Catch Up

If I knew then what I know now – 5 women at 5 different lifestages.

The January that I was 17, 1981, I had just left high school, about to start at AUT, went to Sweetwaters (forerunner to Rhythm and Vines) in a yellow satin bikini and sarong from memory, and the world was ahead of me. Little did I know what that year would bring (death of my fabulous mother for one thing) and in fact all the years following.

So as my daughter Pippi and some of her 17 year old friends, too young for R and V, but too old to want to hang with their “boring parents”, parked themselves in our garage over New Year, I thought I would interview them about their age, their body, their views on women, happiness, the future etc.Then I sent the same questions to an important 27, 37, 47 and 57 year old in my life.

Pippi on rhs with her friends Emma, Hannah Rose, Sivan and Jess. All 17 with the world ahead of them

Pippi on rhs with her friends Emma, Hannah Rose, Sivan and Jess. All 17 with the world ahead of them

What a difference 10 years makes. We are all different unique individuals of course but it was great to get different perspectives as well as recurring themes And also, I wanted the girls to get some sage advice from a variety of women who had “been there done that”. It was all lighthearted and the questions pretty much off the top of my head. Hope you enjoy reading it

Note – the 17 year old answers are a composite of all the stream of consciousness answers from Pippi and her friends – thanks girls
27 year old – guest blogger, niece and goddaughter – Jenna
37 year old – one of my fave old work pals- Lesley
47 year old – one my Great Barrier Island soul sistas – Andi
57 year old – one of my big sister’s – Robyn

How do you describe being the age you are at? What is great/not so great?

17 Not being 18. All our other friends are older, drinking , and at R and V …. it makes a big difference to our social lives, all the pressure of our ID being taken. We are just coming into freedom so 17 is a great age….we can be independent but we are still reliant on our parents for all the big life and death issues and we look after ourselves to have a good time. Fun, carefree, we have nothing to actually worry about…..Challenging , changing, finding out who and what you are. Interesting always new things to deal with, boys, etc all new things as you grow up

27 Still coming to grips with being an adult and yet I’m pushing 30!??! It’s great not yet having mortgage/kids – if I wanted to drop everything and move countries or some other dramatic move I have the freedom too. However, it’s not so great to not have the big bucks yet. Also, not so great when I’m getting clucky as hell (it’s sick, who am I?) but now is not the time for me to be pregnant.

37 (Lesley’s birthday is today! Happy Birthday Les! xx) My age of 37 – a fantastic age. Confident in who I am, what I stand for, confident with my mind and body.
Its taken a long time to feel like this but i’m here and proud of who I am.

Happy Birthday Les!

Happy Birthday Les!

47 I love being 47. I know who I am,I know what is important to me,I know who my true friends are.

57 Great for the overall understanding and overview of the life cycle/patterns and history of areas and children’s growing stages..not so great for the body…stiff..arthiritis.. wrinkles in those around me and myself…

If you could freeze time at any age, which is the perfect age for you and why?

17 18 oh hang on 21 as you cant drink in America at 18….19/20 – your parents can’t control you but you can still have fun….21 – more established more money more car more established , 30 is a depressing age, you can still party but its tragic,
When you are younger you are more optimistic about life and can challenge the world, but when you get older you get cynical… right now we are still curious, when you are older there is less to be curious about, its not like when you are older anything exciting is going to be pop out….

27 I like to think that I haven’t yet hit my perfect age. Otherwise that’d be a bit sad wouldn’t it?
However, I had an incredible year being 22 when I moved to Japan by myself. 25 was a good year as well when I moved into a ragey flatting situation with friends but probably did a bit of damage to my liver/brain cells. It’s a good thing I’ve moved on.

37 There is no perfect age. I feel great now so I would say 37.
Everything in my life right now is going well, personally and professionally I feel really happy.

47 I would freeze the moment at dawn on the perfect beach-the perfect magenta dawn sunrise -my Beast Master 2000 rod in my hand , no one else on the beach, glass-like waves and my epic struggle with my first Kahawai whilst feeling as though my dear departed friend Nic was there with me in spirit.

57 ..I would review choices i made at primary school and react differently. I LOVED being alive then but did not know how to make it work for me.

How do you feel about your body?

17 I don’t like my body, I am not comfortable with my body there is a lot of pressure to have the perfect body, there is a lot pressure from guys and girls, if you are a bit of bigger you are labeled as Not Skinny.

17 and not happy with their bodies?

17 and not happy with their bodies?

27 Better than I did at 17 that’s for sure. And back then I had a better body! Well I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. Only over the last couple years have I REALLY begun to understand the fact that I will never naturally be a long/lean lady. It’s not in my genetics! “Strong is the new skinny” – didn’t you know? – that’s what I’m telling myself. Ha.

