Sunday, December 16, 2012
Thoughts on Turning Fifty
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.
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 billiedoux.com. 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.