How to Turn 51 Gracefully

Birthday cake image
One to Grow On

I‘ve never been one of those people who absolutely dreads their birthday. I was married to a man who saw every birthday as a curse and I always wondered why; doesn’t it beat the alternative?”

“Birthdays are good for your health. Studies have shown that people who have more birthdays live the longest.” ~ Unknown

This week, I turned 51. By comparison, my parents seemed “older” somehow and I think that, with every generation, it gets more difficult to know what a certain age looks like. None of my fellow classmates look 51. Most people place me in my mid to late 30’s although sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I see the age. I certainly feel it at times, particularly when I squat down to do something and panic, wondering how I’m going to get back up again without something for leverage. WTF?! Since when did my knees become rebellious enough to stop cooperating? And then there are times when someone hands me something to read or a photograph and my immediate thought is, “Hang on, let me grab my glasses.” I put them on and then have to do the arm extension thing to find THE RIGHT distance for a clear view. By this time, I realize that I’m looking over them to determine if it’s blurrier with or without them.

All joking aside, my Feel-Good moments this week truly did make my week that much better. After a particularly rough time in the days leading up to my birthday, I needed a day of pampering and enjoyment. Self-care was extremely necessary this week and I was not disappointed:

gifts image
Writing, Reading, & Jewelry gifts from kiddos

Feel-Good Element #1: My birthday was pretty incredible this year. I spent much of it on the phone with loved ones who always reach out on the day, including an old friend {I’d known as a teen} who got back in touch on the day. Apart from the phone calls and messages filled with wishes, love, and hugs, I’m happy to report that my kiddos ALWAYS go out of their way to make my day special. My daughter and her best friend {he’s like my bonus kiddo who is very supportive of us and he calls me “Mom”} went to get some petit fours from my favorite bakery in town so that they could put a candle in one of them {Awwww…}. The night before, she took me shopping for some new pens and composition books for my writing, so the experience was part of the gift. My son bought me a book and fashion watch from my Amazon Wish List accompanied by a beautiful card with a meaningful personal {handwritten} sentiment inside. We ended the afternoon with a trip out for coffee and the day ended with more phone calls, messages and chats.  I am very blessed, thanks to the friends who continuously support me and make me feel special not only on my birthday but all year round. I didn’t even experience the usual “post-birthday blues” after my birthday this year…and that’s saying something.

Feel-Good Element #2: Two {age} confidence boosts happened this week:

The first was when we met with my daughter’s personal R.N.; she looked familiar to me, so I asked her where she grew up/went to school and she told me. Then, she said, “I’m much older than you”, trying to explain why we might not know each other. I then said, “No, I’m sure you’re not”, which prompted her to ask how old I am {she knew my birthday was Wednesday}. I said, “I’m 51.” She looked taken aback and admitted, “I’m 52.” I wish her loads of good karma as a result. {grin}

Sweet message image
Best. Message. Ever.

The second was when I received a message from a dear friend of mine, who told me that his parents guessed I was 15 when he showed them my picture. I thought that it was incredibly sweet that he would send me such a message. It’s not that I have a problem with my age but, of course, it’s always nice to hear people say that I look younger than I am. As he said, it was a really great gift for my birthday and I also wish him and his parents copious amounts of good karma.

Good karma fairy, go bring abundance to those lovely people. 🙂

Feel-Good Element #3: I have coffee chats with friends to look forward to on both days this weekend, which means TWO separate visits to P.J.’s. And y’all know how much I love that. My best friend/Café Sanctuary co-person happens to be visiting her son nearby and so we arranged a spontaneous meeting. Yay! It’s not often that I get to see her, so it was a nice surprise when she messaged me, telling me she would be close enough to drive here. The Sunday coffee is with someone I’ve known since 3rd grade and born the day after me. She called me on my birthday to remind me that she was still 50 for 24 more hours. Funny.

“Aging is not an option, not for anyone. It is how gracefully we handle the process and how lucky we are, as the process handles us.” ~  Cindy McDonald

So how do we handle “aging” gracefully?

Well, it’s a very personal thing, based on experiences, perceptions, and external influences {the media}. Although we might dismiss the media’s criticism of celebrities through their nit-picky articles and bad pictures, we still subconsciously “hear” their criticism, which affects the way we view ourselves when we look in the mirror. Deep down, we know about the Photoshopping to remove “perceived” flaws, but we still try to measure up to an unrealistic standard of “beauty”. We should be asking why anyone gets to decide what our flaws are and why the signs of aging are “frowned upon” by society, to a point where people are so willing to endure Botox injections to “fill in” the wrinkles. We, as women, should be more accepting that who we are is not about our appearance and feel more comfortable in our own skin.

