Frankly, I can’t believe I’ve lived this long. For those of you that don’t know me personally, I have lived a pretty extraordinary life. I’m a preacher’s kid, and as a result of having conservative beliefs forced upon me, was a very rebellious teenager. At one point in my life I shot up drugs, ran away from home, and lived on the streets of Portland. I came dangerously close to ending my life. Yet here I am turning 50 years old. I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I am blessed to be living the life of my dreams, but the journey, from there to here, has been rough.
It’s funny what a person thinks about at such big milestones, like turning 50. I think about childhood friends, my mother who passed away from cancer in 2004. I think about mistakes I’ve made and the people who have had such a profound impact on my life. People like my brother, Brent, my business mentor and dear friend, Susan, and my editor, Sonya. These people, and many others, have reached out to me in my darkest hours when times were so tough I couldn’t manage on my own. I am so grateful for the love and kindness that has been gifted to me throughout my lifetime so far. Yes, when I look in the mirror I see inevitable signs of aging that I struggle to accept, new grey hairs, more wrinkles, spots…what’s up with the damn spots? But I am blessed to be celebrating this milestone. Many people don’t make it this this far. I have two nephews that died in early childhood. So, for them, and for everyone who loves me, these are the reasons I’m glad I’m 50 years old.
I’m single and happy
I met my first husband when I was only 18 old and we married when I was 20. I went right from that marriage directly into a new relationship, never having the courage, or taking the time I needed, to get to know myself. It wasn’t until my second divorce that I realized that I needed to love myself first before I can truly love others. So, I have spent the last 5 years on a personal journey, reassessing my values and as they say in yoga “learning to sit with myself.” I’ve realized that I don’t need a life partner (or partners) to feel complete. My happiness is not dependent on a person, place, thing or event. My happiness is my own responsibility, and I can be happy, indeed I am happy, anyplace, anywhere, and anytime.
I’ve been there and done that
Life get immensely easier as you age. You stop making the same mistakes over and over again. You learn valuable lessons, like how to rise from failure, how to cope with loss, that money really doesn’t matter, and that everything changes. You get to a point in your life where you no longer care what other people think of you. I’m much calmer now than I have ever been in my life. I rarely get angry and nothing really shocks me anymore.
I have freedom
The nice thing about having kids at such a young age is that now I’m an empty nester and have more freedom than I’ve ever had in my life. Bryan and Jamie have been the two greatest joys of my life, and I am so proud to have raised two wonderful children, but boy am I glad they are productive independent adults. In many ways, I feel like I’m living my youth now. I’m grateful that I have the freedom to travel the world and meet cool people all over the globe. In fact, I’m selling my earthly positions so that I have even more freedom and less responsibility. I’ve realized that all these things I’ve accumulated over the years don’t really matter at all, and all they do is bring more responsibility and more expense. I’m slowly reassessing my priorities, and material goods keep falling further and further down the list of what’s really important to me.
I have a big fat saving account
I don’t mention this to brag, but instead to point out its importance. Money doesn’t matter much to me anymore, but it can solve some problems and provide a little security. I spent a good deal of my life spending money faster than I made it, in hopes of impressing others with my perceived success. Fortunately, I’ve moved beyond my ego driven consumerism and have managed to save a good chunk of change. It gives me some peace of mind and the freedom to travel. It’s not something most people have earlier in life, and so I’m thankful that I’ve had the time and discipline to save.
I have a shit load of amazing memories
My god, I’ve done some crazy stuff, and my memories of all my adventures still crack me up! Some of the things I’ve done were just plain stupid, like riding my jet ski drunk and naked on Lake Merwin. Some things were amazing, like bungee jumping over the Ganga River. I’ve helped rescue street dogs in Goa and have volunteered for a number of organizations. I’ve played beer pong with my kids and watched the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl from the 7th row! If I died today, I could honestly say that I lived large and have few regrets. But fortunately, I’m still alive and kicking and I have many adventures to come. My future is bright.
Turning 50 has provided me an opportunity to really reflect and give thanks. Most of you probably don’t know that I have written two books about my life. The first one is called Dark Legacy, and I’m just completing the second, Ganga Eyes. They are in the genre of women’s fiction, but based on the story of my life. On May 6th, I am attending a writer’s conference in Seattle to pitch them to four agents and hopefully get them published. I need beta readers, so if you are interested in reading my books and providing me feedback, please get in touch with me. That’s all for the first 50 years. Journey on my friends, journey on!