I know this will come as a shock for some because I certainly don’t act it, and to be completely honest, I think it’s a mild shock to me too… but in eight days … I turn 50.
Not quite sure what to think about it. I remember when I was younger, probably about 10 or 12, I used to cry myself to sleep because I didn’t want to die. Silly, I know, but I used to try to imagine life after I was gone and it scared the hell out of me thinking that I would just cease to exist and my family would go on. Oh, the silliness of youth. Thank goodness, I don’t have those worries anymore.
I don’t feel 50. Well, not most days. My body is starting to tell me that I can’t continue as I have in the past…. For example, I used to LOVE roller coasters… but I learned a few years ago that the love wasn’t being returned anymore and my eyes have decided that really cool bi-focals are the required accessory de jour. But for the most part I don’t feel old. And frankly, I’m not. Fifty is the new 30.
I’ve had a great life so far… is it was I thought it would be when I was younger? Nope. After high school, I had planned on buying a Trek bicycle, find a list of hostels and cycle around Europe. I had no plans beyond that. But the Navy interfered and life happened. Would I change it? Nope. I have a beautful, although at times frustrating and annoying, family. I have three extremely intelligent and handsome sons. I have two absolutely adorable grandsons who love their nannie and a husband who has stuck by me throughout all my crazy attempts to put him in the poor house and I’ve had an exciting career serving our beautiful country. Life. Is. Good.
My sons, in their attempt at humor and to remind me that I am turning 50, tell me I will be half a century old. They are right, but oh, what I have learned in my half century of life… I have learned that we are never too old to learn. You may not like the lessons, they may be tougher to grasp, but you can still learn. When you make a promise to your children, they believe you will follow through with that promise. Do so. To break them starts a pattern of mistrust and lost respect. Trust me on this… do not break your promises to your children. Make sure they grow up knowing they can count on you and your word. By the time you get to 50, you start to look back on your life and you want to be proud of the place you find yourself at this moment. Make sure you have no regrets. Make good choices throughout your life so you have none. Accountability is extremely important. Be willing to take ownership of your decisions. Bad or good… There’s always a lesson in them and both will help grow you into the person you will be at 50. Life is not a game. There are no do-overs but you can make it fun. Don’t just exist and don’t wait too late to find your passion and have fun with it. Live life to the fullest of your ability. Don’t just live for someone else. Try to find yourself early and don’t waste years being something you’re not. You can love your family and be your own person at the same time. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to never apologize for who you are. Don’t be afraid to be different. Be willing to take a chance and step outside your comfort zone. If people talk about you, it means you’ve made an impact on their life. Take time for yourself. Make time to do what you want to do… by yourself. Absolutely make memories with your children. They grow up way too fast and you don’t want to look back with regret at the missed opportunities.
Teach your children the value of volunteering and taking care of the underdog. Start when they are young and make it a regular occurrence so when they are older it becomes natural for them to care for others. Be kind without expectations. Find a job that you love so working doesn’t become a chore. When you get to the point that you hate to go to work, it’s time for a change… be strong enough to make it. Be thankful for everything. Nothing is promised and nothing is owed. Make your own way. Don’t give up your goals and dreams. It may take time to fulfill them and they may need adaptation, but never stop dreaming… I’ve been constantly thinking of moving to Europe and getting dreadlocks, lately! LOL … Never settle for less than you deserve. Sometimes the love of your life is your complete opposite and you may think you have nothing in common, but somehow, their outlook on life is what you needed to complete yours.
I’ve spent my first half century serving my country, taking care of my family, doing what other people wanted me to do or what I needed to do and less for myself. But that’s changing. As I get closer to 50, I don’t seem to sweat the small stuff as much… or else I just don’t give a crap anymore. I’m less fearful of what others think and I’m not afraid to voice my opinions… I know what you’re thinking… you can’t believe there was ever a time I was, but believe me, I really used to be shy. I’m still taking care of my family and those responsibilities are still tremendous, but it’s because I want to do so. And I can live with that. I’m at peace with my life.
So, perhaps 50 won’t be that bad. It’s kind of exciting really to think of the next few decades and where they may lead me but I’m ready for it.
Oh, yeah, and one of the most exciting lessons I’ve learned … don’t be afraid to buy a Harley. And ride it… straight into the next half century.