By Lori Welch Brown
When I was in my forties, I kept hearing women say, “When I hit fifty, that is when life started,” or “At fifty, I really came into myself.” All good, positive things, right? My 40s weren’t bad, give or take an open-heart surgery to correct two blocked arteries. I was humming along. I didn’t mind turning 50—especially since we planned a trip to Italy to celebrate.
After sipping Prosecco in Florence, I came home and celebrated with back-to-back hip replacements. What? I’m only 50! No one mentioned joint replacements!
Other things they didn’t mention:
- Chin hairs
- Poise panty liners replacing tampons
- Restaurants being SOOOO dark
- Parents stop offering gas money
- People asking ME to borrow money like I’m the adult or something
- Having to scroll so far down on forms to find my birth year
- Everyone has their heat up so high I have to wear my bathing suit year round
But, I made it to my 50s so there’s that which is cause for celebration, as many I know didn’t. A little fact that I praise God in gratitude for every day. Chin hairs, be damned! They represent growth—and growth only happens to the living! And yes, I pee when I laugh, but hey—at least I have something to laugh about.
I did have the misconception that relationships would get easier. Turns out that people are still people, and relationships require work at any age. The more important the relationship, the more we need to roll up our sleeves. Of course, middle age does bring about an awareness of time—or the lack thereof. The clock is ticking which allows us to be more discerning in who or what we put our time and energy into. If you’re going to put your energy into a relationship, it has to be worth it over the long haul and satisfy you on a cellular level. A lesson that took me a few decades to learn is that some people can’t be fixed and/or won over so you may need to move on. In those instances, the best you can do is back out of the room (or relationship) as gracefully as possible and then RUN as fast as you can while thanking God for getting you out alive—or at least with as few emotional bruises as possible. I’ve always loved the adage that people enter your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I’ve definitely met a lot of ‘reason’ and ‘season’ people whom I tried to keep in my life longer than was meant to be. Unfortunately, the harder I grasped, the more pain it caused. Let’s face it—some people, no matter how much we want them to like/love us, just aren’t capable of reciprocating and/or meeting our needs. There are a lot of broken people out there, and I’ve learned that while I love to help others, I can’t fix everyone. Time to move on.
For me, staying positive also requires some heavy lifting. Sadly, I’m not one of those people (you know who you are) who wake up with a song on their lips. I roll out of bed, head straight to the coffee pot, and pray I don’t run into anyone along the way. After a cup of coffee, I write or meditate for a bit to get my mojo in check. It’s my way of coaxing myself into a positive mindset for the day. I like to at least start the day thinking I am in control of my energy. Negativity and toxicity may be all around us, but I get to choose what I filter out and what I allow in. I choose positivity, and am starting to embrace a zero tolerance policy for all the Eeyores out there who want to rain on my parade and/or drag me down to their level.
When I hit 50, I got serious about time management. As a result, I decided I didn’t have time for drama. Managing my day is about energy—where and how to spend it. I have goals and dreams I’m pursuing, laundry that needs to be folded, a fridge that requires stocking, and meals that aren’t going to cook themselves. Nowhere in that list is there room for OPD (Other People’s Drama) which is a bigger time suck than social media and much less enjoyable.
My 50s have afforded me blessings that I didn’t have in my 20s, 30s, and 40s such as the ability to pursue my passions of writing and art. I’ve earned a paycheck since I was 15, so it’s nice to be able to take a break to focus on my own dreams vs. someone else’s which I did (and enjoyed) for many, many years. Who knows? Maybe one day my writing and art will open a new career path that I never imagined. Or, maybe I’ll get my yoga certification and teach or learn how to make fancy coffee drinks at some cool cafe. The world is my oyster.
I am also blessed with richer relationships. I may have fewer people in my life, but through life’s difficult lessons, I’ve learned not to take them for granted as they might not be around tomorrow. Age may not bring celebrity or Porsches, but it does bring the wisdom that those things don’t bring you happiness.
As I turn the corner into the fourth year of my 50s, I am determined to cut myself a little more slack. I can be awfully hard on me, and I deserve better. And—to give myself a little more credit where credit is due. Damn it—I am still rockin’ it. I biked ten miles on the stationary bike yesterday, and managed to stay awake to the end of Dateline. #killingit
Seems like wherever you look there are all these young, smart people rising up among the ranks. They are discovering, inventing and pushing boundaries that seemed unimaginable. It’s hard not to get intimidated, but I still have a voice and some value to bring to the table. And, maybe the most important lesson of middle age is that there is truly room for everyone at the table so long as they leave their negativity and toxicity at the door. Crazy, right?
Middle age can be maddening, but with some tweezers, extra light, and the right people in your life, it can also be maddeningly beautiful.