Milestones – Are They to be Celebrated?

“It’s only a number”, one person said.

“You should just live it up. It’s a special milestone”, said another.

“It’s just another day”, from someone else.

“Not everyone gets an opportunity to hit that milestone. Live it up and appreciate it”, said another voice.

You may have guessed that I’m talking about a birthday. Not just another birthday but a 50th birthday.

This past week, I celebrated my 50th birthday. I’ve been reflecting a lot on that special milestone. Part of me did see it as just another day, another year that has gone by and not wanting to make a big deal of the number.

The other part of me felt it was important to acknowledge that it was not just another day. In fact, it was an important milestone in my life, one I should not take for granted and appreciate it and celebrate it.

For the past two weeks, I have found myself curious about how I had been feeling. I thought of what my parents would think of their daughter who is now fifty. I also thought of that little girl too who was seven and fifty seemed like an eternity away. I thought of where I am today and if I was happy and proud of myself for what I have accomplished, lived through and created. I also thought of the disappointments, the grief, and sorrow that comes because I had lived fifty years and many of my loved ones have died, hardships have been experienced, failed businesses and goals along the way too.

I was filled with so many conflicting, yet supportive emotions. It was a strange place to be.

My brother reminded me numerous times, “It’s just a number”, and I’d respond with, “Until it’s your turn.” And I meant it. I don’t think we can judge what someone else is feeling unless we have been there before them to experience it for ourselves.

So, out of curiosity and because I love to learn from others, I took to Facebook to ask the question a week before my birthday asking from fifty-plus-year-olds what they thought I should be feeling and focusing on. What was their experience? What did they want me to know as I approached this milestone?

The comments that came back were very much aligned with what I shared at the opening of this message. Some thought it was important for me to celebrate it, to appreciate the age of fifty, and to also not make it just another day. I was to celebrate it fully and celebrate it big. While others were on the opposite side of the advice. For them, it was just another day, just a number and that I shouldn’t make too big a deal about it.

It left me feeling very open, curious and honest with myself about what was coming up for me.

It also left me ready to look at it square in the face and not give it power that I didn’t want to assign it.

I had the opportunity to define for myself what this milestone birthday meant, and that felt good. I didn’t have to be swayed by anyone’s thoughts or opinions, or what any stigma attached to its number meant. It was mine, and only mine, to own and define.

And here I am now, writing about it, now that the day has come and gone, and I have to be honest – it didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, for me, it was a big deal and I stayed fully present for everything that I felt and experienced. I didn’t dismiss the day. In fact, it has been one of the most special birthdays of my life. It was celebrated simply, with no big fanfare, but with deep meaning and special intent.

And if you’re curious about what I did to recognize this special milestone, here’s what transpired. On the day of my birthday, I had cleared my schedule and did everything that I felt I wanted to do on a whim. I tried new things, went to see my son at his new work site, enjoyed lunch at a new restaurant I had never tried, and ended the day with the most precious people in my life, my family, laughing and sharing stories until it was quite late.

On the following day, my husband gave me a list of what to pack for a three-day surprise road trip. He planned everything including hotels, special treatments, surprise experiences, and I was truly spoiled and loved every moment of it. It definitely reminded me that we needed to do these spontaneous things more often and that I had to be more present, on a daily basis, for things that I can easily take for granted. (I’m sure you can relate to that.)

Because we’re on the subject of discussing milestones and treating them with care (or not), I’d love to hear from you. What recent milestone has come and gone for you? Did you take the time to recognize it and celebrate it? Or did it come and go and there was little emphasis on it? How did it make you feel? Do you hold any regrets?

As I am now starting my fifty-first year, I have the following words reminding me to live life fully as we don’t all get the same amount of time to live our lives:

“Life is short. It passes by in the blink of an eye. Take the time to celebrate the milestones and special occasions and be fully present for who and what matters. And most of all, live life fully today because you just don’t know… Click To Tweet

How do you celebrate milestones? Or do you? Do leave me a message in the comments. I’d love to hear!

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