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.
I mean it when I comment on one of your posts with an “I love it”. I mean it triple here. I think, from what I know of you, you are an amazing, beautiful person. An inspiration,and I hope wherever your life takes you, you live it like this. I am glad to know you. Good luck in your new space. Thanks for sharing these glimpses of you. Feel Good!
I was so busy today I’m just getting back to comments on my blog now. Thank you for your very lovely comment. I haven’t met you yet I feel we are friends. Someday, we’ll have to meet in person. I’m glad we bumped into each other here in cyberspace. xoxoxo
Yay Cindycat! I only hope I can do 50 as well as you can. I love this post! I love all the changes, growth, and exploring you are doing, and letting us in on! You are an excellent writer. The world needs your unique gifts! This makes me happy, because you sound happy! xoxoxox
I hope by the time you’re 50, life will be easy and kind. You deserve that. I’m so happy you liked this post, um, you “loved” it. 🙂 Thank you for all of your very kind words. I think I am happy. xoxo, love you, sis…
I think this is one of your best posts ever.
Thank you, Faye. Coming from you, that means an awful lot. 🙂
Inspirational as always. You and I have something in common… I’m also turning 50 this year. It seems weird to write it and/or say it, but emotionally I feel strangely at peace with it.
I also feel it’s time to make amends. I want to enter the next 50 (knock on wood) free of all the baggage from my past. This, of course, will require some uncomfortable conversations and some awkward face to face meetings, but I need to this for myself. I don’t want any more regrets. I don’t want to feel any more animosity toward ex-lovers. I don’t want to feel any more resentment toward family members.
I’m going to borrow your list and do so some internal spring cleaning! Keep up the great writing, Cindy.
Here’s to fabulous 50!!!
Thanks for such a lovely and moving comment on my blog. I didn’t realize we were the same age. I’m glad you’re at peace with turning 50. I’m sure you’ll make amends where you need to do so. I’m so happy you keep coming back here to read. It means a lot to me. Thank you so much.
P.S. About the above—stupid wordpress wouldn’t let me sign in as me so I had to put different name, but it’s me, Kathie K.
No, you’re the best! 😀 loved this post. It’s the first wordpress blog I’m reading as a 28 year old, how apropos.
I’m glad you loved this post, Natasia, baby. Happy Birthday you hot young thang!!!!!! xoxo
You mentioned being uncomfortable about your nose and look at what CNN just posted on their site: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/31/living/kinsman-nose-beauty-essay/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
Let me know if you can’t see it and I’ll email you the article. It’s great and right on topic about what we’re discussing here.
Read it. Left more of a comment above. Great article!!!! Thank you, Kathie.
What a thoughtful and touching post. Really, one of my favorites. Can I borrow from your list when I turn 60? You will always be my younger friend, with a spunky attitude, a thirst for growth, not to mention a terrifically toned bod… no middle aged changes apparent to anyone else but your inner critic. And I’m glad to see that you are sending her packing. There’s no room for her in your 50’s… you will fly higher without the weight of her. Your new writing space suits you. You are already writing great stuff there. Your 50’s will bring a first book, a second, and maybe more. Because you don’t merely write well enough, you’re a damn fine writer and yes we are all interested in what you have to say.
That was such a wonderful comment to make here on my blog. I will be rereading it to remind myself that people like you believe in me as a person and as a writer. You are a fabulous friend and have been for a long time now. Thank you again for taking the time to read the blog and makes such a lovely comment. I’m a little tired. I wish I could be more eloquent as you were.
Thank you, Melissa, for reading and for your kindness. And for reminding me I need to send you an essay! Hugs. Cindy
Did you get a chance to check out the article I mentioned above? I want you to read it before they take it down. Let me know if you can’t see it and I’ll email it to you.
I read the article just now. It was fabulous and definitely struck home for me. It was so kind of you to think of me when you read that. The author makes so many important points. Great stuff. Will they really take it down? I “liked” it for Facebook. I hope others read it.
Stay in touch,
Thanks for sharing 🙂 I suspect the list will be polished over time with details and insight. I can’t wait!
Thanks, Mithriel. Whether this is polished and detailed will depend on how much time I have, which isn’t much. I know how busy you are, too, so I appreciate that you took time to read and comment on this! Hope you are doing well. Cindy
Loved the post and, having turned 50 last September myself, can relate to a bit of it. You are SO talented and I was incredibly fortunate to have you writing for GAY a couple years back. Now I’m going to give myself a gift and bookmark your blog!
I don’t evwn know how I ended up here, however I believed this
pubblish was good. I don’t recognise who you’re but
definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger if you happen to are not