Modern Woman

I am sitting on my front verandah laughing so hard liquid is running down my face and in danger of leaking out of other places.

I'm surrounded by some of my favourite people: my husband, little girl and our dog (who isn't technically a person but don't tell her that) and a handful of beautiful friends.

In between loud competitive group crossword-doing people are telling outrageous stories - like all the best stories, most of them contain at least a grain of truth.

It's the day after my 40th birthday party and we're recovering from drinking too much Tasmanian sparkling wine by sipping French champagne.

The party was wonderful. Usually at parties I like to hang around the edges, making the occasional foray into the action, but since it was my party I was front and centre.

All week people have been telling me 'Life begins at 40' to which my pat response has been 'Really? What the hell have I been doing for the first 39 then?' but as the party gained momentum I understood what they meant.

There are people here from so many different facets of my life: primary school, my two high schools, uni, rugby, my friend whom I have known since we were babies, my dear mates who travelled up from Tasmania and down from Darwin, friends I have met through my husband who are now my friends too, women with whom I have forged a real bond after meeting them because our children go to school together, and local mates who always make me smile.

It's been the festival of me - a family 'do' the previous weekend, a phone call to California to speak with my brother, calls, emails and Facebook messages from friends who couldn't make the party, dinner with my gorgeous husband and enough cake to give Marie Antoinette's peasants a weight problem.

Throughout my life I have had wonderful times, adventures, dull periods of mediocrity and tough times when I thought I might not make it.

I have made mistakes, done things I am not proud of, tried to do better and done things I look back on with satisfaction. I have been, at times, a difficult person, a bad daughter, a disappointing friend, a frustrating, frustrated and selfish woman.

But at 40 I can own those mistakes, understand why I made them and have the confidence not to repeat them.

The one constant throughout my life, the good times and bad, has been the love I've been fortunate to share with my family and friends.

And now I get it: I know where my life is headed and I'm happy and content with the direction. I try to be a good friend, daughter, sister, in-law, parent and partner.

I try to be a better person and I know what that means to me - and the times I miss the mark I say 'sorry' and we move on.

In the end, it's about the love and the laughter - and right at this moment I'm laughing and I'm so grateful for my life that it makes me cry, too.

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