….and believe it or not, I cannot wait!
There was so much build up to becoming 50, and now that it’s here, I realize I haven’t, in fact, transformed into a senior citizen: I’m still the same me I always was, and life is continuing, not winding down, which was the impression I had of it somewhere in the back of my mind. I still have most of the same interests I did in my 20s, but now I’ve added new ones to the list.
I’m still standing, still laughing, and some days, I actually feel sexier! I think the simple fact that I take a little more time to put myself together before going out the door may have a lot to do with that, but sometimes when I’m leaving, I catch myself in the mirror and say, “Wow, you look great for 50!” Maybe that has more to do with lowered expectations, as in, “Wow, I don’t look as bad as I thought,” but I’ll take it, whatever the reason.
This new positioning of the expectation bar has done something else: It has made me virtuously fearless. I’m not afraid to try new things. In fact, I decided to take up guitar when I turn 50. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing songs, and why not now, when I’ve experienced so much more than someone in their 20s. Life experience? Plenty of that to color my verses. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found me strumming my guitar outside of Café Mozart some summer night in the future. It would have to be a Tuesday or something, I know, but who cares?? That’s the point: Not me.
I’ve decided to treat this year like one big celebration of life, and do special things I wouldn’t ordinarily do, under the guise of it being “for my 50th birthday.” For example, I used to be a figure skater, and still love the sport (although a simple spin has the potential to put my back out now) so I’m treating myself to a week at the World Figure Skating Championships with an American tour group. A ski trip to Sun Valley with the families of two college friends is another adventure on my 50th birthday bucket list. I’ve also always wanted to try out the Dorothy Hamill fantasy camp for former ice skaters, but it seemed extravagant. “Maybe for my 50th” I told a friend who encouraged me. And so the list of things I’ve been putting off “for my 50th” goes on. It’s such a great excuse to be a little selfish. We spend enough on our son’s summer camps – now it’s my turn!
I also want to spend more time doing things that aren’t extravagant at all, but simply make me happy. For example, walking the dog in Manor Park in the morning – seeing the sun sparkling on the water gives me a feeling of looking into the endless possibilities of a new day. Helping others and volunteering for things you think are worthwhile is always time well spent. Or, simply taking a yoga class at the gym. I used to think it was a waste of time as I wasn’t getting the big “calorie burn” out of it, but now I do it because it just feels so good. Or even having a martini with a good friend. I love my husband, don’t get me wrong, but talking to women can be so much more gratifying. Yes, making time for building great female friendships will be essential in my 50s.
There will always be work to do, deadlines to meet, projects to tackle, and family to take care of; these things won’t go away, nor do we want them to. But unlike my 40s, I don’t think I want this new decade to be one where these things are all-consuming. There are so many other great things to do on earth; maybe the beauty of the “50s” is having the wisdom to know this, and the understanding that we should do them – now — and as often as possible, from here on in.