HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! Today I turn 50! HOLY SHIT! How did that happen? When I was younger I wanted to live to 100. I guess I am half way there now. Although my goals have changed. It is cliché but it really isn’t about the amount of days in you life. It’s about the amount of life in your days! I try to live every day to its full extent. I am in Italy for work right now but I have great adventures every day. I miss my immediate family a TON today. We are a little spread out. I am in Europe. Our Daughter is in Australia. My wife and our son back home. At midnight last night I was out at a bar with cousins here in Italy. My phone buzzed, it was my daughter wishing me a happy birthday from Australia. This morning checking Facebook I saw a post from my friend Rob. Expressing his gratefulness in our friendship. I hope he knows how much I appreciate him! Pulling out a shirt to wear this morning I found a birthday card my wife had packed for me. Then another. I have had phone calls and messages from friends and family from around the world. I am a very, very lucky man.
I haven’t made it this far without out learning some lessons along the way. As I have been known to do- let me share them.
When I was in my 20s, people would say to me that I was too young. Then all of a sudden one day someone told me I was too old. When was I “just right”? Did I miss it?
Wow, 50 years old. That’s right, the Big Five-Oh. I am so thrilled to be given the gift of turning 50. I am filled with joy, gratitude and wonder. I think of my brother Jeff who was one of the most positive man I ever knew. He only lived until the age of 42. My friend Dave who is fighting leukemia as I sit here sipping as espresso. I can see both their faces. And I think they are both surprised I made it this far. I did some pretty dumb shit for sure! Hey Dave- remember when we decided it would be a good idea to go rafting down the Delaware with a few cases of beer and no paddles? Hey Jeff, remember when we took the coffee table and waterskied on it? So instead of complaining, or making jokes about being over the hill, I am celebrating the gift of reaching this milestone birthday.
Being in Italy right now, It makes me so crazy that our culture in the USA doesn’t seem to value aging. I cringe when I hear people making age jokes about themselves and others. Until we stand up proud of our age and own where we are on our journeys, no one else will value getting older either. I was once a young punk of a coach. Out to change the gymnastics world. Doing it MY WAY. Guess what I found out? The more I listened to those “older coaches” the better I got. I learned from their mistakes and successes.
Not accepting where you are is like saying you don’t say yes to yourself. When I was in my 20s, I tortured myself over how I looked. What a waste of energy. I want to enjoy exactly where I am right now. I want to own it all and the truth about how old I am. I These past 50 years have given me a helluva ride. I have scars, a few wrinkles and some gray hair and a lot of great stories to prove I was here.
Here are some of my personal reflections on turning 50:
Turning 50 has made me acutely aware that my time on this earth is limited.
Since my time is limited, I don’t have the time for negativity, for doing things that don’t make my heart sing and spending time with people who deplete me. I listen to my body. If it doesn’t feel good, I move on.
I do make time for myself – to meditate, to journal, to read, to workout, to be alone in nature, to be with my wife and kids, and to spend time with my parents, family and friends.
I approach every day with an open heart and an open mind.
I realize that the love I have for my parents is so deep that the thought of knowing they will not be with me forever hurts deeply. What do I do? I love them NOW.
I have learned to accept and love my imperfections. I am perfectly imperfect. I am flawed, I make mistakes. I do not have a meal without dropping something on the floor or my lap. and I embrace it all.
I have never really been troubled by self esteem problems. I feel fulfilled from the inside and though my body is growing wider and not taller these days, my spirit only grows wiser and it sparkles from a deeper place of knowing and calm.
I vow that no matter how my body ages I will keep the light in my eyes. My grandfather always had that spark in his eyes. I see the same in my son.
One of the most fabulous women I knew was my mother-in-law. She never lost her looks, her sense of humor or her sense of adventure.
I vow to be a messenger to younger coaches that aging is something to be valued. I refuse to scare them with messages that imply their best years are behind them. I am am here to tell people that aging is a wonderful privilege.
To the people who tell me that I’m too nice – I may not worry about what people think of me as much as I’ve grown older, but you will never catch me being unkind. I see no reason for it. Period.
I am now at the age where I have started lying about my age. BUT NOT YOUNGER. I add 10-15 years depending on the situation. Then I get to hear people say, “Wow- you look great for your age”
I have some major events in this next year. I’m planning on making this year the best year ever. We will be empty nesters. I am passionate about continuing to make my businesses strong and my competitive teams the best. I am filled with anticipation of what this next phase of my life will bring and I welcome it all. My hope is that when you read my thoughts on aging you’ll step up and own where you are right now.
Ciao a tutti.
Now time for some wine