. At 6:01am (yup, I didn’t sleep overnight), I sent a message to one of the potential bakers to report on the progress of the icing (she had encouraged me to DIY and asked me to update her) and she offered to make me a cake. It was hours before the shoot but I still couldn’t bring myself to pay the $60 she wanted, even after all my struggle and tears. I accepted that I wouldn’t have a cake. 

By this point, I was mentally done, most likely due to sleep deprivation. I was ready to abandon the poster, and even abandon the photo shoot. I told Sayo I was going to sleep for two hours then come back to it; when I got upstairs I burst into tears and Sayo came up, gave me a pep-talk and nudged me back downstairs. I cried a couple more times as I finalized what to me was the most boring poster and sent it off to be printed at 8:30am. Then I slept for an hour and a half.

I had two medical appointments on photo shoot day; in fact, I deliberately scheduled the photo shoot for that day because I wasn’t going to work so I would have lots of time—hah! Of course, I didn’t factor in a sleepless night. By the time we got to the second appointment, it was clear that given how late the doctor was running, we wouldn’t get to the printer’s place before they closed. Sayo decided to go and pick up the poster while I arranged for my mom (who was going to do my makeup) to pick me up from the doctor’s office (my parents are ALWAYS there for me, though I’m often reluctant to ask). My mom gave me a pep-talk as she drove me to their house about how nothing is perfect and I should stop being so hard on myself. When I saw my sister I started crying, talking about how tired I was of my plans never working out. My niece was startled; she thought I was fake crying! I had left my makeup in the car with Sayo, but my mom made the makeup that she had work. Sayo picked me up and we headed home to pick up my outfits and the props we needed for the photo shoot, stopping along the way to pick up the balloons. It was clear that we were going to be late for the photo shoot so I let the photographer know.

Once we had everything packed, we headed to the site, along with the cake—Sayo had refused to leave it at home. We arrived 45 MINUTES LATE to a two-hour photo shoot! A shoot I had paid for, in a room I had rented—oh yes, I rented a space for the shoot—because I was convinced that there wasn’t enough light in our house for the shoot and because I liked the look of the brick wall in the rental space. The shoot was downtown and as we rushed upstairs with our props—including a bench—the valet in front of the building beside us told us that he would call someone to impound our car if we didn’t move it. We had 15 minutes left of the room rental (the rest of the shoot was to be outdoors). I rushed to change into my outfit and we snapped a few pictures indoors before heading out for the outdoors portion. The only problem with being outside is there wasn’t anywhere to change discreetly. The photographer and I were on foot (because we would be stopping along the way) and Sayo met us at our final destination with the balloons. 

Between the rush to get to the venue, the hurried photos in the space, the walking around downtown Ottawa (worth it, but exhausting because of the shoes and other things that I was carrying), I was exhausted. When Sayo picked me up we were DONE. We got home at almost 9:00pm, and one of the first things that Sayo did was cut into the cake and we devoured it; we had barely eaten all day. 

So, why did I just spend an eternity sharing all of this? Not because I want you to feel sorry for me, and not because I want you to think “Gosh, Jummy has issues: all this stress over a photo shoot?” (though I’d understand if that’s what you’re thinking!). I shared it because I know I’m not the only one who feels discouraged when things don’t work out, be it a photo shoot or your plans for your 40th (or 20th, or 30th) year. Despite the stress and the disappointments, there are good lessons that I’m taking with me into my fortieth year.

