To hear my mother tell, it wasn't an easy birth. Kicking and screaming, fighting my way out of the birth canal---For the writers and readers amongst us, we'll call that a foreshadow. I was never an easy child, nor an uncomplicated adult. But, I've made it to fifty, so I must still be here for a reason.
You know the old saying "There is a lot of water under the bridge?" Yeah, that. Think Atlantic Ocean. Might as well include the other three as well. During a hurricane. And a tsunami.
But I have learned a lot and I think at fifty, you are allowed to share some of that knowledge. So here are a few of the more non-traditional things I've learned along the way; things that will hopefully see me through the next fifty years:
Raising good children is the most satisfying experience on the planet- I'm not talking about birthing them and making sure they live to see adulthood, I'm talking about raising them: teaching them to be compassionate human beings, giving them the tools so they can succeed, loving them even when you feel like strangling them. My children have been my greatest gift in life and I never considered parenting a hobby. It's paid off. I have two wonderful young men that continue to amaze me.
Laugh every day and make someone else laugh everyday-Of course there are documented health benefits to laughter, but the thing is, it just feels good to laugh. Make a point to do it every day, and if you can't get someone else to laugh, at least make them smile.
Strange is okay-My standard response when someone says "You're strange (weird, odd, crazy, etc.)" is "No, I'm unique." And that's a good thing. It reminds me of an old Edie Brickell song: What I am is what I am are you what you are or what?
The power of the raised eyebrow-This subtle facial expression is very powerful when you use it correctly. If you aren't a natural, you'll have to practice and learn the technique (like I did). But once mastered, you will be able to convey a lot of thoughts without openly offending anyone.
Work to live, don't live to work-Yes, I work a lot. But, I do work to live. A life dedicated to working is not living. It's working.
Bad decisions usually weren't bad decisions at the time-We all spend way too much time looking back and thinking "if only I'd have taken this road instead." But here's the thing: We rarely remember why we chose the path we did. When given options, we all try to chose what is best for us, so at the time I made those decisions that I now consider 'bad', well, they seemed like my best option at the time. And who knows, maybe the other option would have been worse. Stop tripping on it and move on.
Fighting is a good thing-My dad used to say "Don't run up a hill you are not willing to die on." This has become a mantra in my house. Stand up for what you believe, and fight for the things that you are willing to take a punch for.
Weight IS an issue-I have struggled with my weight since I was 5. Yes, at five years old, I was the biggest kid in my class and for most years of my life, have been that big girl. I've tried every diet known to man, I exercise and I eat healthier than most, but it's always there. Even when I'm in one of my 'thin' stages, it's always there (fellow fatties know what I mean by this). When you are chronically overweight, everything you put in your mouth causes a mini guilt trip. Not a day passes when you don't think about it. Those that haven't lived this kind of life can never understand the personal torment that chronically overweight people experience. It is a horrible way to live. As I get older, I still work hard to control my weight and it's still an uphill fight. However, here's the big difference: I no longer do it because I want to 'look good', I do it now because I want to be healthier. Weight is a mental health issue, one I'm sure I can never resolve, but it is also a physical health issue---and I'm sure I will be working on that for the rest of my life.
Never underestimate the power of an animal's love-A pet will love you whether you are young, old, big, little, red, white, blue, gay, straight, obnoxious, reserved, overdressed, naked, conservative, liberal, happy or angry. Not a day goes by that my dog or cat doesn't make me smile and I can't imagine not having an animal friend in my home.
"If in doubt, don't" is bad advice-I've missed a lot of opportunities because of my own self doubt. Doubt often comes from fear, and fear you should try to overcome. If in doubt, think about why the doubt is there, re-evalute the situation and see if your reasons for doubt are justified. You may find you are missing a potentially golden opportunity just because you are afraid to fail.