Thirty years ago, the thought of turning 50 terrified me. What would I look like? How much gray hair would I have, how many wrinkles? Would I be a cool 50, or a frumpy 50? I mean, really, 50 just seemed so old.
Now that it’s almost here, it’s much less terrifying. To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to it.
Anyone who has known me more than a week, or who has followed me on Facebook or read this sporadic blog (how many times have I said I’d be a much more regular blogger?) knows how much I’ve absolutely loved my 40s. I’ve done things I never thought I would do – in my 40s I’ve published three books (two ghostwritten and one as co-author); I’ve had relationships come and go but learned a little bit more about myself and what I want with each one; I’ve watched my children graduate high school, try college, decide they didn’t like it and then come back years later and decide the time was now right.
In my 40s I took chances – I left a 22-year journalism career and entered the world of “strategic communications”; I let go of the “good girl” rules I followed (kind of) as a young woman and learned to love life and to live with no regrets; I’ve realized that I get to choose my circle so I’ve let go of bad-for-me relationships; I’ve learned not to let anything good go unsaid and confessed my true feelings for someone who has been in and out of my life for more than a decade, with no expectations.
The 40s have been great, but now I’m ready for the next chapter. So ready, in fact, that if anyone asked my age over the last 271 days, I’d say I was “almost 50.” Poor 49 doesn’t even get a swan song – it just gets skipped over to “almost 50.”
I knew I’d use this space to bring 50 in somehow – other than to post when and where I’ll be celebrating with whoever wants to help me “cross over” – and I think I’ve settled on a 100-day countdown to 50.
Of course, me being me, I’m late. So it will be 100 days’ worth of why I’m looking forward to 50 crammed into 94 days. (You know you’re not surprised.)
So, here we go:
100. Over the years I’ve learned to regret nothing. Everything I’ve done – good and bad – has led me exactly to this point, and honestly, I’m in a good place. Sure, I could have more money or live in a nicer apartment or condo, but that’s just material stuff. I love my job, I’m proud of my kids, I have great relationships – I’m happy.
99. I’ve learned how to love myself – who I am and what shape I am. Yes, I’ll always try to be just 50 pounds lighter, but I’m not going to obsess about it anymore. I’m eating right, I love to walk, and to bike (when my knee is dog-injury-free), but I also love cookies. And cheese. And chips and salsa. I’m going to enjoy life and if you can’t handle me because I’m not a size 4 and I don’t share your obsession with getting there, then it’s your loss.
98. I’m a dog person AND a cat person. Deal with it. They’re part of my family, and we’re a package deal. And sometimes I do feel guilty if I’ve left them alone too long.
97.I make no excuses for my “potty mouth,” but there is a time and a place for its use. I don’t think my swearing makes me any less of a person, but I will always respect your comfort level with such language. To me swearing can be like smoking – I don’t mind if you do it, but I don’t want to breathe in that air, and I understand that you may not want to hear those words.
96. My 50 won’t look a lot like my mom’s 50. Mom’s 50 was great, but it was different. She was a grandma, for one thing – I’m not. She rode in the passenger seat, listened to music at a volume level of maybe 4, worked all day and came home to do laundry, make dinner, nag on my sister about homework. I’m in the driver’s seat, I still blare music out the car window and sometimes belt out the tune, too. I work all day and sometimes go out for drinks with friends or go home and have popcorn for dinner.
95. I’ve stopped sweating the small stuff – and there’s a lot of small stuff. Worry is wasted energy, especially if you are worrying on something over which you have no control.
94. I’m OK on my own. I’ve been divorced for 15 years and while there have been a few long-term relationships, I know now I’m good with me. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to a partner – I love being in a partnership, having that “team” feeling – but I’m getting more selective of who I’m letting in.
**Side note: There really will be a “crossing over” event in mid-June, time and location to be determined, but open to anyone who cares to come. More details to come …
**Many thanks to my friend Barbara Barrows for her artistic talents on the illustration