Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm 50! I Can Kick, Stretch and Kick!

“Fifty years: here’s a time when you have to separate yourself from what other people expect of you, and do what you love. Because if you find yourself 50 years old and you aren’t doing what you love, then what’s the point?” Jim Carrey

Today I turn 50 years old. My daughter bought me a pair of bright red cowboy boots. There is something significant, for me, about getting red cowboy boots on my 50th birthday. Fifty used to seem old. I am not old. Old people do not wear red cowboy boots. Kids don't buy their mom red cowboy boots if they think she is old. I recall an interview with Gloria Steinem. The man interviewing her said, “Well Ms. Steinem, you certainly don’t look 43 years old.” Her reply? “Well, honey…this is what MY 43 looks like.

I come from a long line of very youthful folk. My mom was running and practicing yoga until the day of her death. She actually did run and practice yoga on the day of her death! My father, an avid sailor and squash player, was inhibited a bit by his years of cigarette smoking, but he would walk a brisk 18 holes of golf, in no time at all.

My brother was (and still is) an elite cyclist and my two sisters, are both athletes, but did not have the same benefits that I did…both being born long before Title 9.

The youthfulness of my lineage isn’t only in the way our bodies show up, but also in our attitudes. You can see it in our eyes. My mom, known for her progressive attitude and authentic spirit had a sparkle in her eye that was very child-like. She approached life with a youthful curiosity and a willingness to share her vulnerabilities. As she grew older, there was a tendency even toward being “wacky”, a characteristic that most people who knew her would definitely mention.

My dad, less open, at least until he got sick, always seemed older, but once he knew the years remaining in his life were limited (he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 60) he, too, became more child-like, open and fun-loving. There was the return to his eyes of a beautiful and youthful twinkle…something I had never known existed, until then. I am so grateful.

In honor of turning 50 and the growing freedom I feel to come home to my younger (and real) self, I thought it might be fun to list the top ten things I have learned from the girls we serve…and then in the next few weeks, attempt to do every one of them in celebration of the last half of my life!

So here goes:


1. When you are happy, it is perfectly acceptable to stop whatever you are doing and go into complete “Dance, Dance Fever” mode. Don’t think too hard about this. Allow the dance to be interpretive and come up from your soul. If this means doing a full-blown “worm” on the floor, go for it. If it means, cartwheels and/or break dancing, don’t hold back, brothers and sisters. Dance, until you can dance no more!

2. When you are sad and you feel like crying…cry. There is no reason in the world, not to. Crying is not anything to be embarrassed about or to restrain yourself from doing. Crying can actually feel good.

3. When you are hurt, either physically and/or emotionally, let someone know that you need their help and their love. Don’t be afraid to say “Hug me. I’m hurt.” You’d be surprised how much that helps in the healing process.

4. When you are angry, let someone you trust know first. Tell them everything. Get all the mean parts of your anger out of your body before you actually confront the person who has angered you. Being human isn’t always a piece of cake and sometimes we think really mean things. That’s okay and just part of being human.

5. Trust yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, trust whatever it is that is giving you that feeling. Nine out of ten times, you are right.

6. If you have something to say, say it. Why the heck would you ever want to hold back an idea on your insides when there is plenty of space outside for the idea to live? Share your big ideas even if they seem utterly undoable or ridiculous. You’d be surprised at how many other people might also have the same idea, but just not know or have the words to express it.

7. Daydream. So, maybe sitting quietly isn’t something that adults do very often, but lying on your back, watching butterflies and making shapes out of the clouds in the sky all provide direct routes to the deeper ideas in your imagination. Your destiny is found in your dreams.

8. Stare at people. Sure, this will make them uncomfortable, but every once in a while a stare leads to a connection and a connection is where friends are found. (The best place to stare at people is on an elevator, so says my daughter, Helen Barker.)

9. As you get older, the fashion magazines and the “age police” will tell you what to wear and how your body should look. They just make that stuff up. Wear whatever you want to wear. If you feel like wearing red cowboy boots with a pair of running shorts, this is perfectly acceptable. Don’t think too much in this category. The human body is pretty cool. Take thirty minutes sometime and just see what your body can do. Leap. Jump. Fly. Skip. Dance. Amazing! Let your spirit be your guide!

And last but not least… the topper, the whole enchilada, the icing on the cake and the cherry on the sundae…

10. Love people. Love them “just because.” Love them with all of your heart. Tell them you love them…tell them a lot. Tell them every day that you love them. Love them with your words, your body and your eyes. Tell them you love them with cards that you decorate yourself, with gifts that you made with your own two hands. Love because you are love. Love. Love. Love.

What would be the top one or two things you have learned the children in your life? What inhibits you from being child-like? What one or two things do you promise you will do this week to celebrate the child in you? Let me know!


  1. I adore all of these lessons. And wish you a very happy birthday as well! From the children in my life, I have learned that we should eat freely, based on our internal cues. Children, young ones at least, tend to eat until they are full and then stop and don't have all of the issues and associations that some of us do around food. Unfortunately, many of them will develop issues, which is why programs like Girls on the Run are so important!

  2. Thank you for making me think about the lessons I've learned from working with kids. This year, I have learned that kids have a much better idea of how to have good, simple, fun. I let the 12-year olds choose their favorite activity rather than forcing my ideas and we played a great game of Uno. Today my field hockey captains chose to run rather than do skill drills because there was just too much "noise and nonsense" going on. We all felt less pressure and tension when we returned to the field. I know that my world is a lot more fun because I work with kids and they have a voice in what we do every day.

  3. These are awesome! My 13-yr-old sister said to me recently, "I don't know why everyone is so concerned with their appearance. I'm not." I don't know why, either!

  4. Happy birthday! I love this site.
    Nicole :)
    P.S. Cute the boots... :D

  5. Happy birthday, Molly. I hope my 50 looks like your 50-- because your heart and spirit inspire me everyday. You are love and loved, dear friend.

  6. My mom celebrated 50 in the early 1970s by getting a pair of hot pants -- that was her equivalent of red cowboy boots. She would be cheering you on, as am I!

  7. Love the title--such a good SNL skit. Congrats on 50, not like you look it!

  8. Happy Birthday!
    What a fantastic post. I love all 10 things, but #10 is how I'm trying to live my life these days. It's the most important thing!