37 Great. I have finally accepted who I am and the body I have. Sure there are things I would love to improve, but for now I feel fit, healthy and have a smile on my face most of the time.

47 I’m happy with my body. We have a good understanding .
It doesn’t always do what I say anymore though. I know when I’m not looking after it and when I’m not -it let’s me know!!! Like right now -after the Christmas break and many indulgences.

57 Grateful it works and i have 2 arms and legs..2 eyes that see. Bit annoyed with the belly flab and squashed legs, in particular have always found it grossly unfair that in being made, the powers that be decided to press down on my head and shorten my supposed lengthy and lanky body. Had they done this all would be in proportion..fat evenly distributed. Life is not equal in this sense.

If you have any regrets, no matter how small, what are they? If you could turn back time……?

17 I wish I had pushed myself earlier at school. I thought making friends was the most important thing but good morals good personality and good education the most important thing.

Even at year 11 12 you are making friends for the wrong reasons but now you want people who like you for you.

27 don’t have any major regrets. Probably should’ve paid more attention at school/uni.
Definitely should’ve learned to stop with the impulse-buying at a younger age.

37 I have no regrets, all of my mistakes of the past make me who I am and have taught me valuable lessons along the way.If I could turn back time I would try not to worry so much about the small things in life.

47 When you have a nagging gut instinct -you should follow it.
Your instinct is usually right ( for at least you anyway).Listen to it and act upon it. There have been times when I should have listened to it, like changing my career choice – but now I’m going to readdress
this – it’s never too late.

57 If you could turn back time……? reactions, choices and not having had the confidence to tackle things…..right back to primary school…..demand better control of my asthma for example….volunteering for things..

My sister Robyn in her carefree teens

My sister Robyn in her carefree teens

Robyn wouldn't send me a recent pic of her so here is her last year at my 50th, second from left hand side with various members of our clan

Robyn wouldn’t send me a recent pic of her so here is her last year at my 50th, second from left hand side with various members of our clan

Who do you think great women in history are and why?

17 We don’t know! Anybody but Kate Sheppard – we only say her because you don’t know about anyone else….Mother Theresa – she’s pretty cool…Ellen?…Oprah! Yeah she’s kinda motivational…You learn about the American settlers, they were all men, the girls, like the …. just got raped and treated like animals…..Rosa Parks, the bus boycott thing…Queen Elizbeth 1…was she the fat one?…Drew Barrymore,,,, in charlies angels…she had a drug problem when a kid and now has come of it….M.I.A. female rappers are empowering….they rap about girls taking hold of their sexuality.

27 Kate Sheppard – NZ women’s vote – obviously quite important. Louisa Wall for same-sex marriage!
Who else? Did you see in the paper today that “Gone But Not Forgotten” double page spread? Of the 32 global celebrities, political icons, musicians, innovators and artists featured there were two women. Margaret Thatcher and Doris Lessing.

37 Rosa Parks – for starting one of the largest movements against racial segregation
Madonna – for being one of the most successful musicians of our time
Kate Sheppard, Hilary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher (to name a few more)
My Mum, for being my mentor, my teacher, my friend. For always being there.

47
Malala Yousafzai without doubt has been a new symbol and beacon of hope for all women around the world. This amazingly courageous 16 year old schoolgirl has shown the world that women refuse to be oppressed no matter what the consequence.

57 ..any one that has inspired another to do things they never before thought possible..

Where do you think women are in their social development?

17 We have come a long way, from the olden days

27 I honestly don’t know how to answer this question! Is that telling?

37 I think women are far more forward,confident and empowered these days. It is inspiring to see more women in leadership roles in business. I think there is more equality in business and in the family household. There is still progress to be made, but its heading in the right direction.

47 Women seem to be emerging from a long, deep sleep. Of course there are still horrendous acts towards women around the world everyday,but I feel the collective voice of women that started with a whisper for permission will soon erupt into a roar, an outpouring of dynamic expression.

57 At exactly the same stage they were at the beginning of their existence except they have moved parameters for success in their eyes and they feel more enabled. They now seek verification from each other in general and enjoy thinking they have gained independence. Many view men as having held them back. Making their own choices

What to you is perfect happiness?

17 Being healthy, having good friends,
Surrounding yourself with great people with great energy
Just doing what you want and what makes you happy and not worried about what people think

27 Having the freedom (financial/health etc etc) to choose my own adventure.
Specifically it’s probably having a good meal and a few good drinks with friends/family – while knowing I have money in the bank and a sweet house to go home to.
Perfect happiness is something I aspire to but not sure if there is such a thing… ?!!?

