I have been writing about turning fifty for awhile and now finally made it. The relief is profound – having agonised and speculated about this ‘being fifty’ I’m here and enjoying it.
Part of my strategy was to allow time to reflect on the 7 x 7 or 49 years prior and to look at ‘where to from here’. Who did I want to go forward as? Or how did I want to show up to myself and the people around me?
My late thirties had seen me declare that I couldn’t and wouldn’t live into my forties in the same way. I made relationship and health changes at that time that continue to make a difference today.
This time it feels more like integration rather than making yet more changes. The Hebraic tradition talks about a time of Jubilee at around fifty. This is a time where one gathers together all that has gone before and all that one is, and sounding the trumpets in celebration, dons the mantle of Jubilee and steps out into the next part of ones living. This is a time of acknowledgement and recognition and a point of choice as to how we live.
Right up to the night before my birthday I was ‘processing’ and preparing (please note regular life was still happening along) and building up a fair head of steam around unresolved resentments.
* See my article “I love my resentment”.
Thanks to a good friend who copped a real earful I reached clarity about the three key resentments. One I could nothing about other than name it, know it wasn’t fair and knowing I’d rather be me than that person - let it go! The other two required conversations with my husband and my son. To all our credit, they got ‘it’ and made good on what was their part in my resentment – finally. These were both long term situations and well past my ‘being reasonable’ ability.
So … as I went to sleep that night I felt so relaxed and resentment free, it was gorgeous and I woke up on my birthday feeling horny for life!
As well as a number of birthday coffees and lunches I had three main celebrations. A family and friends dinner at home with great food and much laughter, a “Ladies in Red” evening hosted by celebrant colleagues with even more laughter, great food and gifted treasure, words of acknowledgment and readings, and finally a women only ceremony led by a celebrant colleague Barbara James-Bartle. This ceremony I would like to share with you in more detail.
Entitled “In the loving of my fifty”, the idea was to embrace being fifty and be supported by women in my life to transition into the fullness of a sixth decade. The concept was taken from Meg Campbell’s poem
“While we lie hidden in ourselves
a moment longer, two colours
light up a world within.
At first Chinese red
because we are happy,
and then emerald
the god-green of peace
that follows when you follow me
while my hands
wing their separate flights
along your gullies.”
– Meg Campbell
I feel deeply moved by this poem in relation to the fullness of who I am and the fullness of life I get to lead, “Chinese red of happiness and the god-green peace of emerald.”
I also wanted to create a fabric art piece or quilt to mark this time. Each of the women was invited to gift me fabric – emerald and/or scarlet, toward this piece, a work from an inspiration by Kaffe Fassett, a fabulous scrap quilt that I can incorporate all the pieces gifted to me.
I was secluded in a private room, preparing, as each of the women arrived – recognisable by their laugh, quiet words or raucous arrival!
Invited into the ceremonial space I was greeted by thirteen beautiful friends, from different aspects of my life. Stepping into the fifty area, marked by a 50 created from flowers and leaves, I walked and spoke briefly to the five decades that had preceded, bringing myself to the present time. Invited to sit I was covered to mark the ‘invisibility’ that can occur as we age in our society. As music played I felt the shift and as the women moved to encircle me closer I felt deeply held in the transition. Revealed once again and emerging to the light of a circle of candles, I sat as I was blessed by each woman, each in their own way. Finally I had the opportunity of speaking and for me truly “the best mirror for a woman is a good friend”.
Dinner was then shared with the love and hilarity that only women can do, in my opinion. My outstanding memory is of how peaceful I felt, so peaceful.
I have shared some of this in detail because for me all of it was important. For others of you it might be quite inconsequential to turn fifty or to have resolution in some of the ways that were important to me. I’m glad to have marked turning fifty. I am grateful for the family and friends who celebrated with me and for me.
And how am I going forward - peacefully and feeling well loved!