Friday, December 21, 2007

Reflections on 55

This morning I woke up to a cat licking the top of my head. I also woke up to the realization that I am officially 55 years old -- double nickles. I spent a few minutes reflecting on this fact. Not brooding about it, mind you. I'm not one of those people who freak out about getting older or who try to hide it or turn back the clock with surgery or a mid-life crisis. This is simply what 55 is and looks like in my world.

The life I live now is definitely not what I pictured for myself at this age. I'm not complaining, it's just not anything like I had expected. If you had asked me 25 years ago what I expected at 55, I would have shrugged and cracked a joke about "I should live so long!" Fifteen years ago, I would have told you that at the age of 55 I expected to be married (I was engaged when I was 40), retired from legal work, and writing up a storm.

Okay, 1 out of 3 ain't bad. Ending the engagement had been a very good thing and the law firm where I'm employed is a good place to be, with nice people and interesting work .

My mother died when she was 52 years old. I remember having a bit of a meltdown when I turned 52. I was sure that any moment I would keel over dead or find some terrible disease lurking in my body. But here I am three years later, healthy, generally happy, and with my life long dream of being a published author a reality. Not bad for an old fart.

Because of my writing career, I'm working much harder now than I expected to be at this age; an age when most folks are gearing up financially and emotionally for retirement. I'm still looking forward to retirement from my paralegal career, hopefully by the time I'm 60, if not sooner. But the hours I keep between my day job and my writing are grueling.

In a few hours, I'll be climbing aboard a cruise ship for a 3-day cruise to Baja. It's a working vacation. I'll be speaking to the passengers on Sunday about mystery writing and will be working on the last bit of Epitaph Envy on deck a few hours a day. Two friends are going with me, Susan Groeneweg and Kate Thornton, so it should be a grand time. Working or not, it's still my birthday/Christmas vacation.

Do I have any regrets? Yes, of course. I could have been smarter in many aspects of my life. I've taken risks that didn't work out. Made decisions that weren't always the best. I'm one of those people who seems to learn things the hard way. But if there's one thing life has taught me in 55 years, it's to be flexible. Priorities change or morph into other things and you have to be ready to go with the flow or you might miss something really good, even if you do fall on your ass along the way.

11 days to my deadline for Epitaph Envy. 365 days to my next birthday!


A.H. Ream said...

Dear God, it's me,, Ashley. Please let me be as fabulous as Sue Ann when I turn 55. Thank you. And um, sorry about that name in vain thing...oh, and the impure thoughts. Oh, and if you could make me smart enough to figure out why my original comment ended up at the end of the previous post, that would be good too. But mostly, we should be concentrating on the fabulous part. Thanks.

Felicia Donovan said...

A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my friend. You have accomplished so much and have so much to be proud of for the first 55. This is just the beginning!

Diana said...

55 is a great milestone, and you have accomplished a great deal!

Enjoy where your life has taken you. Know that you are loved by the many friends that surround you.

Nina Wright said...

Sue Ann--I remembered reading that your birthday was coming; sorry I didn't catch it on the very day. Consider this my belated birthday and on-time New Year's salutation! To wonderful times in aught-eight!

As you well know, where we thought we'd be isn't what matters; it's where we are and where we're pointed that count. Thank God for good health, good friends (with two legs or four), and good stories in the making.