37 Great family, great friends, good health, freedom, being in love Sunny day, friends and family round for a BBQ. Good food and lots of laughter.

47 My moment of perfect happiness is the first time each season that I walk over the dunes to my perfect secret beach.

I would love to live in the south of France, speaking the language, eating and drinking the great food there, shared friends- old and new and visited by my children and grandchildren.

57 good health in myself, my family and friends…money to do whatever i wanted..lots of travel.happy self and family always..

Andi in her teens

Andi in her teens

Andi - now 47, the triumphant surfcaster

Andi – now 47, the triumphant surfcaster

What is the book/s that you believe all women should read for whatever reason?

17

My sisters keeper
Inferno
Lovely Bones
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Liz Salamander, doesn’t take any crap,

27 Hmmm. I loved finishing ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. I love a good book about a journey.
Also, I’d recommend my friends read ‘Lean In’. My old boss bought a copy for all the women in the office. Take from it what you want, but it brings up some interesting points about women.

37 Feel the fear and do it anyway

47 Oh The Places You’ll go -by Dr.Seuss. Women face many challenges and barriers throughout their life and career . Dr. Seuss reminds us ( no matter how old we are ) to keep our eyes open and explore all the possibilities around us- to challenge yourself. I like to think the book reflects the possibility of breaking through the glass ceiling for us all.

57 No book has the answers for everyone.
The most liked book can be anathema for others.
I personally like books like A Wife on Gorge River where women do something different, make choices for life that are not necessarily politically motivated or popular and have the honesty to describe their feelings.

Describe your dream concert?

17 Pink Floyd or Beatles playing in a massive outside stadium….. Woodstock featuring the Arctic Monkeys, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tame Impala, Michael Buble, Angus and Julia Stone, …..

27 Concert? I’d make it a 3 day music/arts festival based in Japan (in my experience they are the best gig audience) – featuring all of the artists/bands/djs I have featured in the past on this blog!

37 Beatles & LiveAid

47 I’ve already had my dream concert. George Michael at the Paris Opera. The only pop singer to have been allowed to perform here.
A concert for charity with fabulous Parisiens watching on, as George belted out all his finest, to an amazing digital background.

57 Rolling Stones/being backstage with them as well and somehow not having a family in existence at that time to have to return to at a specific time frame in the night.

And, to be even more Cosmopolitan magazine superficial…. your dream celebrity partner?

17 James Franco, Russell Brand (*** nice and intelligent, sexy) Leonardo De Caprio when he was young, Robert Downey Jnr, Ryan Gosling

27 Being total superficial here Michael Fassbender is a babe as is Ryan Gosling. Predictable, I know.
If we’re going musician-wise, a mix of Josh Homme, Trent Reznor and Dave Grohl put together.

37 Dream partner (not a celebrity sorry)…the man I have recently met. A beautiful kind man with a big heart. It feels so great to be in love!

47 Salvador Dali would have been great fun. If a “trashy celebrity” then I’ll take Matthew Mc Conaughey (mix abit of Mud, & Like Mike) and I’d be pretty happy!.

57 George Clooney..mature looking, greyish, calm, cool, loaded, would not stifle me or be around too much for domestication!

Jenna (and Robyn) when she was 7

Jenna (and Robyn) when she was 7

 

Jenna at 17

Jenna at 17

Jenna at 27

Jenna at 27

Finish this sentence – I wish I had the ability to…..

17 Read minds, shapeshift, fly, ….
Oh I thought you meant superpowers… Have a magnetic personality,,,witty and funny jokes,…I was going to say something like “parkour”

27 Parallel park, cook/bake, increase my self-confidence and ability to speak well when needed! I have the tendency to think faster than I can speak – which trips me up all the time. Annoying.

37 Fly a plane & speak another language

47 …be a great orator and converse intelligently with the great minds of our time.

57 …..TIME TRAVEL…make my dogs happy and healthy to stay in kennels so we were more able to take off when we wanted!

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

17 Starting at uni, and meeting new people, finally being 18, going to great parties

27 Changing my life course. Having just resigned from my steady job, this year is going to be an interesting challenge. A fun one too I hope. I’m looking forward to some travel. It’s probably going to be a tough year but one where I hope to learn a shitload. I find learning satisfying. Bring on 2014!

37 Running my first 1/2 marathon, going on an Island holiday with my new man, spending more time with family and friends

47 Making brave decisions using my gut instinct. Seeing my girls finish school and emerge well from their trials and tribulations this year.

