Reflecting on 50 years of chaos and growth

By the time we hit 50, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves. -Marie Dressler

I am turning 50 this month. Half a century lived, and half a century left to explore. I am officially at the midway point of my life. And I suppose I have learned not to take myself, and the situations I find myself in, quite so seriously (at least most of the time).

This week, there was a proverbial earthquake with my husband’s employer. Voluntary layoffs and a complete restructuring of the company ahead. We are wrestling with the difficult decision of whether to accept the package or stay and risk a layoff later without the generous compensation being offered now.

This got me to thinking about the last half century and how it has (or has not) prepared us for such life altering decisions.

Reflecting on the early days

Born a twin, I spent my childhood running and playing with a built in best friend. No need to worry about making friends or having to tackle new experiences on my own. No first day of school jitters. No lonely summer days. I really had a pretty care-free childhood, filled with camping adventures and lots of hide and seek.

The challenging teen years

My teen years were a bit tougher – more self doubt. My sister and I attended separate schools and I was suddenly having to figure out who I was when she wasn’t around. Through those years, I struggled believing I was nothing special. A bit anorexic, a lot “tom boyish”. Absolutely no clue about what I would do with my life after graduation. I needn’t have worried -by graduation, I became a Mom and my options narrowed significantly.

Going it alone in my 20s

A single Mother of three by 24, my 20s were spent being responsible. We were flat broke. I worked two jobs most of the time just to pay the Nanny and keep the lights on. We ate popcorn on Friday nights because the paycheque didn’t clear until Saturday morning, so I could buy groceries. The kids didn’t know that. They remember Friday night popcorn and movies (or dancing in an empty living room) as super fun family night. When you are on your own, you meet your neighbours. You need them, and they need you. Game nights, potluck dinners and collaborative house cleaning. A focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. Big dreams. I bought my first house – proud single Mom moment. Then, near the end of my 20s, I met and married the most amazing man to share my life with.

Big transitions in my 30s

My 30’s – working hard to get noticed in my career. A devastating injury that nearly took it all away. (Towards the end of the decade, I would start my new career because of that fateful day). With someone to help carry the load, I was back to my comfort zone of being part of a team. Renovations on a new house replaced the 2nd job. We kept our eyes on the future, creating opportunities for 4 fabulous children.

Becoming Entrepreneurial in my 40s

My 40s – a new career being unleashed. Lots of travel. Adding authorship to my speaking career. No longer part of a work team, I began to embrace being self employed and all the challenges that come with it. Exciting times as I became a Grandmother and the kids began moving away. A move to the sunny Okanagan to begin what was to be the calmer portion of our lives – just two of us again.

Embracing a hopeful perspective today!

Now with the 50s knocking on the door, the future we envisioned is likely changing. It doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid.

We have overcome uncertainty many times before.

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but then you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”

Perhaps that knowing is the inherent gift (of reaching this decade brings).

So, if you are facing challenges or struggles in your own life right now, trust me when I say – this too shall pass.