50 things at 50

better world

I turned 50 today. Didn’t my daughter make me the most wonderful birthday hat ever? As is a common pattern in the blogosphere, I’d like to share in no particular order some bits of wisdom I’ve gleaned from the past 50 years. Please share yours as well in the comments section.

1. The more you love, the more you are loved.

2. I don’t know how my daughter and husband put up with me sometimes but every day I thank God that they do. I got lucky in the husband/child department.

3. Have at least one friend who is more than 15 years older than you. They’ve been around. They know stuff. They give good advice.

4. Making mistakes is forgivable. Failing to apologize and make it right isn’t admirable.

5. If you think exercise isn’t fun, you haven’t found the right one yet.

6. Hydrate. A lot.

7. You can skimp on t-shirts and jeans, but spending money on a good bra and a sturdy pair of shoes is worth every penny.

8. No matter what your spouse has done, remember that there was a day when you stood among your loved ones and made a promise. Even if the marriage doesn’t work out and he turns out to be a scoundrel, you’ll be happier in the long run if you’ve acted with dignity.

9. Kids want time with their parents more than they want stuff.

10. If you’re sad, do something kind for someone else with less than you.

11. Don’t eat food that has things you’ve never heard of in the list of ingredients.

12. You don’t need more storage. You probably need less stuff.

13. No one cares what kind of car you drive unless you’re in the automotive industry.

14. Stretch.

15. Each year, grow something.

16. Frugality is its own reward.

17. I’m so glad I spent my 20s living in another country. It’s hard to understand your own country until you’ve lived in someone else’s.

18. At least once in your life, put yourself in a situation where you are the only one in the room with your skin color/ethnicity/sexual orientation etc. Everyone needs to know that feeling.

19. I Love Lucy episodes will always have a soft spot in my heart.

20. Every meal eaten with cloth napkins feels more special.

21. If you’re a parent or a spouse, do one thing each day to make your family member laugh.

22. Sometimes I think people like me more than it turns out that they do. Oh well.

23. Every minute I choose to be with our daughter and not work is time well spent.

24. Caring for my mother-in-law during the last four years of her life was the hardest job I’ve ever had. A hundred times harder than being a parent. It’s devastating to know that no matter how hard you try the best you can hope for is a comfortable death. Caregivers of those who are ill or disabled deserve way more support than our culture gives them. We need to throw these people a parade. They are heroes.

25. I will never forget watching Neil Armstrong take that first step on the moon. It was magical.

26. When I turned 30 I threw away all of the makeup I owned. I decided that it was hypocritical for me to be telling the young girls I tutored that they should “just be themselves” because they were beautiful just as they are when I was sitting there with makeup all over my face. I didn’t even wear makeup to my own wedding. I’m lucky to have a husband who thinks that a fine quality of mine and I can be ready to go anywhere in five minutes. It’s fine if other people do it, but I’m done.

27. Once we started making our own oatmeal waffles, it’s hard to eat anyone else’s.

28. Part of parenting is being willing to stand up for your kid and advocate for them even when it’s uncomfortable.

29. I’m happiest when I don’t worry what people think about me. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

30. Having a chronic illness is really a tough headgame. Healthy people cannot understand how hard it is.

31. Lead. It’s not fair. It takes a lot of energy. Things get better when people with good energy and good ideas step forward and take charge.

32. I started alternating cardio exercise and training with weights at 46. At 50, I’ve never felt stronger or leaner.

33. It’s nice to be able to invite someone to stay for dinner even if it’s just sandwiches. The company is often more important than the food.

34. If the service is good, tip generously. If it’s not, write on the back of the check what the problem was so owners can improve.

35. Don’t worry about things that you won’t remember in 10 years.

36. At least once every few months have a girls’ lunch/brunch/dinner.

37. I love this quote by Henry Ford:”If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

38. There will never be a movie I love more than The Sound of Music.

39. I wish I didn’t have to be a vegetarian. I grew up hating meat, poultry, fish, etc. so I’ve been a vegetarian for 32 years. It’s very inconvenient, people stereotype me as a result and it’s socially awkward with some people. I wish it weren’t such a big deal to other people what I choose to eat or not eat.

