50 Things I've Learned In 50-Something Years

Soon, I'll be turning 50-something.

There's no point in denying so-called aging -- it's something I wasn't always convinced I'd be here to witness -- but I can't help getting my real age number stuck in my throat when I have to actually say it. It kind of reminds me of the time in fourth grade when I was sucking on a huge sour ball in math class and accidentally swallowed it, but couldn't say anything to the teacher since I wasn't supposed to be eating any candy, much less a huge sour ball... oh, never mind.

So let's just say the birthday after this one is a BIG one that will have a big fat zero next to the first number. There. I kind of said it, right?

To celebrate my birthday, I'll be traveling to Chicago to watch my fist-born run his very first marathon. You bet I'll be screaming on the sidelines when I see him whiz past!

And I don't care if that embarrasses him, my hubby, or my other son, who will be watching right alongside of me. In fact, I've gotten over a lot of things by now. That's one great thing about aging, isn't it? You get to shed your young skin and comfortably zip up a new and improved one.

50 Things I've Learned In 50-Something Years

1. I don't regret things I did when I was younger -- but I do regret things I didn't do.

2. Worrying is futile. It never changes the outcome, anyway -- and most of the things we worry about don't ever end up happening.

3. There are few things that will make you feel like throwing up than hearing the words, "You have cancer."

4. If you ask me for my opinion, I'll be honest. If you don't really want to know, don't ask.

5. But I'll keep my opinions to myself if you don't ask, because that's where they belong -- unless, of course, you are about to do something dangerous/stupid/reckless.

6. If I want to sing in the car, I'm gonna sing in the car. And maybe even move my body a little. I don't care who might be looking through my window. They're strangers, after all. They can think whatever they want to think.

7. It's never too late to make new -- and wonderful -- friends. Some of my best and most enjoyable friends have been made in the last few years.

8. My friends are as precious to me as my family.

9. Good friends are one of life's necessities, up there with watermelon and exercise.

10. I no longer believe the salesperson in the store when they tell me the outfit I'm trying on looks fabulous if I think it doesn't. After all, their job is to sell and move the merchandise out of the store.

11. I'll no longer stuff my feet into shoes that hurt just because the shoes are gorgeous.

12. And I'll no longer let a shoe salesperson talk me into buying an uncomfortable pair of shoes and believe them when they say, "Oh, you have to break them in. Once the leather stretches, they'll be like a second skin."

13. It doesn't pay to be superstitious.

14. I can and should trust my gut.

15. I am definitely not the center of the universe. I might have been at one time (many moons ago), but that was probably not accurate thinking.

16. I no longer take rejection so personally. Mainly because I'm not the center of the universe and it's usually more about the other person than about me.

17. If I tell myself I can do something, I can usually do it.

18. If I convince myself I can't do something, well then, it won 't get done.

19. I used to love cooking. But now, after all these years, I'm beginning to resent it. It just takes too much damn time. And time is precious.

20. Speaking up is way underrated.

21. I'll never get to read all the books I want to read.

22. Of all the books I've read, I can't remember details of probably half of them. But at least I do remember whether I've liked them or not.

23. I might look "old" to a 20-something, but I'm not planning to act that way to satisfy their notions.

24. It was okay for my children's friends to call me "Mrs. Kraft" when they were younger, but now that we're all adults, I'd much prefer them to switch over to "Sheryl."

25. You're never too old to learn. It's when you stop learning that you start to grow old.

26. I miss my vivacious and loving grandmother every day. I'm glad I have that big chunky charm bracelet and that special lamp of hers.

27. I also miss my dear father every day. And I'll probably never stop.

28. I desperately miss all of the people who meant something to me in my life, including my two best friends who died way too young.

29. Sometimes it's okay to break promises if no one gets hurt.

30. Never say never. I swore I wouldn't go to my big high school reunion. And I broke that promise to myself -- and was so pleasantly surprised.

31. You can get over sadness even if you think you never will. While it never disappears, it dissipates with time.

32. Life is too short to put up with a bad massage.

33. Even though I might think I'm right, it doesn't mean I always am.

34. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I don't have to agree with it, nor pretend I do. But their opinion belongs to them and it's not up to me to judge.

35. It is possible to love your children as much as life itself.

36. Earning an advanced degree at age 50 feels way better than earning one right out of college.

37. If I don't like the food I'm eating in a restaurant, I'm going to tell the waiter/waitress the truth when he/she asks, "How is everything?" without fearing that they'll spit in my food.

38. Exercise is an excellent way to manage stress and stay off things like Xanax and alcohol.

39. A sore knee/shoulder/wrist doesn't have to mean giving up exercise; it just means doing it differently.

40. No many how many weights I lift, there is no way I will ever have Michelle Obama's arms. In fact, I'll probably injure myself instead.

41. It's also okay to wear earplugs when you're at a concert/wedding/bar or bat mitzvah/in spin class with ear-splitting music.

42. Leaving a show or movie early because you don't like it is not going to hurt anyone's feelings.

43. Saying no or "Sorry, I'm too busy" is okay.

44. It's okay to ask someone to speak up or slow down if you can't understand what they're saying.

45. I don't have to convince myself to love my wrinkles and lines just because I've "earned" them.

46. If my legs can rock a miniskirt, then I'm wearing one.

47. It's okay to eat dessert first -- and only.

48. It's okay to take a nap in the middle of the day if you're tired.

49. I can learn a lot about life from my own children.

50. I am truly privileged to be growing old... I think of it as being able to renew my lease on this Earth.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

50 Things Every Woman Should Have And Know By 50