For the last 2 months I’ve been referring to myself as 50, even though I’m 49. It’s a weird way that I trick my brain into being comfortable with the age prior to my birthday. I’ve been doing this for years. It was working great – I was at peace with it, I’m 50, no big deal.
However, as I opened up the envelope from my mother last night, I pulled out the birthday card and there it was…
Happy 50th Birthday!
My heart jumped. Seeing the number ‘50’ on the card was jolting. I was in disbelief. I immediately thought…shit…how can I be turning 50? The numbers looked so foreign to me.
I had trained my brain, but I hadn’t trained my eyes. It felt like I just had the wind knocked out of me; I feel like I’m 30 I thought. How did this happen? How could I be 50?
It started with some pink hair…
I decided to face this momentous half century occasion with some new pink hair. It reminded me of when I used to go to raves wearing a hot pink wig and dance all night long. Ohhh…those were the days.
Granted, I didn’t go all out, but instead went with a little peek-a-boo pink.
I called it my mid-life crisis – but my girlfriend Paula quickly corrected me, “No…it’s your mid-life celebration.” I smiled – and thought, she’s right. It’s amazing how powerful a single word is.
Leaving my 40’s Behind
It’s not a secret, I really disliked my 40’s . It was a tough decade mentally and physically. However, I had a great time traveling and blogging, the decade was full of incredible new adventures all over the globe. What I didn’t like was coping with getting older.
Sometimes I think the hardest relationship to manage and cultivate is the one with myself.
It’s hard for me to describe the aging process, but for me it has been somewhat similar to the 5 stages of grief. I feel as if I have lost something – my youth, beauty, health, and ability to concentrate – to name a few things.
Combine all of that with perimenopause and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. In fact, I spent much of my 40’s trying to figure out where the old Sherry had disappeared to. My confidence and self-esteem seemed to take a nose dive. And my once normal sleep had turned into night sweats and a constant tossing and turning.
The physical nature of perimenopause consumed me in my 40s.
The mood swings and depression weren’t any easier to deal with. For the most part I just tried to power through it. I have always been tough…so I told myself I could get through this. But I finally had to give in to medication. Thank God for medication.
Ch Ch Ch Changes
I recently read this article and about All the Ways Your Body Changes After 40 and thought about my own struggles.
•Forgetfulness becomes more common
Holy Jesus…make this stop. It’s one thing to have all of these physical changes, but when you can’t concentrate, I find it infuriating. I used to have a great attention span, and now poof…it’s gone.
•You may notice thinning hair.
One of the reasons why I colored my hair pink is because I wanted to do something fun with it before I lost it all. I’ve been diagnosed with some weirdly rare case of alopecia where you lose your hair, scar tissue is formed, and then it won’t ever grow back. They say it has to do with hormones, but it’s not your typical hair thinning as you get older. My whole hair line has moved back about 1 ½ inches. I lost all of my eyebrow hair too – which is part of the lovely alopecia process. Losing your hair for a woman is one of the most debilitating things (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/ricki-lake-s-hair-loss-photos-spark-overdue-conversation-about-ncna1110486). Granted, things could be worse, but there is not a day where I don’t look at my receding hairline and am not self-conscience about it.
So, I colored it pink because I thought I might as well celebrate it while I still had it. And speaking of celebrating, the best thing I have done is get semi-permanent eyebrow tattoos…it has changed my life. I’m just wish I could tattoo a new hair line in!
•Stubborn grays might appear.
Hell – I’d take the gray hair in a second if meant I wasn’t going to lose any more of my hair!
•Hot flashes might start as early as 40
It’s so strange when your whole body heats up like a furnace for no apparent reason and no warning. I’ve learned to dress in layers all the time. That way when the furnace turns on – I can start shedding clothes.
•Your bladder becomes ‘leaky’
•Weight loss won’t come as easily.
I can tell you what you don’t want to do in your 40’s…stop exercising. It’s a bad idea. Thanks to a number of injuries that I’ve been fighting for the last 5 years, as well as a more manic travel schedule – I stopped running and exercising. Bad idea. I’ve gained about 20 pounds in 40’s, and that’s not going to be easy to take off…but I am working on it.
•Moisturize to help avoid wrinkles.
