New skills; or, 50 and fearless!

So, after a bit of agonizing over my inevitable 50th birthday… inevitable since I’ve continued to live…I have come to terms with my new decade. I turned 50 in September, and although I don’t want to seem totally self-absorbed, it gave me a little heartburn to realize that I’m now officially old enough for an AARP membership.

I’ve heard some women speak of being “50 and fabulous,” and while that’s a line I’d love to claim for myself, I can’t honestly say that I’m fabulous on a daily basis. My fabulous moments are somewhat hit and miss. Most of the time I have to categorize myself more in the “doing the best I can” mode.

My new phrase that celebrates turning 50 and showcases the spirit I’m striving for is “50 and fearless.” This is not to say that there are not plenty of things in life worthy of fear. Serious illness, loss, concerns about family, relationship issues, money troubles, the leak in my bathroom…all bring some level of fear to my mind. Some fears are easily calmed, and anything that can be resolved with money, in my opinion, is not too big a problem in the first place. It’s only money, right? But some fears are too real, too big, to gloss over with a pep talk. Some things can’t be bought with money. Some things have to be accepted, acknowledged, lived with.

But the attitude…that’s what I want. The spirit of fearlessness is my goal. The spirit that says “bring it on, I’ll find a way to meet this challenge with grace and dignity.” And if I can nurture that attitude in myself, if I can face life with boldness, then maybe turning 50 will be ok after all. It feels a bit like arriving, although I don’t claim to have everything figured out. But by this point in my life, I’ve lived long enough to know that whatever comes, most likely the process of finding a solution to a problem, or finding the grace to accept, will stretch me in new ways, will broaden my horizons, will bring new insight. And after all, isn’t that valuable in itself? I know more, and less, now than I did at 20. I am more confident and more tolerant, less sure that I have the answers to everything. But I believe I am kinder, gentler, softer, and yet have more ability to endure. And as I take stock of myself at the beginning of this new decade, I’d like to believe I’m progressing, not just aging.

So that’s my goal and challenge to myself: to be 50 and fearless. To be courageous and to embrace whatever comes; to seek the opportunity to grow, to stretch, to find new strengths, new skills, new horizons. And who knows? Maybe one day I will be fabulous as well as fearless…with a lot of effort, and a generous supply of grace.

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