Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Turning Fifty

Today is my fiftieth birthday. I am struggling with the concept as I only feel about twenty-five. Reaching this milestone has made me very introspective and, as they say that with age comes wisdom, the following are the ten most important things I have learned in the past fifty years:

10: Be an Active Member of Your Family
For many years, I lived across the ocean from my family. As a result, I missed a lot of important events and, more importantly, the not so important events that make up the vast majority of our life. Since I have been home, I have been able to spend real time with my mother and stepmother, my siblings and sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew. As a result, I now feel surrounded by people who will stick by me, no matter what. Do whatever it takes to forgive your parents and become friends with your siblings. The long term connections are worth it.

9: Find a Higher Power in Which to Believe
The older I get, the more I am convinced that there is a stronger force at work in and around all of us. Call it God; call it fate; call it karma -- it exists. Spend some time figuring out what you want to call it and then respect it. I have learned that everything you put out, comes back. So, be smart. Put a lot of good out into the world.

8: Sing and Dance
I sing all the time and dance around my apartment almost as much. Nothing makes you feel better. Trust me, just do it.

7. Travel
I don’t care where you go, go somewhere. Nothing opens up your mind more than meeting new people and seeing new places. The joy of the first time you see the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Grand Canyon is incomparable. It’s possible to travel on the cheap. Play tourist in your home town -- I promise you’ll love what you discover.

6. Be Compassionate and Open Minded
It’s very easy to judge, but more often than not, we’re wrong. It is nearly impossible to know what is going on in someone else’s mind or heart. Go out of your way to see the other side, even if it makes your blood run cold or, worse, makes your blood boil. There is always another side to the discussion and there are few things better in life than finding common ground with another person.

5: Make Friends and Work Hard to Keep Them
All kinds of people come into your life at all stages of your life. Sometimes, a person is only there for a while; sometimes, they are there for the long haul. The long haul friends are the ones worth working hard to keep. Be generous with your time, your emotions and your resources. Bridge the difference in age or geography. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Keep in touch.

Four different times in my life, I saw someone and knew instantly that the person I was looking at was going to be my friend forever. The first was my ex-husband (it’s not an exact science!), the second was Eileen who sat down next to me on a sofa and got up three hours later my best friend; the third was Lynn, who eventually became my stepmother; the fourth was Matt who shared a table with me the summer of 2000 and has been, since that time, one of the people I love most in this world.

When I first moved to London, I knew that I was going to have to work with Jeremy. He and I hated each other on sight. Forced to sit next to each at dinner one night, we began a civil conversation that quickly became friendly. Within a week, we realized that we were the perfect team to build a business (which we did) and we became best friends almost as quickly.

Never, ever discount the people the universe throws into your path.

4. Don’t Worry
I am one of those people who wakes up at 3.00 in the morning convinced that the world is going to collapse if I don’t do whatever it is that I am thinking about. This is ridiculous. So often, the things we worry so hard about either end up being not all that bad or never happen in the first place.

The bad things, the truly bad things, will blindside you. You will never see them coming. When they do come, follow Isak Dinesen’s advice: “The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears or the sea.” Work hard to fix the problem; cry when you have to; go look at the ocean. Everything is always better when you can hear the surf.

3. Jump Off the Bridge
It is very important that once in a while you jump without a parachute. I did it when I went to live in Italy at 15; when I moved to New York at 26; when I moved to London at 37; and, when I moved back home at 49.

Each time, I went scared to death that I was making the wrong decision, but knowing that whatever happened, it would be an adventure. Each time, it proved to be life changing and I have never regretted taking the wild chance.

2. Find Your Passion
Work hard to discover what it is that you are passionate about and then do it, even if you only do for yourself or you do it for free. I have always loved to write and have kept a journal nearly every day since I was nine. I wrote my blog for a while, but then got bored.

About a year ago, I discovered I started as a stalker; became a commentator and am now a writer on the site. Making the commitment to write an article a week forced me to start writing again and I have loved every minute of it. Even better, I have discovered a group of very smart, very funny people who share my passion and who support my efforts. While it may be a while before I ever get paid for writing, doing something that I love so much has brought a lot of joy into my life.

