Earlier this week, I turned 50.
This milestone birthday landed differently than I’d expected, though I am not entirely sure how. It felt anticlimactic. Shouldn’t there have been some seismic change? Some inner fanfare? A small parade of the soul?
Instead, I felt still.
And so, I gathered my thoughts, collected my beliefs, and here is what emerged…
Age really is just a number. It’s good to keep track, to consider the accumulation of days. It’s good to know you have made it through all the tough times so far, and have learned lessons and experienced joy and built relationships and made memories. But age is not a limit or a definition. It is just one of many characteristics that comprise the present self.
Today, I am 50—and I am so many other things.
Maiden. Mother. Crone. The Triple Goddess story, that progression of female experience, does not apply in linear fashion. I have been all at once. I have also been none, and instead been something entirely of my own making.
One of the joys I experienced in my 40s was coming to know myself better as an individual, growing more comfortable in my own skin. This world can be a tough one, perhaps particularly for girls and women. Finding my personal power, defying type and expectations, and forging my own path has been a game-changer.
People will disappoint you. You, too, have disappointed others. It is part of being human; as we grow and change in different ways, we fail to understand one another. We expect more than someone is able to give. Hurting and being hurt is natural, but clinging to hurt serves no purpose.
Sometimes, amends can be made, forgiveness given. Sometimes, it is best to wish someone well and let go. This applies to all relationships: parents and children, colleagues and neighbors, partners and friends. To paraphrase Louise Hay, I choose to believe that we are all doing the best we can, with what we have, where we are right now. From this perspective, it becomes easier to release disappointments and move forward.
Forgiveness is a healing practice. Yet forgiving someone does not mean you must allow them to remain in your life. Our time here on earth is precious and fleeting. Spending it with the people who bring the most joy into our lives is not selfish, it’s essential. Consider how you light up in the company of those who support and champion and uplift you—couldn’t the world use more of that energy?
Solitude and time in nature are also healing. We were not meant to spend our lives staring at screens, rushing from one thing to the next. Walking in the woods or on the beach or even on a busy city street can be a meditation if approached mindfully.
Petting a dog, curling up with a cat, sitting in stillness at sunrise, listening to the sounds of birds or the crash of ocean waves—these are things that feed the soul. They are gifts available to each of us every day. Go outside. Put your bare feet on the earth, your hands in the dirt.
Feel. Breathe. Listen.
Gratitude is the key to happiness. Give thanks for the good things in your world daily, and feel the shift. What you appreciate appreciates, for real. We all have our struggles—it is an inescapable part of being human—but when we can find just one reason to give thanks, and we actually do so, we’ll watch that reason multiply.
So while I do believe that age is just a number, half a century is certainly cause for celebration. I have lived so many journeys and weathered so many storms, and still I rise each morning, expectant. I give thanks, I look to the horizon, and I get out there to work and play in this beautiful, difficult, breathtaking, heartbreaking, magical world.
Join me out there, won’t you?
No matter your age.