5 Important Things I Learned After Turning 50

Birthday candles

Get ready for October. It is my annual birthday month celebration! I can’t believe I am going to be another year older. I relish the celebrations and love that a birthday brings but each passing year seems to fly by with alarming acceleration and speed. I like to say that having another birthday is better than the alternative of NOT having one. I still have a lot of life to live so I guess I’ll accept that they keep on coming.

 

I also recognize that with each passing decade, I have become a little wiser.

 

When I had my 30th birthday, there was the usual black balloons and over the hill banners. I didn’t really feel like it was a big deal but I did think that I had certainly reached some maturity. After all, I wasn’t just a twenty something anymore. I believed that I had figured out so much about life.

 

When I turned 40, my husband at the time thought I would be depressed about it so he sent me to Cozumel to try to take my mind off of being old. I think he was much more concerned about it than I was but I did enjoy scuba diving on my birthday. All in all, it didn’t seem like a big deal turning 40. I didn’t feel older than the decade before.

 

But when the big 50 was approaching, whew, it was different! It hit me that I was actually starting to get older and it was happening very fast. I couldn’t see where the time had gone. It also happened to be at a time in my life that was in great transition. I was going through a divorce and my kids were growing up. Perhaps that’s why it did have a greater affect on me than previous milestone birthdays. Now I look back only a couple of years and realize that my journey into the 50’s has taught me some great things. For the wisdom, I am grateful.

 

Here are 5 important things that I have learned after reaching the age of 50!

 

  1. With true patience comes peace.
  2. It’s really ok if not everybody likes me.
  3. Laughter is very sexy!
  4. I posses something that is uniquely mine. I am meant to share it.
  5. God IS there, ALWAYS!

 

I can’t wait to see what I will learn when I reach 60! Party on!

Reflecting on Life Lessons

tranquil woman

This post is very humbling to write but I have been known to be honest to a fault and this will be no exception. I don’t want to pretend that I always do the right thing and have it all together when I still have many areas of my life that need work. It’s obvious to all that I am no more perfect than the next person. It would be ludicrous to try to act like I am and even more exhausting to live a lie. The truth is evident. So I’ll embrace it.

 

I have recently had my patience and humility tested. I won’t go into details but I know that it is no coincidence that these things all came one right after another as if God was trying to tell me to take notice. Well, I did take notice and in hindsight of each situation, I have realized that I could have reacted differently and had different outcomes to various happenings in my life. Even when another person is wrong or angry, I don’t have to respond in kind. I know that if I had kept my joy in the face of oncoming negativity and anger, I would not be feeling unhappy with my response. These tests are never easy but when you are able to get through them holding onto inner peace then you have achieved great strength.

 

I tend to reflect a lot, okay….. maybe even obsess about these things when they happen but it’s ultimately how I am able to understand where things began to deteriorate and start to make the changes needed to grow. For me, writing about it puts me on the line for following through with making improvements. It helps me to do the work necessary to become better at responding in a more healthy and productive way.

 

Let’s face it, people are not always going to act the way you that you would like them to. Not everybody is kind and considerate of others. In fact, some are even downright mean spirited. Businesses might not conduct themselves in an honorable manner. People will sometimes disappoint us. What I have realized is that my disagreement or disappointment with them most likely isn’t going to change anything. It’s perfectly ok to speak up for what is right, but there is a productive and noble way to achieve this. In fact, it is ultimately necessary to communicate with others about these things even though it may be uncomfortable. Attempts at self appointed martyrdom never accomplish anything.

 

So I must ask myself, why did I allow it to bring me down? I have the power to remain above the situation. And if I do, I am in a much better position to perhaps be the teacher for the person in front of me. Through our own genuine peace and tranquility, and not feigned through gritted teeth and snarky grins, we can be a testimony to others. Be aware that what you are feeling is most likely shown on your face. Demonstrating and living these truths is more powerful than any verbal response we can possibly make.

It’s Back to School and Tears Will be Shed

Back to School

It’s that time of year again. Parents and children are putting away the last vestiges of summer and preparing for the school year ahead. Whether they will be going to pre-school or college, kids and parents alike are feeling an array of emotions as the first day of school draws near. Schedules will change no doubt but other, more bittersweet transformations are sure to come.

 

My children are grown now so it’s easier for me to look back and see this much more clearly. The end of summer was always both joyful and sorrowful. It meant the end of lazy summer days. Days with no set schedules, carpools, homework or projects to deal with. You could spend more time together, take vacations, stay in your pj’s all day or just enjoy each day however your mood dictated. We knew that once school sessions began, life would evolve around the kids’ school schedules and all the extra curricular activities they were involved in. Life would be hectic to say the least! However, I also knew that once they went back to school, I would have more time to pursue the activities and projects that I was interested in. It meant more time for me. It was a mixed bag of emotions.

