TODAY, I turn 49, heading toward the big five-o. And what a life I’ve led. It’s chock-full of regret and mistakes, otherwise known as life. But, you know, they say that there comes a time in your life when you let go of the stuff you have no control over, learn from the mistakes you’ve made, and revel in the fact that you have enough experience to make better choices which, in turn, leads to a better life.
I think that has finally happened to me. I’ve come to that point in my life where I just don’t give a hoot what others think. I finally know who I am. In this past year, I have let go of all the regrets that I have been holding onto, I have forgiven myself for all the mistakes that I have made, and I have stopped looking in the past. Whenever I find myself thinking about what could have been, I shake it off with strong shoulders and keep my head focused on the day at hand. I have learned to live in the moment and not to expect anything from life or from others because expectation leads to disappointment. However, that is not to say that I am hopeless. I just believe that happiness comes in having no expectations, and just accepting life as it comes.
I have come to understand the things that have given me undo stress and, in re-evaluating my life, I have rid myself of those things. I have acquired the tools with which to hammer away at everyday stress, for life is as hard or as easy as you want it to be, and in acquiring said tools, I have become a more confident and a more productive person. I don’t let things get to me; life is full of garbage, and I expect to see some.
Every day I hear the same phrase that echoes in my mind. In serving customers at my place of employment I often hear, “It wasn’t like that before!” I have concluded that there are a lot of people out there who just can’t accept change. In the back of my mind, I pray, “Please, God, don’t let me ever think like that!” The world is constantly changing, ever evolving, and in hearing that phrase every day I have vowed to keep up with the changes and to keep learning so that I may help myself and those around me. I believe that when you stop learning, you become stagnant and it is my experience that you die faster when you remain stagnant, you develop all sorts of health problems. What’s that saying? Oh, yah, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” (Shawshank Redeption, I loved that movie.) Myself, I’m gonna get busy livin’.
Gone are the days when I used to color my hair in shades of red, blonde, and brown for fun. A few years ago I noticed the railroad track—the part in the hair—in a picture and it was totally white. I tried hiding it for a while, but I grew tired of coloring it every month, so I recently liberated myself from that prison and just let it all grow out. I am “au naturelle” baby, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it!
As for those ten pounds that I have been trying to lose for the past ten years… well, in finally accepting that maybe I will never get that weight off, I have actually lost a few pounds. During the May long weekend of this year, I did something that I hadn’t done since I was a teenager. I bought myself a string bikini and laid on a blanket in the sun, listened to some tunes, and let it all hang out. In retrospect, I can’t remember doing anything that relaxing in many, many years. More and more, every day, I am doing things that make me happy. I have let go of trying to make others happy and am taking responsibility for my own happiness.
Getting older has made me more comfortable in my own skin. As a young girl going through puberty I was humiliated and chastised by family and peers. They used to say that I had a pigeon chest and that I used to walk like a duck, as if puberty isn’t a difficult enough time. One time, when I had just started high school, I remember a fellow student coming to me to tell me to start wearing a bra. (I was 12, but well-developed.) Of course, I had to go home and ask for one, thank goodness my mother was accommodating to the need, but those things were the kinds of things that made me feel ashamed of my body, of being a girl. When I was a young teen, I was date-raped, and even though there was a lot of talk about me and promiscuity, I didn’t have sexual relations until well after high school, until I left home and went out on my own. I had never been comfortable with being a woman and often wished that I were a man. Having no sisters, I grew up a tomboy. There were times in my life when I actually thought I was a lesbian. (Maybe that remains to be seen.) For me, it has been extremely difficult being a woman. I was always trying to do what I thought a woman should do. I was so conflicted. I never had a fashion bone in my body. I never looked good in a dress. Rarely, have I had long hair. I was never a girly girl. (Shit, maybe I was a DUFF!) The point is, I really don’t give a shit anymore. I’ve become comfortable with the way I look. I dress in t-shirts and jeans, boots and sweatshirts. I’ve given up trying to look like something I’m not. After all, I don’t live in Hollywood, I live in CANADA!
At this juncture in my life I have come to appreciate the things in my life. My partner, my child, the food in my fridge, the clothes in my closet, the car I drive, my home, my finances. I also appreciate the things that people do for me and the kindness of strangers. When I was young I didn’t really think too much about these things. I was too busy trying to get more, trying to get what I wanted when I wanted it; I was always thinking about myself, what I could get and what people could do for me. (What can I say, it was a selfish time.) Now, I see that it is important to appreciate what I have and know that it is far better to give than to receive. And, when you give out of the kindness of your heart, and not for your own selfish reasons, there is a satisfaction in that, like you’re giving something back, not just to one person, but to the whole world. So every day, I give thanks.
Now that I’m pushing 50, I have trained myself not to get involved in other peoples’ drama, whether it comes from family, friends, co-workers, or strangers. I have had enough drama of my own. I have learned the art of indifference. This does not mean that I don’t care; it just means that I try not to get involved. I listen to people vent and if they ask for my opinion, I can be brutally honest. I do not allow what others say or do affect me. This can be very difficult at times. I am only responsible for my own beliefs, my own thoughts, and my own actions. Unsolicited advice is always meddling, and there is just too much of that going on today, especially in social media. There is always someone giving advice to somebody who just wants to vent openly. I have learned to mind my own business and I try to stay in my own. Live and let live, so it goes.
So, Happy Birthday to me, and remember: “Where ever you may be, let the wind go free, on the land or on the sea!!!”