turning 50

I woke up early last week and I felt my bones seemed slightly stiffer than usual.

I blamed skipping my beloved yoga that day, and then I cursed the 21-degree frigid air of New York City drafting through my window.

And then I realized…wait, I just turned 50!!

I remember being super jazzed about turning 40.

I was of a minority breed that ran towards aging, believing it would give me the credibility I longed for.

I was always the youngest one in my meetings at UNICEF in my 30s. And I have a lot of older (wiser) friends. In my parenting, I thought aging would bring me the wisdom of experience so important in guiding young humans on this ever-evolving planet we share.

But turning 50 is a whole new ball game.

I think it feels even better than 40.

Okay, I admit I’m not running as fast towards the aging (and wrinkles) part, but I am soaking up the more serene outlook it provides.


Turning 50 feels like taking one giant, grateful exhale as I look back on the last half century and say quietly, serenely: HOLY S*^T, I am so lucky.

Not for WHAT I have, but for WHO I’ve met and WHERE I’ve been.

That means the people, the travels, the stories.

Not the accolades. Not the stuff.

  • 3 unbelievably kind and funny kids.

  • 4 very different and fulfilling careers.

  • 5 varied decades to look back on and appreciate not just those big things I remember…but also the seconds of the minutes that made up the hours.

  • My siblings, family, and friends that hold me up every single day.

  • And more countries visited than I ever thought possible when I was a child in New Jersey dreaming of the great big world.

My dad and I are very close and have always loved the fact that we share our half birthdays (to the minute).

So the day (minute) I turned 50 last week was the day (minute) he turned 89.5…meaning he’s 6 months from 90.

Imagine that.

In my coaching work, I ask many of my clients to visit their 90-year-old self as a matter of practice. They tell me they often fast forward to their “older self” vision in a moment of crisis, when making a decision, and even when they spend time with their kids and feel pulled or distracted.

You know why?

Visiting your 90-year-old self will guarantee that you focus on the quality of your time in that moment.

Your 90-year-old self knows what really matters, and can quickly pull you away from the heightening of stress, lower the temperature in a conversation, or make a complicated choice that much more clear.

It also makes 50 seem young.

I often visit my 90-year-old self and despite the grim implications some people have around “kicking the bucket,” I happen to think that writing a bucket list – call it a dream list, joy list or adventure goals – can be a great reminder to LIVE RIGHT NOW.

I made a bucket list on my 40th birthday 10 years ago, writing out adventures quickly as if my time was running out. That list led me to realize the many crazy (fun) adventures I’ve had in these last years.

But as I began to write my 50th bucket list last week, I found myself writing a lot more slowly, and with more contemplation. I was finding very different ways I wanted to play, and with a new mindset.

In other words, skydiving sounded pretty great 10 years ago, but now? No thanks.

I’m still crazy, but not that crazy.

Writing my book on play has taught me not only that what sounds fun to one person – whether they are 33, 44, 50 or 90 – may sound very “un-fun” to another.

And that what you loved to do a few years ago may be entirely different now.

And that’s exactly the point of reflection.

I invite you to start writing your bucket/dream/adventure/joy list right now. Even if they are “crazy” adventures, or simply bullet point scratch marks on a post-it in the kitchen.

Just make sure you write down what you want for you. Recall what brings you joy. Remember how you like to play.

And then don’t wait until your birthday. Maybe close your eyes and visit your 90 (or 50!) year-old self and just go do it.

With fierce love,

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