The Next 50 – A Preview

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​Despite dropping the ball for several of the weeks, leading to a ridiculously busy final two months, I really enjoyed writing the fifty reflections about fifty.

Or rather reflections on the last fifty years before I officially turned fifty. 

For 2017, my goal is to write one reflection or short essay each week for the next fifty-two weeks, exploring this next year. I won’t be turning fifty again, but I plan to enjoy and stretch out my fiftieth year.

This set of fifty or so reflections will have a bit more structure than relying on whatever struck my fancy in the moment as I did this past year, although I wouldn’t completely discount that either.

I’ll start each month with a blurb about the month itself, followed up with a photo, a spiritual reflection, and a person who inspires or otherwise influences me. 

I sat down to write a quick outline, and I was amused that after completeing my preliminary list of random people that I wanted to write about and share that I had an evenly divided list of six men and six women. I don’t think I could have done that if I had tried to. Looking over my list, the people who I admire are a mix of performers, artists, religious, politicians, journalists, and saints. They are more different than alike, but each has its own way that draws me (and others) to them.

I’ve enjoyed the last year of looking back and I’m hoping that with these fifty-two weeks coming up that I can not only continue to look back but also look ahead. There is so much more to come.

50-50 – Birthday Traditions

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I usually like to spend part of my birthday on my own. Since college, I have never worked on my birthday. The one time I did work-business for a new job, getting a physical and a drug test, I almost got into a car accident. Never again. 

I get up. I take a shower. I wear my favorite clothes. Today, I will wear my favorite boots and jacket. On years that my driver’s license is due, I go for a haircut and then go to DMV for a new picture on my new license.

There is a local, fancy strip mall that is more boutiques than strip mall that I like to spend the day at. The first week in December is usually not too cold if I’m wearing a heavy sweater and snood and the sun is shining. I would wander in and out of stores, window shopping, grabbing a muffin or a tea, picking up trinkets and then replacing them on their shelves.

I try new things.

In recent years, while my kids are in school, I let my husband work and I head out to Starbucks for a couple of hours. I get my free drink and a cranberry bliss bar. I take myself shopping, usually for a new pocketbook or a new wallet. I go to Target and buy myself a Christmas ornament, sometimes a new notebook.

My mother used to give me money for my birthday, and this is how I would use it. The year after she died, my husband gave me a $50 Visa gift card so I could continue my ritual for my birthday despite my mom being gone. It was one of the nicest things he’s done for my birthday.

On the weekends, I usually spend the day with my family. Sometimes, I’ll go to Starbucks for breakfast alone, but the rest of the day we’re together.

This year, today, we’re going to the firehouse for a pancake breakfast, then the local airport for the Santa Fly-in, Fantastic Beasts at the movies, and dinner at Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse. Cake and presents after.

I’m being unusually decisive for my 50th birthday. I’m very much an I don’t know kind of person, but not this year. The only other time that I was this decisive on my birthday was when I was pregnant with my first child.

I’m looking forward to turning 50. Honestly, I don’t know why. It’s not something that I’ve looked forward to – growing older, and while this is a chapter ending, it is also a chapter beginning.

This is my final reflection of the fifty I planned before my fiftieth birthday, and I plan to write another fifty next year, a bit more focused and a bit more consistent.

I’m looking forward to what’s to come, and that in itself is unusual for me. It feels like a good thing, though.

50-49 – Birthday Freebies

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I have always been on the lookout for good deals. Kids eat free, free ice cream day at Ben & Jerry’s or Friendly’s, but the most freebie centric day has got to be a birthday.

You do need to get on email lists or sign up for rewards, but they are usually free to join, and they are well worth it.

A few of my birthday freebies and discounts that I’ve received in my emails this week.

Starbucks – free birthday drink if you’re a member of their rewards program. Don’t sign up at the last minute.

Red Robin – free birthday burger if you’re a member of their Royalty Rewards. A special note about Red Robin: their rewards program is one of the best I have ever been a part of.

Ruby Tuesday – free birthday burger with coupon.

Jimmy’s Egg – free birthday entree.

Hot Topic – $10 off $30 purchase (this is pretty reasonable)

Avenue – $10 off $50 purchase.

