Today, I turned 50 years old. Many people struggle with this milestone. I wasn't sure if I would, and today I know I am not struggling with it; I am celebrating it! Here's what I know NOW that I didn't know THEN:
1. When I was a little kid, I didn't know how incredibly important it is to have a deep and long lasting connection with your family. I know this NOW and cherish the love and support of my amazing family. If you have brothers, sisters, in laws, cousins and others who you call your family by blood or by love, pick up the phone and say I love you to one of them right now. And then make it a point to tell each one of them throughout the year. That should be on your bucket list BEFORE climbing a mountain.
2. When I was in grammar school, I didn't know that almost everything I learned back then I would still be using today.I know this NOW and I am thankful for the teachers who trained and taught me the basics that would carry me through life.
3. When I was in high school, I didn't know I would meet the three women who would still be my best friends today.I know this NOW, and I cannot even tell you how much Kathy, Maria and Eileen and their never-ending support mean to me. When was the last time you called your best friend? Make the time. It is a priority. Make the call.
4. When I was in college, I didn't know I was making memories and friendships that would last a lifetime.I know this NOW and boy did I have fun in my college years. Those memories are still some of the best of my life. Go look through all your old pictures and smile. Enjoy your memories and celebrate the best times of your life. It will give you ideas and the motivation to create even more memories in the days ahead...because the best days of your life happen every day.
5. When I was in my early twenties, I didn't know that I would miss my mother when I was 50 as much as I missed her in my twenties.
I know this NOW and no matter how many years go by, a girl always wants to talk to her mother. If your mom is still alive, call her right now and tell her you love her and that she is special. I am very thankful that after my mother left this earth, I had three women who guided me along the way — my Aunt Isabel (my mother's sister), My Godmother (my mother's lifelong best friend), and my dear friend Maria (who is from the same generation as my mother, and with whom I worked during my college years). Reach out and tell your Mom or the women in your life who have guided you that you love them and say thank you. I don't think Moms hear thank you enough.
6. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I didn't know that Aunt would be the most treasured and important title I would ever have in my life.I know this NOW and there is no greater joy than hearing the voice of my nieces and nephews, watching them play a sport, texting silly messages with them or playing a board game or a virtual game of Words With Friends. I had NO idea that I could possibly love anyone that much but I know that NOW. I know NOW that the title of Aunt is an honor that I cherish. I know NOW that there are nieces and nephews by blood and by love and they all mean the world to me. I know NOW that kissing away every boo-boo, changing every diaper, attending every game, celebrating every success, standing through every graduation, every recital and being part of every important moment in their lives is truly the moments and memories I cherish each and every day. I know NOW that when a child goes to heaven, a piece of you goes with them. I know NOW that every hug is priceless and every “I love you” a song.
7. When I was in my early forties, I never thought I would have a position in a major corporation and that it would define who I was.
I know NOW that bringing fudgicles, balloons or babies to a business meeting can make even the grumpiest of people smile and open to new ideas. I know NOW that being part of a team is nice, but being part of a team that is doing something important and has value to the company and its customers is magic. I know NOW that my job didn't define me — it defined what I did, not who I was and now more than ever I know why I was put on this earth, what my gifts and talents are and that I have a choice every day to decide what my next step is for my life. I know NOW that I determine the journey, with the advice, input and opinions of others, but it is my decision. I feel a little like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz: It was always in her power to go home but until she knew that in her core, she could not get there. NOW I know in my core that every choice, decision, and step is mine to make.
8. When I was in my mid forties, I never thought I would leave corporate America to start my own a business.I know this NOW and I am so thankful for the experience and education. I could never have learned what I know NOW about business, about money and about myself if it weren't for taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
I share with you what I post almost every day now on my Facebook wall. The reason why I believe more than I fear and why I keep moving forward toward the sunshine and do not look back at the clouds. “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” — Anonymous
9. When I was in my late forties, I didn't know how much I could change and cherish. But I know this NOW more than ever. I never knew I could face my fears and shed my guilt about everything I should of, could of and would have done or said.
I know NOW that most of those fears, the guilt and the feeling of not being good enough were my own thoughts and perceptions.
I know NOW that I can do anything.
I know NOW that I am willing to take risks.
I know NOW that failure is not taking a risk and not getting the results you want, failure is not trying. (That quote is from my brother Jim).
I know that each morning when I wake up on the "right side of the grass" that it is a good day (this one from my cousin Michael).
I know that if I don't ask the question, the answer is already no - so I might as well ask - all they can say is no. (From my brother-in-law Terry.)
I know NOW that I am good enough for all that life has to offer and that I do indeed have value and something to offer this world.
10. When I woke up this morning, I didn't know how I would feel or what I would think.I know NOW that I am FIFTY YEARS OLD, that I am only just beginning to see the potential of my life and I am ready to love, laugh and live for another 50! I know NOW what happiness truly means, what it means to be comfortable with who you are, what you have done, what you have become and where you are going.
I know TODAY that I am the most thankful 50-year-old woman in this world for all I have, all I have become and most of all for all that is ahead.
Janet Powers is the founder of Diva Toolbox, a marketing and mentoring site for women in business