1. Celebrate You
Be who you are, not who someone else wants you to be. Laugh at your faults, pick yourself up when you fall and celebrate the successes. I don’t care if your definition of success is that you were able to get dinner on the table on time -- celebrate it. I celebrate everything, but especially birthdays. So, I think I’ll take myself off now for a large, dry martini and celebrate the past fifty years. I am really looking forward to what I learn in the next fifty.


  1. Happy birthday, Chris! I am so glad you stumbled over my site and ended up joining us. Your excellent writing and consistently positive attitude make you a joy and a pleasure to work with. Or, more accurately since we don't get paid, play with. :)

    You have a terrific top ten here. Some of them speak to me quite strongly. In particular, I've been away from my family (except, fortunately, the most important one, which is Dan) for eleven years, and I've thought often that even though Los Angeles has been amazing at times for an entertainment geek and I wouldn't trade some of the experiences I've had for anything (like watching my favorite show being filmed on the street, or visiting Paramount and interviewing one of my favorite actors), it's awful being so far from my family and closest friends. Eventually I will have to rectify the situation. It just isn't possible right now.

    Loved your article on the Legos, too. Dan has been into Legos his entire life, and still occasionally acquires sets to put together, usually on birthdays and Christmas. We have a massive second generation collection of Lego sets in a closet, complete with boxes and instructions. (A relative gave Dan his entire collection years ago, which is why I refer to it as 'second generation'.) I call it the "Lego-cy".

    1. Thanks, Billie! Your support over the past year has been tremendous and I really do appreciate it.

      Lego-cy! That is fantastic! I'll give you credit when I "borrow" the term from you.


  2. Hello blogging friend who shares my initials! ;o)

    I didn't know you had your own blog!!! I would have come visiting sooner!

    50?! Really?! Wow! But it turns out we're really the same age 'cause I know what you mean about struggling with the feeling (of reaching a "milestone" age) and only feeling about 25, same here! I've never really "felt" my age... as a teenager my mom used to say I was "too responsible", I was definitely an wise old teen, and yet at the same time still a child (never really a wild teenager type). Age has always been this abstract number that to me has almost never meant anything... I guess it will when my body finally tells me "sorry, it's now too late for you to have kids", but otherwise time is just so abstract! In fact the only times I really felt my age was when my "baby" sister reached certain milestones! "How can that kid be 25 already?!

    Very wise list you've put together... I agree 100% with all of it and have worked hard on a few of those items myself!

    Lots of hugs and a very belated FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS!!! ;o)

    1. Thanks, Cris! I was exactly the same way when I was younger. I think I've always been the same age -- about 25.

      I love your blog. You are an inspiration.

      Hugs right back!

  3. Wowwwwww

    This post is to KEEP !! I'm turning 50 as well this next fall; it WON'T stop me to remain young at heart : 21. So I'm (twice) younger than you are ! (Mentally, I'm 15, although there is a raging debate amongst my friends that it may be even lower....)

    1. Marc -- it's not as devastating as you may think. I was dreading it, but now that I am officially middle-aged, there is something kind of fun about it. Especially when I hang out with people young enough to be my kids.

      Thanks, again, for stopping by.

  4. LOL I know the feeling. I'm at ease as much with 20 years old's as 60.

    I will NOT get middle aged but one third-age ! I intend to live.......125 ! Yes.

    SOB ! A LOT of people could be our kids LOL

  5. I like 125! That means we're not halfway there yet.

  6. I can't believe I just discovered YOUR BLOG! Where has it been this entire time? I'm now making my way through every single one of them and this one in particular is such a keeper.
    Although I'm 25, so many of these points spoke to me as I've had such a difficult time the past few years. My father passed away from cancer a few years ago, and my mother unfortunately passed away as well from cancer this past summer. It's been such a depressing/confusing year but a lot of the joy I got this year was from people like you (and the other awesome people above from Doux) who share similar passions that really mean a great deal to me. Watching and discussing TV has just been the perfect outlet for me!

    Seriously, I LOVED this list and I think I'll save it somewhere so I can keep referring to it when needed. Now excuse me while I make my way through every other post on this site!

    1. Oh, Nadim. I am so sorry. What a terrible time you have had. I'm sending you a virtual hug.

      Thank you for your very kind comment! I am a huge fan of your blog as well, as you know. You just need to stop reviewing shows that are so good! With summer coming, I need to be outside more than in.

      Thanks again for your comment.

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