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The Best Way To Celebrate Turning 50

It boils down to three things.

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A drawing of a group of four women enjoying being out for a birthday celebration.
Marta Rivas
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I’ve always been big on milestones. I’ve never shrugged off a birthday or glossed over an anniversary. And like many people, I tend to use certain birthdays as an opportunity to assess myself and my life, often to my own detriment. So as my 45th birthday approached, I was gearing up for a big, depressing day full of examined regrets and a double workout at the gym. My mother tried to convince me that 45 isn’t a milestone birthday, but I already had my mind made up.

Luckily, I happen to have one of the world’s greatest friends. She spent two months demanding I produce a list of all of my friends’ email addresses, and I ended up spending the evening of my 45th birthday in a quirky little wine bar, surrounded by people who love me and who wanted to get me very drunk.

So with that milestone birthday behind me, I’ve already started thinking about how to have a fabulous 50th. It seams to me that successfully celebrating fifty boils down to three things:

At 45, I’m already sick of that ever-growing list of things I’m too old to do, wear or think. For my 50th, if I want to take nude photos of myself or backpack around Europe (I’d skip the hostels and opt for the most amazing hotels I can afford!) or eat all the sugar, cholesterol and carbs I can get my hands on for 24 hours, then nothing is going to stop me! A 50th birthday should be a day without limits, and that means for once, not letting society’s idea of what an adult can or cannot do get in the way of your day. Just so long as nobody gets hurt and no laws are broken. My friend Julie signed up for a group trapeze class and made ten of us join her for “Trapeze and Cocktails”. It was truly a blast. You just have to make sure you do it in the correct order. Trapeze first, THEN cocktails.

I know, just considering the concept of a Bucket List makes us feel old. But let’s admit it. You’ve got one. There are a few things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, money, nerve or energy to try. One mom at my daughter’s school hiked the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, and another one did a bike tour in France with five BFFs. For my 50th birthday, I’m going to pick at least one thing and do it, for no other reason than to say I did! Skydive, get a tattoo, attend a foam party, go to the most expensive spa in New York and treat myself to everything they have to offer ... I’ll pick one thing and cross it off my list regardless of price, time commitment, or fear of needles. If not for my 50th, then when?

So many of us are anchored into a habitual schedule with a contrived set of “have-to’s”. And yes, when we have kids and spouses there’s often very little wiggle room when it comes to freeing yourself up from the daily grind. But can there be just one day where you don’t make breakfast for someone else? Where you don’t have to take on the stress and responsibility of someone else getting to school or work or out on their daily walk? For most women this requires a bit of pre-planning, but I tried this for my 45th and Ahhhhhh ... was it worth it! So for my 50th, I resolve to take a day off from work and a day off from taking care of other people. I’m gonna hit that snooze button ... actually, scratch that. No alarm at all! In fact, I may not even be home! Let ‘em get their own breakfast. The dog can walk himself. I’ll be taking a day where there are no “have to’s” or schedules, just time for me to relax, enjoy and celebrate the awesomeness that is a woman turning 50.

I have a friend who, for her 40th birthday, flew a gaggle of us in an actual private plane to an actual private island for an actual private vacation. Unless I win the lottery sometime over the five years, I don’t see myself following in her footsteps. But I do expect to have an unpredictable, non-regrettable and unforgettable fiftieth birthday!