“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.
Healthy, free, the world before me.
The long brown path before me leading me wherever I choose.
Henceforth, I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth, I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.”
― Walt Whitman
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I remember thinking about the year 2000, and how inconceivably old I would be then. I almost doubted that I would live to see it, it seemed so impossibly far away. Now, on the other side of the millennium by almost the same stretch of time, I laugh at the thought that my 30’s ever seemed old, and I’m flabbergasted by how fast the last 2-3 decades have gone and how much all our lives have changed since then.
Turning 50 was the same kind of milestone as the millennium: difficult to predict what I would feel upon arriving (not much at all, turns out), and impossible to conceive of how different my life would be thereafter (drastically).
In the years since turning 50, I am beginning to experience a return to the selfhood of my youth. I am getting back to the business of becoming the person I started out to be a long time ago. I am finally able to embrace my own gifts, to choose my own path, and to stop changing everything about myself to suit the pre-defined roles that I was taught by the world. I am shedding the layers of a lifetime of “shoulds” that kept me fearful, anxious, and feeling misfit for decades. Most freeing of all, I have stopped trying to change other people.
Like so many women, I juggled family and full-time work in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. Now in my 50’s, with children (almost all) launched, I have found new life in meaningful work that is energizing to me and aligns with my faith and values. I run two businesses that provide encouragement, inspiration, and comfort. Not in typical ways, perhaps, but in ways that express who I am and use the gifts I’ve been given: The first is a boutique marketing agency where I coach entrepreneurs who are working to change the world for the better. The second is a breakthrough concept in women’s clothing called Embrago (em-BRA-go). It’s a hybrid category of apparel that features built-in full support for full-busted and mature-busted women in ready-to-wear styles. It’s about combining functionality with comfort in versatile designs that go anywhere. But what it’s really about is compassion for our curves and freedom from the constrictive hardware of the world!
It’s been an interesting journey as a Gen-X entrepreneur, since the markets focus on technology and on younger founders. But I believe there is rich opportunity for re-invention in the basics of everyday life if we’re willing to learn from experience and think about things in a new way, i.e., how we get dressed. There’s a lot to unpack around that topic…. including ideas about dignity, freedom, body image, and self-respect…and I write about some of that in my blog (link below).
Being over 50 means a lot of hard lessons learned, finally. It’s absolutely wonderful to gradually release fear and embrace faith. As we watch our children become adults and revel in what they are becoming, we can also observe our own souls as they move through the second half of their development. I’m so grateful to have a full and blessed life, and to have the chance to use my gifts now to build something new. If I’m honest, it feels like what I have been waiting to do all along.
In our culture, where so many women feel pressured to stay eternally young and sexy, we can choose to leave those things behind and take to the open road. Like graduating from the high school of life, diploma in hand, we are accomplished, qualified, and prepared to set out to discover what’s next, and to make the most of the opportunities we find.
I am happy and proud not to be “still” all that I was when I was younger. Instead, I am grateful for the chance to embrace and celebrate what I am becoming now. Finally!