40. American restaurant portion sizes are ridiculous.

41. A part of me will always be in Japan. With all of its many problems, I still love every minute I’m there.

42. The amount of money that you spend on a wedding has absolutely no relation to what the quality of the marriage will be. Pass it on.

43. You can turn most any situation around if you really put your mind to it. Mary Poppins was right about that Spoonful of Sugar business.

44. If you put away stuff for 10 minutes every night and train family members to do the same, it’s really not that hard to keep a tidy house. Have a playlist of good cleaning music to make it more fun.

45. Everyone need a Board of Directors in their life: a bunch of friends that you’ve known for a very long time, a great contractor, a doctor whose a good listener, someone who makes you want to be a better person, a friend who will always tell you the truth (I’m that one for some people), a loving pet, a hairstylist who won’t let you get in a rut, an honest mechanic, someone with really great judgement, a rival to keep you sharp, and at least one great neighbor.

46. You train people how to treat you. Don’t be friends, employees or lovers with people who don’t treat you with kindness and respect. Admiration is a plus too.

47. I miss Martin Luther King. He was a shining light of change in my childhood.

48. I will never dye my hair to get rid of the gray. I know a lot of hot women with gray hair. I plan on being one of them.

49. I really appreciate that readers of this blog take time out of their days to read what I write. I hope I’m worthy of your time. I try to be.

50. God has a plan for me. I don’t always know what it is but every now and then I see glimpses of it and know that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. What a blessing that is.

Your turn.

38 thoughts on “50 things at 50

  1. Happy Birthday. There is so much wisdom in your list of fifty. I might add- Don’t spend hours of your day at work doing something you are not passionate about.

  2. @ Tamie – In principle I agree. However, I spent a lot of years proudly doing things I didn’t always enjoy to save money, to support myself while I was taking care of an ill family member, to build up my resume or put myself and then my husband through grad school. I guess I’d add to that: If you’re going to do something you’re not passionate about, do a good job anyway, it should be for a really good reason and have an exit strategy.

  3. Loved your list. What I love about getting older is the ability to enjoy different opinions without feeling I need to always give mine… Diverse views make life interesting. Not sure if this was on your list but it’s on mine: Learn something new, everyday. Happy B-day.

  4. Great list! I would add: love yourself. Be proud of your accomplishments. Sure, you can look on blogs or at your neighbor and see how many quilts they’ve made or things they’ve done, places they’ve visited, etc. No need to compare yourself to them. Compare yourself to yourself and what goals YOU want to accomplish, regardless of what others do.

  5. Happy Birthday!
    I think you have gathered a great deal of wisdom in only fifty years…
    And your blog is ALWAYS worth the time to read it!

  6. From the vantage point of being 68 years old:

    Keep learning, trying NEW things!

    And a new list I just learned from the mystery author Louise Penny: Learn to say these four things,
    I don’t know.
    I was wrong.
    I’m sorry.
    I was wrong.

  7. Three things: First, happy birthday! I have never been as happy as I am in my fifties. And I am a pretty happy person! Second, thank you so much for your comments on makeup and gray hair. I couldn’t agree more! When men are expected to wear makeup every day in order to look “their best” I might reconsider. (but probably not!) Third, one of my favorite things I have learned is that what is meant for me won’t pass me by.
    I found you through your beautiful fabrics and have loved your blog. I wish you continued happiness and wisdom!

  8. A very Happy Birthday and welcome to the 5-0 club! Your wise words show a life well-lived and an even brighter future (yes, we still have a future at this age!). Enjoy it all!

  9. Happy Birthday! Love the hat! I read through all your pearls of wisdom and don’t disagree with a one. I will say my favorite is #22, gotta love the “oh well” as a chronic people pleaser I am going to remember the oh well and move on more in the future!

  10. @ Andee – Yay! I told Bill that #22 and the “Oh well.” was for me the most important thing on that list. He didn’t get it. I explained to him that being able to deal with rejection and face it and not be devastated by it is, for some people like me, REALLY hard. To not sit around second-guessing what you did or didn’t do has taken me a lot of years to be able to do. SO glad that resonated with you too! Onward, right?

