Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday. Which feels more surreal than anything. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m starting my sixth decade! Weird.

It does invite introspection, though. And I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over these last fifty years. Here’s a summary of some of the highlights:

  1. DECADE #1 – 0-10 – Siblings are your best friends as well as your worst enemies. Parents are invincible. School is FUN! Saturday morning cartoons, swimming in the creek, and fried chicken are the BEST!
  2. DECADE #2 – 10-20 – Friends are wonderful but can also break your heart. Parents are actually all too human. Middle school SUCKS but college is a blast and learning is still FUN! Feeling included, new clothes, running around with friends, and French fries  with hot fudge sundaes are the BEST!
  3. DECADE #3 – 20-30 – Falling in love is both harder and easier than I thought. Parents are smarter than I thought. Turns out the stuff I learned in school helps but NOT in the way I expected. Finding the ONE, having a home of my own, three big dogs, and dinner parties with friends are the BEST!
  4. DECADE #4 – 30-40 – Having a husband who’s also a best friend makes everything else manageable. Parents make pretty great friends, too. Just because you’re on a specific path in life doesn’t mean you can’t still dream and head off in a new direction. Laughing HARD with friends, new kitchen sinks, and cooking fancy meals with wine are the BEST!
  5. DECADE #5 – 40-50 – Sharing your faith with your spouse, your family, and your friends is the key to everything. Parents sacrifice a lot for their kids–now it’s the kids’ turn. There are still new mountains to climb and new paths to explore but there’s also a deeper appreciation for the path you’re on. Being healthy, being kind, extending grace, and daily doses of chocolate are the BEST!

I feel like I’ve learned so much these past fifty years. And I feel like I have so much left to learn. It feels less urgent, though–less like I HAVE to figure life out. And even if I can’t wrap my head around being fifty, I can totally get on board with letting the next decade simply unfold like a map leading me somewhere more special than I can grasp.

Happy birthday to me.