As I reach the age of 50, I find that not only I am now an empty-nester, but I seem to have lost myself, my identity! After 6 years of turmoil affecting our family, followed by an emotional break down (mine), I was left wondering, “WHO AM I?” So this blog is about me, Natalie, rediscovering myself and finding me at FIFTY. It’s about finding my tribe – those people who hold me up and support me at this place where I am in life, right now. It’s about meeting those women who just plain get me and laugh with me (and maybe even at me)! It’s about finding courage to pursue new passions, taking job opportunities, taking up hobbies I’ve never tried, and traveling to new places (even alone)! And as selfish as it might sound, it’s about making time to start taking care of me!
When the clock strikes midnight tonight, and March 15th begins, it will be a New Year for me! I shall be turning 50 years old! The BIG 5-0!
Last week, I received my application in the mail to join AARP, inviting me to start claiming my Senior discounts on movie tickets and eye-wear. Thanks AARP, but I don’t feel like a Senior at 50 and I really am not ready to be called one yet! I don’t think I even act like a senior – whatever that might look like? Do you ever just look at someone and think how put together they are, graceful and composed, saying intelligent things? The people that make you think to yourself, “Wow, they have really got their shit together?” I do often and wonder when I might start feeling grown-up myself. No, I don’t think I am old – not yet! So, I’ll hold up on that membership!
On this day before my 50th birthday, I feel like it’s News Years Eve, when we say goodbye to the past year and look ahead with excitement to January 1st. It’s that magic day when we pull out our freshly written list of New Year’s resolutions that we are determined, finally, to take on. An opportunity to make a fresh start on things we failed over the past 12 months and vow to make it the best year yet. I wait with anticipation, my new journal at the ready, clean fresh pages waiting to document these amazing things I will do, while jotting down inspirational life quotes that will be my guide in this new era. Oh yes, I am ready for the clock to chime midnight!
This New Year brings me into a whole new decade – long gone are my 30’s and now I bid farewell to my 40’s. Slowly, my ability to bear children is waning away with Menopause looming in the not so distance future. Those two little girls I was blessed to have are maturing into beautiful and independent women and as much as they probably will always need something from me – it’s just different! My role of being their mom will take on a new meaning. My purpose in life is changing. I am entering the Fall Season of my life!
Fall is my favorite time of year – the heat of the summer is beginning to fade – well as much as it does in south Texas. The leaves are starting to turn and bring beautiful new shades of color from the camouflaging greens of the grass, plants and trees. The smell of bonfires burning as leaves are swept and burned. Gradual changes in the wardrobe, allowing those jeans, leggings and boots to come out of hiding – and we can throw away the razor for a few months! The crock-pot getting dusted off, ready to make warm delicious bubbling casseroles. The onset of the holiday season – one arriving soon after another, with stores overlapping their shelves between Halloween and Christmas decorations. It’s a time of change and reflection of the summer past. Not time to totally slow down and hibernate, but to embrace the transitions that come.
The Spring Season of life is when we are born and into our 20’s and maybe early 30’s. We spend those early years of life growing, learning and making our way successfully, or unsuccessfully into adulthood. Those precious years we spent educating ourselves, honing life skills, finding our way in our careers, and preparing us for the next stage of life, to raise a family. For some, raising a family may be their life’s purpose, having spent many years dreaming of that and how their perfect wedding, family and home will look to them. So to me, Spring-time is about the preparation for our lives – getting us ready to sow our seeds in the Summer.
During my Summer Season of life, I was blessed with two beautiful daughters. My summer was spent nurturing that little garden that had been carefully prepared; lovingly and tirelessly, feeding, watering and tending to the every need of my precious saplings. It was my job to provide many opportunities to fertilize their minds so they could grow strong, while protecting them from any element that came and threatened to damage them.
Last August, drew my Summer season to a close, as we drove our youngest daughter the 8 hours to move her into college. After a weekend of carefully decorating her dorm room, making that small space as homely as we could, we said our tearful goodbyes and started that long journey home with one less person in the car. I was listening to the radio and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac came on. One particular line stood out to me; “Can I handle the seasons of my life?” That is when it dawned on me that I was officially an empty nester and this was the onset of that new season in my life – it was time for Fall!
My life is changing as quick as the leaves, and what had always been structured around my kids, is now taking a very different direction. Gazing out the car window that day, at the miles of flat Texas landscape around us, I thought, “So now what the fuck do I do?”
It has taken me 6 months to digest this thought and, so on the Eve of my birthday, I think that I am ready to handle the next season of my life!