I’ve been dreading turning 50 for quite some time. I couldn’t get over wallowing in what I thought I’d have accomplished by now but hadn’t. I felt like I’d crossed into the stage of life where I’m on the downhill slide, where more of my life was behind me than ahead of me, and it was too late to do much more. If it hadn’t happened by now, what was the likelihood of it ever happening.

Friends would ask me what I wanted to do to mark this monumental birthday and I would scrunch up my face, shake my head, and mutter “Nothing.” It just didn’t feel like something I wanted to celebrate or a year I wanted to honor. I just wanted the day to come and go with no ceremony and get it behind me.

Thank God for a good friend who told me in a nice way to pull my head out of my ass and deal with it. She wouldn’t let me just sit at home quietly and let the day pass as if it were any other day. “You’re young and fun…Embrace it, lady!” she said in a text that went on to let me know that my friends weren’t okay with just letting the day pass without doing something together. I gave in and we planned a day of drinking and eating our way through the wineries.

I didn’t expect it, but that little nudge shifted my thinking. I did need to pull my head out of my ass and embrace turning 50. Everyone had been telling me for weeks that I shouldn’t feel bad about turning 50, that I don’t look 50, that lots of great things happen in your 50’s and after, but it just wasn’t sinking in. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready to accept those messages yet, but I got worn down enough the loving text message telling me to just get over it finally penetrated my brain.

Once I gave in to celebrating the day, my mindset shifted. I decided to take stock of what I have done, what I do have, where I am in life, and when it comes down to it, I have an abundance of what is important. I’ve got a fabulous husband, a fantastic son, a supportive extended family that I love and love to be around, amazing friends who know when to ignore my bullshit, steady income, a five year plan until retirement, and great memories of the experiences that have brought me to this point in my life. That’s a lot of good stuff!

More than half my life may be gone, but I still have a lifetime ahead of me. And I have the good fortune to be able to stop working in just five years to travel and pursue my dream of being a writer full-time. God-willing, I’ll have decades (at least two, hopefully three) to pursue my next dream, and that’s a long time.

So this is 50, and I am going to embrace it. There’s an abundance of adventure ahead of me, and it’s there because of what I accomplished behind me. It’s time to shake off what hasn’t been done, acknowledge what has, and look forward to what is to come. The choice is mine to make this my best decade yet, and if it isn’t, I have no one to blame but me. This is the decade where I have decided that I rule my priorities, I rule how I spend my time, and I rule my destiny; and that’s a very freeing feeling.

Cheers to the 50 years behind me (I have to admit they really have been good years even if they didn’t go how I planned), and cheers to the even better years ahead of me (hopefully 50 more)!

(This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Amber, who knows when to pull out the tough love and use it on me. And for telling everyone I’m turning “Ummmm, 30” on the invite. Thanks, Amber!)

Lois Templin

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