I celebrate this milestone with humble gratitude that, despite my weaknesses, I have learned some valuable and unexpected lessons.
Here are five things I've learned since turning 50:
- Hard doesn't mean impossible.
"Can't" was a big part of my inner vocabulary. I didn't realize this until we were faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Now I understand that life may be hard or difficult, but not impossible. "I can't" has become "I can try."
- My voice matters.
As our medical needs grew in the days following my 50th birthday, I found myself at the mercy of more than 60 medical professionals. I felt voiceless and inadequate, drowning in a sea of expertise. Something was wrong and I knew it. I faced a difficult choice. Do I listen to the experts or trust my instincts as a mother? My decision to listen to my mother's heart has made all the difference.
- Embrace reality.
As life became increasingly difficult, I found myself idealizing my past. "If only" and "I wish" kept my heart and mind directed to our old life. "Someday" kept me idealizing our future. Only when I chose to embrace reality did I find myself able to connect with our present. Today is all we have and all we're meant to live.
- My health is my own.
When our health declined I looked to a doctor to fix us. I resisted responsibility for my family's health. After exhausting our options, I knew it was time to try a different path. Food became our best prescription for recovery. My kitchen became our pharmacy. Taking charge of one's own health is both empowering and rewarding.
- Keep going.
My health and mind collapsed the day our world collapsed, and I struggled to get through every minute of every day. My unrelenting fatigue, along with the sudden loss of my mother, took me deeper into despair and discouragement. I hung onto one thought: "Don't give up." Even if I wasn't "succeeding" and our lives were still in turmoil, at least I was trying. There is much to gain simply by taking the next step.
Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be . . .