  1. Know what you want. I knew what I wanted for the photo shoot, which was great, but there are other aspects of my life where I’m less sure. I need to keep asking the question, doing what I think is best in the moment, and adjusting when things change.
  2. Stop aiming for perfection; instead, do your best and be satisfied with that. I had never tried to ice a cake like that before and I wasn’t familiar with the tools. I shouldn’t have expected a flawless result, when I’m not a professional baker. I should have been proud of what I achieved, given the facts.
  3. Be realistic. I was optimistic because baking comes naturally to me, but I’m not skilled in decorating and I knew this. Watching a YouTube video a couple of times without practicing is not enough. There’s a reason that they say “practice makes perfect”.
  4. Look at the big picture. I’ve received compliments on the photo shoot pictures and because I know what the vision was, I want to point out the errors, or share what my actual vision was, but no one else knows what was in my head and they’re liking the pictures for what they are. I’m detail-oriented but I accomplished my end goal which was to have pictures marking my special day and that’s what matters.
  5. Thinking about something isn’t the same as executing it—you probably need more time than you think. This is one of the things that trips with every project: I need about three times the amount of time that I give myself; if I don’t give myself the time that I need, then I shouldn’t be disappointed with poor execution. Imagine if I had the poster done a week or more before the shoot. How about if we had packed the car with everything before we went to the medical appointments? It would have been a very different day. I didn’t set myself up to win and I left no room for anything going wrong. And why was I making my t-shirt at the very last minute when it was part of the plan from the beginning?
  6. Time is more precious than money—this is a hard one for me. Imagine if I had ordered a cake from the beginning and arranged to pick it up on the way to the venue? Imagine if I had also paid someone to design the poster. I would have been much happier and enjoyed myself more, even if minor setbacks happened. 
  7. Be positive. Sayo is convinced that this shoot wasn’t everything that I dreamed of because about a week before the shoot, I started saying that I didn’t think it would work out. Words are powerful and I got exactly what I had spoken into existence. All along the way, including as Sayo continued to work on the cake, and then pack it, I said it was ugly and that I wouldn’t use it. I called myself all sorts of awful names as things fell apart that morning and evening and with that attitude, is it any wonder that the day wasn’t a dream?
  8. Lean on your people. My parents, sister, and Ves all know me and they could have predicted what would happen would happen…too bad I didn’t give them the details until the last minute. If they had known earlier, they would have helped me see the potential things that could go wrong (i.e., everything). You’d think I’d know this by now, but sometimes you can’t see something because you’re too close to it, and Sayo is still learning what I’m like in person.
  9. You can begin again. When the photo shoot ended and I expressed disappointment with how things went to my sister, she reminded me that I could set up another shoot if I wanted. Sure, it would cost money but wouldn’t it be worth it to get what I wanted? I tend get fixated on getting it right (I blame my fixed mindset) and I was reminded that I can have a do-over.
  10. Dreams don’t have a deadline: I’m still alive, all that I wish can still come true. Those triplets are coming! I will still work for myself. I can still travel and lose weight if I want. These goals will still be amazing achievements to be proud of, even if they happen after 40.
  11. Things aren’t always what they seem. From these pictures, you wouldn’t have guessed what was going on behind the scenes and I didn’t look stressed. The cake was yummy, despite looking a mess.

I haven’t shared everything I wanted to share but I need to bring this to an end so I can go out for my birthday dinner. Despite the stress of the day, this experience made my love for Sayo grow. He showed up for me in ways that I never expected (decorating a cake, what?!). He was my rock and support, and my encourager. Before the plans got underway, he had warned me about the importance of a positive attitude; I agreed, only to display the exact opposite attitude. But he didn’t abandon me; he was there for me despite having a sprained ankle. He was the unseen reason that the day appeared successful and he shared a few of the lessons above with me as we went through this project.

Forty is here and I will rise to the occasion: a new decade deserves new behaviour. I will be kind to myself and keep my goals top-of-mind. I will make the changes and sacrifices necessary to be who I want to be (and do what I want to do) and I’ll remind myself of my goals by asking myself what I want. Fear won’t limit me. The journey won’t be perfect because I’m doing things I’ve never done before, but I will rise up to meet it with grace and faith. Amen!

28 thoughts on “Hello, 40!

    first of all I have to say that I think you’re my spirit animal. I could have written this story myself. I suspect you and I have similar temperaments. We feel hard. We love hard. And we’re hard on ourselves. But the world has room for people like us too. Happy birthday to all your current dreams and pending dreams. Wishing you many years of happiness with Sayo and many days of taking it easy on yourself.
    Love -NW

    • Thank you so much, NW! I love everything about your comment—as much as I should know there may be others who can relate, I’m still surprised I do sometimes feel like I’m the only one who is like this, to this level, not because I’m special in a good way but because I don’t learn! I read your comment soon after you posted it and it made me want to hug you so THANK YOU. Amen and Amen to your comments…thank you so very much!!! Love to you and your NH!

  2. Happy (belated) Birthday! Even when things don’t go to plan, God always has a lesson and a blessing in there somewhere. Cheers to a brand new year of life!

    • Thank you and Amen, LadyNgo: I’m very grateful. And it’s true about the lessons we can learn and the blessings in these things that don’t go as planned. Please pray that I learn more quickly moving forward!

  3. happy birthday Jummy, I have been following your blog for close to 7 years now and even when things dont go your way, you maintain a positive attitude.

    In your 40th year, I wish you more joy, peace, money, good health and a loving marriage.
    More importantly I pray God answers prayers, you cant share with anyone else.
    May you continue to be a source of light.

    • Olaide, thank you for being a long-time reader and for making that observation (I don’t always maintain a positive attitude but I try): God bless you!

      Amen, Amen, and Amen! I am expectant and I love your prayer…I am touched. Thank you!!

  4. Happy 40th birthday. Very inspiring post. I dreaded that age like it was a sentence to old age. However in the last few weeks I have changed that mindset. I realized when you are prepared for it, there is nothing to fear. Have a good year babe.

