This month I’m turning 50 in captivity and processing a world that looks nothing like I expected. For me, 50 represents a significant milestone. I feel strong, confident, the most “me” I’ve ever felt in my entire life. But hitting a big birthday while sheltering in place has its own significance. And there are so many parallels to the pandemic itself when it comes to the big 5-0.
Evolution Meets Revolution
COVID-19 is an evolutionary moment and a reminder of our own mortality. That somehow we may not be as in control as we would like when the world and the earth have something else in store. Turning 50 is also one of those moments when you realize (and it’s true of every age, but you don’t feel it when you’re younger) that every second counts. For many of us in lockdown, we are re-assessing everything in our lives — how we work, how we live, our “why.”
As a card-carrying, Cancerian homebody, spending the last few months of my 40s at home has given me a sense of freedom I have only dreamed about. When I dedicated my career to writing, one of the main reasons I wanted to do so was to work from anywhere, particularly from home. Turning 50 is one of those moments where you can’t help but think about what’s next — because you have a sense that doing what you don’t want to do for a living or in any other regard is just not going to work. For me, hitting 50 in quarantine has given me a tremendous sense of freedom. It has also been a friendly reminder from the universe that nothing is for sure. And taking the sacred nature of our lives for granted is no longer an option.
The Power of Positive Thinking (And Living)
And yes, it’s true we can’t live life as “normal,” but my normal was burning me out. From commuting to midtown every day to figuring out doggie daycare to jumping out of bed in the morning to hit the gym at 6 am so I could run home and shower and sprint out the door, I was depleted. I am also an empath who soaks in the energy of others, so daily office dynamics can leave me feeling drained more often than not. Don’t get me wrong — I love working with people, but I treasure and honor the fact that, at 50, I love having the time and space to be alone with my thoughts and creativity. Again, a reminder of how sacred spending time with yourself can be.
At 50, we give ourselves permission. To be more discerning about what we put our energy towards, and how taking risks can feel less scary when you know yourself and trust yourself to shuffle the deck and pull some different cards. This pandemic was not something we asked for and, just like aging, it happens, and you have to find a way to be positive about the tremendous changes to your life and maybe even your health and well-being. And speaking of health, 50 has me wanting to look and feel as healthy as I possibly can, and with so many of us thinking about our health during this time, I have gratitude for my dedication to eating well, sleeping well, and being well. I feel fit from daily online workouts that keep me sane, grounded, and healthy and can happen from my bedroom whenever I feel like it.
On Parties and Perseverance
For me, it’s all a beautiful reckoning. The realization that my priority is all about living life on my terms. Of being my most authentic self. Of being discerning and feeling ok with vulnerability, because I am strong. And that taking care of myself (mind, body, and everything in between) is key to my success as a compassionate, giving, loving human. Reaching this important milestone with a pandemic in the background feels absolute and 100% right. And I’ve never been one for big parties in my honor. I’ve always been someone who likes to observe my birthday quietly and lovingly. Though I have fantasized about one big blowout at some point in my life a la Malcolm Forbes’ epic 70th birthday party in Morocco. I’ve got 20 years to plan. Even though I’ve been in lockdown, my quixotic nature still exists.
From the pandemic to an enlightened revolution, the current state of the world has many of us questioning where we live, how we live, and what we do for a living. It makes you look hard at what’s important. It’s a lens for correction, possibilities, and perseverance. The pandemic has shown us that the path, code, or routine we’ve been following may not work anymore. Or it may make us value the things that keep us safe and stable more than ever before. Reaching 50 means keeping what works, getting rid of the rest. For me, it’s super clear what I need and want. I need to keep going with my personal work, whether designing clothes (a lifelong dream), creating a scent, or writing a book. And I love that I have the time and space to test drive my new era. I’m not quite ready to open that piece of mail from the AARP, and there’s absolutely no rush. Where am I going? And what is it I wanted anyway?
Now’s the time. That’s all I know. And instead of a major celebration with friends and family, I’m going to take some time. Rituals don’t have to be crowded affairs. And after talking to a profoundly spiritual mentor of mine, honoring oneself is the perfect way to spend a birthday of significance. Whether it’s lighting a candle for each intention or making a list of what’s holding me back and burning it and using the ashes to keep my plants healthy (I have plants now; thank you, quarantine), how I want to grow is entirely up to me. And all of us have a big opportunity right now to grow from this seismic paradigm shift. Because someday is right here, right now.
Does turning 50 look anything like I thought it would? Absolutely not. Because it’s much, much better. I feel fortunate to have the life that I have. And that whatever is coming my way, I’m somehow ready for it because I know who I am and what makes me tick. It didn’t take a pandemic to get me there. But the combination of decades of living, loving, and learning mixed with a chaotic world has made me stronger and allowed me to honor this milestone with grace, joy, and solitude. Happy birthday to me.