Stephanie and I were in junior high and high school together. I never really got to know her back then but remember how happy she always seemed – this huge smile on her face as I passed her in the hall. Almost 30 years later, we formed a bond of sorts when faced with the difficult choice of helping our beloved four-leggers to the Rainbow Bridge. We shared our sadness, fears, and good memories. It was through that journey of loss and healing that I came to get to know her a little better. I adore her spirit and her authenticity, and I believe you will, too, after reading this story.
My whole 49th year on this planet was spent saying “I am almost 50”. I did not allow the number 49 to even have a voice. It was consumed with “almost 50”. I spent some time reflecting on how as women, we hear a lot of scary garbage about this age and how it was giving me some fear. No one will hire you, no men want you, you are no longer sexy, you are well, pretty much destined to have your husband leave you for a younger model and you might as well get a few cats and prepare to die alone, poor, in a lonely sad efficiency apartment.
I experienced personally what a task it is to find employment at this age. It is difficult to get anyone to even look past your paperwork with that deadly field which is required called “your birthdate” haunting your every application. I finally got a job because of a connection, not my skill set or experience, which is pretty vast since I have been a productive member of society in the work force since I was 16, but because I knew someone. Thank God for that because again, I was “almost 50”, the age of certain decline. But also at age 50, I know people, which is something to be grateful for.
The rest of the age 50 myths have fallen short of true. I did get a job, no matter how, I got a new job, I have one, and I am getting to start something new at age 50. My husband Britt, who I met in 1984, is still around and he acts like he still likes me. I guess it could be an act but I will take it. And on a personal note we just celebrated an anniversary. In my opinion, which is all that really matters, it was one of the sexiest weekends of my life. We still got it.
I only have one cat, which I got at age 49, and a dog and I think that is a healthy balance. As of today the bank still has not taken my home. Age 50 did not turn me into the lonely old one bedroom cat lady that I imagined. Go figure!
The approach of age 50 actually brought about more positive change than anything in my life. Let me start with the uninvited body changes that visited and never left. I will start in the middle, meaning mid-section, as all the menopause web-sites like to call it. I like to call it the section in which every bite of food I take lands. That may not sound positive but I am getting there. The belly motivated me to try some new stuff.
A friend of mine was obsessed with Hot Yoga and she quite frankly is my “negative” friend and it made her feel positive so I had to give it a try. I bought a 30 day Groupon and tried it out. I hated my “negative” friend so much that night, I told her we were divorced mid class, she was dead to me. I have never felt that much sweat and body pain and heat exhaustion in my life. Then the miracle happened, an hour after class I felt so good, had not felt that good pretty much ever, so I went back. It got easier, my body got more flexible, and today, a year later I can do all of the moves they throw my way. Not perfect but pretty darn good. I lost 17 pounds and kept it off. I still have my menopause pooch but you know what, I don’t care. The practice has given me confidence and acceptance. I am 50, not almost 50, I am 50 and I am pretty bad ass.
The big day, October 18th, the day I actually crossed over, my parents threw me a party on a Sunday afternoon. Their house was full of my oldest friends and dearest people. I reflected that day on how I could fill another house or two with people I love. I felt wonderful that day, physically, mentally and spiritually. It was sunny and nice and I got a brand new yellow bike from my Husband. I liked that gift way better than the old lady gag gifts, which are now at goodwill. (I ain’t got space for that nonsense in my home but it was the thought that counted right?). I had so many gifts that day that I did not have at 20, 30 or 40. I got all those gifts by living for 50 years. Love, peace, a healthy non-smoking well cared for body, and most of all gratitude and an ability to enjoy my moments.
My two children were there and they are wonderful. My son Joey is 15 years old and my daughter Brittanie is 24 years old. They are self-sufficient. Brittanie is a college Graduate and lives in Apex. They are wonderful and I love them dearly but at age 50 I enjoy the freedom of self-sufficient kids. I do want me a grandbaby but I am not rushing anyone. I just love babies when they don’t live with me.
My kids are great, two different human beings who have made up a huge part of my life, as they grow they do not lose importance but I like having time to do and explore new things and to be able to do more grown up things with them. I also like my husband so I don’t see empty nest syndrome being a problem for us.
Fifty has been liberating. I can say things like “listen up, I know things, I am 50 years old.” (I do.) I can convert my jean wardrobe to all pajama jeans and be one with that decision. It’s a process but I am working on it. I do not and will no longer have a flip flop budget of $12.00 per pair. I am actually browsing for a pair priced above the $50.00 mark. My feet are 50, they deserve them. It took me till my half birthday but I cut my hair. Long hair is a pain in the butt. I was bored so I cut it. I deserve a change. And I am finally getting past defining myself by outward features. That absolutely does not serve me.
I can easily take back that desire for a flat belly and the ability to eat a Snickers Bar whenever I felt like it without expanding my waist. I can easily have a day where I pretend plastic surgery my turkey neck in the mirror and then Google a Life Style Lift or Cool Sculpting Reviews, but on most days I am just A-OK with whom and what I am. I am not naïve enough to think that health and well-being is a free gift. I work for those things and I don’t always get perfect results but I try and that makes me feel good. I get sore a little easier and injuries heal a little slower but thank God I am still healthy enough to go out and get sore and get injured!
Fifty for me is the new Awesome. I have dropped placing importance on numbers. It is more peaceful that way. I don’t weigh, I don’t measure and I don’t say I am almost 51. Why would I because what I am is me, and everyday a newer version of me. Why a newer version, because I will never fully grow up, that would be dumb, because a life without growth is boring and uneventful. I choose to accept that I am always learning on this now Journey to 60. I know things. I am Fifty!