  11. Happy Happy Birthday to you! At 61 I am still working on #29 on your list.
    What I am working on now is simplifying my life. Sometimes I have trouble making decisions and keeping :”Make it Simple” in mind helps me to decide.
    P S hair isn’t gray its silver!

  12. I’m curious about your #39 wish that you didn’t have to be a vegetarian. Are you vegetarian simply because you don’t like fish/meat/poultry and absent any health/ethical considerations? I do think I know what you’re saying about the judgments and inconveniences and the big deal some others make about it. But I guess it surprises me that you would wish it away. I remember seeing you on Check, Please and I loved your perspective as a vegetarian on that episode. You seem stronger than the wish.

  13. Happy Birthday Weeks!
    What a great list and knowing that last thing as a certainty gives life meaning and direction. Enjoy the next 50+! Thanks for sharing =]

  14. @katiekl – I spit out meat as an infant. It’s never agreed with my stomach and I’ve never liked it. I had an angiogram a few years back and the cardiologist said that he had never seen such clean arteries. That felt great. I couldn’t personally kill an animal for food but I wear leather shoes so I know that’s hypocritical to some. I didn’t want to go into the slaughterhouse at my sister-in-law’s poultry farm in France because it made me sad. The environmental argument against meat is also very compelling but if I liked it I still would probably eat it.

    Maybe what I should have said is that I wish SOOOO much that vegetarians could just eat in peace and be welcomed into people’s homes without a big to-do. I’ll bring my own food so no one has to do anything special and I don’t care if people around me are eating veal or whatever. When it comes to eating, why can’t we all just get along?

  15. Love the hat! And love your list, especially. I took a class from you out in the Bay Area and have been an avid follower of you and your quilts for several years. Happy Birthday and congratulations on the milestone – and thank you for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us. May you have an excellent “second half” of life!

  16. What a great hat! Your sweet daughter is cleary picking up some design skills of her own :). I enjoyed reading your list – Happy Birthday!

  17. @Valerie – the hat was made with the tissue paper you gave me in that gift bag you brought to the studio. That smart girl taped it to cardstock to give it rigidity for the hat but she liked the dots so much she said that she had to use it.

  18. Love this list Weeks. You have some great life lessons. Thank you for sharing. Also, just read the “acknowledgments” from Transparency Quilts and was so touched to see you thanked the marketing & publicity people. That was so sweet of you. You and Bill are a pleasure to work with and sooo talented!

  19. You know, I thought that hat looked like the tissue paper…she is a smart cookie to figure out affixing it to something firmer!

  20. I’m only 22, but I’ve read your blog for over a year now and I love every bit of wisdom you share- from raising your daughter, your illness, your sewing and creativity. I related to so many of your posts and this one especially. Life grows richer with every year and even I know that. I would add- be completely happy with the age that you are. You’ll find yourself missing that year later once you turn a different age. You’ve inspired me to write my own list of 22 things. Check out faithandmacaroni.blogspot.com in a few days and see if any of it holds up. :) Happy Birthday Weeks and here’s to many more.

  21. Hi Weeks
    I love the list. Thanks for letting me know about the Makedo. Funny, it is made near me in Melbourne. I’m making the Small Change quilt. In queen size .. . . maybe I can use the makedos instead of hand quilting it. . . .

  22. My favorite is #35: “Don’t worry about the things that you won’t remember in 10 years.” After 50, our brains grow more sieve-like by the day, so there’s a good chance you won’t remember ANY of it in 10 years. Happy Birthday, and “Don’t Worry!”

  23. I am familiar with your work and love looking at it. Just found out about your blog while reading about “QuiltCon.” I have one of your books, but never realized you had a blog. I enjoyed your post, a tad bit sad & very enlightening. Your honesty and heartfelt words have moved me.

  24. They are all Wonderful,things, but the One i like the most is the last one : He Has a plan for your life, like mine And everybody else, That makes us feel so taken care of. Happy birthday! Love from italy!

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