What does it feel to hit 50 – finally?

What does it feel to hit 50 – finally?

Ever since finally becoming half a century old this month, the question I get asked often is how it feels to finally hit the big five o. And my answer is always the same – age is but a number. It doesn’t feel any different being 50 years old – you are the same old you but yes, there are things you can work on.

When you reach 50, you begin to understand what really matters in life and what doesn’t. It’s a great point in time to choose what is important in life and what can wait. Or forgotten. You understand the fragility of time and the importance of spending time doing things you want to do. Somethings that were on the back burner can be brought up front. Spending time with your spouse and the children are important –  at 50, realization comes that time can be fleeting and the opportunities to make the best use of relationships can be gone before you can grasp them. Finding time for your aging parents is also paramount here ; they don’t have much time left and it would be good to make an effort to spend some time with them.

At 50, you don’t want to hold grudges and be enslaved by them. It’s a great opportunity to forgive and forget. And to let the slights pass. Especially from younger, over confident folk who think they’ve seen it all – you can laugh it off and shake it out of your system. Retorts and rebuttals are not worth the while, considering the bad blood it pumps into your system.

At 50, you are comfortable – or at least you should ideally be – with who you are. You don’t have time to keep analyzing the portrayal of you by others. Fat or thin, easy to please or hard to get, you are who you are – and you can only improve upon what you are. You can set goals to achieve once you understand and realize that the buck ends with you. You can still bring on change even at 50 – but first, you need to know where and what to change without having to reconsider it later on.

Hitting 50 , in my book, gives you a few privileges. Chief among which is not to have the time or the desire to put up with anything you don’t want to. Having lived for half a century, you somehow come to the conclusion that you don’t really have the time to keep on playing games. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, that’s fine. Not that you would ignore that person for the rest of your life but you understand the dynamics of relationships. They don’t always stay the same and that’s fine too. You don’t have the time to spend mentally reversing situations and regretting the flash backs.

At 50, feel entitled to some opinions – even though they don’t seem to matter to anyone else but you. You have earned them ; they are yours to keep. You may not always be right but you have time on your side. You have been there, done that and when someone not touching this side of 40 thinks you ought to know better, you have earned the right to shrug it off.

Being 50 is also a great time to finally comprehend that you will never have that hour glass figure or be able to squeeze into that bandage dress hanging for ions in your wardrobe. Give it to charity – instead, focus on eating and exercising right. Not because it is fashionable but because it can keep you fit and healthy and add productive years to your life.

In the final analysis, being 50 isn’t bad at all. In fact, it is good because it is that point in your life when you know for certain what remains and what is fleeting.  appreciate more – you can look out of the window and experience the sunset instead of worrying if another day just ended on an uncertain note.

Cherish the moment…

Cherish the moment…

So many tragedies, so many tears – from the shooting in Oregon to the flooding in South Carolina grabbing headlines the same week…ISIS is still wreaking havoc in the Middle East and at home, we still haven’t established who killed little Seya..it’s a dark world and it is easy to drown in all in sorrow, in one big heap..

But we are a people of hope…I speak as a Christian who believe that my Redeemer lives..I also speak as a mother and a wife and I believe that we must be able to cultivate our moments that empower us to overcome the sadness, the bitter world around us. It is so easy to go along with the flow and feel the negative vibes but we must swim upstream.

Many of us get through the day absorbed in what we do – often, our work. We connect to the world on our computers and smart phones and it becomes so easy to be wrapped up in our own little worlds. Can we step aside and connect with those around us? Can we spend a moment to cherish with our children, aging parents, a lonely co-worker, a neighbour who recently lost a loved one? Could we reach out to other people and maybe take some of the loneliness, the anger, the frustrations away?

It is the moments spent in the company of others that enrich our souls – that make us who we are.Too many of us hide behind our phones or our lap tops as we connect and entertain ourselves ; it is important to switch off the devices and switch on what makes us who we are – the human connections that enrich us.

Dinner table conversation is a good place to start. Teach the children to connect to one another – they are increasingly connected to devices too and sometimes, we are guilty of using the very devices as babysitters. Two year olds are entertained by iPads and by five, they don’t need company, they’ve got it all together, entertaining themselves.

Cherish the moment. Get off the computer and take your daughter or son to a walk in the park. Let not the darkness around us get in. We can light a candle in our own lives – it can and must come from us.

Just last week, we visited some of my husband’s relatives in the country – the beautiful surroundings of Dodanduwa, Hikkaduwa. The old house had been beautifully restored and the sprawling garden and a cool well was a treat to behold. Just sitting in the old verandah, doing nothing but listening to the sounds of nature, laughing and catching up with a few, many such a difference in our lives that day. It gave me a memory to cherish. I can still close my eyes and see in my mind’s eyes the fireflies gathering as the night fell, the sunset slowly coming over the greenery of many hues.

