50 Ways to Celebrate 50 Years

I love celebrating birthdays….OTHER people’s birthdays!

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I have this strange  love – hate relationship with acknowledgment.  Sure, it feels good when a friend remembers or offers to celebrate with me, but at the same time, I do NOT like being the center of attention.  Bottom line, I’d rather celebrate someone else’s birthday than my own!

But here I sit, EXACTLY 365 days away from turning 50 – and I’m realizing it’s kind of a big deal.

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Don’t get me wrong!  It’s not that I’m all of sudden seeking or wanting birthday attention.  It’s just that I can’t stop dwelling on this concept of turning 50 YEARS OLD.

It’s technically not the half way point of one’s life (unless they live to be 100), but it IS one half of a century, and that’s a big number to wrap my brain around.

When I was younger, and turning 50 felt a LONG way away – I had a preconceived notion of what that would look like – frumpy, frazzled, middle aged woman, dressed in a stained apron, baking cookies.  Kind of 1950’s – I know!

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Regardless of the picture in my head, my prior belief was that turning 50 was the beginning of the end, the prime had passed and it was all downhill from there!

The good news is…..NONE OF THAT CRAP IS TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here I am, in the best mental and physical shape of my life!  I don’t for a second view this impending birthday as an ending, but rather a beginning.  I feel a sense of freedom that I’ve never had before.  It’s not freedom based on the age of my children, our financial status or having paid my life dues.  It’s an internal freedom – a freedom to do and go and be ME  – authentically!  A freedom to LIVE LIFE without inhibition.

Why the heck am I writing about this today, when I have a whole year before I turn 50?

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Because I’ve decided to not wait until October 27, 2015, my 50th birthday, to celebrate being 50!

If you think about it – TODAY is the first day of my 50th year.  So I’ve declared this a BIRTHDAY YEAR – as such, I will celebrate throughout the entire year!

That’s a little daunting, to say the least.  But also somewhat exciting, with a bit of liberating mixed in.

Looking at the scope of my whole life, it feels kind of like an intermission; a rest period, a break from the action, time to stand up and stretch before hunkering back down for the rest of the show.

Or as my BFF and favorite Aunt Barb called it – my halftime show!  I won’t be hiring a marching band, pom pom girls or baton twirlers – but that doesn’t mean I can’t fill this year with some HOOPLA of my own!

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50 WAYS TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS

  1. Buy fresh flowers
  2. Go dancing – with my husband
  3. Go dancing with my girlfriends – because that’s a whole different experience than #2!
  4. Drive somewhere I’ve never been, using an old fashion road map to get there (NO GPS!)
  5. Stay in my pj’s and watch 3 movies in a row
  6. Spend the night at a bed & breakfast
  7. Open up my memory box – and read every card and diary entry from my childhood
  8. Have (or go to) a Sip & Paint party
  9. Get a facial
  10. Keep a journal / scrap book documenting my celebration this year
  11. Visit a vineyard to experience real wine tasting
  12. Go to the theater to see a play
  13. Dig my flute out of the junk closet and PLAY it again (maybe take lessons?)
  14. Plan a girl’s ski weekend
  15. Make a photo wall – blow up and frame my favorite pictures from the past 50 years
  16. See a ballet
  17. Get tickets to a concert (U2, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5)
  18. Experiment wearing new lipstick colors
  19. Go on a weekend bike trip (New England, Colorado?)
  20. Make chocolate fondue
  21. Travel back home to Connecticut for a walk down memory lane
  22. Buy a convertible sports car – a girl can dream, right?
  23. Take a surfing lesson
  24. Go to the park – and swing
  25. See a live comedian perform
  26. Prepare my childhood favorite dish – Chicken Divan – and don’t attempt to make it Paleo
  27. Grow a vegetable garden – this could fall under the “a girl can dream, right?” category too!
  28. Write a letter to my grandparents – recalling memories I had of them growing up, things that have stuck with me and traditions I have passed onto my children
  29. Drink an expensive (relative to my norm) bottle of wine
  30. Get a tattoo!
  31. Visit an art museum (in Norfolk….or New York?) with Peter
  32. Return to Burlington, VT to reminisce on my college years
  33. Watch the sun rise at the beach

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Clearly my celebration list is a work in progress.  Celebrating me and my life is not something I do naturally.  This will surely be an interesting year as I dabble in and practice this thing called CELEBRATION.  Since today is the first day of my 50th year – I better go get this party started!

with Gratitude, Joy & Love,

The Gift of Time

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My aunt Barb and I have an extraordinary relationship.  She was just 16 years old when I was born, but she immediately began to cultivate our bond.

As a toddler, she would take me to the park, and when strangers would comment on “her child”, she would respond as though she was my mom and I her daughter.

Although we lived states apart, my aunt’s words and actions showed me how much she cared for me.  She always made me feel special and adored.  Best of all, her love was unconditional.

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Our relationship evolved over the years.  What I am most grateful for is that my aunt allowed our adult – child relationship to completely transition into a peer based friendship.  We frequently refer to each other as a “sister – friend – mother – daughter”, because our relationship fulfills so many roles for both of us.

As Barb began having children of her own, her commitment to parenthood took priority, as it should.  Our love for each other never faltered.  But our ability to finish a conversation, let alone spend quality time together, had diminished greatly!  Once I gave birth to my first child, and we were both moms raising children, our inability to complete a sentence at times became almost comical.

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With our birthdays being just 12 days apart, every fall we would both pose the annual question “What do you want for your birthday?”.  But in 1996 my answer to her birthday inquiry was unexpected and definitely life changing.

