I breathed a big sigh of relief when I turned 50. My 40’s had been some pretty rough years.
Oprah reached that milestone five years ahead of me. She showed the world that 50 was just the beginning of some of our best years, and I felt a complete kinship to her because of that.
But even fortified by Oprah’s example, my 50th year didn’t go as well as I had hoped. That year saw the end of my short-lived marriage, and for the first time I was completely alone.
Which is exactly what I needed.
So I started running and not because someone else did but because I wanted to, and on my 51st birthday I finished a half marathon.
Though my job was still my anchor, I now lived alone and worked alone. I had no family or close friends for hundreds of miles. No one asking me to go do things. No one dropping by to chat. It was just me, Loretta.
And that time and space gave me the opportunity to do some digging.
I read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements and also finished the companion workbook. It spelled out step by step how to dig deep and write down what you were told by others as a kid, teenager, young adult and adult.
The exercises asked if those labels were serving me, or hindering my growth. I crossed out all the descriptions that didn’t fit me and were affecting my self-esteem. Then Don suggested writing new descriptors of who I believed I was.
I knew then I needed to write my own story.
That was right about the time I met John, and without even thinking about it, I fell right back into my old habit of modeling my interests after his. We had a lot of struggle finding our way to each other. When I started to realize I was in an old behavior pattern, I interrupted it and made the decision that I was going to allow myself a couple of new things.
One: be vulnerable, and two: just be me.
I had no stake in the outcome and whether John liked me was irrelevant.
Things got much better between us and just a few months after my 58th birthday, I started this blog, The Countdown to 60. I had no idea at the time it would lead me down a path of self-discovery and inner happiness.
I have shared over 210,000 words so far and many of you have read every one of them. You shared your thoughts, love and encouragement with me. I received personal letters from a few who poured their hearts out to me.
I am deeply honored to share this journey with you and to read all of your comments as well.
Tomorrow is May 10, 2019 and the countdown to 60 will be over. A new chapter has begun and I am excited to see where this will take us…all of us.
What I learned: I know who I am and I like me