Happy Birthday to me!
As I celebrate my 50-1 birthday (may as well get used to saying it!), I thought I would pause for a moment and share a few thoughts on approaching 50 and the many things which cause me to welcome 50 instead of shunning it or trying to hide it by lying about my age. So….to set the record straight….today I am turning 49 years old….one year away from the big milestone of 50…..and I’m not afraid to say it! 🙂 No, I’m not a fan of some of the physical consequences of aging, but I am happier, more content, more comfortable in my own skin than any of the previous 49 years. I figure I’m just going to keep getting better….so 50, bring it on!
Loving Middle Age!
What I love about being this age is that I don’t ever have to go back to the challenges of adolescence, the pain of puberty and the difficult lessons we all have to learn (mostly through trial and error) in our twenties. Yes, during those years, there was fun to be had, but since I came out of the womb as an adult, those were trying times. I didn’t understand the meanness of teenage girls (and I still don’t….neither do I understand those that never outgrow it) and let’s face it, teenage boys are not so interested in smart, courageous, strong young women. Those were tough years. College was better, but there were other difficult lessons to be learned there.
With Age Comes Wisdom
What I also love about being almost fifty is that with age has come wisdom. I’ve been through the life and death of a marriage and the resulting fallout. I’ve successfully parented two amazing children into their teenage years (we still have a way to go!). I’ve come to know who I am – my gifts as well as my challenges. I’ve become well-acquainted with my shadow and have come to accept the parts of myself I used to loathe and detest. While it’s not perfect……it’s a long way from where I used to be.
Healthy, Intimate Relationships
One of the things for which I am most grateful at almost fifty is that I am learning how to cultivate healthy intimacy and through this learning, have developed some really deep, meaningful friendships. I am so grateful for the men and women I love who love me in return – mostly without condition (we’re all human after all). I am more able to name and claim my needs and to allow space for them to do the same. I feel more comfortable addressing conflict and working with another in finding a way through it. These are tools I did not possess even in my 30’s when the more common response would be to “cut and run,” while holding an eternal grudge.
What Got Me Here?
What is it that got me to this place of gratitude instead of despair over being almost 50? Carl Rogers, the father of Humanist Psychology suggests that each of us has within us an inherent drive toward our greatest potential, and that when given a safe space, and the proper tools, this potential finds its realization naturally. I agree with these sentiments and have found this to be true for myself. The safe place began in my childhood where I was loved by two parents and where all my needs were provided for. I’m not saying my childhood was perfect – whose is? But, we always knew we were loved, that we would have a roof over our head, food on our table and shoes on our feet and that we had a safe place to land. As children, we were given a lot of freedom to explore and more freedom than many to be who God made us to be. Our parents supported our hopes and our dreams and encouraged our pursuit of them. In my adulthood, I continued this exploration and actively sought out (actually was COMPELLED to seek out) support toward this end. In this search, there are a few things I give credit for being instrumental in helping me to feel at ease with being almost fifty:
- Discovering, cultivating and maintaining a daily spiritual practice.
- Discovering, cultivating and maintaining a creativity practice (which for me is mostly writing but takes many forms).
- Meeting regularly with both a Spiritual Director and Psychotherapist.
- Discovering and embracing wellness practices which nourish, support and rebalance me (reiki, massage, healthy food choices, yoga).
- The cultivation and maintenance of healthy intimate friendships.
- Discovering and cultivating meaningful work which gives me a sense of purpose while serving the betterment of the world.
- On-going learning opportunities.
- The discovery of Authentic Freedom
Confronting and Overcoming Fear
I can take absolutely no credit for the creation of Authentic Freedom as a protocol for self-actualization, except that I was open to receiving this tool and agreed to sharing it with others. Through the process of having Authentic Freedom revealed to me, I found a profound tool for healing myself and for helping others find healing. Authentic Freedom, more than anything else, gave me one rule by which I try to live my life:
Never make a decision based in fear!
Fear, I learned, is what keeps us small and holds us prisoner within the ego, our past hurts and our false perceptions. If we desire peace, love and joy in our lives, and if we want a life which has meaning and purpose and which gives us a sense of fulfillment – then we have to stop letting fear rule our lives. Authentic Freedom gave me the tools to identify the fears which were holding me prisoner and gave me effective tools for transcending and in some cases, even releasing, these fears. When I realized the power in this tool, I could not help but want to share it with others….which is exactly what I have been doing for the past 10+ years.
Next Year 50? Bring it on!
So, in conclusion – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. The past 49 years have given me an opportunity to enjoy the fullness of the human condition and through this I have found knowledge, wisdom and growth. I trust the next 50 years will only provide more of the same!