This is something I wish I would have really paid attention to earlier. Ah…but I’ve learned to accept and love my wrinkles. One of my favorite songs, The Story by Brandi Carlile has helped me see the that wrinkles have some good qualities:
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
I’m not one of those people with beautiful skin. I look my age, but that’s ok, because I don’t act it!
So here I am turning 50 and I’m happy to say I actually feel like I’m on the other side in a way. There is an acceptance that has happened lately that I hope and pray it lasts. I’m starting to feel like the old me again; confident, independent, strong. I’ve started exercising again, and have even started up running a bit.
The wrinkles, the hair loss, the forgetfulness – well – I have really just started accepting it all. There’s really nothing I can do about it. And I feel good.
Trying to Keep Kicking and Stretching!
They say as you age, you shift from promotion motivation – seeing our goals in terms of what we can gain, or end up better off, to prevention motivation – our goal is to keep things running smoothly. I know I’ve made this switch. I actually care very little about gaining anything at this point (except weight!). I love to simplify and keep things small. I put much more time into trying to get healthy, physically and mentally. This is why I live in a small studio apartment that’s the size of most people’s living rooms. I love the simplicity of it. And it allows me to continue travel blogging and doing the stuff I love.
I also credit things like travel, home, and trying new things to this transition into acceptance.
The Power of Travel
I know what you are thinking…when is she going to talk about travel – isn’t this a travel blog?!
I do believe that travel is a big piece of me getting on the right track. It makes me happy. I always feel younger and alive when I’m out traveling and exploring. It keeps me on my toes, and it helps me understand the world. I may be slowing down my travel a bit, but I’m not giving it up!
In fact, for my 50th birthday I’m celebrating by traveling to a new country – El Salvador!
The Power of Home
This is probably the best change I made in my 40’s – I got a home base. I needed it – more than I ever knew. I loved being nomadic, but I knew my time living without a home needed to end. And now I’m happier than ever having a home to come back to, having regular doctors that know me, having friends who tolerate my travel schedule, and getting to foster kittens.
The Power of Trying New Things
The coach at my gym says,
It’s so true. Challenge becomes even more important as we get older, it keeps us young in many ways and keeps us relevant.
Surfing into 50 in El Salvador
This is why I’m not just going to El Salvador to do my normal travel writing stuff, I’m going there to attend a surf and yoga camp with my girlfriends! I went to a surf camp last year in Panama and loved it so much I wanted to do it again when I was turning 50.
Let me be clear, I didn’t love it because I was good at surfing. I think I only was able to stand up twice! I loved it because I was learning and challenging myself. I felt alive again and learned how to be more comfortable in the waves. I felt like I gave my body and mind a big detox and I wanted to experience that again for my 50th birthday!
I have girlfriends from all parts of my life here joining me. My sister, my oldest niece, a friend from my life in San Francisco, 2 girlfriends from high school (one that knew me since 4th grade!), and my girlfriend Charlie who I did the Rickshaw Run in India with! Remember that time I drove 2,300 miles in 14 days the length of India in a 3 wheeled, 7 horsepower rickshaw…now that will keep you young!
You’ve heard of destination weddings, well this is a destination birthday!
None of them know how to surf either, but I’m so proud of them for getting out of their comfort zone and come join me on this adventure to learn something new. We’ll all feel younger!
The power of trying new things is how I choose to deal with getting older.
50 SPF at 50 Giveaway
I decided to celebrate my birthday on a surfboard, and I also wanted to give you all a chance to celebrate with me! I have partnered with a few of my favorite brands and gave away products that will keep you looking great at 50!
We all know how important sunscreen is as we get older, so I talked to a few of my favorite companies and they’ve agreed to join me in this birthday celebration! I gave away a SPF50 beach package including A Carve Designs SPF50 swimsuit, rashguard and beach bag, a Wallaroo Hat Company SPF50 Hat, and a $50 Amazon Gift card from Allianz Travel Insurance USA to buy a supply of sunscreen!
Note: Enter Period is over.
This is only available to US Residents
A Final Thought on Turning 50
I recently watched the totally touching and funny movie, JoJo Rabbit. At the end there was a quote by poet Rainer Maria Rilke that I adored. In fact, I intend to use it as my motto in the 50’s.
Thanks for hanging with me through my troubling 40’s. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a kick ass decade!
PIN IT FOR LATER!