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Attack of the Killer Birthday: Thoughts on Turning Fifty

photo: Clever Cupcakes on flikr

I’m turning fifty in a month. I’m not happy about it. I’m not gonna lie.

If I was going to lie, I would say this:

Numbers mean nothing to me. They’re just numbers. I don’t even pay attention to them!! I’m a free spirit!! Free spirits don’t pay attention to numbers because numbers are oppressive. They’re a tool used by The Man to oppress the masses. I am oppression-free. You think my name is Z, but it’s really Flower-Essence-Gamma-Ray-Oblivious-To-All-Numbers-La-La-La. And that’s only my first name!!

Did you buy that?

Melissa, my sweetheart, suggested we have a big party for my birthday. I explained to her that my reaction to turning fifty is like a wound. It is healing, slowly and steadily, but it is still a wound.

photo: Ben Hoyt on flikr

I then explained that celebrating my fiftieth birthday would be like poking the gradually-healing wound. Let’s have a party! Poke poke poke. Isn’t this fun? Poke poke poke. Isn’t this just the best . . . Wait, why is that wound bleeding? Poke poke poke. What’s the matter? Poke poke poke. We’re just having a little celebration!

Needless to say, Melissa dropped the subject pretty quickly after that.

I’m not saying that I’m not happy about getting older. There are a lot of things I like about it.

Every year, I care less and less what other people think about me. That’s pretty cool.

And the older I get, the more I seem to embrace all aspects of myself, including things I used to reject. That’s not bad either.

I’m more patient with myself. And others.

My understanding of Spirit seems to grow every year. I seem to sink deeper into my heart. And I’m less inclined to get stuck in self-defeating mental loops.

But still. This fifty thing bugs me.

Several years ago, my ex-partner turned fifty. My father sent her a birthday card. I don’t remember what was on the outside of the card, but I remember what it said on the inside. One sentence, just one sentence, in my father’s handwriting.

Welcome to the other side.

If I think about it now, that’s what bugs me about turning fifty. Not that I might get a similar card from my father, but that I’m crossing a huge divide. At least in my mind.

photo: Valdiney Pimenta on flikr

I’ve been on the “young side” and I’m about to move over to the “old side.”

I’ve never cared about numbers before, at least not as far as birthdays. But fifty is a marker from youth to age. That’s why it bothers me. I don’t want to cross that line. I want to stay on the young side, the zippy side, the cool side.

But who’s to say I’m right? Who’s to say what side is better? Maybe the other side, the side I’m heading toward, has gifts and blessings that I can’t even imagine. How would I know? I’ve never been there.

Besides, Spirit is eternal. Or so I believe. And turning fifty is a chance for me to walk my talk. To understand that at the level of my essence, my core, I am not my body. I am not my age. I cannot be reduced to mere cells or molecules or mental hang-ups about numbers.

Did you buy that?

Honestly, I’m not there yet.

How could I be? I’m still a baby. I’m still in my forties. I have yet to understand what it’s like to cross that divide. To stand among my fellow elders.

And I’m not going to understand it that much better in a few months.

But I will eventually. And I’m hoping I make a good elder. An honest one. A happy one. Someone who accepts everything about herself, including her age.

photo: Jos van der Hoek on flikr

In the meantime, I get to wade through my current experience. I get to carve out a space for all the parts of me – the little gremlin that hates turning fifty and the wise elder who doesn’t give a rip about age.

They can have a party inside me, those two.

Who knows what they might do? Toilet paper my house. Dance to “We Are Family” and “I Will Survive.” Set off fireworks. Make cookies and stay up till all hours playing charades.

Now that’s a party I’d like to attend.

photo: bayasaa on flikr

What numbers have been your markers? Which ones did you resist? Which ones did you embrace?


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24 Responses to Attack of the Killer Birthday: Thoughts on Turning Fifty

  1. Marcy August 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    I’m right there with ya Z! I totally embraced my 40th birthday. I loved reflecting on my life, gathering with friends from my lifetime, holding a ritual, etc. But 50? Not so much. Mine is in December and I’m trying to figure out how to honor it…

    • Z Egloff August 23, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      Hi Marcy! Glad to know that you’re having the same dilemma. I guess in all our wisdom, due to those fifty years and all, we’ll figure it out!! 😉 XOZ

  2. Catie August 24, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Oh, baby Z, it’s definitely better on the “other side.” No celebration but definitely a b’day hug at WomanSpirit! (among other hugs! :)

    • Z Egloff August 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi Catie, See I’m glad to know that where I’m headed is beautiful and glorious. No WS this year. I’ll take a rain check on those hugs! XOZ

      • Catie August 25, 2011 at 8:40 am #

        NO! NO! Say it isn’t true :-((((

        • Z Egloff August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am #

          It’s going to be weird to not be there. I have a class that weekend for Holmes. I will miss you all!

  3. Squirrel August 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    i’m pushing 30? and it’s pushing back… eek… i’m nervous about 30. i’ll be nervous about 50 when i get there. :)

    • Z Egloff August 26, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      It’s funny how numbers mess with us, isn’t it? The one thing I know for sure is that my life gets better every year. XOZ

  4. Melissa August 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I had the BEST 50th party! My mom and my two best friends threw it for me and we did an beautiful ritual with all those who had already turned fifty telling me about how awesome it was for them….great food and beautiful people all of whom had survived it ahead of me. We did invite people who hadn’t made the cross yet too…Oh – and had an awesome concert. Celebrate! It just keeps getting better. That’s the thing. I’m just saying.

