Being 51: The AARP Years

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A.A. Milne, the English author and creator of Winnie the Pooh, closed the book Now We Are Six with a poem called, simply, “The End.”  The poem goes this way:

When I was one,

I had just begun.

When I was two,

I was not quite new.

When I was three,

I was hardly me.

When I was four,

I was not much more.

When I was five,

I was just alive.

But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever.

So I think I’ll be six now and forever.

Back in October I turned 51 years old. And while I feel like I’ve learned some important life lessons and know some things, I surely don’t feel “as clever as clever.” Such boundless assurance of one’s own knowledge, I suspect, comes more easily to the young, because the older I get, and the more I know, the more I know I don’t know.

As my 51st birthday approached, I started mulling things over in a way that conventional wisdom says I should have done the year before, when I turned 50.

don't-ask-birthday-candles.jpg

I immediately went out and joined a gym. Then work picked up, the holidays hit, and I got busy, and then it was all just sort of a lost cause there for awhile.

Oh, well, procrastination has always been a habit of mine.

When the New Year came around, I started over. I took stock of where I am in life, thinking about what I have done and what I still want to do, and addressing areas where I have fallen short of my expectations of myself. Looking in a mirror, both literally and metaphorically, can be tough, but it opened my eyes to some changes I need to make.

Predictably, the two areas that stood out for me are problem spots for many of us: physical and fiscal fitness. I decided that both areas of my life need an overhaul. And that involves changing how I think as well as how I act.

It’s never too late to make changes. As long as we have life and breath, we have hope for self-improvement. 51st_birthday_checklist_stone_magnets-r3a8aa8ed49db4e90bcfbb818b43fcc3d_zxkn5_324But I wondered: what I can realistically expect to accomplish? How much ground can you regain from what you’ve lost after too many years of procrastination and self-indulgence? What is possible?

How much harder will it be to lose weight now? How much firmness can I regain in my muscle tone after age 50?

How can I become more fiscally fit as I look down the road toward retirement? How do I build savings? What are some ways to develop passive income?

How can I develop the thought patterns that will lead to action? How can I become more aware?

Another thing I want to do is remain culturally informed. I’ve found that my brother and sister – 6 and 8 years older than me, respectively – are much better at staying on top of technology, music, and pop culture in general than I am, probably because they have kids.

Me? I read an article a few weeks ago about albums that turned 10 years old this year, and I had never heard any of them. I’m a little behind. So, this will be fun.

I’ve decided I’m going to document what I’ve begun to think of as my AARP years. I’m going to track my progress and my setbacks, my struggles and my victories. I’m going to blog about articles and videos I’ve found helpful that might help others, also. I’m going to laugh at myself and I invite you to laugh with me.

Because life is no fun if you can’t laugh at yourself. And at 51, I’m feeling pretty free to be my best me.

1965edition

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