What does turning 51 mean for me? I don’t focus so much on the number because we can’t do anything about that number. I handle every birthday by:

  • Staying young-at-heart. How we think is an important factor in our age. Our overall outlook can make a world of difference either way. I come from a long line of women who knew how to have fun and giggle. My mother and her family always knew how to have a good time, thanks to my uncles who strived to make everyone laugh. I grew up with a family who always sat around the table, telling jokes and acting silly and I loved it. I have always tried to pass on their legacy of humor to my kids, who will tell you how hilarious I am. They keep me young and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Taking care of myself. My mother taught me, by example, that self-care will keep me healthier, active for longer. She didn’t experience very serious health problems until her 80’s because she ate right, exercised, and received regular health checks. Prolonging life is one thing; maintaining a quality of life is just as important, health-wise. I do exercise, eat a healthy diet, keep hydrated, get enough rest, manage stress through sun exposure and meditation, surround myself with uplifting, supportive people, and keep a regular skin care regimen.
  • Embracing greys and wrinkles. I don’t believe in dying my hair to cover the greys or resorting to Botox/plastic surgery to fight wrinkles. It’s easy to become slaves to hair dye and other methods of maintaining a “youthful” appearance, but it doesn’t change the fact that one’s hair is still grey underneath the dye and the wrinkles would still be there without the process of “smoothing” the wrinkles.
  • Doing what I love. After living in oppression for so many years, I emerged from that situation determined to live my life on my terms, doing what makes me happy ~ writing, helping other people, pursuing my interests, and anything else that makes me feel authentically myself. And without apology, of course. “Doing what you love is the cornerstone to having abundance in your life.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer 
  • Viewing birthdays positively. When I celebrate my birthday, I focus more on the friends I’ve made, the privilege of being another year older, the things I’ve learned, what I’ve accomplished, experienced, survived, observed. I anticipate the year ahead and think about the goals I want to set.

In closing, I leave you this stream of thought: I believe that complaining about age and generally being a Scrooge about birthdays robs me of joy and the opportunity to celebrate life. Every year on my birthday, I enjoy hearing from those who reach out to me and help me celebrate through heartfelt messages and meaningful conversations. My children make a huge fuss over me, which tells me they are grateful to have me as their mom. My point is ~ instead of focusing on the negatives {the aging}, we must look for the positives {the things people do to make our day as special as possible}.

And then there’s this: “Birthday’s are natures way of telling us to eat more cake.” Is that such a bad thing?

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20 thoughts on “How to Turn 51 Gracefully

    1. Thank you so much, Carlos! I’m so glad you dropped by and took the time to comment. Thanks for what you bring to the group. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you since you’ve been more active. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great article Carol, and so recognizable. I’m almost 52 yrs old, and I still celebrate the day. I allow myself what I like doing best on that day. Make sure I spend some time with my 82 yrs old mom and I generally enjoy all the well wishes I get. Plus my loved ones pamper me of course.
    It’s true that there are downsides, the creaking knees have found me too, and the reading glasses can be very annoying. But as long as I get to use them to play videogames, I guess I’m staying young at heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Video games DO help stay young. I have always played games with my kids and they consider me “cool” {mostly! lol} as a result.

      Glad you stopped by. Always good hearing from you. {Hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Belated Birthday!!! 😀 I’m sorry I missed it; I didn’t realize it was your birthday! I’m so happy it was a great day for you, and I love your outlook on birthdays in general! I agree completely with you, and with those who say you look so young – you definitely do!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my dear! I always enjoy hearing from you and appreciate your wishes and kind words.

      Please check out my latest post. I think you’ll find that a very special blog is mentioned. 😉

      I’ll write you an email soon, dearie. Things have been kinda crazy here, but I haven’t forgotten. {hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awh, thank you so much for mentioning me!! 😀 That was really kind, I appreciate it. 🙂 No worries, just whenever you get time to email back is fine, I completely understand being busy!! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! {hugs}

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Carol 🙂 This is such a beautiful read. Your perspective is so inspiring and empowering. Belated Happy, happy birthday wishes ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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