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Average Age 20

On the last day of 2015, I turned 39 as my younger daughter Erin turned 1. Yes, we share the same birthday and I am prepared to accept that every birthday following, I will always be outshined by Erin, surrounded by balloons, birthday cakes in cartoon characters and serving juice for her friends and wine for mine. But hey, we do get to throw a combined birthday party with New Year’s Eve plus get fireworks for free. For as long as Erin believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy is when she’ll imagine that her parents arranged annual fireworks just for her birthday.

That said, it’s also the start of me counting our average age (39 + 1 = 40)/2 = 20. It made me think of starting at 20 years old again, but this isn’t about the age, or the looks or the physical body. I’m referring to the optimism, energy and excitement of being 20, backed with experience, confidence and wisdom of another 20. I’m choosing to make the days count, with those who count.

Thinking back to when I was 20 in 1997 - I just graduated from Cornell University, returned to Singapore and had my first job in advertising. Had the privilege to kick-start the management trainee program at our agency and immersed in a very expressive industry. The world was my oyster and I was looking forward to the journey. I was surrounded by good friends and had the support and presence of my parents as I was living at home. I remember loving the financial freedom and ability to contribute to the family.

Fast forward to 2016, I’ve since given birth to 2 girls in Singapore, so have the secured job of “mama”. We recently moved to Hout Bay to create our family home, fulfilling our wish to surround ourselves with nature. We choose to work from home, so that we can spend quality time with the family. There’s a vibrant community here for us to benefit from and add value to and we’re looking forward to what will unfold. Our girls are making friends whose parents then become our friends. With the realization that the biggest contributions we can make will never be monetary, I’ve never felt more liberated from the numbers game.

And Erin in 2016 will add to the four teeth she has now to enjoy different food tastes and textures. Yes, she might also put grass, sand, dirt and more into her mouth before deciding to do it again, or not.  She will start speaking somewhat in English and Mandarin while expressing herself with gestures. This is also the year she starts walking and go places herself. She will experience the four seasons in Cape Town and maybe get blown over a couple of times by the wind everyone talks about. And she’ll get up and dust herself off. Erin can dream and discover new things every day and should realize by now that her best friend, her sister Kira is never far and her parents are always there for her. Her grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles dote on her being the youngest and there will be lots of peek-a-boos being played and yes, she’ll always have fireworks on her birthday.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

- Albert Einstein