On my desk at work rests a photo of my father and step mother in their early 50s. As my 50th birthday approaches at the end of April, I try not to over think that photo taken in 1986 at my brother’s wedding, when my father and Fran were only four years older than I am now. I try not to view 50 as the first step toward old age. Truthfully, turning 40 was more traumatic. Maybe turning 40 reveals the age when you know youth is gone (bye bye) and you take the first step into middle age; while at 50, you are knee deep in middle age and you’ve had 10 years to get used to living there. And let’s face it, you know so much more than you did 10, 20, 30, and 40 years ago.
I challenged myself this week to come up with 50 gifts or affirmations to give myself for my 50th birthday. Here they are:
- Get myself a writing studio. As some of my Facebook readers know, this week I rented some cool space with an artist friend and we are in the process of moving into our shared space. The rent is very inexpensive when split in two and the space is lovely. I’m writing from the studio NOW.
- Take myself seriously as a writer, as a person of wisdom, as a woman of experience. If one is forced to trade in youth and fertility, one must get something in exchange – I take experience, confidence, and self-knowledge, and you can have the tampons and the perfect body and the emotional confusion. Enjoy.
- See the Beatles’ tribute band, Rain, since I never got to see the Beatles when they were actually together. They broke up in 1970, when I was eight. Two of them are dead. Two of them are very old. I have floor tickets for April 14th.
- Join AARP (an association for older adults.) Don’t be vain. Take the discounts. The organization has already sent me a temporary card; apparently, they have my birthday on their minds also. The kid at Kentucky Fried Chicken has already given me a senior citizen’s discount without my even asking. Celebrate the 55 cents saved rather than stare in the mirror wondering: Do I look that old?
- Don’t worry about spending money if you are spending it on things that you value – like a writing studio, or personal training, or flying to Chicago to hang with a group of writers and read with them in the night at pubs and bars. That’s pretty cool, and not something I would have been capable of years ago.
- Fix up your house till it feels good to you again. A carpenter just did a beautiful job rebuilding the steps to my backdoor. Little things like that go a long way.
- Fix up your body till it feels good to you again. I’ve started working out 4 times a week as I once did, two with Randi, trainer extraordinaire, and two at the new fitness club across the street, mainly because it has a pool!
- If I put on a few extra pounds, despite my best efforts at keeping fit, and if my stomach is no longer perfect, no longer boasting sexy ab lines running down either side of a flat tummy (now not so flat), be okay with that. Give myself some leeway. Love my not quite so perfect body.
- Finish my first book. Stop telling myself it’s not worth finishing. It is.
- Write that second book. You do have it in you.
- Spend more time reading great books.
- Spend less time reading Facebook.
- Continue to make myself vulnerable in love; it’s one of my finer qualities even when it gets hard or embarrassing or sad.
- Keep taking risks with my activities and my personal relationships – travel, love, speak up, be yourself. WTF – you’re fifty!
- Don’t worry that I don’t write as well as other people, that I will never be one of the literary greats of society. I write well enough, and I have people interested in what I have to say.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh and smile, I mean, really let it go. Stop covering my nose and my mouth, just because long ago, someone stuck a pair of glasses on a butternut squash and said, “This is Cindy.” Big nose. That happened 35 years ago, get over it. Same with the comment from an ex-boyfriend, “I’d like a nude poster of you from the neck down.” It made me feel ugly from the neck up. Again, that was 35 years ago. Get over it.
- Don’t fear growing older. Don’t I feel that my life is better than it ever has been? A resounding YES!
- Sleep when I feel like it. Sleep like cats.
- Dance when I feel like it. Dance like a bunny doing a binky (bunny happy dance.)
- Don’t worry about how I look.
- Don’t worry about what people think of me.
- Don’t worry that I will die someday.
- Celebrate the moments of my life as often as possible.
- Document those amazing moments of my life. I’ve had several just in the last 4 months!
- Be bitchy when I need to be.
- Stop apologizing so much when I haven’t done anything wrong.
- Play with the cats without feeling guilty I’m not writing.
- Write without feeling guilty I’m not playing with the cats.
- Work hard at the office, but accept I will never be the geniuses that my coworkers are (and they ARE!) I bring my own special talents to the job and the team.
- Do what I can for my mother but know I must live my own life.
- Accept the changes in my body.
- Accept the changes in my mood.
- Accept the changes in my perspective. My apologies to those under 35, especially to those who are “old souls” but damn, anything below 35 sounds so young to me. You’ll see what I mean someday.
- Accept the wrinkles around my eyes.
- Keep my mind more open than it has been in the past, to different ideas, different kinds of people, different ways of seeing the world, and different ways of viewing my life.
- Believe that my life has meaning, even if I can’t define it.
- Believe that I will always be okay, even at that moment when I am ready to leave the earth. The key word is “ready.” I will be ready, so don’t worry now.
- Believe that people love me.
- Let people come and go in my life. Most people do not stay for a lifetime. This is what life is.
- Choose who I want to be with.
- Hope she chooses you.
- Choose someone else if she doesn’t.
- Eat red velvet cake and buttercream frosting a least once a month. Also, cheese puffs, green mint oreo cookies, and other unhealthy foods.
- If you need to cry, just cry and be done with it.
- Go to Japan.
- Go to LA.
- Go to England.
- Go to bed with someone you find sexy (don’t let 50 stop you.)
- Go to the place that makes you feel happy.
- Go wherever the hell you want.
I expounded less on these gifts and affirmations as I got further along, mainly because I might be at this forever if I didn’t shorten my statements. And yeah, I became a little fatigued. I am almost 50, after all. I find it interesting that I did not mention panic or agoraphobia anywhere in my list. I have come very far. I think it might be interesting this month to pick a few from the list and write more about them. Now, there’s an idea for some blog entries during my birthday month.
Thank you for reading, everyone. You’re the best.