Today, April 14th is my 50th birthday, and I feel fabulous. Kathleen Inez McGunnigle was born on April 14, 1972 to Carole and Stephen McGunnigle at St. James Hospital in Hornell, NY. I am as old as Jennifer Garner, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Cameron Diaz. The Godfather – Part 1 turns 50 this year. Atari Pong and Uno are turning 50. David Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Elton John released Honky Chateau. In 1972 Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American to run for president. Helen Ready released “I am Woman.” Mash debuted in 1972. Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in straight sets in the “Battle of the Sexes.”
A lot happened in 1972, the most important (at least to me) was my birth. As a child I did not think much about what my life would be like at 50. Heck, my mother died at age 33 when I was only eight years old. A part of me could not picture life after 33 until I turned 34. Now that I am 50, I have to say that I am excited and feel fabulous!
Society likes to tell women how life basically ends at 50, and it is downhill from here. We can’t reproduce anymore, our children are older and don’t need us, and we’re too old for romance. We’re supposed to wear boring clothing, have a simple bob haircut, dye our hair to get rid of grays, and use all sorts of Botox. Basically, we need to put on our mom jeans, pull up a chair at the old folks’ home, and turn into grandmothers. Well, I’m not buying any of that. I am excited for where life will take me after my nest empties in August, and I better not get grandchildren for at least another ten years. I love my laugh lines and crow’s feet because they help tell the story of me. I call my gray streak, my BS detector and view it as a superpower. As the streak spreads, my ability to detect and confront BS grows with it. I may not be excited about some of the health challenges ahead (I’m looking at you colonoscopy and shingles vaccine), but am more aware of my health both physical and mental.
I feel more vibrant, confident, and relevant than ever before. I am not caught up in any “mid-life crisis.” I am comfortable with my opinions and believe they are worth sharing. I know what I like and dislike and am not going to let anyone tell me otherwise. I realize the being assertive does not mean being aggressive or “bitchy.” I am financially stable enough now to go out and explore the world more and to donate more to those in the world in need of help. I no longer seek out gifts for special occasions but experiences.
Part of my confidence stems from drawing on my array of experiences in life that now manifests through wisdom. Cambridge dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” I refuse to second guess my decisions any more yet am more reflective before making decisions. I also gave up apologizing for things that were not my fault. I can laugh at myself, others, and the world more easily. I value the importance of helping others in times of need and appreciate that not everyone is fortunate, and misfortune can happen to anyone at any time.
When younger, I sought to learn as much as possible about psychology to help others. Now I use a combination of my formal education and life experiences to help others. I actively reassure parents that they are good and doing their best. I remind people that we all makes mistakes, it’s what we do afterwards that counts. I have always refused to be part of an artificial competition with other women. My desire to empower young women has only grown with time and now is a focal point of my work and beliefs. I also actively empower other “women of a certain age” to embrace themselves and believe they are relevant and matter. I feel more relevant now more than ever, and I know I have much to give to the world to help make the world a better place. I am not saddened today. I am celebrating with an epic night out. I encourage all of us, women and men, to embrace whatever age we are and to appreciate that we have much to give at any age and are always fabulous. Happy 50 and Fabulous birthday to me and everyone turning 50 this year!