A celebratory year… Guest post by Laura Bowman

Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Inspiration | 2 comments

I’ve run across two ponds to get away from turning 50. But evidently, you can run but you can’t hide. At least according to my friend Laura, who’s agreed to guest post while I’m gone.

Enjoy and thanks Laura!

It’s been a big year for celebrations; mostly 50th birthday celebrations.  Yup, the big five-oh.  Fifty, freakin’ fifty.  I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to celebrations, so it’s also been an uncomfortable year.  Discomfort has found me wondering why we have to make such a big deal about birthdays and other milestones.  Much to my surprise, my pondering has landed me on the favorable side of the whole celebration issue.  Here’s why. Forget year, it’s been a whole decade for disappointments – Disappointments in career, disappointing health news, disappointments in relationships.  If it really is true that negative emotions impact our health, shorten our life span, etc., then I need a big ole load of counteractive medicine.

I don’t think I’m in the minority here.  As we grow older, the stakes are higher.  We become parents, bosses, and caretakers.  Our knees fail.  Our memory goes.   We’re passed over for a promotion.  By someone younger. The calls come in.  Someone is very sick, and it’s not a cold.  Some days, there aren’t enough cupcakes in the world to make us feel better.

So on those occasions when we mark an important event, be it a birthday or just making it through a work week, it seems important to form some sort of ceremony that lifts our hearts and makes us smile, or better yet, laugh.

It shouldn’t be news to you that laughter appears to really be the best medicine.  If the Mayo Clinic is to be believed  laughter not only reduces stress, long term laughter may improve immune systems and ease pain!  (There, that’s my little health plug, since this is, after all, a health related blog.)

However, the health angle isn’t enough to get me psyched about a celebration.  For me, the attraction of the celebration is to focus on something positive and to create a memory that will get me through hard times.  I want reasons to laugh hard, from my belly, until tears are rolling down my eyes.  I want the intangible comfort that comes from being with people who really know you and still want to be with you.  I want, if only for a fleeting moment of time, to believe that it really is all about me and the people I love.  That’s gotta be good for me – right?

Of course, planning a celebration can be a stressor all in itself.  At least, that’s my favorite reason for avoiding the whole party.   So, I’m starting a list of very simple tried and true ideas that I’ve picked up from my friends–most of who have fearlessly faced down fifty:

  • There is always the dinner party – cater or reserve at a restaurant if you can.
  • Organize a kayaking, hiking, biking, or other activity adventure
  • Participate in a community event (one friend got a bunch of girlfriends together to walk the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston – over 6 miles one way)
  • Learn something you new – I’ve tried cross country skiing and one year plan to take a cooking class.
  • Go someplace you’ve always wanted to go (now who do we know that’s going to Spain?)
  • Play miniature golf!!  Or go to a batting cage!!!  Or both!!
  • One friend wants to dress up in thrift store evening gowns and go sing at a karaoke bar; we haven’t indulged her yet.  Maybe you will.
  • Remember slumber parties??
  • And, of course, there’s everyone’s favorite – the spa…

Feel free to add to the list.  What do you do to celebrate?  And Liz, Happy Fifty – Fifty, fantabulous fifty!!!  May your celebrations last all year long.

About the author…

Laura Bowman is a health policy analyst with the Department of Veterans Affairs and, like so many of us, trying to figure out how fifty came so fast and how best to approach the next third of her life.


  1. 5-20-2011

    “…the intangible comfort that comes from being with people who really know you and still want to be with you.” I love this.

    Great post, Laura. And Happy Birthday, Liz!

  2. 7-5-2011

    I agree! That line is my favorite from your post. Mind if I steal it for my online dating profile? 🙂
    Hope things are going well and getting better all the time.

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