Buvette Masthead

What have I done?

Emma Grey

I turned 43 yesterday. Another year older, and what have I done?

Co-written a musical. Co-written a book. Lost my husband. Brought myself and my children through the darkest days of our lives without losing our faith in love and beauty and humanity.

I’ve said ‘yes’ a lot: To risk. To potential failure. To help from friend and strangers.

I’ve said ‘no’, too, in what I’d dubbed a, ‘Year Of Not Getting Involved’. YONGI. No online arguments. No reading the comments. No doing things that sucked time away from the closer goals and responsibilities and choices. 

Facing one of my worst nightmares, I found I was still standing. And, if not standing some days, kneeling. If not kneeling sometimes, crawling. Or lying on the floor. Still breathing, even on the worst days when thoughts of ‘this can’t be’ and ‘I can’t do this’ pushed to the surface … 

I can do this. I am doing it. But what am I going to do next?

My best friend phoned from Melbourne last night for my birthday and, as always, we caught up on the things that are going on in both our lives. At one stage I said, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing … with my life.’ 

It wasn’t a scary admission. It was just an admission. 

She reminded me that what I’m doing is putting one foot in front of the other at the moment and that’s true. On birthdays, though, you often wonder ‘where will I be this time next year?’ 

It’s okay not to know. It’s okay not to have set goals and plans. 

While I appreciate the methodology and know lots of people have success doing it, I’ve never been a ‘five-year planner’. Now I’m less likely than ever to take it up. 

We don’t know what will happen in the next five minutes. All we can bank on is our capacity to respond to everything: the events that destroy the path we were on, and the opportunities that unexpectedly show up and can, at times, cause almost as much fear and uncertainty as the ‘bad stuff’. 

So, 43. Here I am. Clueless about you. But ready to explore.   


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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