I have never shied away from announcing my age. Maybe it’s because I skipped Grade 2 and I was always the youngest in my class, a fact that bugged me in high school when I couldn’t get my driver’s license at the same time as my classmates, or that I had to have fake ID longer in university. But this year, my classmates are turning 60 in rapid order, all over Facebook. And guess what? I’m only 59.
And when I say “only” 59, I mean “only”.
I have loved my 50’s. I became a grandma for the first time at age 56, and then a second time at age 58. It’s a good age to be a grandparent (although frankly there’s no bad age to become a grandparent.) My four adult kids are mostly “launched”, each in their own wonderful and unique ways. I had my sixth book published, completed two novels, two screenplays, traveled extensively for work, and last summer started hosting a weekly radio show.
But let me take you back. I didn’t feel happy about turning 50, nine years ago. It kicked my butt. Mentally, more than physically. The same weekend I turned 50, I hosted a book launch for book number six, so while I felt a bit accomplished, I also felt…old. Like I was on the back nine, in golf terms.
But what I failed to recognize on the eve of my 50th birthday is that being on the back nine can be wonderful. You’ve got the stressful front nine where you set the pace, done, and now at this point, you either have to go for it to get to where you want to end up, or lay back and let whatever happens, happen. You get to choose your course of action, if not the outcome.
I have a couple of good friends who are retiring at 55 this year, which they are looking forward to with huge enthusiasm. That’s what’s great about your 50’s. You get to (mostly) pick what you’re going to do with them, financial concerns not withstanding.
I’m not making the same decision that they are. And that’s okay. I’ve just re-signed a contract for the radio show that will take me past my 60th birthday. I feel like I’m just getting started with this new career, because I am. I’m still new.
When I announced my 59th birthday on social media I got comments like “I love how you’re embracing aging”, or “You’re showing us how to do it going forward”, and even “You’re still pretty hot.” Still? Gee, thanks?
First of all, I would not have expected to hear these types of comments upon turning 59 (89 maybe), secondly, what’s not to embrace? You do know what the alternative to aging is, right?
My parents are in their 80’s. On a recent visit to their retirement home (or “the resort” as they call it, they love it so much), I was introduced to a friend of theirs, the same age as them. She looked at me and said “Oh, to be your age again.”
Do you know how many years it had been since anyone had said that to me? The aging spectrum is quite something.
The reminder that the remainder of our years are numbered is a great kick in the pants to do the things we want to do. To be the person we want to be. To have the fitness level we work at and choose to have. I work out with weights every day for at least half an hour and run 5k three times a week. I say this not to brag but hopefully to motivate, as a way to explain why I feel like I can still do almost anything. Movement is key for your butt, and your brain. Science proves it. And now, more than ever, I believe in science. Don’t you?
It will be with some regret that I say goodbye to my 50’s next year, but instead of repeating a pattern and letting 60 kick my butt, I’m going to be looking at it in a different way. Another decade where I get to discover what I can do in my 60’s.
And nine years after that, I’ll look forward to turning 69, when my classmates are looking at 70.
One final thought: You might feel old in your 50’s, but if you die, people will say “Too young. Way too young.” Too bad we’re dead and can’t hear it.
Embrace aging and try to get to an age where people are more inclined to say, “It’s about time.”