I’ve had a year to prepare. Actually, I guess I’ve had forty-nine years to prepare. But who can ever be adequately equipped to reach the age society refers to with such doom and gloom? I mean, the latest studies agree. By age fifty, we should drop flip flops, ditch denim, toss tanks, swap shorts for capris, and chop our hair into an age-appropriate bob or pixie. And the latest trend? Don’t even get me started. “Just allow your hair to go graaaaay,” they say. “Gray is the new black,” they say. And my favorite: “Gray is sexy!” Hmmmmmm. On Jamie Lee Curtis, a gray pixie cut is sexy. On Jamie Lee Curtis, capri pants may even have a snow ball’s chance at looking hot. But can we agree that she’s been an exception to a whole slew of rules for many many years? Say this with me out loud: “I, (insert your name here), am not Jamie Lee Curtis … and no matter how much ACTIVA I ingest, I will never ever ever be Jamie Lee Curtis.”
(Deep breath) I’ve actually had well-meaning women tell me that I need to cut my hair and throw out my denim shorts because I’m “getting too old”. Please, for the love of all things good and true, can we at least agree to give denim a break? Denim has been with us through thick and thin … literally. And has stood the test of time as much as we have. Maybe more than we have. If I can say anything here today about fashion, it would be that we should ALL own some denim. Until. We. Die.
I’m sorry, but the thought of all the false fashion notions that are prevalent on the internet brings on a mild panic attack with me. Even right now, my heart is in a rush as I picture myself being yanked away, kicking and screaming, from the gorgeous diva who colors my hair. Can anyone else relate? As long as my hair is perfect, I can take hold of satan himself by his pointy ears and firmly place him behind me. In the south, after all, hair is everything. Gray is not the new black. It’s just not!
Let’s be real. When a person reaches fifty or sixty or seventy … or even eighty … the last thing we should be discussing is age appropriate fashion and/or hairstyles. That person has lived five or more decades of life, which these days, is a feat. And because of their years on the planet, they’ve earned the right to look however they want to look. I may be waging war against capri pants and pixie cuts for myself, but for whoever chooses them, I’ll give 100% support (as long as the pixie cut, gray hair, AND capri pants aren’t paired together — a fifty year old female can only be stretched so far.) My gripe is when the fashion police puts us into a middle-aged box of do’s and don’ts when what should truly matter is the sum of our experiences.
At age fifty, I’ve experienced two marriages and divorce … healthy relationships and abuse … having a successful career and being a stay at home mom … raising typical kiddos and raising kiddos who are differently abled. I know what it’s like to have a close knit family, but I also know what it feels like when the family unit crumbles with estrangement. I’m the very proud momma of two adopted kiddos, and can tell you that my love for those two is the exact same as it is for the three I birthed.
I’ve weighed too much and too little, and now have determined the scale doesn’t matter near as much as choosing good health. Reveling in the highest of highs one moment, I’ve also walked through the deepest valleys of depression the next. I’ve written books and songs, have earned my place in 5k races, attended law school for two years, and ran for state senate as a write-in candidate to bring light to a law that would have been unfavorable to the special needs community.
I’ve been fortunate to have formed associations with individuals who, just by their very existence, make me dare to believe there is a God. At the same time, though, I still wrestle with the heavy weight of disbelief. I’ve mourned the loss of loved ones. I fear for the future of my children who have Down syndrome. What if I die first? And as the former owner of a non-profit that provided free clothing to teenage girls who are fighting through the ravages of poverty, the foster care system, and an addiction to self harm, I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation that “those kids” are amazing young women who are striving for a better future. They cling to hope, as do I, for a society that will choose the attitude of love, peace, and charity over selfishness, fighting, and suffering.
These are the things that matter.
I get it. I’m fifty.
And in the eyes of much of society, that means I’m now over the hill.
Regardless, my fifty years of life has mattered.
And your life matters too.
Happy Birthday to me!!!!