My mother is the baby of eight, and my father was one of the later arrivals among ten children. Throw in the folks they married and the children the respective couples had together, and I grew up around an awful lot of people with widely varied views about what makes for a good life. All influenced me in one way or another, but none so much as Aunt Toodles.
Long before she reached the half century mark herself, my beloved Aunt Toodles insisted life begins at fifty. That’s when she married for the first time — on Valentine’s Day no less — swapping a lengthy wild-child past for a self-proclaimed role as grand matriarch of the family. I love her more than ice cream and the little dog I named after her.
Aunt Toodles never let facts interfere with her beliefs or shied away from saying what she thought. “If you haven’t figured out who you are and what you want out of life by fifty,” she said, “you never will.” She’d count off her reasons on the fingers of one hand: Financial security, good health, the kids being grown, the wisdom to avoid the mistakes of the past, and no longer caring what anyone else thinks.
Whether through her example or decades of brainwashing and propaganda from her I can’t say, but she made me believe too. Faith moves mountains and belief becomes truth. My experience since hitting the big 5-0 certainly confirms Aunt Toodles’ Theorem.
The first few years after my 50th birthday were rough. The host of health issues facing me, brought on by decades of unhealthy choices, was a wake up call. Change or die.
So I changed. Old dogs can learn new tricks. The joys of life after 50, however, go beyond diet and exercise. Here’s a sampling of things I’d never done before my fiftieth birthday, in no particular order…
* Started a blog.
* Joined a writers group.
* Published a novel…three times.
* Took up running.
* Joined a gym.
* Became the Zumba King of Athens 😉
* Lost forty pounds I’ve kept off for nearly two years.
* Got a dog (I always had cats before).
* Stayed friends with an ex (although I did become friends with the first one many years later).
* Started lifting weights and came to enjoy working out.
* Lived alone without wishing otherwise.
* Rubbed elbows with lots and lots of authors — including many who I now count among my friends.
* Wore a tank top and Speedos in public. Okay, the Speedos were trunks. Still…
I’m tickled pink with my life. Sure, I could complain, but I won’t. Maybe sometimes I whine a little. Be that as it may, I’m well aware that, all in all, it ain’t bad being me.
Whether you’re twenty-something, pushing a hundred, or anywhere in between, life is what you make of it. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. I doubt you’ll be sorry — even if you fail. But you may well regret you never tried.