It’s coming. Like fall follows summer, day follows night and gas follows bean burritos. My 50th birthday is creeping closer, just a month and change away.
Not upset about wrinkles. Not worried about gray hair. The reason this birthday shakes me up is the fact that, in spite of what people call this time of life, I am not middle-aged. I may, if I’m fortunate, live to be 80 (although my mom didn’t make it much past 60). 80 seems pretty common these days. Hence, it makes sense that my 40th birthday didn’t faze me. In fact my second child was only a month old when I celebrated my 40th. That was middle age. But here I am turning 50 and it is probable that I have far fewer days ahead than behind.
Hill. Me. Over it.
Yes, I know. Sally sunshine, here. But I’m not feeling gloomy. Au contraire.
For my birthday I want nothing. Truly. No party. No gifts. I don’t need things (OK, I hate the couch I’m sitting on, but you get what I mean).
What I really want is to be a kinder human. A more attentive listener. A more patient parent. A more tolerant wife. A more thoughtful friend. Complain less. I want to be able to let go of trivial things that bother and cling to me and not give a damn about my hair.
My unruly, almost 50-year-old, hormones are going to make all of these goals, on certain days, feel as unattainable as the summit of Annapurna, but god, I really, really want to give it my best shot.
If I fail, well, let’s face it, most days I will, please forgive me and know that a person’s intent is often loftier than her actual ability.
However, here I am. 49 and 11/12ths. I feel, on good days, like I am living proof that we can do so much more than we think we can, that we all are stronger than we think we are. Use action words. Show don’t tell. That’s how I want to live and intend to continue living for as long as I can.
This year has been rife with challenges not of my choosing and yet I have served myself some extra spoonfuls. I work full-time, have two young boys, a husband and a dad who requires lots of help. However, this fall, I returned to graduate school (Education Technology – I love this stuff) and am officially releasing my 4th album on 10/20 (albeit a 6 song EP with one cover song, but still!) with a full-band gig!
Why am I writing this? Many people are uncomfortable talking about age. Heck, I do my best to stand up straight and moisturize, however, I am not afraid of getting older. I should be so fortunate as to see my children grow all the way up into men. And all that crap about “50 is the new 40,” “it’s just a number” and “you don’t LOOK 50” is just that. Crap. 50 isn’t just a number. It isn’t 40 or 27 (why is that such a nice number?). It is a specific number in a finite number of years that we are given. I am not afraid (well, maybe just a little), so don’t feel the need to placate me. I’m pretty OK with 50. In fact I am profoundly grateful for it.
The songs on my new EP, “Firefly in a Jar“ were a means of coming to terms with some of this turning 50 stuff. Letting go, reaching out and accepting inevitable change. Recording this album was a first big step. After over a decade of numbing silence and feeling powerless, this album is the sound of a window opening.
So, almost happy birthday to me! And to all of you, whatever age you are, try, try to remember, life is the gift.
Love, love, love to you.
p.s. Below is my home-spun video of “Here” written for my boys. I’m not a particularly wise woman, but I’ve learned a thing or two. This is me sharing the thing or two. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch over my boys when I’m gone, although I’ve felt as though my mother watches over me at times. Hopefully, this song, this video will serve as my virtual loving ghost. Is that a thing? I think it’s a thing.