50th Plans…And Then Came COVID

Celebrating My 50 While 50 – Update #1

Nearly two months ago, in mid-January, I celebrated the Big 5-0. Like many people do as a milestone birthday approaches, I’d begun pondering months earlier just how I would celebrate.

I was super excited about this birthday, because 2011 – the year I turned 40 – had also been a big year of a big change in my family dynamics. I spent the decade between then and now leaning into my new role as single, co-parenting mom of two adolescents, making sure they had the nurturing, the education and the extracurriculars that would help them thrive and be prepared to discover their purpose. The choices and sacrifices I made during that season were more than worth it; but I was looking forward to launching this new decade with a special trip somewhere in that world that would serve as a kick off for more opportunities to explore never-visited American cities and states, and places around the globe.  

Then came COVID. The world stopped, and along with having to help my son celebrate his high school graduation virtually and my daughter celebrate her college graduation without a formal ceremony, I had to abandon my looming 50th birthday plans. 

Trust me, I know how minor these and a few other very disappointing setbacks were, given the tumult and loss unfolding every single day. I couldn’t complain (then or now), and I continue to seek ways to offer help and encouragement to friends and many others who are in need.

My past 12 months of pandemic living have been graced with many blessings, including a new job filled with meaningful work; settling my son into a college where he gets to run track; watching my daughter practicing “adulting” in a way that has made me proud(er) to be her mom, and everyone in my immediate family remaining healthy.

I know this hasn’t been the case for many people, including some of my closest friends and loved ones, and I don’t take it for granted. So, being the optimistic person I am, I turned my attention to creating a Plan B. For me that is my 50 While 50 List – i.e., a list of 50 things to do while I’m enjoying my 50th year. 

I asked readers of my author newsletter to chime in with suggestions, and boy, did they answer. Between the 30 or so ideas I already had on the list and their wonderful ideas, I’ve now got a lineup of 67 things to do! Lol And if you know me, you know I’ll fit at least 50 things in during 2021 and “carryover” the other 17 into 2022, if necessary.

I promised my newsletter readers that I’d be sharing periodic updates on my progress in this space and this is my first 50 While 50 installment. 

I’ve spent January, February and some of March keeping promises that are fun, practical, fulfilling and maybe a bit uncomfortable enough to stretch me, including:

  • Treating myself to a few favorite “non-everyday” foods whenever the whim hits me, including calamari and German chocolate cake. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve enjoyed leaning into those “why not today?” urges when they’ve randomly occurred.
  • Getting a colonoscopy. Not a fun task, but not a necessary one! It was uneventful, and it gave me peace of mind to check this off my list of responsible things to do.
  • Sitting in silence more than usual. As a writer, I often ponder and create in silence; but these particular quiet times have been filled with more intentional journaling, meditating, letting my thoughts roam free, praying, and envisioning some of my goals and dreams as reality. The process has helped me refine my goals and know myself even better.
  • Buying two instead of one. I’ve bought myself a bouquet of fresh flowers every two weeks, just because, for years. Since January, I’ve sometimes made it two – one bouquet graces a vase on my dining room table and the other is placed where I choose – my living room or family room or bedroom.
  • Taking time away. I spent a few days on the Chesapeake Bay, leaning into long walks, prayer time and socially distant meals and laughter with two of my closest sisterfriends. The experience was fun and gave me the clarity and courage to say yes to a few new things. 
  • Spa-ing. I treated myself to a mid-week facial with a fun millennial esthetician, whose chatty style and excellent work left me refreshed and renewed.
  • I sat in on a virtual masterclass about the book-to-movie process, with goals of learning how to someday see my novels on the big screen.
  • I secured three sessions with a life coach to help me refine my short-term goals and to create an accountability plan. This has been a worthwhile investment!

These are just a few things, and it’s only mid-March. I’m enjoying this process and along the way asking myself a question that a professional acquaintance posed to me in a recent conversation: What will you do differently? 

I’ve been leaning into that query in every area of my life, to ensure that I’m not just going through the motions or simply checking things off the list to say I’ve gotten them done. Either I am leaning into doing things the same as always because there’s a reason this way is best, or doing them differently because making slight changes will get me closer to the joy, the journey and the results that I want to be most impactful and lasting.

What about you? How’s your start to 2021? What are you leaning into? What are you willing to do differently? Regardless of whether this is a milestone birthday year for you, this can be a year that you set and reach new milestones, just because you’re worth it.

Share your plans in the comment section, and thanks for reading and cheering me on. As we all move forward and evolve as best we can, may we also remember our simple and significant blessings and pay them forward as best we can.

Help Me Choose 50 Things While 50

Whew – if you’ve been following the news at all this past week, you’ll probably agree with me that we’ve had some kind of start to the New Year – the kind that has left me at a loss for words, while alternatively holding onto what I know to be true: The reality that even when darkness or mayhem gains a foothold, goodness will find a way to shine through, and inner peace is still possible.
I’m clinging to that belief in 2021, and especially on today (Sunday, January 10) – my 50th birthday!


There are so many sappy cliches about this milestone that would be fitting to spout; but the simple refrain coursing through my mind, heart and spirit is that I am grateful, excited and feeling abundantly blessed.


My 50 While 50 Challenge
One of the ways I plan to commemorate this special year is to challenge myself to do 50 Things While 50 – from simple delights such as treating myself to a few at-home spa days to achieving big goals like finishing my current manuscript-in-progress to lofty plans like preparing for a big trip abroad that I hope to take once it’s safe to travel again.


I’ve started a list of simple and significant experiences that will allow me to rejuvenate, reconnect with myself, have fun and reflect on my life’s next chapter, but I’m stuck  at 35! Can you help me by suggesting a few pandemic-friendly things I can enjoy, learn from or find meaningful during this very special year?

Post your suggestions for me in the comment section!

Everything I choose must bring me some measure of joy, growth, peace or pleasure. I’ll write a brief update about each thing I check off my list as I plow through it throughout the year, and you can follow along by subscribing to this LifeUntapped blog.

If  you give me an idea, I’ll consider adding it to my list – unless it’s beyond my personal tolerance for adventure!

Stacy


I know that I’ll be thankful to have these memories to look back on someday and finding more ways to savor as much of life as I can, while leaving others feeling empowered enough and worthy enough to do the same  – whether it’s through your reading something I’ve written or recommended; in our one-on-one dialogue; through social media, or any other means.


We can’t change others or the world around us; but we can protect the good within us and find the courage to share it broadly, come what may. Celebrating with you is one of the ways I’m turning up my joy. 

As I focus forward, consider joining me!  Why not create your own To Do list of simple and significant adventures for 2021, just for you and just because? 


And if this is a milestone birthday year for you too, please accept my congrats and let me know how you’re commemorating it!