Thoughts on Turning 50 and the Secret to Happiness

This past Friday, I turned 50. It is a milestone of some sort, a marker between here and there — though I’ve yet to fully understand exactly which continuum I am traveling on. Fifty seems half way to something or maybe I just live under the fanciful notion that I am headed for 100.

happy birthday | Dianna Bonny Photography

At the very least, it is a nice round number that slides off the tongue easier than forty-nine.

I was sailing along just fine with turning 50 until last week when an AARP card arrived in the mail and threw me into a tailspin. I took a picture of it and texted it to my friend saying, “It’s official. I’m old.” It got me all tangled up in the web of thoughts about where I thought I’d be, where I should be, what I should have accomplished by now and so on.

Wicked monkey mind.

One friend said, “Oh god, I got so depressed when I turned 50. I couldn’t shake it for months.” Another quipped that she’s never been happier than in her fifties. My daughter said, “Oh I can’t wait to be 50,” which I thought was endearing. I think she is acutely aware of the personal growth that happens between her age and mine. Although she is an old soul, she is only 19.

Luckily, the next day I attended a Toastmasters meeting and the theme was the secret to happiness. One of the members, an avid cyclist, stood up at the end and said this:

“I want you all to close you eyes and remember the first time you mastered riding your bike without training wheels. Imagine being there in that moment. Do you remember the feeling of freedom and independence?”

As I did this, that moment came rushing back to me. It was glorious. I clearly see my father’s face smiling at me, as I roll past him, pedaling on my own. Free of the training wheels, I figured out how to balance my weight in between the gravitational divide of being upright in motion and flat on the ground.

In that moment of mastery, riding a bike slipped into the sacred space of being something I just knew how to do and never forgot.

Turning 50 is a similar moment for me. My training wheels are coming off (although I think I unconsciously put them back on at times) and I am almost balanced in an upright position, comfortably situated in my skin. It is a place where things are less about having to try so hard, more about just being. Similar to balancing on the seat of a bike, which at one time seemed difficult and impossible, suddenly an invisible threshold is crossed, and voila, a new way of being in the world emerges.

The beautiful thing about mastery is that it graces us with the gift of second nature, which then grants the freedom to bend all the rules: to stand on the seat, ride side-saddle and even carry a passenger.

I am hopeful, as I master being myself, that I will discover the same freedom so I can leave the training wheels behind for the next fifty years.

Has there been an age that knocked you off balance? Do you remember the moment you figured out how to ride without training wheels? I’d love to hear from you.


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  4 comments for “Thoughts on Turning 50 and the Secret to Happiness

  1. July 15, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I live in denial. I have thrown every AARP notice I’ve received for the last 8 years. Maybe, when I’m 60 I’ll join.

    • Dianna Bonny
      July 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I am going to live in denial when I cross the Social Security thing! 60 seems reasonable for AARP. I think I will follow your lead Mike.

  2. July 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    50 is an accomplishment! Congrats, and happy birthday.

    • Dianna Bonny
      July 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Many thanks Katy.

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