"I’d like to say that I am embracing this milestone birthday with boundless grace and gratitude. But honestly? I’m dragging my heels more than a little bit."
I've still got it, right? That's what I quietly told myself as I was out having dinner with friends one night. Since it was Friday, and I was taking Saturday off, I could stay out as late as I wanted. But secretly -- I was ready to head home by 9 p.m. and curl up with Netflix.
The day I became vested in the Teachers Retirement System of Texas, I retired. I was 51, and had taught school for 29 years. Sure, I was young for a retiree, but aging school teachers are measured with a multiplier more in terms of 'dog years' than regular years.
Turning 40 10 years ago wasn't so bad -- I realized I could finally stop explaining my behaviors and choices to others. Turning 50 was a tad different, not just because it's half of a century, but because there have been points in my life where reaching 50 might not have been possible.
One of the best presents I've ever received was something I gave to myself. It was three years ago, and for my 50th birthday, when I gave myself permission to try something outside of my comfort zone.
I still feel pain, I get mad, I suffer setbacks and think of tweaking this or that when I look in the mirror but overall I've become my own cheerleader and because of that more positive things seem to be happening around me.
In less than a week, I'll be dipping my toes in the big 5-0. But it's not the toe-dipping that rattles my nerves. As all mid-lifers know, it starts with a little 'testing of the water' and the next thing we know we're half-way through a decade and beyond!
I used to run past construction sites in NYC, as the workmen whistled and shouted out a list of catcalls that went from "Rambette ... to "Beat me up, baby!" I suppose this was their reaction to my having embraced the women's bodybuilding craze of the 1980s.