    • Z Egloff August 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      Hmm. The ritual sounds pretty cool. Too bad I’m not having a big bash. Unless I change my mind. . . .

  5. Bett Norris August 27, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I did not embrace fifty so much as get handcuffed to it. I am stuck with my age, chained, or freed, or linked in an unfathomable way with it.
    I think I am writing a book about this. I’m not sure yet.

    I like the image of the divide, of crossing over into unknown territory. Like Robinson Crusoe, alone with the new and unexplored thing. Is it wondrous? Is it deadly? What can we make of it? Can we shape it into what we want it to be?

    • Z Egloff August 27, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      Hello Bett, I am sticking with your final sentiment, that I can shape this fifty thing into what I want. We’re writers, after all. We begin and end with imagination. XOZ

  6. SuE August 30, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    The nice thing about getting older is you forget how old you are. Numbers do not control any more…just the moment.

    • Z Egloff August 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      Hello Sue, I like it! I’m looking forward to forgetting. So far, all reports from “the other side” are looking pretty good. XOZ

  7. Annette T August 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    50? Why that can’t be. You don’t look a day over… a day over… you know, It is hard to say. What is it about you “gender flexible” people who always look years younger than your real age? That is not fair to us normal people. Not only are we confused about your gender, but about your age too!! Stop that!

    Of course, I am just kidding. However, early in my gender transition days (mtf), I once got carded when I was buying wine. And I was about 45 at the time!! I know, I know, the cashier was probably heavily medicated, but so what, I was in bliss when I left the store!

    No, I don’t buy this getting old is bad thing. And I wouldn’t read too much into that birthday card given to your ex by your father – the card that said “welcome to the other side”. Maybe he was just being super, super literal and he was just welcoming her to the other side of the greeting card. Maybe he didn’t think too much of her. You just don’t know.

    Anyway, have fun getting old. You can’t choose to not get older, but you can choose your attitude about it. I am working on that myself. In 2012, I turn 60! Gasp!

    Attitude, Annette, attitude.

    • Z Egloff August 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      Hello Ms. Annette, 60? Gosh, that’s hard to believe. I’m sure you’ll have fun with it, though. You could go buy some more wine, for example. Or have a big party. If so, be sure to invite me! XOZ

  8. JoAnn Newton September 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Darling Z,
    I didn’t want to celebrate 50 either, but my friends would have none of that – God bless them! NOW, i say welcome to the “if not now ~ when???” club! But you, my dear, are ALREADY doing that! I will be 59 in November, and I can truly say that it just keeps getting better and better!!!!
    Love, JoAnn

    • Z Egloff September 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Hi JoAnn, I love hearing that it keeps getting better and better and better. That’s been my experience so far, so I can’t see why that won’t continue to be the case. Nevertheless, I love having community and support around me to keep reminding me this. So thank you!!! XOZ

  9. Natalie September 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I think you’ll be fantastic at being fifty.
    Just gotta face it with a brave front and a little faith.
    I’m currently in my twenties but I know that
    will not last forever. ..
    I believe that what’s on the outside is merely a shell.
    Stay young sister!

    • Z Egloff September 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Natalie, Thanks for writing and checking out the blog! I plan staying young in spirit no matter what my age is in numbers. Blessings to you! XOZ

  10. msrosie October 4, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Hi Z….

    I asked one of my friends, “How YOUNG are you?”
    He said, “YOU mean “how OLD am I?”

    He said, “I love getting older it means I have lived a long life, I have learn many things, I am wiser, better, smarter. I love being a Grandfather where my Grandchildren can come to me and ask questions about life. I have knowledge that only age can bring. I love being the wise one! I look forward to my adventures of growing older. He continued to share how happy he was.

    I thought that’s GREAT… Me too… I am happily becoming…. I am thinking things that I was not thinking of a year ago… I am feeling things that I had no clue of, I am happier and freeer than I’ve ever been… I’m not done yet…

    this number thing is all made up anyway!
    There is no such thing as AGE! We made it all up!

    I let go of the numbers…. (54, good thang!)
    I am not finished yet….

    when someone asks me “How OLD are you?”
    I say…

    “I still am becoming” They smile and say ” I like that!

    Happy BECOMING YOU Z!!!!


    • Z Egloff October 4, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Thank you, MsRosie! That’s beautiful. I love growing into myself more and more every day! Including the part of me that doesn’t want to come along. It’s all good, as the kids say. . . XOZ

  11. Marlene February 5, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    Hi Z,

    The only difference I have noticed since turning 50 is I have a tendency to think of things in increments of time. If I am thinking of something I want to do, go, start, I end up asking myself is it worth the time I need to invest in it. Before I would just do it. Now it needs to have real value for me to spend my time being involved.

    I hope you have a wonderful 50 plus years! Happy B-day!

    • Z Egloff February 6, 2016 at 11:35 am #

      Hi Marlene,

      This is a great perspective. I appreciate this! I especially like it because you’re saying that your time is valuable, and that YOU are valuable, and it’s worth taking the time to decide if something is worth your valuable time. Thank you!!


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