Monday, July 28, 2014

Fifty Year Old Toes

Fifty and nine year old toes!
I divulged my age in yesterday’s post and shared how I’ve been intent on becoming comfortable in my fifty year old skin!  In the week between my actual birthday and my birthday party earlier this month, I gradually shifted from feeling unsettled about this new decade to feeling a calmer acceptance, and by party time, feeling ready to celebrate being a fifty year old birthday girl!  The thoughts that crossed my mind during this shift…
There wasn’t a “poof” moment when I magically became someone else at fifty, and of course, I’m still and always will be me!  Although we cannot control growing older, we can control, to some extent, how we age with healthy lifestyles, young spirits and open minds.
Much of the focus in my life now – love, inspiration, nature, creativity, gratitude, compassion, mindfulness…these are all youthful “elixirs” for the heart and soul.  The more we fill our lives with what’s most important, the more sprightly our minds and bodies feel!
I have always approached and appreciated friendships and acquaintances for the connections, shared interests, aspirations and values and the wonderful sparks that ignite when meeting kindred spirits, regardless of age.  My friends range in age from their twenties to their eighties, and I love the diversity of perspectives, stories and energies that emerge from interacting with all ages. 
Young children can help us maintain a youthful outlook on life.  Their imagination, enthusiasm and curiosity can be inspiring and infectious when we slow down and pay attention.  My own daughter reminds me to view the world with a sense of wonder and possibility (when she’s not tiring me out in other ways!)  Volunteering and working at her school, I spend time with other elementary-aged children who also remind me to be open and observant.
I’m inclined at times to take life too seriously and must allow myself to embrace fun and joy more often.  I was feeling (seriously!) guilty about splurging on the expense of the party earlier this month, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, a celebration I dreamed of creating, a gathering I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to pull off and a splurge that was modest in the grand scheme of things.  When out-of-town friends came into town early, my husband, daughter and I met them for dinner a couple nights before the party, and I immediately felt (and finally gave myself permission to feel) liberated to savor the fun and joy and to settle into a wonderful state of gratitude for my friends traveling long distance to join in on the celebration.  Once this door opened, the weekend flowed through easily and the party itself was a “dream come true.”  Fun, joy, celebration...these, too, are youthful “elixirs!”
Sometimes remaining young at heart is simply about enjoying silly, fluffy, fun indulgences.  I found a few very inexpensive clothing options for the party and consulted my husband and daughter for their input.  They helped me narrow the options down to a couple selections, then encouraged me to consider a wardrobe change between afternoon and evening to accommodate both outfits.  I took their advice, and although out of character, I indulged in wearing both outfits!  I also invited my daughter to choose a nail polish color for me to paint my toes, and her choice was a glittery blue.  Fifty year old toes in glittery blue?!  Why not?!  Meanwhile, her nine year old toes were polished in a sophisticated pale pink!  Silly, fluffy...lighthearted fun!
Whenever I start to feel anxious about aging, I need only think about my glittery blue fifty year old toes, smile and take a deep breath! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Entering A New Decade

Me in my first decade!

Earlier this month, I turned fifty…yep, the big 50!  As I faced my 50th birthday, I experienced different attitudes and emotions ranging from denial and dread to tentative receptiveness to gratitude.  I challenged myself as to why I was feeling so intimidated by this milestone birthday?  One part of me has, of course, been deeply grateful to have emerged from my cancer experience, alive and well and able to focus on creating a “new and improved” life for myself, while another part of me, at an admittedly more superficial level, has been uncomfortable with growing older and aging.  As my birthday neared, I was determined to reach some level of acceptance with entering a new decade, if not to embrace, then to at least “hold hands” and try to connect with my 50 year old self.  I am happy to report that three weeks into my fifties, I’ve made this connection!  My stepping stones to getting here?  I’ll share them this week (as I try, yet again, to blog more consistently!)  The first step was “outside the box” of my typical low key birthdays.  I quietly celebrated with my husband and daughter on the actual day, but a week later, I threw myself a “dream come true” party, celebrating with a gathering of 18 women at a local hotel.  Following is an excerpt from my party invitation in which I shared with my guests some initial thoughts on turning fifty.

Why celebrate turning 50, I asked myself.  As my answer unfolded, I realized how tremendously blessed and grateful I am that there is much to celebrate at this milestone. 

A celebration of…

Life - - - being a survivor and awakening a deeper passion for living each day more fully

Dreams transformed into realities - - - finally becoming who I want to be “when I grow up”

Creativity - - - liberating my creative spirit to flow through daily life’s work and play

Beauty - - - in a moment or discovery, by the sea, along a trail, in the garden, in the arts

Love - - - in wonderful abundance

Community - - - feeling a strong connection to the women in my life with whom I find inspiration, encouragement and empowerment, feeling connected to you

From this last answer emerged my idea for a party.  I’ve long envisioned a dream day of gathering together favorite women from different branches of my life to enjoy meaningful and memorable camaraderie.  So, I asked myself again, why celebrate turning 50?  Because by doing so, this dream can come true! 

And this dream did indeed come true!  The first stepping stones into a new decade?  Enter with love and in a spirit of fun, enjoy with good company and continue to follow your dreams!