I didn’t need or want any material items.  My house was filled with more sweaters, jewelry, books and trinkets than I could possibly use or fully appreciate.  This time, when she asked me what I wanted for my birthday, my response was TIME.  All I wanted was uninterrupted time with her.  Time to finish a conversation, time to eat a meal together, time to laugh, time to put each other first, time away from our responsibilities of mommy-hood.

I wanted to give her the gift of my time….and I wanted to receive the gift of her time!

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She left her 8 and 11 year old daughters with her husband, and I left my 6 month old son with my guy, and off we went for 24 hours of uninterrupted bliss!

We talked incessantly.  We ate excessive amounts of chocolate.  We laughed until we snorted, and tears rolled down our legs.  We shared secrets.  We drank mimosas, because we could.  We skipped down the street holding hands.  We stayed up way past sunset, and slept well after the sun rose.  We lived those 24 hours to their fullest.  When we parted, with tears in both our eyes, we vowed to do it again next year.

Every fall since then, we have stayed loyal to our commitment to share the gift of time with each other.

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We’ve met at the beach, in the city, and on the mountains.  We’ve celebrated in the beating sun, the pouring rain and the whipping wind.  We’ve spent time shopping, laying on the beach, getting pedicures and massages, and hiking through the woods.  We’ve eaten home cooked concoctions and dined out at 5-star restaurants.  We’ve napped in the middle of the day, and watched movies well past the middle of the night.  We’ve talked about the frivolous as well as how to solve world peace.  We’ve smiled until our faces hurt and laughed until our belly’s ached.

No matter where we go, or what we do, our birthday celebration is always perfect, because we are together!

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Today begins the 18th year of this most amazing tradition.  There are no surprises.  We both know what this weekend will hold – 48 hours of joy, laughter, soul searching, gratitude, story telling, connecting and massive amounts of unconditional love.

The gift of time is priceless!  Whether it’s a 30 minute phone call, a 2 hour lunch, a 6 hour evening out, or a weekend together….giving the gift of your time to someone that matters to you, is the best gift you can give, both them and yourself!

Happy Birthday Barb!  xoxo

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with Joy & Gratitude,

Honoring my Sister

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All families face some level of dysfunction, and ours is no exception.  Although as a teenager I wished I had the perfect family, I’ve come to not only understand, but embrace the dysfunctionality I encountered while growing up.  One of the greatest lessons it taught me was to take responsibility and choose which relationships to maintain in my life, and which ones to release.

 

She is my sister by blood, but my friend by choice.

 

Six years after I was born, my parents had a second child, my sister Rebecca Lynn.  Although I like to call her Becky, Beck, Beckela or The Beckster.  She is my sister by blood, but I choose her as my friend, and that is freaking AWESOME!

Tomorrow is my sweet sister’s birthday.  I want to give her one of the two greatest gifts I believe we can give someone.  The first is the gift of our time.  She lives a few states north of me, so sadly, I can’t be there to celebrate with her this year.  But the second is the gift of acknowledgement.

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We typically have little to no idea what a difference we make in other people’s lives.  We don’t get to experience ourselves the way the world does.  We live from our interpretation of who we think we are, which often times is very different from how people perceive us.  When we acknowledge someone, we are being a mirror for them, reflecting back who they really are.  With that said, I’m going to celebrate my sister by acknowledging her.

 

10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BECKY

1.  You love chocolate!  For as long as I can remember, you’ve had a love affair with chocolate.  I can still picture the time that you fell off the dock and into the water, completely submerged, except for your hand bobbing above the surface with the Hershey bar safe and dry!  Early on, any chocolate would do, but as you’ve matured, your taste for good chocolate has become more refined.

2.  You have a “never give up” attitude.  You’ve been knocked down in life, bruised at times, but you always get back up and put one foot in front of another.  You have a mental toughness that is inspiring.

3.  You are one of the funniest people I know.  You aren’t a joke teller or a comedian by nature.  What you possess is a goofy, silly, laugh till I snort kind of funniness.  The best part is your ability to laugh at yourself, at your own silliness.  That is contagious!

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Aunt Barbie, Becky, Debi…..being silly!

4.  You value family time.  You don’t desire anything elaborate.  It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, a good game of cards or hunkering down for a family movie night.  Being together is important to you and you don’t hesitate to initiate it.

5.  You are my favorite person to watch reality shows with!  I love when we sneak away from the rest of the family and steal some girl time in my bedroom to watch So You Think You Can Dance (or any of our other favorites!)

6.  You love to travel.  I know you don’t get to experience it as much as you’d like, but I’ve always viewed you as courageous and adventurous for your desire and willingness to travel, especially abroad.

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7.  You are a strong, independent, competent woman.  Your ability to be so incredibly self sufficient is something I aspire to be.  Sometimes when I encounter a problem or situation that I don’t have the answer to, I think “what would Becky do?”.

8.  You are an amazing mom!  I can already see you shaking your head in disagreement.  But hear me out.  You are not perfect, but none of us are.  You do the very best you can, day in and day out.  The two greatest gifts you give your boys is that you love them and you show them how to find the funny in the ordinary and the overwhelming.  Love and laughter – priceless qualities!

9.  You forgave me for being a mean big sister when we were growing up.  It wasn’t you, you did nothing wrong!  After having been an only child for 6 years, I was fearful about having to share our parent’s love and affection with you, and I took it out on you.  I’m sorry I hurt you!  THANK YOU for giving me a second chance!

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10.  You are AWESOME, simply awesome…..exactly the way you are!  I’m so grateful you are my sister and that we’ve shared a  lifetime of milestones, family dysfunction, laughter, tears and lots of chocolate together!  I CHOOSE you – as my friend!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Becky!

I love you and can’t wait to see you for Thanksgiving when I can show you ALL the hysterical photos of you making funny faces that I found for this blog post…..but decided not to share without your permission!

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with Joy & Gratitude,