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Turning 50 Can Be A Great And Wonderful Adventure!
Written By: Mark Smith

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No, I'm not the one turning 50. I've got 2˝ years left before I join that illustrious club. But several of my friends are turning 50 and I have some interesting observations about their transitions. When they say that 50 is the new 40 they are right on. I used to think that most of life's adventures take place during one's 20's and early 30's - picking a college, picking a major, committing to a career, selecting a spouse, settling in to a community, having children, etc. I thought that life was basically on auto-pilot after that. You raise your kids, you retire; you spoil your grandkids and then you die. What I have learned is that exciting adventures are part of every stage of life. I'm finding that it is actually more exciting to be 47 than any other age that I have been yet.

Let me introduce you to my best friend Fred. Fred turned 50 on Saturday. He is a genius massage therapist with huge strong hands, he has a heart of gold, and he is intuitive, wise, safe, goofy and giving. He befriends waitresses when we are out to eat the way my mother used to do and he knows that irritates the heck out of me. I've know Fred for 16 years. He is my fearless motorcycle buddy. We've covered most of the Midwest with various ill conceived but adventurous biking trips. Fred is also recently divorced, somewhat lonely at times and he is struggling to find his new place in the world. As with the rest of us there are ups and downs in his world. But he is embracing 50 with a grace and a courage that I find inspiring. "Bring it on life", "I'm game for whatever you have to dish out" he says with a wry smile. He is bent, but far from broken. He rolls through life with the joyful, flexible spirit of a child - an endearing trait that is also like my mom. Here are some words of poetry from my old buddy - enjoy:

The Simple Joys

By Fred, Sage, Soothsayer and Overall Wise One

The simple joys: what it's all about

Connecting with the depths without saying a word

Knowing what's going on because you care

Taking risks and being true to who you are

An honest reality

Being what you are meant to be

Accepting weakness and finding its gift

The simple ways are the real ways

Facing death and finding true life

Looking for a lover and finding and lifetime friend

Facing reality and living with strife

Going with the flow and giving up your will

Enjoying life without having to seek escape

Ah, the simple joys, they're the ones that count

While complicated things offer promise, ultimately they are left blowing in the wind

Give me my sweet simple joys: what it's all about

Good stuff, huh. By the way, if you want the best massage of your life from one of the wisest and safest men you'll ever meet; give Fred a call at 513-4676. Give my boy a shout - I promise that he will bring great enrichment to your life.

I also want to give a shout out to an un-named friend. She is also reaching 50 this week. She is also facing divorce at that fragile time. The years after 50 can be THE best time in life. My friend is like a wilted flower clinging to life in the shade of obscurity. I have a strong sense that life giving waters will ultimately gently rain down on you. That you will slowly inch your way towards some very interesting sunshine. That your pained life will blossom and bloom as never before during these new 50's years. You are an underdog now, but look out world - good times are going to come your way.

One more special friend to give a shout out to. Another un-named friend who has been on her post 50 journey for several years now. She is attacking the challenges of her present life situation with the courage and pluck of a fierce champion. She has been a mentor and teacher for me in poetry, writing, therapy, creativity and life. She has taught me to pay attention to my dreams, because our dreams are an expression of our unconsciousness. She makes the 50's look extremely appealing and most adventuresome. She is one of my heroes.

Anyone else out there sneaking up on 50? Anyone depressed about that? Don't be! What is next for you? Pay attention to what your heart is trying to say to you. You ain't dead yet! Staying young is about fight and spirit, not botox or plastic surgery. Join a club, start a new hobby, read a fascinating book, share a fabulous meal with friends, get feedback from someone who really knows you, book a therapy appointment, join the YMCA, go on a cruise, take a long soak in a hot tub with a couple of beers and your special one, read some poetry, suck the joy out of life each and every day. Have some fun! See you next week.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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