Turning 50

Well, after so many years writing about the 50 plus market, I went ahead and did it.  I turned 50 yesterday.  When my family had asked me what kind of party I’d like, it had been so many years since I’d actually “had” a birthday party that I had to give it some thought.  I didn’t really feel excited about crossing the half-century threshold.  Frankly, I would have liked to ignore turning 50 (stay in bed for the day, reading a spy-thriller novel, eating some Trader Joe’s or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), and  getting through the day in a dream-like state.  But, on the other hand, it didn’t seem right to avoid celebration.  I mean…I HAVE lived 50 years.  I’d LIKE to live 50 more.  I am living the life I want to live, with a wonderful family, great child and surrounded by love. 

So I thought of the one place that I connected to viscerally and sensually, in my adulthood…and that was Italy — a culture that celebrates life from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night.  From that moment on, I couldn’t imagine a nicer way to spend the day than in the company of family and friends, in a relaxed Tuscan/Florence atmosphere. 

And that is what my family conjured up.  They invited people that were important to me and that I could feel comfortable around.  They decorated my sister’s beautiful home with all sorts of Italian embellishments — from the music, to the photos of Italy on the walls, to the book stand with coffee table volumes on Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Bernini.  The food was glorious.  Proscuito-wrapped melon, and asparagus.  Shrimp wrapped in snap-peas.  Pasta, anti-pasto, balsamic vinagrette salads, thick Italian breads.  Coffee, cakes to die for, and gelato.  (And, of course, Grappa and Limoncello).

I was in heaven and I had more fun than I could have even imagined.  Just looking around the room at the family and friends who have been part of my life…some for a shorter while and some for my entire life.  It was a great day.

I had been a little down in the weeks leading up to my birthday, especially after so many of my childhood icons died so closely together — Michael Jackson (my age), Farah Fawcett (who’s hair style I emulated, along with so many of my high school friends), Ed McMahon (a laugh never to be forgotten), and even Karl Malden.  I remember my grandmother telling me, how at a certain point in her life, she became addicted to two things in the daily paper — the crossword puzzle, and the obituaries.  Every day she’d strengthen her mind, and also, scour the paper to see who she knew who had died. Oftentimes, I’d sit with her and we’d eat lemon meringue pie while she’d tell me about so and so who had died and a bit about their past. 

I realize that I’m going to hear about MANY icons, from my child and early adulthood, dying over the course of the next twenty, thirty and beyond years.  And I’m going to have to get ready for it…just like my fellow boomers.  An old boyfriend sent me birthday wishes and reminded me that we knew each other when I was 15 and he was 17.  Omigod.  That’s a lifetime ago…more.

 My mother, following in her mom’s footsteps, does the crossword puzzle every day.  On many days, she and I huddle together on the couch trying to break the “code” and see if we can solve ANY part of the puzzle.  But rather than scour the obits, my mom has decided to become a rabbi.  She’s been accepted into a wonderful program and starts class on September 6th.  She’ll graduate as an ordained rabbi at 78.  

I recognize that I’ve reinvented myself many times over and have lived in many different cities.  Each step has been one that has made me into a better and more complex, multi-faceted person.   So at the 50 year marker, I know that I can reminisce, but I can’t look back — only forward — to what my next future holds — and I’m discovering, today, that I’m very mellow, and very thankful, on the first day of my 51st year.

5 thoughts on “Turning 50

  1. Happy Birthday. Interesting blog you’ve got here. Kudos. But it’s missing an important part of the equation: your generation–Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X.

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. The Associated Press’ annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009.

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978

    Here is an op-ed about GenJones as the new generation of leadership in USA TODAY:

    Here’s a page with a good overview of recent stuff about GenJones:

  2. Happy Birthday!
    I started college when I was 45 because I was faced with having nothing to look forward to when my last child started high school. I started teaching 6th grade the year I turned 50!
    I will have earned my master’s before I am 55 and hope to teach at the college level part time eventually. I am challenged, meet lots of wonderful people all the time, and have an outlet for my creative side, too. I am living another whole lifetime and enjoying it immensely. Age is just a measurement of time, not a definition of who you are!

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