|Me. Very happy to have survived my first day being 50.|
Fast forward to the year I went to the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and my dream of being a Forest Ranger vanished in the ether. I really wasn't ready to be away from home and didn't have the tools to be independent. So I failed. It was 1981. A year later I was a floundering 20 year old with no job, no education beyond high school and absolutely NO clue what work I might be able to do. I was blessed that someone gave me an opportunity that lead me on a path to regular office work. I met a boy and I was madly in love. We were going to get married and have a family and live happily ever after. By the time I was 40, in 2002, I'd be a busy mom, wife, etc. Life was amazing.
When I turned 30, in 1992, I was one year out of a disaster of a marriage (not to the boy I fell in love with; he dumped me...LOL), one year into a relationship with a man I was head-over-heels in love with(my current husband), and I was just getting my feet wet in the Financial Industry. I had the world by the *ahem*, on a string, and my future was incredibly bright. I was still getting carded whenever I went into a place that sold liquor because I looked so young. It was very aggravating, but even then I knew there'd come a time when I'd be thankful for my youthful looks. We (my future husband and I) planned our future out into and through our retirement and I looked forward to a wonderful life.
My 40th was challenging. We'd suffered two significant personal losses the year before: my 69 year old father-in-law and my 45 year old cousin, Pam. I'd suffered a professional loss by being laid off from work. In the years between 1982 and 2001, I had not been unemployed. It was new territory for me and the economy was making my job search more challenging. I felt like I was adrift in unfamiliar waters. But we had a great family network, and I felt confident I would find work that would support us until it was time to retire. Once again, that time period between my current birthday and retirement was glossed over.
I can't begin to list the insanity that has been the last 10 years. A cataclysm of chaos. I don't know why, but I often wonder. We (my husband and I) no longer give voice to the question, "What else can possibly happen?" because the minute we ask it, something else happens. And honestly, I've been too busy dodging the rocks the Universe has been winging at us to give much thought to what it might be like being 50. The short list: my 25 year old niece, mother of three small children, died of postpartum cardiomyopathy. My 84 year old aunt died a month later. My husband left a secure job to go to work for his sister, and then seven years later was forced to leave. I haven't had consistent work. My husband's family had a falling out and they are now estranged. My parents moved in, and then out, of our house. They chose to move to Prescott, AZ even though my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I've had 'friends' choose not to be part of my life. I've come to understand that listening to my litany of chaos is too uncomfortable for most people, no matter how supportive I am toward them. Heck, *I'm* not comfortable with the chaos I have so expecting other people, with their own chaos, to embrace mine is a little unrealistic isn't it?
Now there's 50. It's 2012 and I'm not quite sure how things are supposed to go. There's still the chaos, but I'm learning how to manage it. I'm more physically fit than I was when I was 40, or even 30 for that matter. I'm blessed with genes that keep me looking much younger than I am. I have a couple of people in my life who I know I can count on, and I am reminding myself that it's the quality, not the quantity of relationships that matter most. I am abundantly aware now that my passion for the people in my life and the things that I do is often mistaken for arrogance and a self-centered mindset. I'm neither of those things. My only goal is to see the people that I care about be happy: I will do anything in my power to help make that happen.
I've found a voice I didn't realize I had in this blog. I want to use that voice to share my journey through this age I never gave much thought to at all. But first I feel the need to express my gratitude to those who read this. I know there's a glut of material in a huge variety of forms out there.You chose to read what I'm writing. If you were here, I'd hug you (it's what I do). Instead, accept my thanks for being here.
I've found a niche in the work I love to do and I'm going to strive to turn it into a viable business model. It scares the crud outta me, but I have to at least give it a try. While I wish that I could be an Archivist forever, it's very likely that by the time I turn 60 I will not have my current job. But I've found a number of people who've already seen the benefit in having their own material professionally archived and it's something I feel passionately about. So why not?
OK Universe, thanks for the journey so far and the lessons along the way. I've found 50. There are plenty of women who I believe may well have had a similar sense of disorientation at this age. There's Harriet Anderson. If her story doesn't make you feel like a slacker, then no one's will. Except maybe Ernestine Shepherd. She didn't START until she was in her mid-50s and now she's a competitive body builder at 70+. These are just a couple of the women who now inspire me to find my passion and run with it (proverbially speaking).
I am thankful. I'm thankful the Universe has made me extremely adept at dodging rocks. Not all of them, mind you. Some have found their mark and are painful. But for the most part I'm more nimble and agile than I've ever been before. Now I have to wonder what 60's gonna look like...