The day after her 40th birthday, Rebecca Jenkins was hit on the head by a falling hammock pole and left concussed for weeks.
Soon after, she got kidney stones.
She felt these unexpected health hurdles, plus "bodily changes" were signs of "getting old".
"I was tossing up between feeling good about being 40 and feeling in control of my life, and yet sort of apprehensive of 'what's going to happen next?'," she says.
Milestone birthdays, particularly for the "sandwich generation" (that's midlifers caring for elderly parents and their own children), can create a "mini life review", senior clinical psychologist and lecturer at Massey University Dr Kirsty Ross says.
For those who had milestone birthdays in lockdown, that review is likely to have been deeper.
"For some people, there will be some powerful renegotiation of what success is," she says.
Jenkins had her 40th just before lockdown 2020, and for the year after was teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. "I was just emotionally exhausted," she recalls.
Her human resources business lost projects, but she still had high costs.
"I got to the point where I was struggling to get out of bed every morning, and I was getting such bad migraines that I would have them daily for three weeks straight."
She realised she needed to find joy in what she did, or find things that brought joy.
Following the coronavirus pandemic, milestone birthdays will likely take on more significance, with fears around job security and housing, Ross says.
"As you advance in years, to pivot and make significant changes and adjustments to your life does take a bit more energy and effort, and we've seen that after lots of natural disasters."
Milestone birthdays for the younger generation (10, 16, 18, 21) are a "coming of age", with positive associations of growing independence. But as you grow older, they take on different connotations.
At 30, you're working to establish yourself financially; 40 is often perceived as the halfway mark in life that leads one to ask "Am I on track? Have I achieved what I expected to at this point in my life?"; 50 can be a time for taking responsibility for older family members or embracing becoming an empty nester.
Sixty begs the question, can you, or do you want to, retire at 65?; and 70-plus is generally health-focused, but also a time of liberation.
"You've developed much more of an internal framework about how to live your life," says Ross, adding that managing expectations takes time.
We often feel pressure around expectations in society, when Ross says we should measure success around our own internal value system and what we have control over: "For example, that you're a really nice person, you're considerate, honest, generous.
"To start to define success in a different way, because one of the things that this pandemic has shown us, is that there have been people who have met societal markers of success and through absolutely no fault of their own, it's been lost because of (Covid-19).
"If I was to encourage people to do anything on milestone birthdays it's to think 'What do you really value in life and I am putting time and energy into those activities and people?' Because some of that other stuff, it's awesome, but we don't necessarily have control over whether those things stay," she says.
What's more, if you're managing physical illness or significant challenges in your life, a birthday doesn't just mean another year older, but that you've made it through a difficult time and it is a good opportunity to reflect on your strengths and resilience.
"Look at how loved you are by the people around you, look at how kind you are. That's a year of success.
"If you look for the values and the meaningful activities and relationships you've had, you can find success. You've got control over how you look at and live your life, no matter what's happening in the world."
For Rebecca Jenkins, it was this realisation that helped her embrace life after a tough 2020.
After devouring a lot of self-help books, the Cambridge mum decided she needed to have fun; to look after herself instead of "chasing after everyone else"; to talk and "download". She was pretty sure there were other women who felt the same.
So, this year she launched Where The Wild Women Are, a friendship network for women aged 35 to 65, to get together and go out for dinner; to paddleboard, surf, white water raft, or decorate cakes. Whatever they'd been wanting to try but hadn't, yet.
"I'd been in other networking groups, including Business Women's Network, but what I really wanted was to connect on a different level," she says.
"The idea of having fun is quite foreign to us as we get older. And I really do think you have to try things. Experiences in life ground you to who you are, and what you want to be."
The first event she organised was a dinner in the Waikato with nine strangers. That group quickly grew to 300 women.
Jenkins is gearing up to launch the group in the Bay of Plenty at the end of this month, and then, hopefully, throughout New Zealand.
Membership is free, other than paying for the event you attend.
And there's no judgment, she says.
"This is about supporting women completely, and openly."
And age brings perspective. Older women have plenty to teach younger women, she says.
Professor Christine Stephens, of Massey University's Health and Ageing Research Team, turned 70 last year in lockdown, and says the difference between a 40-year-old suddenly realising their life is moving on for the very first time and "what have I done with it" versus a 70-year-old is huge.
Those milestones have different meanings for each stage, she says.
"As we age, milestone birthdays generally become less frightening and panic-inducing, and more a cause for celebration.
"Simply having made it is a good thing as our friends begin to depart."
They also generally get less celebratory.
"Once we get to 90 we may decide to celebrate again, or the family may do it anyway, but that's definitely a celebration of achievement and probably the last milestone birthday one will have. Fewer of us make it to 100."
For Tauranga's Rebecca Meyer, getting to 50 was a privilege, despite her birthday falling in this month's level 3 lockdown.
"When you hit this age, you do evaluate things differently," she says.
Women can get hung up about their outward appearance, but they shouldn't, she says, adding that she cares less about what others think these days, including pleasing people.
She feels content entering her fifth decade, with plans to focus on getting more work-life balance, pursuing creative outlets, and planning her upcoming wedding to partner Dave, where she'll wear bronze, not white.
She lost her first husband, Brett, to bowel cancer when he was 44, leaving her a widow at 35 with two young daughters.
"It really taught me that life is too short, and don't put things off."
To become a member of Where the Wild Women are, visit Where The Wild Women Are or their Facebook page Where the Wild Women Are - Bay of Plenty. The first Bay of Plenty event is dinner at Macau on October 1.