 

Now I realize how much they grew and changed with each school year. They would start the school year with a certain level of maturity and it seemed that within just a few weeks you could see the metamorphosis begin. The new teachers they had expected more from them than the ones the previous year and maturity was necessary to accomplish all the things that were given to them. By the end of the school year, I could hardly remember what their voices had sounded like or how young and sweet their faces had been at the beginning of the year. The growth was startling. I confess that I shed my share of tears with each passing year.

 

I know that all parents with school age children are dealing with these crazy mixed emotions of being so proud of their children growing up but at the same time wanting the moment to last just a little bit longer. Take lots of video and pictures. Treasure each moment, even the challenging ones, because with each year, growth is there for both of you. One day, they will leave the nest but they will never stop needing you to be a parent. Always be there for them and stay a part of their lives. It will most definitely be a different kind of relationship but you will adjust and still love every minute of what is yet to come.

The YMCA

YMCA logo

Ok, forget about the Village People for just a minute. When is the last time you stepped into a Y? Yes, they have been around since you can even remember….. it’s actually 125 years old. The Y serves more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the United States. It’s mission is to put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. It is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y strives to work side-by-side with it’s neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has to opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

This sounds great, right? But you may ask, what is there for me? Having been a member of the Y for many years, I can tell you exactly what is there for you. But first, I need to tell you what isn’t. It’s not the typical “meat market” gym. You don’t get the half naked bodies and the oglers. It’s a family atmosphere with real people of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors. AND it has all of the programs, equipment, instructors, trainers and support that any serious gym offers. The difference at the Y is that the people there CARE. It seems simple but it makes a huge difference. People make friends at the Y. My personal favorites are the group exercise classes. I need peer pressure to get my butt into shape. It motivates me when I see people do things that seem close to impossible. I think if they can do it, so can I, and I push a little harder. The Y has EXCELLENT child care, all kinds of team sports like basketball, dodge ball, & volleyball, swimming, camps, yoga, and educational programs to name only a few of the great opportunities.

YMCA

But there’s more still…… my personal experience at the Y over the last few years has meant a great deal to me. People that know me have heard me say that going to the Y keeps me sane.  I remember one day very vividly. My divorce was nearly final and I wanted to see about setting up an individual membership since I was sure that my soon to be ex-husband had no plans to fund my gym membership in the future.  I realized quickly that my budget would not allow for me to continue my membership as I needed to be VERY frugal, at least until I managed to get my house sold. The realization that I wouldn’t be able to keep going there set in and tears came to my eyes right there in the lobby of the Y. Of course I was very embarrassed about sitting there crying in front of this total stranger and apologized and started to leave. The staff member took my hand and said to wait just a minute. There were programs to help people like me. Then she told me about the scholarship programs that the Y offers. I applied for one and did get accepted into the program. Being able to continue at the Y has been a HUGE part of my healing process over the last couple of years. It is the selfish time I’ve taken for me that has continued to propel me forward with a healthy mind, body and spirit.

 

I’m so thankful to all of the individual and corporate sponsors of the Greater Houston YMCA.  If you feel led to contribute financially or as a volunteer, the Y needs you! For information on how you can make a difference in your own community click HERE.

Yoga – Make Time for It Now


Yoga

Anyone that knows me at all knows how much I love my yoga classes. You’ve probably heard me say how great I feel when I finish the class and how my mind is at peace during that hour. I swear that yoga has kept me sane. But I’m also learning how beneficial it is for my health.

Sometimes our lifestyle can shorten our muscles. Have you ever strained a muscle doing an everyday activity? For instance, do you spend hours at a desk leaning over a computer keyboard like I do? This can put you at higher risk of straining the muscles in your back. Or if your lifestyle has you on the run picking up toddlers while carrying in bags of groceries, you are at greater risk of pulling your hamstrings. When you are limber, sudden awkward movements won’t strain your muscles. It’s not enough to be aerobically fit. You have to work on your flexibility too.

Flexibility is part three of a healthy fitness plan. We all know that cardiovascular conditioning and strength training are vital for overall health but good flexibility has many benefits to the body as well. It can help you reach your optimum fitness level and help prevent injury. In addition, it can stave off conditions like arthritis. When you stretch a muscle, you lengthen the tendons. The longer the tendons, the more you are able to increase the muscle size when strength training. The larger the muscle, the higher your metabolism and fitness level. So you can see how the 3 parts of fitness all work together. If you leave one part out, you are cheating yourself from achieving the maximum results.

Stretching can also improve your circulation and has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology indicated that people over 40 who scored well on flexibility tests had less stiffness in their arterial walls which is an indicator of risk for stroke and heart attack.

You may be asking, ok where do I start? To increase your flexibility, start with about 10-20 minutes of stretching a day. Focus on the major muscles: arms, shoulders, neck, back, thighs, calves, and ankles. If you have problem prone areas, then spend a little more time zeroing in on those. Once you have reached your goals, you can maintain your flexibility with stretching only a few times a week. Or even better yet, join me at the YMCA for a yoga class.