As many of you know, I turned fifty this year. I didn’t really blog about it at the time — what with social media these days, most of my celebrating, and the pics of the big 5oth bash I threw for myself, happened over on Facebook, so I didn’t write a blog post specifically about reaching that milestone when I hit it in September. But yeah, I’ve been alive for half a century, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.
One thing I’ve commented on several times this year — including at my birthday party, bringing tears to a few eyes when everyone was supposed to be celebrating happily — is that it’s hard to reach 50 without thinking of the people you’ve lost along the way. Of course I think of the people from the generations ahead of me, like my mom and my Aunt Gertie, who I wish were still here. But what really gets me are the friends of my own generation who I thought I would grow old with. My friend Jamie, who never made it even close to his 50th birthday. My dear college friend Linda, who turned 50 already fighting the cancer that would take her life at 51.
Just this year, while I’ve celebrated turning 50, I saw one friend cope with the sudden loss of his beloved wife, still in her 40s. I’ve seen another friend of my own age wrestle with a frightening cancer diagnosis. Nothing is guaranteed, especially not long life.
So I will never be one of those people and complain about “Oh, poor me, I’m turning fifty, I’m going to get wrinkles and my neck will look weird!” I am so, so grateful for every year I am given to spend with family and friends, and having fifty of them is AMAZING. Anything more … will be awesome.
Earlier this year I posted a manifesto about turning fifty and, looking back at it, I feel like I have pretty much lived according to the guidelines I set for myself when I was forty-nine, and hope to keep living that way.
While I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, I did have a few goals I wanted to accomplish in the year I turned 50. Not exactly “bucket list” items, but things that made me say, “Hey, girl, you are turning half a century old, so why wait around to do that thing you’ve been thinking about?” Some of my goals were private and some are goals I could share here on the blog. None of them were exciting things, like “I’m going to climb Mount Everest” or “I’m going to swim with dolphins.” But some of my goals were:
- Help my church start a hot-meal program for hungry people. We did this! I had been thinking about it for a couple of years, but the impetus of saying “I’m gonna turn 50 this year and I believe this is important!” is what inspired me to get the ball rolling. Fortunately some great people came on board and our small but successful program is going well.
- Plan an event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of women in Newfoundland winning the right to vote. I’ve been interested in the history of women’s suffrage since researching A Sudden Sun, and I thought it would be a great event to be involved with. So after teaming up with the provincial Status of Women Council — yeah, we did that thing back in April.
- Release my novel What You Want as a self-published book. Yeah, I know those of you who follow my blog are sick of hearing about this, but it was important to me. I’d been toying with the idea for years, and I really wanted to give it a try. Again, knowing 2015 was my turning-50 year inspired me to get it done. Was it successful? Mixed results, I’d say. I got the e-book out but not the paperback (still hoping to make that happen before I turn 51). Sales were … not impressive. It’s hard to market a self-published ebook! But I got the book out there, some people enjoyed reading it, and I learned a lot. I’m glad I did it.
- Surprise my husband with an anniversary trip to Quebec City. We did this! And I kept it a surprise from him until the day before we were leaving. It was a great getaway weekend and it also included a long train ride, which is one of my very favourite things.
- Pay more attention to nutrition and fitness. OK, I know eating better and exercising more is on everyone’s to-do list almost every year, but turning 50 has really made me focus on the fact that this is the body that has to take me though to old age and it’s very much in my interest to have it in optimal working condition. My success with this goal is hard to measure because this is not the kind of area where you can say, “I did it!” or “I didn’t!” There’s always room for improvement. But I am paying a lot more attention to what I’m eating and what’s in it, and I had a great time out hiking on the East Coast Trail this spring, summer and fall — though I still struggle with how to get enough exercise in the horrible months of winter. But there are lots more years ahead after fifty to keep working on that.
So, what do I want to do in the year I turn fifty-one?
And would it be wise to share my goals on my blog?? Probably not!
Whatever goals you have this year, whatever age you’re turning — I hope you’re inspired to shoot for a few of your dreams, whether big ones or small ones. A birthday is an arbitrary marker you can use to motivate yourself — but so is anything else you might choose. The year your kid turns 18. Your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Whatever makes you say, “Hey, as I’m hitting this milestone, it’s time to get moving on that thing I’ve always wanted to do.” And enjoy the ride.