Hallmark – 20% off coupon

Pizza Hut – free cinnamon sticks with your next online order

Recovery Sports Grill – $5 on your Hall of Fame card (rewards card)

Olive Garden – free dessert

Chili’s – free dessert

Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery – free Magnficent Seven meal (breakfast meal)

Texas Roadhouse – free sidekick of ribs or free appetizer

Smart Style Hair Salon (inside Wal-Mart) – discount with coupon

If you have kids, and join the kids club at Barnes & Noble, you will receive a free cupcake coupon for your child’s birthday month.

Travel – Star Trek Original Series Set Tour, Ticonderoga, New York

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It hasn’t been a week since my birthday surprise, and at times I feel as if it were just yesterday or a year ago that we took the long drive to Ticonderoga, New York to visit the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour.

It was all the more wonderful to celebrate my 50th birthday among the stars that had been in our world for those same fifty years.

I was completely speechless and wide-eyed. I had no idea that this place existed. Upon entering and checking in (we’d bought our tickets online), we were led into a large warehouse space. The modern displays and wooden walls stamped with Desilu Studios 9 were wonderfully deceiving.

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50-48 – Jane of All Trades

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When I was just out of college I got a job with the US Navy’s MWR** department as a child development associate. In order to be considered for this entry level, teaching assistant, minimum wage job, I needed to fill out a Department of Defense job application. I needed to provide ALL of my jobs and ALL of my addresses for the past ten years. As a newly minted college grad, the amount of jobs and addresses I had (a new one every semester and every summer, sometimes two) led to an application that was well over forty pages long.

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to look back on this application – yes, I have a copy in my files in the basement – in order to fill out other applications and write resumes, and in looking over I saw the plethora of different things I’d done. Upon leaving the work force to stay home with my kids, I did a number of other things that added to my job list and my skill set.

I often feel like the second half of my title’s proverb – jack/jane of all trades, master of none.

I feel less than instead of focusing on the first half of the proverb – jane of all trades – expressing my vast experiences and using the culmination of everything I’ve learned continually in my life daily.

I didn’t work until my first year in college. I lived a privileged life. I don’t believe most of my friends had jobs in high school. I didn’t have an allowance, but I had everything I needed. I didn’t take advantage and ask for crazy things, like spring break in Cancun or a European adventure. I went to the movies and the diner, and I didn’t do that every day. I did work a disastrous weekend at a delicatessen, which still haunts my dreams.

My first “job” was an unpaid high school internship in a law firm. I did all the usual secretarial/receptionist work, and got to go to court with one of the lawyers to observe. The other women in the office were very kind to me and I did learn a lot before I went to college to a pre-law/political science major.

When I changed majors two years later to elementary education, I did other unpaid internships in schools as a student teacher. I even got paid three times to substitute locally before I graduated.

At college, I worked as a Bio Research Assistant, which consisted of cleaning petri dishes and putting equipment in cupboards. I was also “campus security” for my dorm. I sat at the door overnight with another student and signed residents and guests in and out after the doors were locked for the night.

In the summers, I had an extraordinarily long list of retail and receptionist positions: Alexander’s* for inventory, Gimbel’s*, Kids R Us, Curtain Country*, Herman’s Sporting Goods*, JoAnn Fabrics,  as a temp for several offices. I also made and sold jewelry as a member of the SCA***.

In teaching, I taught for the US Navy program, a cooperative nursery school, day care at a college, Head Start as well as volunteering at my kids’ schools. As part of my teaching positions, I published parent resource newsletters.

I proctored the NYS Teachers’ Exams for several years.

I became a direct sales consultant for Creative Memories, a company that taught the techniques and sold products for scrapbooking.

I taught a tax class for other direct sales consultants.

I babysat.

I published a Travel Organizer chapbook.

I’ve been crafting this website and I think I’ve finally found a rhythm.

I’ve volunteered in ministries with my church in their adult enrichment, adult initiation rites, and day of service groups.

I wrote for a parenting newspaper, and then began to seriously freelance write. I’m currently working on two books: one on our home buying experience (horrible) and one on my travel/pilgrimage to North Wales (amazing). I’m also considering a book on my spiritual journey since I’ve begun attending church services and my conversion.

I have article submissions in process for The Sun Magazine and Vox.

So many things and most of them come back to writing.

Jane of all trades. I can use that.

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*since closed or out of business

**Morale, Welfare and Recreation

***Society for Creative Anachronism