Hawksbill Turtle by Paula Booker of the Dive Academy

So as some of you may know, I recently turned 50.

 

Yup. The big 5-0.

 

And you know what? I feel great!

I have some pretty big advantages on my side: my health is good, my family is great, I don’t look my age. I acknowledge that those things all make it easier to accept aging, but I am also aware that I have made some decisions about how to approach the second half of my life.

I do mean the second half. I come from a long-lived family and I fully intend to sashay my way to 100, still moving and grooving!

Last year, when I turned 49, I decided I would take that year to prepare for the next 50. I wrote a blog about what I would do to reflect on what was important. I would make active decisions about how to spend my time, and I would challenge some of the things that make me nervous. I would start to soften the boundaries of my life so that, once I moved into the next half-century, I would do it ready to learn as much as I did in the first half.

So how did it go?

Well, I think the thing that has had the most impact is that I learned to scuba dive.

 

Photo by Paula Booker of the Dive Academy

My husband of 24 years is and always has been an avid diver. In all our years together, it never seemed like the right time to learn. I was anxious about it, and he said that scuba diving is not something that you do to humour someone else. It can be dangerous and you have to really want to do it!   My health wasn’t great for a while there, then we had little kids, then I started teaching and life got busy.

Last year we went on a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are renowned for their beautiful dive sites. With this awareness of wanting to stretch my confidence with new things, I decided to give it a try.

Ok, I loved it. Really and truly.

So we went home and I got certified as an open water diver with the amazing crew at The Dive Academy in Oakville. They teach diving the way I teach movement: it should be detailed, you should go away having actually learned something instead of having someone else do it all for you and you should laugh and have fun! If scuba diving has ever appealed to you even a little bit, or if you want to refresh or upgrade your skills, I can’t recommend these guys highly enough!

To celebrate my birthday we went on a week long, live-aboard diving trip with Caribbean Explorers. Did I mention that one of the other things that I have always been nervous about is boats? Get me to tell you the story of taking the kids on the sailboat in the Toronto Harbour sometime….

So there we were, heading out to live on a boat and do 5 dives a day!

I was ready for the idea that I might be nervous, that I might only dive a couple of times a day and read my book on the deck for the rest of the time.

You know what I did? I did 25 of the 27 available dives, I dove at night, I learned and I loved it.  It turns out I love being on a boat and took way longer to adjust to being on shore after we got home than I did to being onboard! I messed up some things, and improved at a lot of things and I threw myself in.

That’s what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

I’m done now with what I referred to as my Fuck Off 40’s.  I was happy with who and what I was, content with my life and my family and my work. If anyone had issues with any of that, then they could just kindly Fuck Off. Not aggressive, just sure of my place in the world!

 

Now, I have moved into my Fuck It 50’s.  Haven’t done that? Haven’t gone there? Makes me kind of nervous? Fuck it, let’s go!

I will not be defined by a number, by a picture of what 50 looks like from the outside. If I am a bit squishier about the midriff than I used to be, well, that’s just going to have to be ok. I can move all day, I can walk for kilometers, I can carry the groceries and I can learn new things, I am strong and flexible and as long as I don’t stop, I have faith that I will continue to be able to do those things!

So here’s my invitation: if you are heading into some decade or other that feels “old” to you, see if you can turn it around. You have acquired some wisdom, you have earned the right to be sure of yourself, you deserve the opportunity to picture what you want to do and where you want to go. Picture it and then look for the path that lets you get there!

Whether that means getting under the water or getting to High Park, climbing an indoor rock wall or hiking and climbing a mountain, learning a new language, starting a new business or finding a new love I encourage you to imagine that you can do it!

Join me for YOUR Fuck It 50’s!
Or your Sassy 60’s. Or your Superwoman 70’s.
Or your Engaged & Energetic 80’s (I’m looking at you, Rita!).
Or your Not Done Yet 90’s.

We’re all in this together, this being human thing. Let’s be women of a certain age and wear that banner proudly!

 

 

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