Turning 50! A milestone for sure! ….
This milestone birthday has me thinking about what turning 50 really means to me. Well, first it means , of course the obvious…I’m getting older! But as I reflect about moving into the next decade of my life what else does it mean to me? Aside from seeing lots of changes in my body, a bit more weight, a ton more gray hair, a few more wrinkles around my eyes, and other physical changes that remind me time is going by, this milestone birthday has me thinking about each decade that’s passed and the experiences that have helped to make me the 50 year old woman I am today . Reflecting on such things always adds even more appreciation for each little moment in-between with the knowledge that each new day brings endless opportunities for learning, for growing and for experiencing the fullness of life.
Those earliest years of my life, before I began counting the passing decades my memories are those of a young girl lost in the needs and expectations of everyone around me. Somehow my early self didn’t really notice that she was there at all. Instead my focus was on pleasing the adults and working hard at being what I thought everyone wanted me to be. I somehow instinctively embraced the role of doing or saying or behaving in a manner in which I perceived would earn the love and acceptance I so dearly wanted. It wouldn’t be until late into the decade of my twenties that I began to realize I mattered and that I had a voice, one I wanted to make heard.
The decade of my twenties was one of awakenings brought on by unexpected hardships, painful , scary disappointments and heartache which managed to lead me to finding out just how strong and capable I really was! This was a pivotal decade for me. I finally began to realize I had way more power than I ever knew I possessed. I think just about every milestone that could happen in a lifetime seemed to take place in my late twenties. I got married in my twenties, I had a baby, bought a house, started my own business, got divorced, and went through the long and painful loss of my father, just to name the biggies. It seemed my journey really began to ramp up in my twenties. And during those years I discovered who I was and how strong I could be. Life for me as I got into my late twenties was about surviving and supporting myself and my daughter who turned 3 when I entered my thirties. But mostly this was for me a decade of awakening.
I was well on my way to focusing a lot of energy on finding me and embracing my power as this next decade began. My thirties was the decade of figuring out what I thought about life without anyone telling me what I ‘should’ think or believe. Life had given me an incredible opportunity to sink or swim. Finding myself alone raising a daughter, paying a huge mortgage and running a business as I grieved the loss of my father was not where I had thought I would ever be. But finding myself alone with so much responsibility really gave me the opportunity to stand firm and strong in this new realization that I was the boss of my own life and my destination was all up to me. One of the best things that came my way in my thirties was Scott. Having a life partner who supported my newly established quest to finding Holly was a pivotal moment in my life. He entered the picture right as I had firmly planted my feet on solid ground and was working hard at not losing myself again in a relationship, and he loved that about me. He wanted a partner who was independent and strong, not someone who would depend on him to define her. And that was exactly the type of partner I needed. My thirties were a good decade for me. I would say that my thirties was the decade when I began to really truly embrace my genuine self and had finally awakened to who I truly was. I was genuinely happy as my thirties progressed and then, screech……
Then my forties hit right about the time my daughter turned 13 and all hell broke lose again in my life. Ugh! This next decade taught me that I was not so good at raising a teenager, gulp! As a matter of fact, I hated it! I know, what a terrible thing to say about myself, but seriously, its not an over exaggeration… I was great at the younger years and the baby years…..ahhhhhh those were really wonderful. But…man, oh man…I tell ya when I think about that decade of my life and of my painful attempt at being the mom to a fiercely independent and rebellious teenage girl ….ugh…my stomach aches just remembering those terrible years. I shed more tears during those dark years of my daughters adolescence than any other time of my life. If what I believe is true, that hard times make you stronger…well, my forties were a time of incredible growth for me! To have survived that time of my life and still have my sanity, must mean that I’m a seriously strong person….yep! My forties also brought the beginning of our big life changing idea of expatriating. What began as a way of escaping the reality of raising a troubled teen turned into the biggest adventure of our lives. And…I should add that my daughter has grown into an amazing young woman who I’m incredibly proud of. Being there for her adolescent years was more painful than birthing her with no pain meds! But it’s been just as rewarding to see her metamorphosis into the successful, independent , kind, generous, honest and incredibly strong young woman she is today.
