The advantage of having an October birthday was being able to observe many of my friends turn 50 before me and see how they handled it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had no need to jump out of a plane to mark the occasion, nor did I want to crawl under the bed to hide. But I did want to write about being 50 as soon as it happened. I expected to wake up, feel like I had gone through some process during the night that would result in a crown to wear and an epiphany of wisdom I could bestow on the 49ers.
This did not happen.
Now that I’m approaching 51, I can say my piece about being 50. I thought a lot about turning this pivotal age since all everyone who was already fifty wanted to talk about was me reaching 50. Like it was a condition and they want you to be afflicted, too. So it’s no shock that I winced a bit as 50 approached, waiting for the possibility of fire and brimstone raining down on the small piece of youth I’d apparently been clinging to.
This did not happen, either.
I’m pretty comfortable with who I am and how I look. Yes, my body is changing in humbling ways I didn’t ask for. I can gain a few pounds just thinking about a bite of cake. I have the occasional muscle twinge, usually when I’m feeling 28 and my body wants to remind me that I am not. I’m starting to rethink my policy on never having plastic surgery. At least liposuction. And alas, my brain and my mouth are not the good friends they used to be, so I find myself grasping for the simples of words.
Most days being 50 is empowering. I’m comfortable with where I’m at and what I’m capable of. I have three kids who are respectful, intelligent, and good looking, so they got the best of my genes. (See what I did there?)
Did I mention the confidence level at 50 is pretty high, as well as consistent?
I rarely doubt myself these days, except for the rare moments of panic when I find myself in the laundry room looking for groceries, or I go in to the garage to make a phone call, and think maybe I have early onset Alzheimer’s. But good news, That’s what everyone thinks at this age, so it’s probably not the case.
I was recently told that at this age, who’s celebrating birthdays anyway. Um, me – and I claim my birthday month, thank you. Each year is another accomplishment, another opportunity to improve, grow, love and connect. What’s not to celebrate? So now when people ask when my birthday is, I simply say October. No need to narrow it down to a specific day when there are 31 to take full advantage of.
I’d like to be a bit further ahead financially, but take solace again in hearing that most people feel the same. Let’s “call a spade a spade” – divorce is expensive, and required digging deep in to savings and making financial adjustments. But it’s amazing how leaving a toxic situation clears the mind and opens the heart to new opportunities. During my initially anxious calls to my dad he would say, “If your bills are paid and there’s food on the table today, no need to worry about tomorrow until it gets here.” I have learned through blind faith that when I need money, it shows up. Every time.
I feel the freedom approaching from my kids launching from the nest, and try not to show my excitement. Not only for myself, but what I see that they are capable of. No one can explain to you the relief and sense of parental achievement when you realize that your kids are on an independent, successful path.
And that allows me to daydream about a smaller house, a tiny yard, lower bills, less groceries to buy. The idea of moving makes creates the need to lighten my load moving forward on my journey, and how I want the next 50 to go. What no longer serves me that I can remove from my baggage, to make room for less burdening, more useful things? What tools have I acquired that will be the most useful in building my future? What have I collected that is simply dead weight? What have I learned and how will I use my experiences to enrich whatever life has waiting for me? All of this is new space with new rules, where I’ll have the opportunity and the knowledge to make my mark, to leave my legacy.
Some days I feel as if I have lived twice. Most days I feel young. I choose friends wisely, my words carefully, my goals aggressively. I worry less, and accept that things will go exactly as they’re supposed to. I smile, a lot. It hides facial lines.
So here’s what I think: being 50 is taking the lessons you’ve learned, accepting the bounty you’ve been given and making the most of it. To share what you’ve manifested and be confident in your foundation, so whatever you choose to build moving forward will be balanced and abundant.
So mix all your finest ingredients together, bake one hell of a cake and then use your wisdom to decide who you share the slices with.