Let us not let a troubled world trouble us too. We can and must take refuge in what we do everyday -find the time to cherish moments spentwith each other.

the best is not always the first…

the best is not always the first…

Today was my eight year old daughter’s last day of school for the second term.

She had a statement to make – a child picked up a prize for a special achievement – with a sparkle in her eyes,  she asked me , can I also get a prize?

Which got me thinking. After assuring her that she indeed can, it made me go back in time to my school days. Most of us were average, as children often are. There were the brilliant ones and they were those who became the doctors and the engineers. Today, they still do. Our education system has not changed much from the days back when I went to school. The under achievers don’t always discover their potential – perhaps later in life and then they shine and notch up achievements.

The average ones always form the majority. They may not always be the bright sparks and maybe late bloomers but they are all special nevertheless. It’s sad that our education system does not allow the majority to also sparkle. While burdening one with a lot of useless information which can neither be used for a modern day career nor learnt to make things better in life, the system also gives an unfair advantage to the ones with photographic memory.

While studying for a case study during our marketing days, I remember the ones sitting around and listening to what was being discussed. Often enough, these listeners who were memorizing what was being discussed, achieved better results than the ones actually churning up ideas for the discussion. The system of learning by rote favours those who can cram and fill up their memory space with information, only to bring it out at an examination.

So how do we measure success – is it in terms of academic achievement or career success? As we now know, the academic performance is not always related to career highs. While it does happen – those who do well in school and university always go on to get into stellar careers especially if they are in specialised knowledge fields like medicine or law, for others, one is not always connected to the other.

Soft skills matter in the real world as much as academic performance – how do we measure up to the expectations of self-assured confidence, being articulate, smart, fast to learn and the ability to get things done independently. Those traits are powerful enough to make or break a career – and can sometimes even surpass academic achievements.

While we do encourage children to ensure they do well in school and at university, we should also make sure their social and emotional intelligence measures up. How are the speaking skills, writing skills – do they excel at inter personal relationships? How do they connect with one another, are they able to get things done and able to communicate effectively?

Back to the achiever at school – we must ideally be able to make sure all children can be achievers in their own way – and to assure them that even though they may not always make the cut academically, they can do well in life nevertheless.

Do we have to deal with the guilt?

Motherhood. Work. Career.Busy kids. Home front. Chores to run. Meals to be cooked. Homework supervised. The list is endless.

The balancing act also involves plenty of guilt. For most mothers, dealing with guilt becomes a pre-occupation. You feel guilty about the time you spend away from the family, at work or in pursuit of work related travel. You feel guilty even when you are there with them, playing an active role as a mother and a wife because you believe sometimes that you are not spending as much time as you should. You feel guilt if you try to catch some Me time all by yourself. In the endless guilt trips you secretly take yourself on, you are never doing enough, never enough to be the perfect mother.

Let’s get that straight – None of us, how hard we may try or try to congratulate ourselves, will never be the perfect mother. Nor the perfect wife. We can only try to do our best under the circumstances. And you need to deal with that guilt. You need to be determined enough to put an end to the toxic thoughts that constantly try to press you down with the pity party. Well, the pity party is long over and you are trying to do your best, give your family the best you can give.

Sometimes, you may not really be up to it. All of us get that day off feeling. You are in the middle of a rush school day and there’s lunch boxes to be made and clothes to be pressed, your daughter gives you that look with hair ribbon in her hand and the clock is ticking. You secretly wish you could get away to a spa tucked away in some serene valley, just for the day.

Sometimes, it is one of those days when irritability teams up with a bad mood to set you apart in a category of it’s own. You yell and you fuss and later when they have all gone, you feel guilty. You need to be kind to yourself. Often enough, we have to learn to be not so hard on ourselves ; whether in being nice to our kids and husbands and colleagues , we tend to overlook ourselves.  

Take yourself out for a treat. It’s alright to indulge in some shopping, pampering and self-care. Just don’t over-do it. Some of us have life long pamper parties we never seem to leave. I try to catch up with some friends over coffee and talk of nothing important in particular, just some girl conversation that never seems dull but is always refreshing. We talk about our careers, our children, our husbands and our diets. And we go back to our homes, feeling good about all of that chatting.

No one ever promised an easy ride for a career woman who happens to be a wife and a mother with a full household to run. We need to strike a balance, a mental one that does not point us out to ourselves so often that we are on a constant roller coaster of guilt. The balance we all seek can only come when you learn to deal with the guilt in a positive manner.

Your kids may be older and your home chores lessened, but as a senior career woman once shared with me, the guilt has never left. In fact, she says, she has to constantly deal with it from the past tense to the present. You were never there when the kids were growing up is a favourite guilt line. 

The best way to deal with guilt is swiftly and consistently. You need to start telling yourself that you are doing the best you can. Keep talking – to yourself – you need to heat that positive voice in your head that can successfully counter the negative one. We need to deal with ourselves before we try to deal with the world and good luck.