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Sometimes you think ‘I’m just going to do this and to hell with it’. Then, after you’ve told people and realise what you just set yourself up for and the butterflies kick in, you think to yourself ‘you said you wouldn’t do this again’.

That’s the feeling I’ve had since in January when I decided I wasn’t going to let the occasion of my 50th birthday pass without doing something fitting. Something that recognised and included the people I know that have shaped the 50 something version of me.

PJ

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So I hired a cinema and invited folk to share one of my favourite films with me and eat popcorn and icecream. Family, friends, work colleagues and people I’ve met through work or via the web of networks I increasingly find myself in.  Then some of us walked down the road and had afternoon tea.

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A film and afternoon tea; not extreme sport type wild party antics, more a mid-life acceptance and appreciation of what good feels like for me. The film we watched was one of my favourite films; The Station Agent. Slightly unbefitting of a #trulysocial occasion, something not lost on some who attended, in that it could be percieved as an unsociable film, but which tells the story of how people come to get along. My nephew Tom, aiming to be a magazine journalist, has written a great review here.

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And what better way to spend a significant birthday than with, and saying thank you to, the people who’ve shaped who I am. I’ve come to see my interaction with others and what happens as a result is what makes me tick. If that’s the mid-life realisation thing then I’m a lucky chap.

So I invited them all. Most turned up on a lovely sunny morning laughing and smiling. And we toasted those who couldn’t be with us.

One of the best days of my life it was.

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I’ve reflected on the day and the being 50 thing a lot in the week following my birthday and from the many best wishes messages that people sent. It has been humbling experience reading cards and in thanking people for their presents; often things people had made or things personal to the relationship I have with them. People were very generous and whilst I’ve responded personally, another big thank you to everyone for their generosity, kind words and thoughtfulness. I was going to have a ‘no presents’ occasion but have a collection for a good cause but that sort of stifles personal interaction, and people usually have their own good causes anyway.

I’m truly honoured that people took time and expense to come and share part of my day and that the cinema wasn’t empty and there was much laughter. May it long continue.

I’ve realised there needs to be more of the same – that feeling of what did I just say I’d do again? Leeds is a great place with some good people trying to do great things. I attended an event this week where someone spoke about how generosity, in many different ways, is what we should focus on. She has a point.

18th April 2015 really was that place where personal and professional came together and it was a truly sociable occasion.

Credit to Anne Cooper for the opening photo and ginger marmalade.

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