Amidst all of the jokes of now being old enough to be an official member of AARP and my friends believing I need to start wearing Depends diapers, I’m actually quite proud to have reached this turning point in my life. “Over the hill” is a comedic expression that is synonymous with reaching this milestone. Let me assure you, I am anything but over the hill. I stand firmly at the center of not just the hill, but the mountain top, stoic and resilient and have a full awareness and appreciation of all that is around me. I certainly don’t anticipate treading down the slope anytime too soon. Granted I am now officially closer to death than birth, but I still have an ambitious list of accomplishments yet to be consummated.
I had recently been reflecting back to when I turned forty. It was the eve before my birthday and I was sitting on the edge of my bed watching the clock round to midnight. The second the clock struck twelve, an overwhelming excitement washed over me. I, me, LoriAnn was now FORTY. It was a rite of passage, if you will. I was now part of this special forty and over club. I felt I had finally come into my own. But, all too soon, my excitement turned to fear. I had been divorced barely a year and was still healing from the pain and effects that such a life event brings. I had fear of how I was going to raise my son, then only 7 years old; with as little collateral damage and need for therapy as possible. Fear of how I was going to make ends meet. Fear of how I was going to navigate the shark infested uncharted waters before me. And, sadly, but most certainly, fear of being alone.
If I could go back today and sit with that girl I would take her by the shoulders, look her squarely in the eyes and tell her that she’s going to be just fine. She’s going to be fine because unbeknownst to her she’s got a lot of fight in her. A strength and courageousness she will exude repeatedly over the next ten years for the many unforeseen challenges she will face. She will slay one dragon after the other and emerge stronger with each win. She will lose some battles as well but the lessons learned and wounds incurred will be invaluable and key in continuing to build her fortitude and character.
More importantly, she will be fine because of the many wonderful people she will have in her life who will share in her journey. They will celebrate her wins and successes and comfort in the losses and painful moments. They will laugh hard together and cry hard together. They will call her on her missteps because they value the friendship and that’s how she will learn to be a better person. They will carry her at times and she will need to let them (still a tough one for her but she’s getting there). They will love deeply, beautifully and unconditionally and she will evolve in an insurmountable magnitude for having them by her side.
As I now embark on my fifties I do so with unfettered passion. The fear I had in my forties has long since dissipated. The beauty of being older is that I’m also wiser. Wise enough to know that everything to this point was the ramp up to what my true potential, gifts and accomplishments that are yet to be. I have bigger mountains I want to climb. I may smell like Ben Gay when I reach the top of them, but reach them I will. This momentous birthday is my threshold to new opportunities and a stronger fulfillment in life.
I look to the well-trod path behind me and all the love, joy, pain and experiences I was blessed to have along the way and whisper a prayer of thanks for each encounter. I now point my compass to the road ahead and take my first steps on this new direction of my journey. An adventure of both continued friendships and new companions, untold possibilities and undiscovered horizons that await. I’m of the belief that the best is yet to come and that fifty is, and will be, truly fabulous!