Turning 50 isn’t so bad
On September 23rd, I’ll turn 50 years old. Birthdays have not meant much to me; at least not since my 16th birthday in 1983. Before that date and for many years afterward, I led a reckless life. In my teen years, I had a sex addiction.
Consequently, I got pregnant twice. The first time I officially learned I was pregnant was on my 16th birthday in my doctor’s office. The second time I was seventeen years old. Both pregnancies ended in abortion. (You can learn more about these troubles in my memoir, Just Another Girl’s Story.)
As I recall the last half century of my life, I feel I am exactly where I need to be. Though I have many regrets; they don’t bother me like they used to. I live with a grateful heart, and I believe this is the key to peace and happiness.
We all have a past, and I am certain you could share anecdotes and words of wisdom that can come from trials and tribulations over the years of your life.
Here are some of mine:
1 Mistakes can be overcome. Depending on the severity, some may take more time to reconcile. Regardless of how big or small the mistake, recognize each one, fix and move on. Don’t let them consume your life; let bygones, be bygones.
2 If you wake up in the morning, God has blessed you with a new start. A new day means whatever happened yesterday is now the past. Treat each day with a clean slate. Don’t dwell on arguments, disappointments and other negative attitudes. Every new day is a second chance to live happily.
3 Write down five things you are grateful for every day. Right now, I can easily write five things:
*the ability to type these words and write from my heart
*my dog sleeping on the floor next to my feet
*the fresh cup of coffee that is making my brain come alive with each sip
*“Green Bay Packer” Sunday – football, the chili I will be making and time with family
*and knowing that I will be talking with my mom later this afternoon and catching up on the happenings in her life.
4 Write down five things you wish to lift up in prayer. Right now, I can also quickly write down five things:
*my friend Debbie at work – she has an aggressive and awful cancer
*one of my niece’s friends who was in a horrific boating accident in Canada and is now paralyzed at age 22
*the flooding victims in the south
*a cousin facing a divorce with two small children
*continued terror attacks and threats all around the world
5 Go out of your way to smile at people wherever you go. If possible, say hello. Being the recipient of this many times, I know first-hand how impactful such simple gestures can be. Such kindness can turn a bad attitude around immediately.
6 Don’t keep enemies. Enemies will make your life miserable and breed hate in your heart. Instead, pray for people who threaten happiness and peace.
7 Volunteer as often as you can. Spend time with folks less fortunate than you. Visit the elderly in nursing homes. Use your God-given talents to help others. The marvelous way you feel afterward and knowing you’ve made a positive impact somehow and in some way, will be your reward.
8 Don’t fake who you are. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Don’t be afraid to speak from your heart. Being genuine makes you free.
9 Remember that diversity isn’t just the color of your skin. Diversity includes your family history. It involves how your parents raised you, how many siblings you have and whether or not you suffered tragedy (to name a few). Everything that we experience makes us unique. Therefore, different from others. The next time you want to judge someone because they are different, stop. You don’t always know what battles or issues a person has lived or is living.
10 Never stop learning. Read and research. The more we use our brain, the more exercise it gets and is healthier.
11 Experience college, regardless of age. Even if you take just one class, do it. From the people you meet to the satisfaction of accomplishing coursework – you will be smarter and more gifted.
12 Ask your grandparents and parents about their upbringing. Once they are gone, it’s too late. Knowing your family history can give you a great perspective on a host of things. Plop the facts you learn in a genealogy program, such as Ancestry.com. From there, you’ll learn even more. It’s fascinating!
13 Get a dog. Dogs are the most loving and loyal creatures God blessed our world with. There is nothing like coming home to a wagging tail, especially if you’ve had a rough No matter what you’ve done, they will always love you.
14 If you love someone, tell them. Never miss an opportunity to tell someone that you love them. No matter what you are doing; be it at the end of a phone call or visit. When you pass away, they will be confident of your love for them.
15 Eat Fondue with your family. Cut up steak, chicken, mushrooms, string cheese, onions, veggies and anything else you enjoy eating. There is nothing like sitting around the table waiting for your morsels to cook in batter and oil, drinking wine and spending time with your family. The time it takes to cook Fondue is what makes it so great. Instead of a 30-minute mealtime, Fondue can take a couple of hours, even more. Imagine the great conversations you can have in that time-frame!
16 Find what you are passionate about and make it part of your life. For me, I love family history and have so much fun when I research and discover new tidbits. I also enjoy listening to Christian music. There are so many incredible messages that can you can hear in songs of praise; it’s hard not to feel invigorated after hearing them.
17 Organize photos as you take them. Put a description and a date on each one. Not only will this simplify your life when you need a picture of something in particular; your kids and grandkids will appreciate such organization when you are gone someday.
18 Know when you’ve had enough to drink. Stop before things get fuzzy. There is nothing worse than a horrible hang-over and not remembering what happened the next day when you’ve consumed too much. NEVER drink and drive.
19 Call your parents often. Someday you won’t be able to do this, and it stinks. My dad passed away a few years ago, and I miss calling him. I talk to my mom almost every day; if even for just a few minutes. Don’t be one of those kids that are “too busy” – there is no such thing.
20 Read from a daily devotional book. I have three; one in my office at work, two at home. I read them every day. Each one is different and offers me incredible moments of reflection. I also have an APP on my iPhone called Bible Promises. At 10:00 am every day, a bible verse pops up and gives me encouragement and reflection. The more you fit God in your life, the less likely you will falter.
I can add so much more; it’s amazing how much we learn as we age. There is a song by Carbon Leaf, titled, “Let Your Trouble’s Go By.” As I reach 50 years old, some of the lyrics in this song apply to my life:
I have come far and I don’t mind where I am as I turn 50. I hope you feel the same way. Please share your words of wisdom in the comments section below!