Check out our photo a day

The right to bare arms

Fat Mum Slim /

The new area I’ve moved to seems to have a lot of old people. I don’t think old people really lived in Bondi, or I was too busy looking at the hipsters that I didn’t notice them. I notice the older people here.

I said to Shane the other day, “I smile at the older people here, and they don’t smile back.” To prove my point I smiled at a man in a motorised scooter as we walked by and he just looked at me puzzled.

Shane shrugged his shoulders and we left it at that.

As I did a solo grocery shopping trip the other week I was surrounded by pensioners. Ironically it was around the tissue aisle that I started to get teary. I pondered life, aging and suddenly realised that I wouldn’t get to see Lacey as an old lady. I know it was an obvious thing, but something I’d never considered before. {Oh gosh, as I write this the water works are happening again}.

I want to know what she’ll look like. Will she put a purple rinse through her hair? Will she wear pretty dresses? Will she play bingo? Perhaps she’ll be riding around with jet-packs and living in outer space. Who knows? Hopefully I’ll live to be 120 so I see her in her 90s. Let’s hope for that.

Something happened when I turned 30. It was like a switch was turned and I changed. I left those angsty 20s behind but ventured into new territory. In my 20s I felt invincible, like nothing could get me. And now, I feel a little more like a realist.

I chatted with a 30-something friend over lunch and we got onto the topic of… well, life. I explained how I felt now I’m 30-something as well, and how I’ve realised how short life is. “I don’t mean in a morbid way. I’m not thinking we’re going to die tomorrow. I just realise life is short. Lacey is growing older quicker. We’ve got to kinda… embrace it.”

Today is the youngest we’ll ever be again.

So I did something wild and crazy over the past few days. I wore singlets and dresses without cardigans, in public. I know. DARING. But seriously if you knew me, you’d know I always cover up my arms. I just have thing about them. I bared my arms for all to see. Screw it, I thought, this might be the best my arms ever are, and really – who cares?

I’m living life on the edge. Perhaps this is what a midlife crisis is like? When is midlife anyway?

You won’t see me jumping out of planes, or trekking through deserts, but you will see me letting go, doing more, and leaving my comfort zone. Putting more life into my life. Life is short.

And I’ll keep smiling at those old people, even if they don’t smile back.

Do you often live in your comfort zone? What’s one thing you could do to get out of it?

  • I cry a lot when I think of not being there with my children x

  • Vicki ShoppeGirls

    Life is for living. Embrace who you are and love that you are realising that you can bare your arms. I think that all the time and I am in my 40’s but I think I am who I am and why worry about silly things. Vicki xx

  • samstone76

    Great post!
    I definitely live in my comfort zone!
    But I am trying to get out of it now – I have done a Magazine & Newspaper Writing Course and started a blog and am hoping to be a Freelance Writer…a big step for me.

    • Oh how exciting! Going freelance is fun. Someone recently said to me that it’s either a feast or a famine with freelance, and it’s true. Enjoy the ride. x

  • Brilliant post! I had similar thoughts last year, and have since taken 6 months leave from my job of 10 years, put all my stuff in storage, and driven to a different state to live with friends for 6 months – the best thing I have ever done – I’m now out of my rut, and will return to my job next year with renewed passion. I feel so lucky to have been able to do it, I know for so many people there’d be too much involved – but, like you, I hit my 30s and realised… why not?

  • I love this post chantelle. you bare those arms! I too feel braver about some things being in my 30s…I wouldn’t go back to those 20s for anything. but it’s also true that the days can slide by and it’s nice to stop sometimes and enjoy this (sort of) youth. every day I work on pushing through my comfort zone a little more. it’s a little scary, but a lot good.

    • True, I wouldn’t go back to my 20s either, and definitely not my teens. I like my 30s. Keep on pushing. xxx

  • Claire Chadwick

    That thought {LIFE IS SHORT} pops into my mind regularly. But I love when it does, because it’s when I really think about how short it is, and how quickly it’s whizzing by I get inspired to do something spontaneous and meaningful. It was that exact thought that made me book my big trip to USA last year {something I always put off due to money, time, work, fear etc}. I haven’t regretted anything I’ve done on the whim and inspiration of LIFE IS SHORT.

