“Age should be counted in levels instead of years. It’s much cooler to reach Level 50 than to turn 50 years old.” – Random Pinterest meme

Leveling up to Level 50

Although I probably should not take advice from a random Pinterest meme, I prefer this sentiment to all of the doom and gloom whining I hear about hitting the big five-oh.

I level up to Level 50 on 2/20/2020.

Seems like a portentous date. Very karmic and momentous. This story might be cooler if I was a young fresh-faced 19 and a half years old about to turn 20 on 2/20/2020. But a younger me would not have all of my battle-won scars, wrinkles and wisdom.

In any case, I’m working on Level 50. I sprang into existence at the tail end of the sixties. Think bell bottoms, counterculture, Vietnam War protests and Richard Nixon. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Hippies were dancing, smoking and making love not war at Woodstock as Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and the Grateful Dead rocked on. I was a mere spark making my mother puke and suffer swollen ankles.

I’m part of Gen X, sandwiched between those former hippie Baby Boomers and the much-maligned Millennials. 

I find myself at 49 and a half years old unmoored and staring into the void of my future.

It’s a time to take stock, figure out what is next and how to build the life I want. I considered a full-blown mid-life crisis with buying a red sports car, joining a commune or moving to Tibet. But I don’t need that much speed and flash and would die of boredom with too little action. I guess I’m a somewhere-in-between person just looking for a bit of mid-life clarity.

Instead, I think I’ll try finding the humor in life as I level up to Level 50.

Super Cattywampus Doll

Leveling up with humor is like making a Mario Kart 180-degree hairpin turn on two wheels with the engine squealing. My last few years have been rough, and I’ve been walloped like a paper doll sucked into a hurricane. Life’s been spinning me around and around and shredding me to bits. There were days that I thought the storm would shred me even beyond the salvation of super-strength Scotch tape.

Over the course of two years, my family waded through an unprecedented flood, moved twice, lost my father after a hard-fought cancer battle, had two surgeries, sent a son to college, did house renovations and had a major career change. Whew – makes me tired all over again just thinking about it.

Right now, I think the hurricane has passed – hopefully this is the other side and not just the eye of the storm. As I cautiously poke my head up to evaluate my life, I find something surprising.

It turns out that I’m not a doll made of paper. I’m tougher than that! I am made of sharp plastic clam-shell packaging. You know it – the type that covers your new power cord and razor blades. It resists scissors, screwdrivers and blow torches. Finally, after 36 cuss words and three scratches later, you get puncture one small section of the plastic and wiggle your object through the sharp-edged gap. I am a plastic clam-shell doll complete with some sharp edges, a strong will and some scratched and cattywampus parts.

If I need a superhero name as I level up to Level 50, I could be Super Cattywampus Doll. Hmmm…maybe that name needs some work.

This I know

At Level 50 and beyond I want to enjoy life more – I plan to be up to my eyeballs in adventures, laughter and happiness. I intend to break a few rules, try some stuff I’ve been too busy to do and maybe shock a few people.

I will not go gently into the next half of my life. I intend to go noisily, happily and spreading joy to others. I will share my laughs and observations through writing and maybe find a few kindred souls along the way.

Presuming I don’t get run over by the proverbial bus, I still have close to half my life left. I plan to embrace the adventure. I want people around me to ask in benign confusion ‘What is she up to now?’.

If you care to laugh along with me, or maybe you are a kindred spirit, join me.

It is time to touch up my grays, adjust my bifocals and find the humor in life.


  • Ann Howell

    Executive Coach

    Howell Leadership Science

    I write about research-supported workplace topics and improving workplaces. I'm also experimenting with humor writing in my Level 50 Life series. Be warned - this is an experiment, and explosions, or at least bad jokes, could occur at any time.