The Big 50

I woke up to greet a new decade this morning and to bid farewell to my 40’s. Mostly, I’m ecstatic. Partly, I’m devastated. Let me explain.

I’m devastated because life taught me some excruciating lessons in the last year.

  1. cow,tornado,weather-e80725c8fa395e651e33a19fb0ea0c01_hPeople who love us can/do/and will hurt us. Their love for us or our love for them does not make them immune to acts of absolute assholery. Quite the contrary. Their close proximity pulls us in like a flying cow caught in a tornado when the chaos of their life erupts.
  2. It’s not about me. Crimany, was that a hard lesson to learn. Other people’s emotional baggage belongs to them, and it is their job to carry it. Their job to unpack it. Their job to haul all the ugliness into the light and examine it. Their job to decide what still serves them and what they should chuck into the giant dumpster of life.

Yeah, this was me for a long, long time.

But here’s the thing:

  • I don’t get a say in whether they do that work or not.
  • I don’t get a say in when or how they do that work.
  • I don’t get a say in what they hold onto and what they throw away.

Which is really pretty awesome because it means:

I don’t have to try to control the tornado. Or the matching set of emotional baggage someone else carries around. And I don’t need to be the flying cow! I can choose to step foward if I opt to be a calming force in the storm. Or…I can choose to stay right where I am, holding my line against the raging winds. Or…I can retreat to a safe enough distance where I can observe the tornado, like a storm watcher, while continuing to live my life peacefully.

img-thingSo, yeah. I’m 50 today. I’m a bit devastated because life served up a bunch of storms I didn’t see coming. But I’m also ecstatic because those same storms forced me to short-circuit my biggest muscle (my brain) and discover strength through muscles I’d previously neglected. I’ve been weight-lifting for most of my life—using actual barbells for the past year or so.

And I have grown strong.

In the sacred space of my CrossFit gym, I record “I can frickin’ do this” over the old recordings of “No way I can handle this” by:

  • Running 400 meters; rowing 500.
  • Walking a bunch of Frankensteins.
  • Squatting until I’m certain I can’t squat one more time and then digging out one, five, ten more because my body has a tougher point of failure than my mind.
  • Throwing wallballs until the wall is my enemy and the ball is my rage and both have seeped out of my spirit and will be left, lying on the floor, when the work-out is over.
  • Thrusting, dead-lifting, clean and jerking, and overhead pressing until I’ve succeeded at shutting off my chattering mind and allowed my body to run the show.

tumblr_ml24iqmuca1rwis3ko1_500So I guess I’m thankful (thankful?!), yes, thankful for the storms—those horrible awful storms—because by coping with them I gained more than muscle definition. I gained life definition.

And that’s not a bad way to greet 50.



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