Monday, April 15, 2013

No Two Ways Around It--I'm Turning 50 This Week

I brushed my hair from my face this morning, tucking it behind my ear, and noticed the silver at my temples. Rather than thinking the usual “time to get my hair colored,” I took a good, long look and smiled.

And I turned slightly to see the gray reflected from a different angle.

A wonder, aging.

Something I’ve given a lot of thought in recent weeks.

I’m aging. A birthday is coming. One I cannot hold back, even though I would certainly like to. One I have tried to ignore, but one that is knocking, knocking, knocking.

Last week, during lunch with a student, I confessed that my birthday was coming and that, despite all my protestations, it was coming fast. She just laughed and told me that her aunt always said that getting older is sure better than the alternative.

She’s a wise one, that student.


My husband has been asking me for weeks what I’d like to do to celebrate. Since I haven’t considered this much of an event to be celebrated, I just replied, “Ignore it.”

It’s the closest thing to how I feel.

And yet, I can’t. Ignore it.

It’s coming whether I like it or not.

In fact, it’s here.

On Saturday, I will be 50.


I remember turning 20—so much fun, a lifetime of surprises ahead of me.

And at 30, standing in front of the mirror, one child on my hip. Wondering how I had gotten there, and observing how much I had changed in a decade.

I barely remember 40. Three kids by then. Crazy life. Reflecting on the chaos of my 30s and thinking that the 40s had to be better.

They were.


And now, 50. I’ve been standing in front of the mirror for weeks now, amazed at how my life has changed.

Feeling so. incredibly. grateful.

And when I look at it that way, with a heart filled with gratitude, I have to think that the 50s will hold good, good things.


For months I’ve been dreading my birthday, but if I’m really honest, that’s just vanity talking. It’s been me focusing on graying hair, flabby arms, extra weight.

My friend, Robin, turned 50 a couple of weeks ago (lots and lots of friends will turn 50 this year!), and she did something I have not been able to do: she embraced it. She celebrated. She dressed up and danced and found the grace to face a new decade and say, “Bring it.”

And she encouraged me with these words from Scripture:

“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and celebration . . .” (Leviticus 25:10 CEV)

Isn’t that awesome?!

Sacred. Freedom. Celebration.

This week I’m going to reflect. I’m going to write. I’m going to try to reconcile myself to the fact that I’m 50 and to try to figure out what that means for me.

And at the end of the week, we'll celebrate.

Will you join me? If you’re already 50, will you tell me it’s not so bad? If you’re turning 50 soon, will you tell me how you’re handling it? If you’re not even close, go put on your skinny jeans and dance in the rain.


  1. All is not lost, Shelley! I'm 51 and I wear skinny jeans all the time! Sometimes they are skinnier than others. :-)

  2. Well, I'm not close to turning 50, but I won't be putting on any skinny jeans either! :) Happy birthday, Shelly! I love that verse that Robin shared during her birthday celebration. Wishing you an abundance of freedom and celebration during this sacred year!

  3. Happy, happy birthday! I'm 44, turning 45 in September and wearing skinny jeans as we speak. Not sure I'm rocking them well but at 44, who cares? ;)

    Hope you have a wonderful celebration!

  4. I have a few months to go, but I'm not really looking forward to it. Ugh! I'm not wearing skinny jeans today, but I am wearing leggings :-) I will not dress old!!

  5. I crossed that threshold
    last year and like you, I
    CHOSE to celebrate the
    years. Yesterday was my
    birthday. I was in Chicago
    this weekend, celebrating
    with my bestie, Kathleen,
    who will turn 50 a week
    after you do. She has a
    ferocious cancer, so her
    take on another b-day is
    nothing BUT celebrating;
    her journey has taught me
    to frame my life in so many
    new ways.

    Happy HAPPY birthday, my
    friend! I'm wearing my skinnies
    as we speak ~ YES, it is still
    allowed {and by me....encouraged!}.

    Love to you,
    xo Suzanne

  6. Happy Birthday! I have 8 years to go, but I just wanted to comment on the beauty and honesty of your writing. I hope that ability and self-reflection can develop in me as I approach 50. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I hope you may truly enjoy your special day.

    God bless,

  7. I will turn 52 in May. I was more stressed about turning 25 (you know a quarter century). 50 was great! I'm not in skinny jeans and I'm ok with that too. Celebrate! I always say I'm another year wiser with each year that comes. Cheers!

  8. Skinny jeans? What are these things you speak of? ;v)

    I'm two years into the 50's and it isn't so bad. Celebrate away!! Happy Birthday!

  9. I guess if you can do it with grace I have no choice than to follow your lead.

    A couple weeks ago at Bible study I made a comment and said "I am almost 50 years old..." It was the first time I had said it out loud in front of people that I am not super close to. It felt so brazen and ugly. But, like your friend said, once you've faced death, another birthday truly is a celebration. So I will celebrate with you and you can celebrate with me in a couple of months. Love you, friend!

  10. Oh friends, I am reading your comments with tears in my eyes. Thank you for such great encouragement! I love you all.

  11. My father always told all five of his children that life begins at 40 and middle age at 80. On my 50th I received a card from my younger brother with the question, "How does it feel to be 10 years old?" Loved the message then and still do at 71! Celebrate the gift of the years with the insight of a 10-year-old.

  12. Ok...I guess if you, Mitzi and Linda are heading that direction than I too will join although reluctantly. I remember being a teen and thought 30 was old so 20 more years was ancient and since it's getting closer it's suddenly not so old. I've seen the same person staring back at me in the mirror for years and she doesn't look old. No skinny jeans at my house but no 'old' clothes either.
    Think of me in July!

  13. Well.... was turning 50 as horrific as you thought? As I approach the next decade marker, I realize that the 50s have been a particularly sweet time of life-marriages of children, grandchildren's arrival, time to give to others, richness in marriage. All in all, I would say the 50s rock. Now, if I can just rock those skinny jeans....