Who knew I was so well adjusted about turning half a century.
It is fitting my first blog on my very own/first ever blogsite should be about my turning 50 years old and where I am in my life now. Further, I am upcycling this blog post that I originally wrote four years ago for author Meredith Schorr's blog because I was then contemplating when I would turn 50 in four years. (And also because I am swamped/overwhelmed trying to build a website that looks like the professional I believe I am and upcycling is a viable alternate to me writing the same but marginally different content. Don't judge.)
So here we are... It's been four years. And I am standing on the edge now, looking to the other side of half a century and I confess, I feel the same. I still might hyperventilate if I dwell on the number. Or at least get that tight, squeezy feeling I have been experiencing these last few years when in confined spaces.
I used to think that age was but a number. And that really, if I was satisfied with my life, happy with who I was with, what I was doing, where I was…then getting older was no big deal. That was when I was 25. Newly married to a dashing naval officer and had recently re-invented myself to navy wife from a chipper, efficient flight attendant, and before that, a glory seeking pageant winner/wannabe model/college co-ed. But before I had re-invented myself many more times. Small business woman. Mother. Artist. Campaigner. Book reviewer. Book publicity manager. And book editor. Regardless, I know for a fact that 25-year-old Christina would have thought a 50-year-old was old. Definitely old. Not ancient but certainly middle age.
So back to the big 5-0. It scares the hell out of me! There. I said it. Mostly because I recognize the new lines on my face and increasing number of greying hairs as surely proof of my own mortality. And damn, if each new birthday doesn’t mean Death is sneaking closer. Scary thought indeed. Thankfully my favorite aesthetician reminded me a few birthdays back that I should wear my age like a badge and that each line or grey hair is really an indication of the growth and achievement, regardless of breadth. (Bless her heart. Obviously she is also very good at an hour’s worth of rejuvenating my soul as she expertly sands those lines off my face.)
I used to read the obituaries while having my morning cuppa and found I was morbidly fascinated about those strangers’ lives, regardless of how big or small a mark they left. (Another sign of aging when I started reading the obits.) I was struck with how one of the dearly departed was described as having “completed his 80th trip around the sun.” What an exciting sentiment! Each year, an adventure around the sun. I had become so enchanted with that idea that now when I wish someone happy birthday, I prefer to congratulate on successfully completing another trip around the sun.
I wish I was always as confident about growing old gracefully as I endeavor to appear. Alas, there seems to be so much left on my Bucket List, and while checking things off of my Daily Task Lists and often feeling subjected to the schedule alerts on my iPhone, I wonder if I am making progress towards any of those #BucketList items. With grim thoughts like that, it doesn’t take much to start identifying with the Fanny Price character in the Mansfield Park 1999 movie, “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” Mostly that’s just on dreary, blustery days as we anticipate spring. So I do what I would tell my kids when they were not headstrong teenagers, go outside. Get some fresh air. And as I breathe deeply, despite a near constant cover of clouds and rain this time of year, I start to relax here in the lush, verdant Pacific Northwest. Take another cathartic breath. And it doesn’t take long before I am reminded of all the blessings that indeed fill me up. Soon all those niggling thoughts about schedule alerts start to come into perspective. Usually in a little while, I am feeling more patient, more generous, and more energized. Not old at all.
As fifty looms near, I confess I may not be comfortable with the idea of aging (though I am strongly against the alternative), I am hopeful by the prospect of another adventure around the sun. And with any luck, 50 more trips. I must remember to stop, take a breath, and count my daily blessings. Because when I am 100, wouldn’t it be a shame to reflect how my younger self worried about all the wrong things?
(These photos were from May 2017 when I visited Chatsworth House and came upon bluebells carpeting Stand Wood near the hunting tower. The other is from a walk through wild garlic in the woods above the village of Cromford, Derbyshire.)