Turning 50 was never something I was looking forward to. In fact it was something that I was avoiding all together, but turning 49 changed all that. I suddenly felt this tidal wave of dread. I was a year away from 50, and that sounded…..OLD? BAD? NOT ME?! I went into a panic. I started thinking of all the things I hadn’t done. It was like someone had given me some kind of death sentence. I started to feel a deep sense of FAILURE but I wasn’t sure why.
I started to explore my feelings about turning 50, and what it would take to be happy about it. Couldn’t it be a good thing? Something to be joyful about? I thought of friends who had turned 50, some of them happily, but most of them very unhappily. Some of them wanted this milestone birthday to quietly go by, like hiding from it was going to make it feel better or at least untrue. I was not about to hide it, I wanted to celebrate it. I made a decision then and there I was going to turn 50 like a Boss Babe.
I took a hard look at everything. I imagined myself turning 50 and what I would be upset about not doing, not having, but most of all, not BEING as I hit this milestone. I wanted to feel proud of myself. I realized that in many ways I was not living my best version of me. My first step? Hiring a personal trainer.
My weight had been steadily and slowly increasing over the last 20 years, I had fallen in and out of eating well and working out. I realized more than being overweight and unhealthy I felt weak. As you age sleeping the wrong way or bending over can cause you pain and injury! I was not going to be one of those people constantly talking about my ailments. I got an expert to come and assess the damage.
I was shocked to learn I was borderline obese, a health risk. I was stunned. I was a size 12, not a size 22, and yet my Body Mass Index (B-M-I) was B-A-D. I was in the danger zone. I became instantly depressed. I was out of shape and disappointed in myself but I began my workout journey. I changed my diet and held myself accountable.
My next focus was on my family relationships. I had a toxic relationship that had been plaguing me for years. There was nothing I could do, nothing I hadn’t tried, to make it work. It was eating away at my emotions, self worth and worse, stealing my time and focus. I imagined myself turning 50 and STILL dealing with this dynamic. I made a decision to let it go. To admit it was not going to work. It was incredibly freeing, I put the focus back on to myself.
Around this time I was also in between jobs. I had been thinking about starting a podcast. I met an amazing woman who helped people develop and launch podcasts. I hired her and imagined myself at 50, podcasting and interviewing guests. It was a hard process, a lot of technical aspects and learning. I made a lot of mistakes, like not hitting record, publishing things that were not ready, and doing interviews that were not great and needed to be redone. I hit major roadblocks, like when apple took weeks to approve my podcast and even rejected it a couple of times. I had moments when I asked myself who do you think you are? Who wants to listen to you? But I kept picturing myself succeeding and I kept going. The months were going by and I was closing in on 50.
I thought about how I wanted to celebrate my birthday. I weighed all the options. A big party, a small intimate gathering, a family party….but nothing seemed right. What I really loved was travel. I loved our vacations and often never wanted to come home. I started thinking about what it would be like to totally immerse myself in a culture. To stay a month and really experience life in another country. I decided on Italy and started planning my trip. I started saving, I researched, hired a travel agent, rented villas, and started learning Italian with the whole family. Everything was falling into place…..
Then the pandemic hit.
The first place it hit of course was Italy. I started to deflate. I had now been working out for months, and I was seeing results and gaining strength. My podcast was delayed again and now Italy was looking like an impossibility. My 50th was now a little over a month away.
After two weeks of moping and confusion, I pivoted. I rolled my Italy reservations to 2021. I got rid of my trainer but kept the workouts and healthy eating going. I started recording interviews with incredible women I admired. Hearing their stories of resilience gave me the motivation to continue on. I decided to be a Warrior. To just keep fighting for my own happiness.
I thought about what I would do on my actual birthday now what restaurants were closed. I ordered a new outfit, a pink jumpsuit, which would look great now that I had lost a few pounds.
I ordered lobsters and steaks to arrive on my birthday to have a fabulous birthday dinner at home. I set the table with fine china, silver, candles and framed pictures. I decided I wanted to be in bed in pajamas all day until my birthday dinner. I wanted to watch some trashy TV and just be lazy for the day.
On the day of my 50th I was nervous. It was finally happening. I had a family zoom party the night before with toasts that were meaningful and creative. My friends showed up and surprised me with a parade of cars around my neighborhood. Over 50 wonderful friends showed up from every stage of my life. I had friends drive in from other states just to show how much I meant to them. A friend set up an English tea on my front lawn. Another friend sent a hot pink six foot high heel made of balloons. I was blown away.
I sat down to dinner with my family, ate lobster, and had gifts and toasts from my kids and husband. I was happy. I had done it. I had turned 50 and felt wonderful about it. Looking back on that 49th year, I realize how I set myself up for success. I showed up for myself. I continue to be a work in progress as I head towards 51, but I’m really proud of turning 50 like a Boss Babe.