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My fiftieth birthday is in two weeks. I know that some people look back at high school or college as the best part of their lives. My illness was growing during those years, and I wasn’t really happy. I don’t feel like the best part of my life is behind me. I feel like the best part of my life is unraveling here and now. I am living it.

I know that some of my symptoms are getting worse with age. I know that others are fading into the background. I know that after I had to give up my dreams of being a poet in my late twenties, because medication made it impossible to write, that over the past year I have reclaimed that dream and published many poems, articles and essays. I know that my husband and I are starting to dream and make plans for his retirement. I know we talk about buying another van and setting off to discover America again (last time we discovered ourselves in the process).

I am at a point in my life where my women friends seem to spend more and more time at the hairdresser, at the nail salon, the gym, and trying to get the best selfie for their social media accounts. I don’t really care much about those things. I am not overly concerned with getting older or looking younger. Maybe, because of the battles I have had to fight, and the obstacles I have had to overcome, I am growing into my own –comfortable to be who and how I am at this point in time. Sure, I would love to be thinner, and I wish I had the hair of my youth, but I’m not going to spend much time or money to make either of those things happen and I’m certainly not going to give up the pleasure of my favorite foods for vanity’s sake (if my weight were a health issue, I would reconsider).

I am going to turn fifty in two weeks and I feel better than ever. If I could share some wisdom with younger people, it would be: I have discovered that most things really do get better with age, and the things that don’t, don’t really matter – not one of them has to do with living a good life, or a life well lived.

I am so thankful to be alive.  Fifty, I welcome you.