When I was 10, I thought 20 was old. I thought 30 was ancient. I thought 40 was like having a foot in the grave…and I believed making it to the “ripe old age of 50,” was the ultimate downer, since there was NOTHING to do when you got there!
Before 50 was wonderful: I had two perfect little boys (who have since grown into young men of whom I am so very proud). I had a wonderful, close relationship with my family, and I turned a page in the book of my life and lost 150 pounds ( thank you, Richard Simmons), reinventing myself (for the first time) at the age of 30. It seemed like everything was brand new and full of promise back then.
Before 50 was awesome…with a camera in hand, I could often be found wandering around the woods where I grew up, learning about f-stops and shutter speeds.Capturing images on trips that the family took–portraits of smiling children and gorgeous landscapes. Photography was therapy for me, an artistic way of showing something when I couldn’t explain it in words.
But as wonderful as before 50 was, it was also a time of many hardships, bad decisions, unwise choices–when I thought with my heart rather than my head. Back then there was a marriage that was abusive, both mentally and physically. I stayed for 15 years: because there were children, because no one was supposed to get divorced in my family, because marriage is forever. Period. Breaking away took every single ounce of strength that I had. A voice in my head told me I would never be able to make it on my own. Yet, for once, the fear in my heart told me I had to go…and thankfully I listened.
I had never been out in the work force before! When waitressing was not enough to support me and the boys, I worked in the insurance industry. A little later, I took a chance in the jewelry world, went to school, and designed pieces for customers from every walk of life. Some could afford a little and there were others who could afford a lot. I loved it, and I thrived, and now I manage a fine jewelry store in upstate New York.
And once I turned the corner of 50, new dreams began to surface. I’m not sure why it happened… Maybe because I was now a half-century old. Maybe because I turned back and saw that a good deal of my life and what I had made of it – or not made of it – was behind me. Maybe the shadows were longer and the path ahead seemed shorter. I don’t really know. But it happened.
I dreamed of becoming a photographer, of traveling and capturing moments on my Canon. I pictured beaches and cities in my head, beautiful architecture and smiling faces of people who would model for me. I dreamed of writing travel articles–wandering down side streets and roaming through farmer’s markets or bazaars in other countries. Waking up in a strange places and discovering things about myself that I’ve never had time to look for until now.
We are all reinventing ourselves–all of the time. We all have chances to make something else/something more of our lives. I realize now that everyone has up and down times, good and bad times…low, depressing times and shooting star times. Reinvention is possible for everyone.
I remember thinking, after my divorce, that I was now able to breathe fresh air…there was now potential for new growth…the world was now my oyster!! (Hah! Believe me, that wasn’t quite the case, sometimes far from it.) But, now that I am over 50 I see how much more growth is still left, and how much more good, paved road there still is ahead of me. Fifty is a great place to be! That future of travel and photography is within sight, and I feel like it is reachable, finally attainable. I see hard work, but on my own terms. I feel courageous. And I am excited!
When I hear the voice from the past in my head that says it’s too late or I’m too old and past my prime, I laugh a little and say, “Yeah? Just watch me.”