The border of New South Wales and Queensland, Australia
I recently celebrated my 50th birthday. If you had asked me at the age of 40 where I would be at 50, I would not have had a clue that life would look this good today. Nor would I have known that my 40’s were going to be without doubt the best years of my life. I certainly didn’t feel that way at the age of 39 years, 364 days. (Come to think of it, I wasn’t too keen on turning 30 either.) My 40th year was a very hard year and it had nothing to do with age. My mother became very ill, a significant relationship ended, several friendships were severed unexpectedly. If life is a combination of peaks and valleys, I was definitely in a valley. How could so many distressing life events hit me all at once? How would I see my way out?
When I reflect on that time, I know that I was immersed in the pain of watching a parent slowly fading away with the killer disease of dementia. I was also experiencing the loss of others who were in fact also still living but chose to live life without me. On top of all that, I was feeling geographically displaced; passionate about Canada and Australia while recognizing that I could not live in two countries simultaneously. On the plus side, I had a new career that I loved and a positive outlook instilled by my father that kicked in at a time when I needed it the most. Ten years have passed and it feels like a whirlwind. How could it be that October dawns and we are almost at the end of another year and another decade? I could not have predicted ten years ago that I would get married…and become a grandmother to boot! I wouldn’t have imagined that I could enjoy a career that enables me to travel freely and be my own boss. Most importantly, I have reached a point in my life where I am comfortable with who I am; accepting that ageing is a gift and I have a life I can not only be grateful for, but reflect upon.
One thing I have learned at the crossroads of my century is to let go of the words “what if….” and listen to my gut. On my birthday, I was in a beautiful coastal town in Queensland; sitting at a restaurant with my husband. Queensland’s slogan “beautiful one day…perfect the next” wasn’t fully living up to expectations. It had rained all day and was much cooler than normal for late August. Nonetheless, it was magical. The next day we drove south to another coastal town that is no longer the small town I remembered as a teenager. Maybe the weather would be better? It was no longer a small town. It was now a city. It dawned on me that a friend from my teen years moved to that town more than 30 years ago. I started to wonder if she was still in this town. Without hesitation and driven by curiosity, I looked in the telephone book and sure enough, her number was listed. When she answered the phone I said “I won’t be surprised if you don’t recognize my voice…it’s been more than thirty years…” My old friend instantly replied: “Michelle!” I was shocked and excited. We made a plan to get together the following day. It felt as though no time had passed at all. Rekindling the friendship was a moving experience as old memories came flooding back. I am so glad I made that telephone call. What if I had not? We vowed not to let another thirty years pass. Whenever you find yourself at the crossroads of indecision; dig deep for courage and the answers will come. Then you will be able to say to yourself “I am so glad I took that step”…No more “what if’s?” No regrets.