Another thing that happen for me in my forties was a huge milestone….retirement. I gave myself permission to call it quits and to leave a very rewarding 30 year career at 47 years old. I could write a book about the unending amount of lessons I learned from my years standing behind that styling chair. My career as a stylist has been one of the most wonderful experiences so far. It was 30 years of every type of personal reward anyone could ever hope to have from a career. It was not only financially rewarding but emotionally, socially , artistically and professionally rewarding. And thats just barely grazing over the surface of the many ways in which my life was enriched by all those years of long hours making people feel good about themselves.
The last three years of my forties living here in Panama have been a mixture of bittersweet goodbyes, incredibly exciting new beginnings and so many crazy transitions. Also a whole new and wonderful set of friends who are already family to me. All this along with the challenging task of re-defining myself and what I will do with this next new phase of my new life. I don’t like to write about this part much because I fear I’ll come across as whiny and it doesn’t really make for especially exciting reading. But, I suspect my quickly approaching 50’s are to be a time in my life for learning yet again who Holly is. Don’t think this is meant to be a statement of sadness and struggle…no! Just the opposite! I go up and down with my feelings these days, in part I blame this on hormones…hah! I get to use that one a lot these days…Thanks Menopause! But, to be honest in spite of fluctuating emotions about what my purpose is now that I no longer have a busy career to make me feel productive and successful, not a day goes by that I don’t look out my window at the start of a new day with a knowing sort of peace that ‘here’ is just where I should be right this minute.
I don’t know what my 50’s will look like but what I do know is that I’m excited to enter into them. At times I feel a bit untethered and wonder what I should be doing but at the same time I’ve never been more at peace with my path as I am right now. I think my 50’s will be a decade of embracing a life of intention. My hope for my 50 year old self is that my days are filled with living my life in a way that really lets me be genuine and that I will spend my days in this next decade doing things that make me happy and satisfied in new and wonderful ways that I don’t even know exist yet.
I don’t know about you, about what getting older means for you, but for me, I cringe when I hear people complain about aging. When there are so many people who aren’t blessed with the honor of aging, so many who’s lives are cut short, I guess I don’t really get why people would moan about the fact that we get the gift of another year of this life. All those changes Im noticing in my body are simple reminders of how lucky I am to still be here living this life, and not reasons to mourn the passing of time. It’s sad to me that we’ve all been culturally taught to believe that the physical signs of aging are “Bad” or somehow a sign of weakness, even unattractive. So often we do all we can to avoid looking ‘Old’…I’ve always found this to be so sad. I plan to look the age that I am. And to embrace new wrinkles , they’re signs that I’ve lived my life well. The smile lines, the frown lines the various areas that are being to ahem.. sag a bit, and the extra chin (haha! Well…okay, I could live without that!!) , Jeez, these physical changes all tell my story and in my mind should be celebrated not regretted . Of course..ahem… one of these days I’ll figure out how to get over my addiction to hair color….I blame this on those thirty years in the hair business, an addiction that’s not easily cured!
One truth that I’ve learned this far in my life is that I create my own reality with the thoughts I choose to embrace. If I wanted to focus my thoughts on my failures, or on heartbreaks that I’ve had, on pain caused by people in my life, or the many mistakes I’ve made… I believe I’d be an entirely different person than the person I am today. Instead of seeing all those challenges that I’ve experienced in my first 49 years as bad things, things I regret and wish I had never experienced , I see them as blessings. I see each and every one of those experiences as incredible mountains I’ve climbed and I’m so much stronger and wiser because of having gone through each one of them. Along with challenges comes blessings ……don’t worry I won’t be writing about the countless blessings I’ve had in my lifetime! hah! That would be a book in itself! But, suffice it to say, life is good! I have more to be grateful for as my 50th year begins than I have time to tell you about…and shrug… I’m certain if your not already snoring, you’d certainly be by the time I got done if I began telling about all the people and things I feel blessed by!
As my 50th quickly approaches I find myself thinking about this milestone with much anticipation . I don’t know what life has in store for me, (that darn crystal ball just won’t work, no matter how hard I shake it! ), but I feel fortunate to have today and to know that I’ll embrace this day and each new day with joy. I believe with all my heart that when I’m grateful for and appreciate the little moments in my life that are right in front of me instead of wishing for something different my life feels so good and so complete. So, Happy Birthday to ME! Cheers to getting older and embracing each new day with a grateful heart… and to creating a life of meaning while surrounding myself with like minded people who feed my soul! My Adventure Continues…