As I reflect back on 2018, one memorable event of the year for me was reaching the milestone birthday of fifty! Mentally preparing myself for this new decade, I had been thinking about it and mentioning it, months before, “My next birthday is a big one!” or, “Yeah, I’m turning fifty soon!”
Some people may have a party or take a trip to celebrate the occasion. My husband, Jeff offered me those options. But travel or even just getting out of the house to go to a party can be difficult for people during the month of February. I don’t know if it was a premonition or my pragmatism but with the thought of chaotic weather conditions and seasonal sickness like the flu, I chose to quietly transition into age 50.
In the days leading up to my birthday I dealt with newly diagnosed kidney stones, the flu, and a general feeling of what one encounters when they live in Michigan and endure an exceeding amount of gray, frigid days.
On the arrival of February 9th , my birthday, Mother Nature threw an epic party of her own, the biggest snowstorm in a decade! Local schools were closed, flights cancelled, some businesses closed. Good thing I didn’t have travel or party plans. Sigh. The storm also cancelled my dinner commitment with several family members that evening. Due to the numerous accidents in their area, they decided not to venture out.
Finding myself with free time and not one to sit idly; I booked a last-minute opening at the tattoo studio. With 34 years of winter driving experience, I was determined to make it!
Prior to the day, I had been researching my new tattoo; one that would encompass the recent season of my life in a meaningful way. The death of my brother to cancer, six months earlier, had greatly impacted me. He had come to our home to spend his final weeks, to die with family around him. Suddenly, I had been thrust into the most important role of my life. Through all the difficulties that occurred, somehow I was able to summon the strength, courage and focus that were needed during that time.
Those traits also happen to describe one of the most fearless animals, the Lioness. Her number one priority is caring for the pride. The symbolism clicked for me. Yes, the Lioness! With the addition of a few Lotus flowers to signify my personal life struggles as well as my true grit, I was ready for needles!
Throughout the tattoo process, I mentally worked on my current passion, creating a playlist of my life. I decided to choose fifty songs, each with a short explanation that represented my life. If you are a lover of music, like me, I highly recommended doing this exercise. As a bonus, it helped block out some of the pain from the tattooing.
My mind wandered to 1980’s singer, Billy Idol. He easily fit into this setting and could have been sitting on the chair next to me getting his own ink done.
Here is an excerpt from my playlist: ‘White Wedding’ (1982)
“I made it backstage to meet the English Rocker, Billy Idol. I wiped toothpaste off his neck because, back then, that was what was used to spike up his hair. With his British accent and provocative sneer, he radiated animal magnetism. But the best part of him was the hilarious stories he shared about the antics of his fans.”
A mere five hours later, with many more songs on the list, my tattoo was finished and I was wearing beautiful, customized art.
On the rather treacherous drive home, I made a stop at the local grocer to pick up my most favorite birthday dessert, a pre-ordered, Zingerman’s Boston Cream pie. However, there was no cake for me. The storeowner remembered the call from Jeff, but admitted that he forgot to place the order.
I was not in the best state of mind when I made it home. I was feeling a bit melancholy; no family was coming to celebrate with me and there was no favorite cake to enjoy. I was still recovering from the flu and was now feeling the ache of self-inflicted pain from the tattoo. Ugh.
Just as I was ready for an early bedtime, Jeff announced he had called a few local friends and arranged for us to all have dinner together. A delicious meal and supportive well-wishers to spend the evening with helped make my transition to age fifty a little bit easier.
Now that I have been through it, I’d like to share my sage advice on celebrating your 50th birthday:
•Have a party AND take a break! If you have made it to age 50, you deserve to be celebrated AND get some rest!
•Get a tattoo, but not on your actual birthday, because there will be pain that day, maybe even for a few weeks.
•If you listened to music at all during your half a century of existence, construct a playlist of your life. I believe you will find it cathartic to reminisce, even if it isn’t about the songs but about a moment in time, possibly even fifty moments.
•Eat cake on your birthday! Perhaps order a back up cake, just in case the someone who does the ordering forgets to place the order!
This blog post was originally published for Breathe Yoga, Chelsea, MI.