    • Thank you, Zee! I’m so glad that you’ve changed your mindset about entering your 40s. Though I deeply know and understand the panic and disappointment milestone birthdays can bring, our futures are bright and like you said, we have nothing to fear! Hugs to you and thank you. I wish you the best year as well!

  5. Happy birthday Jummy!!!
    Now that is what I call a birthday to remember!
    I went through all sorts of emotions as I read your post, and I was as exhausted as you were by the end :-(
    But, all’s well that ends well, and it did end well :-)

    We must not forget to thank Sayo and the birthday cake for lesson number 12: Never judge a book by its cover (Cake tasted yum right?

    You are so blessed to have such a huge support system in your corner! Please know that“All” the things you want to experience exist already and they will surely come to you.

    Enjoy your forties and keep on being your lovely self!!

    ..PS: you are already the friend who brings out the best in others..
    Ps:Ps: You have major guts for attempting to bake your own birthday cake
    PsPs: can I maybe come along on the trip to the Caribbean?

    • Thank you, Tamkara! They say a burden shared is a burden halved so thanks for going through the highs and lows with me!?

      I appreciate your perspective and outlook on life; thank you for that reminder. And your kind words: I am fortunate indeed!

      Hugs my dear…I’m inspired and motivated (by your insight).

      I’ll keep you posted on the Caribbean trip!

  6. What?! How did I miss your birthday??? I feel like I’ve known you for a very long time GNG and in my mind, you’re my since 1902 friend in Canada ? (Please just laugh with me). Happy belated birthday GNG. 40 is the new 21. Please go easy on yourself, you’re an amazing person and Welldone for even trying all of the DIY…that’s being brave. And with regards the cake, I can so imagine how you felt. I remember my days of sitting in front of the oven for a cake to bake only for it to come out with a comma so I can relate with the ‘practice makes perfect’ point. The pictures look AMAZING.
    I pray this new decade brings you so much joy and the triplets that you’ve claimed will manifest and we shall all rejoice with you. Don’t forget my invitation to the baby shower when the time comes. Enjoy!!

    • Hugs to you, Miss Tee! Lol, I know exactly what you mean: we’re buddies who’ve never met yet right?

      Thank you for seeing the postive side to my story and for sharing your own experience: this is why I will always be a fan of blogging, for the comments and the community!

      Amen, Amen, Amen…please continue to pray with me and thank you for your prayers.?

  7. Happy Happy Birthday Jummy!!! I love love love this post and will be sharing on my Lovely Links this Friday if you don’t mind.

    I love Sayo for you. He seems like such an encouraging and uplifting husband and I thank God for bringing you two together and pray that you will be full of joy forever.

    The reason why I love this post is because you shared ALL. The good, the bad, the ugly, and with life lessons for all of us. You are a gem. You are a sweet spirit and the world is better with you in it.

    I didn’t know you live in Ottawa! I may have to make that trip next year and visit all my Ottawa peeps in one go!

    Have a wonderful year ahead and the photos are beautiful, as you are!

    • Thank you, Berry—I love everything about your comment; I feel like you get me and why I blog!

      You have Ottawa buddies? That’s great news; please keep me posted about any plans to come this way!

      Once again, thank you! I’m expectant about what this year will bring.

  8. Happy Birthday Jummy! Thanks for sharing your birthday story. Lovely pictures! Multiple blessings to you and Sayo!

  9. Happy 40th Jummy! Time flies, but 40 is still a pretty young age! Take that from a 51 year old!
    I’m happy to see some of your dreams come true. The blessing of being married to a great guy etc. Some of the other things you can still work on.

    I would have never guessed so much was going on behind the scenes of these pictures.

    • Thank you, Matt, for your support (and for reading!). It means a lot that you celebrate my milestones with me. Hugs to you, bud!?

  10. Hello! It’s unbelievable that I’ve just stumbled on your blog! I read your detailed description of the day and almost cried because I could pictuire myself going throught the motions, from the tears to running late, to being too busy to eat. However, your life lessons put everything into prespective. I will definitely be bookmarking this page for whenever I need to give myself a pep talk! Happy belated birthday!

    • Please forgive my late reply, Madeline!

      Thank you for the empathy; it was heartwarming to read. It’s great to e-meet you and I’ll be heading to your blog to pay you a visit. Thank you for the birthday wishes as well!

  11. Hello Good Naija Girl,

    I am new around here having found you through Berry Dakara’s blog but I absolutely loved this blog post and all the lessons of life that came with it. Interesting how you mentioned that its okay not to be perfect and dreams truly don’t have a deadline. I’m only in my thirties but looking forward to so much more despite the past. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • Jamila, welcome and please forgive me for the tardy reply! A huge thanks to Anita for linking us. Thank you for your kind words about my blog post and I wish you so much success in life so that when you hit the age of 40 you don’t have regrets!

      I’m off to visit your blog now!

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