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50 can be pretty nifty if you give it a chance

Like it or not, on July 10, 2007, I became a member of the half-century club. I accepted membership because I had no other choice. After all, it was only a number. How bad could it be? I was by no means ready to break out the blue hair dye.

My initiation into "adulthood" was a rocky road because of several emotional issues. I lost a friend to cancer, my beloved sister-in-law died suddenly a week later, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I had a worrisome health issue and my oldest son left for college. I felt lost and overwhelmed.

Luckily for me, my family and close friends helped me to persevere by giving me guidance, advice and lots of love and encouragement. I decided to embrace this new stage of life. I was a baby boomer about to finally bloom, and over the last few years, that is exactly what I have done.

I began walking every morning. I joined a pilates class, played more tennis, rode my bike more often and resumed nature photography with a passion I didn't realize I had.

A friend recommended that I join a writing class, which I found to be incredibly enriching. It changed my life and I can honestly admit that 50 really can be nifty when you give it a chance. Even some varieties of oak trees have to wait 50 years before they can produce acorns; they also improve with age.

My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary that year as well, and we spent a wonderful weekend in Toronto. We attended a Roger Waters concert, and the familiar fragrance of pot wafted through the air, bringing back a certain nostalgia for times long ago. We felt and probably acted like teenagers. Yes, life is good.

An interesting fact about turning 50 is sorry, I lost my train of thought. Oh yes, it's memory loss. I can't retain much information from all of the books I read. My ability to tell a joke has disappeared. It's not about forgetting the punch line, I can't even remember the beginning of the joke.

Emily Dickenson said, "we turn not older with years, but newer every day." It's true, you become the proud owner of "mature power" where everything is new (probably because of memory decline), confidence grows, you learn to speak up, you don't sweat the small stuff and you acquire more patience. Women become hot, but that's mainly from power surges.

There are a few downsides to aging. The first shock is when AARP magazines begin to arrive in the mail. Also, physical changes occur. Gravity can be unkind to a 50-year-old body. Take it from me, never look down at someone from above -- a face looks downright scary. Also, you may begin to notice that your neck is wrinkly and your belly is expanding, no matter how much or little you eat. It's best to just avoid mirrors.

Some gray hairs will appear, but personally, I think they make men look more handsome. You may begin to notice that your arms aren't long enough to read the newspaper. What? I need bifocals? Really!

Joan Rivers reminds us that looking good at 50 is great when you're 60. For me, feeling great is much more important. A sign of a life well-lived shows in the twinkle in your wrinkles, so wear them proudly.