I have a big birthday coming up. And it’s not even this year—it’s next year. But this month, I turn 49, and the next one is already laying heavily on my mind.
I know, I know. Fifty is the new…I can’t keep up with it. What is it now, 20? Maybe that’s something Oprah and other celebrities who have personal trainers, private chefs, and plastic surgeons on call can believe in. But I don’t feel 20. I’m positive my knees don’t feel 20. And I’m absolutely certain that the face I saw in the mirror back then—the one I still see in my mind’s eye—is not the one staring back at me these days. And my body. Let’s just say that without those trainers, surgeons, and chefs, gravity is not a 50-year-old woman’s friend. Fifty may be younger than it used to be, but this nearly 50-year-old is very concerned about losing her looks, her athleticism, even her marbles.
Why do we go to such great lengths to keep from growing old gracefully? I realize that “America’s Next Top Model” is probably not going to be calling, and I’m just going to have to move on over for the younger, faster runners on the track at the YMCA. But, if given the opportunity, I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for all the age-defying cream in Dillard’s. I have accumulated much more than years since then—and though I still have a lot to learn, I have gained a nugget of wisdom or two. Much of that wisdom coincides with that gained by award-winning journalist and author, Regina Brett, who, upon turning 50, wrote a column about the 50 lessons she’d learned in life to that point. Because 50 is no longer 50, though, I’m only going to share 20 of them with you here in honor of my big day.
1. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.
2. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
3. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it (even one with ice cream!).
4. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry: God never blinks.
5. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
6. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save them for special occasions. Today is special.
7. Over prepare, then, go with the flow.
8. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
9. The most important sex organ is the brain.
10. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
11. Frame every so-called disaster with the words “In five years, will this matter?”
13. What other people think of you is none of your business.
14. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
15. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
16. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
17. Believe in miracles.
18. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
19. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
20. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.