    I love this post Chantelle. Where those singlets and bare your arms. You’re gorgeous! And life IS too short to worry about the little things of hide our fears and imperfections.

    And keep on smiling at those oldies. Coz one day that random smile will completely make a person’s day!!

  • Michelle F

    Go the bare arms, Chantelle! Good on you! 🙂 And keep on smiling at those other people (young and old), there will be some who do smile back. I smile at people all day long (genuine friendly smiles, not psycho lady smiles, LOL!), I get about a 50% hit rate for return smiles, somedays more. Oh, I think middle age might be somewhere between 40 and 50. At 43, I’m starting to feel it might be close. 😉

    • I’ll have to keep an eye on you, in case you starting buying Porsches and funny midlife stuff. 😛

  • I’d want the right to bare legs (or wear skinny jeans at least) – doesn’t have the same ring to it though.

    • I did skinny jeans this year. The first time I wore them out {actually the first few times} I was so unsure… but I love them now. Go for it!

  • I have gotten very far away from my comfort zone this past year. We went from a 1400 square foot house to a 33 ft. RV. It’s been great, it’d been horrid, but that’s OK. I turned 49 this year,(ugh) and that really freaks me out.

  • Gigi

    I’m a new reader to your blog, Chantelle, and so many of your posts resonate with me! I love this one, as I didn’t reach this particular “baring arms” epiphany till this year – and I have just turned 50 ! So I salute the fact you are embracing imperfection at such a young age. It really is freeing ;->

  • Emily

    Yay for baring arms! I’d go the bare head – my hair is driving me batty! – but I know I’ll never actually do it, midlife crisis or not.

    • I dream of moving to a farm for a year and shaving my head, and having my own vege patch. One day maybe?

  • That is lovely – and we do need to live life NOW. I think people rarely smile back because they are all scared of being attacked…and that is the reality of the world that we live in. I have always been so closed off to people from fear and that changed when I became a parent this year {I cry too when I think about not being there to see my son grow old}. If I am out and about with my son and people are walking by, I smile at them and say good morning. 9 times out of 10 I get nothing back. But I don’t care anymore. I reserve the right to try and be cheerful and share it around. One day the odds might get better!

  • Alana

    Its always a freeing experience to do something outside of our comfort zone …and then find we survived it! We many not have radically changed, but something inside ourselves changed and we almost feel more powerful. I love to do things that are outside my comfort zone for that reason the end of the day I can look back and say “I did it’!

  • A big part of moving to Dubai, for me, was to push myself out of my comfort zone. To live and embrace life a little more. To experience new and wonderful things. So far it hasn’t disappointed!

    Bare those arms, Chantelle! You’re a gorgeous woman, inside and out and life is too short. x

    • That’s awesome! I love that you’re living such an amazing life. I look on in awe, I do. x

  • Krystie

    Telle you are right, people need to live in the hear and now. To not dwell on the past and stress over the future. Best thing we did was sell the house and start traveling xxx

    • I don’t think I realised you did this. I’m going to have to stalk you on FB now and see what you’re doing. You must be giving the kids such wonderful life experiences. So proud of you. xx

  • Amy @ Food Crush

    It always puzzles me why people don’t smile back. A smile doesn’t cost anything. Maybe those old people need to put their glasses on?

  • I have been thinking about this lately too and I decided when summer comes, where I am now the temps are around 0-2 C, I am going to wear shorts and if people have a problem with it they can just look away!

  • sarahbraaksma

    I love this post! I have realised that the house doesnt have to be perfect- better to spend time playing with the kiddos than cleaning the loos!