57 ..holidays..travelling…watching my kids grow…a new kitchen and bathroom…

What are the biggest lessons you have learnt to date which you wish you had known earlier?

17 No-one actually cares about what you are wearing
Don’t let stupid boys into your life, arrogant boys that don’t actually care about you
If you make your decision – just think about what really makes you happy, and the people that make you happy, your choices impact you mostly
You can’t blame anyone else

27 EVERYONE has something they can teach you – learn from them.
A high paying job is certainly not the key to happiness. A key to something else yes, but not necessarily happiness. It’s important for me to feel good at the end of the day. Tired is ok, but still need to feel good.
Change is good too.
Also one of the biggest lessons I learned was a few years ago when I lost 17 kgs. I spent all of my tween years, (thanks to competitive dancing and developing boobs really early) teen years and half of my twenties really hating my body, and then I suddenly got the motivation to change how things were for myself. I never really believed I could lose the weight until it turns out that I could. The lesson for me was that “I can”. Another lesson was that being “small” does not equal being happy!

37 Listen to the advice of my parents
Think things through, don’t be so impulsive
Remember that good things take time
Step on every rung of the ladder – it will make you better in your future roles
Enjoy the moment
Don’t over think everything!

47 Think before you speak, don’t judge others, live in the moment, be grateful for what you have.(did I say listen to your instinct!)

57 Peoples opinions dont matter ..my instincts about people have been mostly correct..to say no and not acquiesce to help others or do what i thought i should

I probably read this 1981 Seventeen Magazine with Whitney Houston modeling on the cover! If only she knew what lay ahead.

I probably read this 1981 Seventeen Magazine with Whitney Houston modeling on the cover! If only she knew what lay ahead.

And for those 27 plus – if you could send a message to your 17 year old self…..

27

The 17 year olds -the world stretched before them

The 17 year olds -the world stretched before them


1. Stop stressing about money. What do you really need money for? A handbag? Get a grip.
2. Your instincts are right – those guys are losers.
3. Stop getting tattoos.
4. Be nicer to your parents.
5. Be happy and believe in yourself.

37 it will get better! Your heart will mend! This is only the beginning.
There is so much ahead of you and a life to be lived. Keep working hard, it will pay off!
Enjoy every moment, with family, friends, work and travel.
Be grateful everyday for what you have. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

47

• Listen to your instinct.
• Seek out good friends.
• Dream big and then go for it.
• Learn a language. It’s worth it.
• Travel,travel,travel.
• Write a diary or notes each year to see if you have evolved to where you want to be.
• Laugh – a lot
• Learn to cook.
• Share what you have with others.
Live overseas at least once.
Live in the moment.
Be the best person you can be -always.

57 Why bother smoking and ruining your lungs..don’t go on the pill..there are other alternatives that dont involve hormonal adjustment
Be more confident of your own ability!
DONT spend that summer getting that leathery tan..forget those drongos out west..yuk..run a mile!..check out your thyroid…for gods sake LOVE the body you have now..perhaps try and tone it though?
SAVE as much money as you can NOW for al long as you possibly can if you want to be a millionaire later!!!!!
You DONT have to say yes to anything..the world is your oyster..

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU SPECIAL WOMEN WHO PARTICIPATED IN THIS POST. I HOPE ANY 17 YEAR OLD (IN FACT ANY WOMAN OF ANY AGE) READING THIS GET’S SOMETHING OUT OF IT. AND IF ANYONE ELSE HAS ANYTHING TO ADD, PLEASE LEAVE A NOTE!

 

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8 Responses to “If I knew then what I know now – 5 women at 5 different lifestages.”

  1. Vivienne Stone
    January 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    A great big hug and happy new year to you Sandy. Thanks for taking the time to put this together – what a good idea. it made me shiny eyed to read it. Look forward to catching up soon. Viv xx

    • sandy
      January 26, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Thanks Viv, took ages but loved doing it. Will catch up soon for a wine with Nanette
      Sx

  2. Aimee McCammon
    January 26, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    LOVE reading this stuff Sandy. It all boils down to the same fundamentals but never the ones you think at 17!

    • sandy
      January 26, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

      Hi Aimee
      You have been on my mind funnily enough. Neat to hear from you. Thanks for the comment. It was the most time consuming post but one of the most fun to do.
      Sxx

  3. January 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    I just ordered the book – ’40 famous women’ for my five year old niece…

    • sandy
      January 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Oh i don’t know that one, will look it up!
      Sx

  4. Rachael Wee
    February 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    So inspiring! Loved all the answers :)
    … I had a good giggle at the 17 y/o comments, I guess because I am 26 now!

    • sandy
      February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      yes, i know, gorgeous comments!