Well, well, well…age is wisdom, huh?
Today is the day I turn fifty years old. FIFTY. The big 5-0. Halfway to 100. I can honestly say I don't feel it. I mean…my joints are telling another story, and I suppose the grunting sounds I make when I stand, sit, or move in general might give it away….but other than that, I'm good. The fact my perfume of choice is now Biofreeze due to my lower back MIGHT give it away. OR the fact I can only see a menu with my phone light or by using the candle off the table. I guess there's that.
BUT….AGE IS WISDOM. Right?
I would agree with that to some extent – unless you consider that all of the 20-30ish year-olds at school take pity on me and write me cheat sheets for all things techy and explain current trends and fashion choices for me. That tends to make me feel like I myself am back in kindergarten instead of teaching it – although I love them and am forever grateful for their help. But when it comes to dating advice or wedding decor or skin care or how to be an aunt I'm the go-to resident Dear Abby!
(And, if you're reading this and don't know who Dear Abby is…I suppose I just showed you some of my 50. She was an advice columnist, and I loved to read all of her advice in an actual newspaper that we held with our own hands. Back when our phones were connected to the wall.)
Over the Hill is What Age Anyhow?
Is over the hill 40 or 50? Who came up with that term anyhow? Age is inevitable, and technically we all climb up the hill one day at a time…but why does it have to be a hill? When riding a bike, it's always way more fun to coast down the hill than to trudge up.
But back in the day when I toured the neighborhoods on my purple bike with the white banana seat and orange flag on the back, I always enjoyed long flat stretches. So, I would like to toss out there the idea that instead of saying OVER THE HILL, we say MIDWAY IN OUR MILES. Maybe if we look at our lives as a sort of timeline, hitting a milestone birthday wouldn't make us feel so…..OVER.
Let's talk about my awesome husband, JW for a minute. He gracefully entered into his fifth decade a few years back and has made it look pretty awesome. I was the youngest one in my high school graduating class, so I've been watching my classmates on social media go from 49 to 50, one by one in 2021 and 2022. My two best friends from high school turned 50 in June and July and made it look easy.
Back to JW. He put together a trip for the 3 of us to go to New York over fall break. If 50 is the teetering at the top of the hill, then we went to the city that's the cream of the crop and top of the heap to celebrate this BIG MILESTONE BIRTHDAY. It. Was. Legendary.
What a gift! Heather, Jen and I hadn't been on a trip together since our senior year spring break '90 to Panama City Beach, FL – and let me tell you, it was like no time had passed. (We even got to meet up with another dear friend, Melanie!)
Back to JW. He gave me exactly what I needed. A chance to look back at the decades through the eyes of my oldest friends. A chance to laugh at all the good, the bad, and the ugly. If age is wisdom, then my husband is killin' it.
Old friends are the alphabets. And alphabets are important to read the poems.
a Glass Half-full perspective
We are all imperfect humans making big mistakes while we are trying to find meaning and purpose in life. Learning is experience, and at 50 and counting I am feeling pretty good about racking up lessons in the experience department. So much so that I'm going to offer up 50 random and possibly wise life lessons from my time here on earth.
- Don't ride your bike down the road with your eyes closed. Plowing a mailbox with your body hurts.
- Don't EVER tie wet shoelaces.
- Learn to read the room.
- Always leave somewhere visited or something borrowed better than you found it.
- Learn how to fold a towel like they do in department stores. (said the former Dillard's pacesetter employee)
- Drink water. Drink water. Drink water.
- Wear the sunscreen. Wear the hat. Find the shade.
- BE A GOOD TIPPER. (said the former TGIF flair-wearing waitress)
- Three Amigos is the most hilarious movie ever, and Chevy Chase is pure gold.
- Put down the phone and play a board game with a kid.
- Reading is the best escape, the best pick-me-up, and the best entertainment. Bookmarks are for quitters.
- Take off your makeup at night. EVERY night.
- When Pet Smart says not to put a beta fish in with non-beta fish – listen to them.
- A dog can save your life.
- Some dog heartworm medicine looks like a Rolo. And apparently doesn't taste too different.
- Don't leave the plastic on the pan of rolls while putting them in the oven at O'Charleys. (said the former O'Charleys waitress.)
- When baking casseroles – You need to turn on the oven.
- Don't throw a Wendy's visor down in a rage – the effect you're going for isn't there. (said the former Wendy's worker who shouldn't have been given the job of working the main microphone.)
- Brown meat before putting it into a casserole or soup. The recipes ASSUME you'll know this.
- If you are feeling low – do something for somebody else. Then do it again.
- Get down on the same level as a kid when talking to them.
- Accept ALL kid gifts with awe and wonder. Even a leaf, a dead flower, or a My Little Pony necklace.
- Write thank you notes.
- Use the good china. (said the former bridal consultant)
- Celebrate others' wins. Be a cheerleader for their big moments. It won't take away from your own.
- Don't stop working out – like, ever. (said the AFAA-certified aerobics instructor who taught at the Razz-Ma-Tazz dance studio for extra cash in college. And wore the unitards.)
- Seek out the helpers and SEE them.
- Don't get a perm when your hair is naturally curly.
- Don't mistake sugar for salt
- A wet paper towel can make most kids stop crying.
- Buy the good eye creme. Use the good eye creme. Invest in good eye creme.
- Go to Paris. Eat a baguette and wear the beret. (no regrets)
- Go to Venice. Get on the gondola. Don't let your husband tell you it's too pricey and not worth it. (regrets)
- Eat the cake.
- Don't lie about your age.
- Don't pull the loose thread. (or make sure it's not connected to the part that will unravel the bottom of your mini-dress on a date)
- Don't always assume that cheap is good – or better.
- “Hold the book. Make the faces. Do the voices.” – Jen Jones of Hello Literacy
- Don't stop believing in magic.
- Being an aunt is the best job on the planet. Next to being a dog mom.
- Don't wear a fad or trend – the second time it comes around. If you must – don't wear it the same way your 13-year-old niece is wearing it. Trust me. No Bueno.
- The book is always better than the movie.
- There is a perfect match out there for everyone.
- Fall. Get back up. Fall. Get back up. Fall. Get back up. Fall. Get back Up. Fall. Get back up.
- Laughter really is the best medicine.
- You can't beat a good onesie.
- Sleep is the best cure for a whole lot of things.
- Second acts are pretty awesome. Third acts can be even better.
- If you do not have kids of your own – that does not mean that you are doomed to have a less fulfilling life than those who do.
- Finding the imperfectly perfect person who will make you light up and be the best version of yourself can oftentimes take MUCH longer than you wanted. Trying to hurry things up or force things doesn't make it right. Instead of trying to change someone into being who you THINK they should be for YOU…work on changing yourself into the best version of yourself. Your person will show up.
The moral of this story, or musing, or listicle is…life is a beautiful, twisty-turny kind of road. To find meaning in life, keep a glass-half-full outlook and laugh a LOT. Fill your days with family and friends and never ever take yourself too seriously. Be open to change – even when it's hard. And when your kindergarteners realize with a bit too much fervor, YOU ARE OLDER THAN MY MOM! AND YOU ARE HALFWAY TO 100!! – just smile and say, “Ahhhh, yes. This is true. But age is wisdom. So I'm MUCH wiser than you.”