    • I wish house fairies would keep the house perfect. But sometimes I have to stop and make a real effort to stop doing all the fussing/working and just play. I find it really tough sometimes. x

  • Cass

    I don’t think my legs have seen the light of day in 15 years, poor old things they are, mottled, pale and lumpy but I have just realized how much I love them. How strong they are to carry me through this world. To walk everywhere and carry my boy when he was little. We didn’t have a car for 19 years and my legs took me everywhere

  • Debyl1

    Love this post as I think it is great that you are putting more life into your life.
    I was also in my 30s when I started to leave my comfort zone.I did volunteering at my girls school which was all new to me.I was dealing with children with special needs,parents and teachers and was right out of my comfort zone.I gained so much.I ended up doing teachers aid work.
    Something does happens as we get older…different ages for different people…where we suddenly dont feel the need to please everyone and dont care so much what others think.Like you say…throw caution to the wind.It is a feeling of freedom.Gives us an inner strength.I could feel that in your words.
    I love that you are going to keep smiling at the oldies even though you have not had any great responses.Your determination is beautiful.
    I volunteer at the nursing home my mum is in and some of the old lovelies I am now closest to were those that were at first very quiet,stuck to themselves or were cranky and didnt join in conversations or activites.I didnt give up on them.
    I think in our society many of our oldies sadly neglected, are isolated,avoided or simply treated as invisible and so are not open to the hand of friendship or the gift of a smile.It just takes them awhile to let their guard down.Once they do they truly embrace it.
    Im sure you will eventually get smiles back when they see the warmth and kindness in your smile and also that you havent given up on them.
    Enjoy and goodluck with all things new.xx

    • There is that switch and realising we don’t have to please everyone, you’re so right. I was SUCH a people pleaser in my 20s. Now I’ve really changed. I like to make people happy but I have to look after myself and those nearest to me first. xx

  • Jayde~Little Paper Lane

    Gaaah why dont people smile back? I LOVE smiling at people! I love waving at people when they stop for me at a crossing even though its the law…I want to say Thank you for not running me over and a smile is the best way to acknowledge that! I like to say hello or smile if I am on a walk….how hard is it to smile back….SMILE PEOPLE…freaking smile! And you wear the hell out of those singlets lady! one day i will be brave and wear shorts…but that wont be for a while…ive only just embraced leggins the last couple of years…I am ok with singlets though….I have olive skin and go out side for 1 second and go brown, so I am taking advantage and embracing the the positives…I am not able to wear bikinis…but damn it, i will show off my nice skin while I can! I force myself to focus on my good stuff…cos its good for the soul 😉 and always wear sunscreen…always!

  • FeltbyRae

    Yay for baring arms… at the grand old age of 49 (and 3/4s) I now bare my arms shamelessly and they are not good as I am definitely overweight, but I realised that nobody cared!

    Also. I am so lucky to live in a small town (one of if not the smallest in the UK )where people say good morning/afternoon and smile at each a lot, yes, total strangers do that here – it makes such a difference to each day I go out when people smile back and acknowledge each other

    • Oh, you’ve got a special birthday coming up!

      Isn’t it funny to realise that we care a whole lot more than anybody else? Refreshing actually!

      Keep smiling. x

  • Sharlene

    Chantelle wait till you are 50! I retired at 57 and that was definitely out of my comfort zone. I have a 19 year old special needs daughter and it breaks my heart that I will not be there even for her middle age. I have worked all my adult life, when I stopped I felt lost and without purpose. We had planned for this but still…. My daughter and I are now volunteering together for a number of organizations and I am cherishing the time we are spending together. I have never felt happier or more free. I can give so much more of myself to my family and others. If you smiled at me – I would smile back and I don’t care how old I am – I will keep smiling.

    • Sharlene, knowing that you’ll be leaving behind a special needs daughter must be tough. I got a huge lump in my throat reading your words. 🙁 I’m so glad you’re such wonderful stuff together. 🙂 xx

  • JJ

    I had a hard time turning 30 – and a lot of non-fun things have happened in my 30’s – but I also feel so much more grounded, if that makes sense. I know more of who I am. Life IS short – and your comment on the photo really hit me – I may have to repeat that to myself every day to remind me to live in the moment! Thanks for your beautiful writing

    • JJ – I’m the same, a lot of un-fun things have happened since turning 30 too, but somehow they’ve helped me grow and stretch – and realise life is short. Grab hold of the good moments. 🙂

  • I have my 30th Birthday Party tomorrow [my actual birthday is in Dec] and as this milestone has been approaching I have been thinking about the bigger scheme of life too. It is short, far too short to be hung up on our hang ups! I too always cover my arms in public, I don’t see that changing any time soon, but lately I feel like I have been constantly living outside my comfort zone. I have been challenging myself over and over again doing things I would have never imagined doing. Many times if it is something I would have said no to, I’m now just saying yes and it has been amazing. It’s freeing and I have gained so much more confidence from it. I’m quite proud of myself for it too. It helps me see how far I have come in my little journey! Good on you for getting those arms out there and for smiling at old people. I’m sure you’ll get a smile back before you know it!

