Monday, August 10, 2009

Dancing Toward 50: The Beginning Steps

When I turned 26, I cried. I recall feeling hopelessly old, the best years of my life behind me. I worked for an international non-profit organization, had spent two months living in London, and had just had a nonfiction book published. Heady stuff for a girl practically straight from the farm. I also weighed 105 pounds and had a tiny black miniskirt and spike heels. Ah, those were the days.

Twenty-six was nearly half my lifetime ago. I should have worn that black miniskirt every day. If only we could know at 26 what our lives would be at 49. But it's better that we can't see what's around that curve in the road.

So here I am, 159 days away from turning 50. It's a much bigger deal than the 26th birthday. I was a first-time mom with a collicky baby at 30, so hardly had time to shower, let alone consider my mortality. When I turned 40 I was a busy working mom/soccer mom/ballet mom and barely looked up long enough to realize that another decade had passed.

When I turned 49 in January, I felt the weight of 50 pressing down on me, a neon light blinking "She's turning 50!"--as sure as the hot flashes that make me throw off my covers in the middle of the night. Suddenly I felt as if I had been so busy taking care of everybody else, that I'd completely forgotten to take care of me--and now I'm definitely middle age.

Since my 26th birthday, I have:
  • been a supportive wife
  • raised two fantastic children
  • eaten more excellent chocolate than I care to admit
  • gained 75+ pounds (see the chocolate entry above)
  • watched a parent die of lung cancer, helped my sister through breast cancer, and dealt with my own skin cancer
  • owned my own business for five years--and lost it
  • written hundreds of press releases
  • traveled the Pacific Northwest and the West, mostly via camping
  • have watched journalism (my profession) and the world--change dramatically
  • read dozens and dozens of novels--and wished I'd finish writing one

I still work in nonprofit communications, and spend my days writing press releases, Web text and learning how to communicate with 21st century tools like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. But looking 50 straight in the eye made me realize that I've spent my life writing words that were for my livelihood, not for my own edification.

I began to feel that I was careening wildly out of control toward 50--and it wasn't pretty. I began making a list of "50 things to do before I reach 50." Some things are enormous things. Like finally finish writing a novel. Some things are smaller baby steps, like drink more water instead of Diet Pepsi. Some are tiny things, but new things I'm just learning to do, like sitting on the porch drinking an iced tea and enjoying my lavender hedge.

Since turning 49, I've done some new things just for me. And I've come to see that I've had a great 49 years, but so many exciting adventures lie ahead. On my computers at work and at home, I have a photo of a gorgeous Greek village as my wallpaper. Since turning 49:

I joined a book group
I am spending more time with friends
I am learning to let the laundry wait if I can have some fun instead
today I finally started a blog--for me and other women embarking on 50
and someday I am going to Greece!

So if you dare, join me on this journey...this dance toward 50. Let's dance together!

1 comment:

  1. Your strength is shining through Sue! Can't wait to read more!