I received an email awhile back asking me to write my story to be used on a website for Patti Phillips, a coach and adventure guide. She hosts a program for people who are turning 50 and want to embrace it. She somehow found my blog and felt like I was a candidate to tell my story. Since I wrote it this morning, I thought I’d go ahead and share with you … and if you need some help embracing your 50s, see Patti’s place at http://www.bornin1964.com/.
Here’s my story:
I’m a 50 something woman who is finally stepping into who I am with a lot of joy and confidence. I live in Baton Rouge LA. I grew up in a country town not far from here and moved away in my 20s. I always wanted to travel the world and have all kinds of adventures, and I did that. I moved back here this year on a whim basically, but I do think it was meant to be. I am a blogger, and I’m deeply involved in growing personally and spiritually. I have a dog and two cats, and I am gratefully single. I no longer say divorced unless I have to legally because my marital status is not based on what I am not. I am single, in my 50s and loving it all. I just made a career change from corporate America to higher education. I’m an Instructional Designer which means I help faculty design online learning activities. I love my work, but I totally dig my personal life.
As I approached 50, I got really depressed about it. I could just see the lines on my face deepening and my body starting to look different. I was really assaulted by the thought that it was starting to be over … this life I had. I was also fairly recently divorced, and I was not looking forward to building a new life single. I lived in Memphis TN. I ran into a woman whose birthdate was the exact same one as mine… she was turning 50 too. She called me up one day and asked me what I was doing for my 50th birthday. I told her I’d probably just let it slide right on by. “No!!! You can’t do that,” she said. “You have to mark it some way.” I let it percolate for a few months, and I finally sent out an email, a Facebook update and some phone calls to all of the people in my life, close and not so close. I asked them to give me something for my birthday – not to buy something – that represents our relationship. I told them they had the whole month of January to give it to me. This gave them a couple of months to think about it. I got excited about turning 50 then. I was reminded of all of the people I have known and loved and what gifts our relationships had given me. It helped me turn the page.
During my birthday month, I got letters from people that told stories from long ago and not so far away about us. Many of them I did not remember. It was amazing how one person can remember something so vividly and see so much meaning in it when I had no recollection of it. It made me realize the magic of relationships and how important every LITTLE thing we do is in the scheme of things. I had one friend paint a painting for me. Another friend prayed for me for a year. A group of friends who ate frequently at my house, bought me two dining room chairs for my dining room set and signed them. One friend who always cooked for me threw me a dinner party for me and 8 of my girlfriends. An old boss who remembered my yoga advice and my sense of humor, made me a handmade calendar of yoga cartoons, pictures of me and all kinds of humorous drawings. When I say I was showered with gifts, I’m not exaggerating. The biggest surprise about turning 50 … I realized how truly loved I am and how my presence impacts those I love. A half-century of life on this planet played out before me in the hearts of my friends and family.
Throughout my life, I’ve longed to have a passion. I’ve seen people who were artists or passionate about causes or their careers, and I just never felt I really had a passion. When I was 51, a young friend encouraged me to blog. And, I started a blog called Midlife Moments. From the minute I started writing, I have felt that writing is my calling. I love it. It is a creative outlet for me, and it helps me in my quest for helping others grow. I’ve spent lots of time in personal and spiritual growth seminars, workshops and support groups because of various life issues, and I’ve learned a lot. I share that through my writing. I know people who taught me a long the way through their writing, and it was company for me when I felt very alone. I want to be that for others. It’s a way of paying back, and I’ve begun to accept the fact that I may have a gift for doing it. I know I have a gift for teaching, and I teach a lot in my writing – as long as I keep it about myself and don’t preach. I don’t have anyone else’s answers. I just have mine.
I have more joy in my life since I’ve turned 50 than I ever had. I think a large part of it is I have relinquished any expectations that I have of who I should be. I used to think that I had to be part of a successful, happy couple in order to be okay. That didn’t work out for me, and, honestly, I wasn’t happy with that formula. Once I embraced being single as an acceptable way of life, I am free. I follow my heart. If I want to do something, I go do it. Writing makes it fun for me to explore new areas and try new adventures. I feel like I’m taking my friends with me when I go ride around the country with my dog and then share it with my readers. I don’t have to have physical company. I have the company of readers. For me, I find joy in the simple beauty of the outdoors, the complexity of people and relationships and love in all its possible forms.
I love being in my 50s because I feel like these are the best years of my life. I feel free to be who I am without judgment. From the work I’ve done on myself, I am free to say no to things I don’t want and yes to the things I do. I’ve had enough experiences to know that things just turn out the way they should no matter what happens, so I don’t have the fear and anxiety that I had in my younger years. I’ve picked up the tools that I need to live in my body happily – nutrition that is right for me, massage, acupuncture, fellow travelers and yoga – and I know how and when to use them. I feel like I’ve finally written the owner’s manual for me. All of those years that I struggled and fought and worked through stuff have paid off. And having an owner’s manual for me really allows me to tell others in my life what I need. If I can be honest about that, that’s a good start for any relationship.
Thanks for reading my story, and I appreciate being asked to write a little about turning 50. If you want to read more about me, please stop by Midlife Moments Blog and say hi. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration or a few laughs there.