Today is my birthday and I’m 51 years old. I’m finding that 51 doesn’t have the special cachet that 50 held. There is less drama and hoopla when turning 51 than there was at turning 50. And maybe I’m just being really sensitive but there seems to be less people saying things like “You – 51? No!” and more people offering me anti-aging skin care products.
I’ve been thinking about aging and trying to pin down my own feelings around the topic. I wonder how long the term “middle-aged” can be used. I certainly don’t expect to be alive at 102 so I don’t think middle-aged is a very accurate description of who I am. So I wonder what IS?
I like my birthday and will celebrate “Birthday Month” throughout March if I am so indulged. It also comes just a few days after the anniversary of the day I met my boyfriend, Rem. This year we celebrated 12 years together. So there is a nice progress from our annual Valentine’s projects to our anniversary and to my birthday.
Turning 50 was special for me and it was very positive. I wanted to mark the date and celebrate it with something special. I requested and received lovely diamond earrings from Rem. Every time I put them on I feel cherished.
A friend hosted a circle of wise, beautiful and funny women from different areas of my life to gather and mark the occasion. I asked each of them for a birthday wish in the form of a song, blessing, poem or whatever expression they wanted. The food was potluck and it was delicious. There were flowers, singing, and abundant creativity. I was honored and celebrated.
This year I haven’t made plans much beyond a long weekend on the coast later in the month. I’m o.k. with a quieter, more low key birthday. Our visit to Sea Ranch will include some crafting, walks along the bluffs and beaches, cooking, reading, and napping.
I’m going to make an appointment for a vigorous total body scrub down and massage at the Korean-style Imperial Spa in San Francisco. I hope to visit the gardens at Filoli in Woodside with a friend to enjoy whatever is in bloom. If we go soon, we’ll see the daffodils. They are one of my favorite flowers: the sight of blooming daffodils means my birthday is almost here. The picture at the top of this post is from a visit to Filoli last February.
Another friend and I will be getting together for dinner and to work on our Image Journals, a wonderful creative outlet I’ll blog about another time. She has a January birthday so this is for both of us.
In the last few months I’ve started this blog and continue to love sharing my thoughts and recipes. In late September I decided to make healthier choices with my eating and exercise. I’m logging it all daily; weighing and measuring my food, keeping track of my workouts, and going to Jazzercise. Since then I’ve lost 37.5 lbs. I’m more active and I’m eating lots more veggies, fruit, whole grains and beans and less whole eggs, ice cream, bread and butter.
I’m really proud of myself and very grateful to one friend for suggesting the food logging site, My Food Diary, since it had been helpful for her when she wanted to take off baby-weight. I’m also thankful to my friends and family members who’ve been supportive of these new choices I’m making. I do feel better, have more energy, and believe that losing weight is making an investment in my long-term health. I do admit to one small regret: I’ve learned that the lines on my 51-year-old face show up more since I’ve lost weight.
In spite of this, I wanted some new pictures of myself. The picture I’ve been using in my profile was taken a year ago at my birthday celebration. It represents the whole day and the joyful event. So, the other day, I got this idea: to ask people in my life to take my picture. I want to see not just the lines in my forehead but to see a thinner, or as I like to think of it, a more concentrated me. I also thought if I had different friends taking the photos I would dwell less on whether or not my eyes are the same size (they’re not) or if I should should start saving for Botox and instead associate the pictures with the photographers and the experience of semi-spontaneous portraits. So far, so good!
Call me a boomer or mature or fifty-something – it doesn’t really matter. I think it turns out that my birthday plans for turning 51 are kind of like my life plans: take care of myself, spend time with family and friends, do the things I love and just keep on living. Happy Birthday to me!
Thanks to my photographers, in order: