The year I turned 50 I obsessed about my age. I cringed when I heard the term “senior discount”. I wondered if I should I keep coloring my hair. I had trouble transitioning (seemingly overnight) from young mom to “older woman”.
My world collapsed the year I turned 51. (Read our story here.) My questions changed as I sought to recover my health and the health of my family.
I recently turned 58. I’ve had time to reflect on growing older. I’ve also had time to think about suffering, loss, depression, and grief in ways I would never have imagined. I haven’t resolved my struggles. In fact, I have more questions than ever.
But I’ve learned to live with them and embrace them. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke;
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”
I celebrate this milestone with humble gratitude that, despite my weaknesses, I have learned some valuable and unexpected lessons.
Five lessons I’ve learned since turning 50
1. Hard doesn’t mean impossible.
“Can’t” was a big part of my inner vocabulary. I didn’t realize this until we faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Now I understand that life may be hard or difficult, but not impossible. “I can’t” has become “I can try,”
2. My voice matters.
As our medical needs grew in the days following my 50th birthday, I found myself at the mercy of more than 60 medical professionals. I felt voiceless and inadequate, drowning in a sea of expertise. Something was wrong, and I knew it. I faced a difficult choice. Do I listen to the experts or trust my instincts as a mother? My decision to listen to my mom’s heart has made all the difference.
3. Embrace reality.
As life became increasingly challenging, I found myself idealizing my past. “If only” and “I wish” kept my heart and mind directed to our old life. “Someday” kept me idealizing our future. Only when I chose to embrace reality did I find myself able to connect with our present. Today is all we have and all we’re meant to live.
4. My health is my own.
When our health declined, I looked to a doctor to fix us. I resisted responsibility for my family’s health. After exhausting our options, I knew it was time to try a different path. Food became our best prescription for recovery. My kitchen became our pharmacy. Taking charge of one’s health is both empowering and rewarding.
5. Keep going.
My health and mind collapsed the day our world collapsed, and I struggled to get through every minute of every day. My unrelenting fatigue, along with the sudden loss of my mother, took me deeper into despair and discouragement. I hung onto one thought: “Don’t give up.” Even if I wasn’t “succeeding” and our lives were still in turmoil, at least I was trying. There is much to gain by taking the next step.
I no longer see aging as something to deny and defy. Now I understand the truth. Aging is both a privilege and an opportunity, as expressed in these words by poet Robert Browning:
Happy 50th Andrea!!! This is a great postcscro!!!
You look beautiful the same way. Inside and out. 🙂
A very happy birthday to you Ms. Andrea. God has been good, He brought you a long way. Thanks for your resilience.
Jane Harrold says
Thanks for bringing this up – as a mom of eight – youngest being nine – everyone told me not to go natural – but I have recently said “Let’s go natural”
Now I have one of white gray – and I’m sure it’ll be shocking, but I’m hoping to have the courage to just do it!
Happy birthday, I turned 50 last year and I have been coloring my hair since I was in my late teens, highlights, perms at that time etc. My aunt is a hairdresser, so spent lots of time in her shop. Now I color my hair because of the grey. I am not too worried despite all the toxins. I figure it is not a sin, I am not doing it for someone else, but my husband does like it when my roots are covered, but has said I should just let it grow out. I think my mother and aunt would not like that much, LOL. There are worst things one can do that is for sure.
Thank you for another beautiful and touching article, and thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with all of us. Happy Birthday Andrea!!
Robin Plant says
I was wondering if anyone has a suggestion about a natural blueing for gray hair to keep from turning yellow. I use a shampoo that is for this but am concerned about whether it is safe for me. I get bumps on my head sometimes from using it.
I think I meant to say
“This is a Great Post!”
– not “postcscro”
Happy Birthday anyway!!!!
I liked your before and after pics on MomsAware website!
I’ve just found your blog and been reading it with much interest, sadness and hope.
I am an evacuee from my residence and soon to move into to a new place. I think they cleaned the carpets so I hope I will be okay.
I’m so impressed with how you’ve dealt with this disaster and I’m scarred for myself.
My health has been poor for a while and recently my mold found behind/under/around the bathtub, bathroom walls.
The worst part is since I had been feeling poorly, I started taking baths, long baths in Febuary and just kept getting sicker. So I would take more baths since I didnt associate the two.
TOday, I have memory problems, twitches, food immune reactions, numbness in extremities, depressed immune function, disordered hormone/sexual function, vision deterioration.
Well, getting off track, happy birthday. I’m grateful to have found your blog.
Andrea Fabry says
Nice to hear from you! It’s a long road filled with lots of obstacles…but your knowledge will prove to be empowering for you. Hang in there…glad you’re able to get a fresh start soon.
Andrea Fabry says
A clarifying agent such as raw apple cider vinegar might be worth trying!
Hi Andrea! Great article. What do you use to color you hair these days? I’ve followed your blog off/on over the last few years, and recall when you started using coffee, then moved to Henna. But this was a few years ago. I googled to see if there might be recent posts, but didn’t find any. I noticed from the picture in this article that your hair is no longer black. What are you using to color it these days? I’m a 44 yr old wife/mother with challenging skin issues and am trying to avoid chemicals. I haven’t colored my hair in years, but I’m trying to find some healthy hair color options . I’m looking for a med-to-dark brown or black color to cover my gray hair. Any suggestions? How did you achieve such a beautiful medium brown color? I hope you can reply soon. Thank you in advance. Blessings, Cary
Andrea Fabry says
Hi Cary! My hair really is a dark brown, rather than black. I’m not really coloring it…the gray is slowly coming in. Sometimes I use henna, but I’ve found it has a reddish tint to it. Every once in awhile I use the henna, but overall am just letting it be natural. I think something that has slowed the gray is my shampoo avoidance. Now that I wash my hair every 7-9 days, it seems to slow the gray. I like the products from Morroco Method – the henna seems to be a good quality. I hope this helps. Nice to hear from you!