  • I stepped out of my comfort zone last week….my 5yr old son got invited to a birthday party at the local public swimming pools and I just decided, you know what? Screw it! I’m actually going to get in the pool with all the other kids and what the hell…I’m even going to do it in a bikini! *gasp* Well it took quite some time to prepare let me tell you! (depilatory cream is a messy bugger) but I went in the pool, shoulders back proudly as though I do this kind of thing all the time…in front of all the other class parents too! Sometimes it’s just changing our own mindset that gets us out of our daily doldrums….and my son LOVED my participation too so that’s pure gold to me. —– BTW, I’m doing the Nov Photo A Day for the 1st time and loving it!

  • hahaa! I love your writing. I suppose I could put myself out of my comfort zone a little more often…but it is so comfortable.

  • Angela Vogt

    thanks for making me teary! once I had more than 1 child I felt I became less invincible and in fact so less invincible I cry at commercials – ridiculous I know but the water works flow so easy – I think it’s a mix… I feel more vulnerable, less invincible – is it because i put on 20kg and I don’t have my pre-kid body? is it because you lose a bunch of friends who don’t move into your world of parenting as you leave your work world, is it because you leave one very real part of your life behind and move into another – is it all of this … but I like your posts!

  • Love this post.. And yes you were wearing a cardigan the other day, and yes I did think it was odd because it was hot.. But I was getting burnt and you weren’t 😉 I never thought for a second it would be because of self doubt.. You silly chicken, dance in the rain. Xx

  • Jaclyn

    beautiful post chantelle – I’m trying to embrace my own path of stepping outside my comfort zone.. xx

  • Where I live, when I go running, I wave or smile to other runners. It seems friendly to me, but I normally just get a blank stare, or confused look. Yesterday someone smiled back and said hi- it was awesome. Keep at it, you’re putting more smiles into the world! 🙂

  • taniamccartney

    Oh C – I stopped baring my arms (I’m 40-something) around 2 or 3 years ago and JUST the other day, I decided to also live on the edge, so your post is rather spooky. Yes – I threw off my cardigan, revealing a sleeveless frock. Horror! and I did it for the same reason you did. Sure, my arms aren’t like Michelle Obama any more but for goodness sake, in comparison to the majority, they’re still in pretty good nick. It felt so freeing. Let’s keep living on the edge, my love.

  • Rach aka Stinkb0mb

    We’re taking a HUGE step out of our comfort zone next year by packing up our life, selling nearly all our possession and moving across the country, off the island to Tasmania. We can’t wait! Life is for living, not waiting in the wings for the “right” time!

  • tash @ Little bit of Thyme

    oh, I hear you about the arms. I might just go out and bare my arms today as well. thanks for the confidence boost Chantelle!

  • charmaine

    I, too have begun to embrace myself and my body. Now when i go to the gym i wear nice comfy figure hugging clothes instead of the daggy pants and tshirts i used to wear.

    I’m so wanting to show of my lovely legs (from said gym work) in those REALLY cute shorts around in the shops at the moment but i’m so embarrassed about my ugly varicose veins. 🙁

    I do have to share something my daughter does while we are driving in the car at odd times……..she loves to wave at random people, not just a little wave but a full on nearly whole body wriggle that cracks us up!!!!

    We look at each other and giggle for ages afterwards:) Did i say she is nearly 17 and will be driving herself in a few short weeks.

    It cheers my heart to share these crazy times with her before she moves on and i have to drive around all by myself being lonely:)

  • Michelle

    I’m so glad that some other 30 year old had the same feelings as me when they hit the big 3-0! This is so inspiring and made me tear up. Thank you