Today is my 55th birthday.
This morning my sister-in-law called to wish me a happy birthday and we were commenting on how time flies. I asked her, “How is it possible that we are in our mid- 50’s already?! “ She said, “Time is flying at warp speed now. “ I remember being little and my grandmother always saying, “Make sure you enjoy your life because it goes by in a blink… especially when you are young.”
While I know that is true for most people, it was not for me. When I was young, I thought time crawled at a snail’s pace. As a child, I always felt like there were very few choices. It was just a series of obligations. Things that you had to do to get to the next thing: Going to school. Doing homework. Doing chores. Going to Sunday school… where time didn’t JUST stand still, it felt like the clocks were actually moving backwards.
When I was a kid, I often felt bored and couldn’t wait to be a grown up. It’s not to say that I had an unhappy childhood, I just put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. I wanted to get good grades. I wanted to get into a good college. I wanted a prestigious career. I had big dreams and felt that I had to remain vigilant to get there. I was wayyyy too serious in college… at the complete expense of having any fun.
I saw life as a ladder that I needed to climb. I thought that if I fell prey to the distractions, I might fall off and never get to the top. The top of what? I have no idea.
Somehow I thought that if I studied hard and worked hard, I could have a car, a house, a family and a career. That would be the end game. The goal. The blue ribbon of happiness. And you know what? I achieved all of those things…
But I was still not happy. I created my own prison of obligations.
Time continued to move slowly. When I worked in the television business it was like surviving quicksand. Endless meetings. Endless piles of scripts to read. Endless politics. And even if you survived the quicksand, there were crocodiles waiting to eat you alive. Or at least that’s how it felt to me.
The point is that I was so busy surviving my life, albeit the one I chose, that I forgot to have fun. Everything I did was for a purpose. While other people seemed to be enjoying themselves: going to concerts, festivals, happy hours, long vacations, summers off, or just had weekend hobbies that they loved, I was too rigid with myself. I was obsessed with always having to get all of my work done. I needed to be home with my family on the weekends because I worked so much during the week…. but then I worked nights and weekends too. I needed to make sure that I was a good wife, good mother, good daughter, good sister, good neighbor, good executive, and a good friend. I just forgot one thing:
To be good to myself.
I was 35 years old when I took up my first hobby. Tennis! This was not ONLY my first hobby, but my first sport. Yes, I skipped PE in high-school. I wrote a note (and by wrote I mean forged) to be excused from PE class. I didn’t think I was athletic because PE was all running, push ups and pull ups. Little did I know that there was a whole world of sports that didn’t involve running around a city block on cement in poorly constructed sneakers wearing a hideous cotton/polyester PE uniform. But I digress.
I took up tennis when my former assistant at ABC (thank you Michelle) told me that I needed a hobby. She could see that I was over-worked and exhausted while raising two toddlers at home. So, I took a 30-minute tennis lesson once a week. It was all I thought I could afford in both time and money. Eventually, I made the decision to join a tennis club to meet other players and learn the game. I still only allowed myself one or two hours a week to play. I was absolutely terrible, but I loved the game. After my time on the court, I would rush to take a shower and get back to work or back to my family and make-up for the time I was gone. I envied the people who would lounge by the pool. Or sit at the bar and have a drink with friends. Or even stay for lunch or dinner on a regular basis.
When I played tennis, I noticed that the time would fly. I remember thinking that tennis represented a life of leisure. Someday I would be able to play longer than just one hour. Someday I would be able to work for myself and create my own schedule. Someday I might build leisure time into my very busy life.
But it wasn’t tennis specifically that was missing from my life, it was about developing hobbies. New friends. New thoughts. New interests. It was about expanding my horizons and taking care of myself. But I made the mistake of making tennis my ONLY outlet. So when I got injured (ironically from playing tennis), I had no other ways to manage my stress.
It was after I turned 50 that all the pieces started coming together. I left my corporate life. My tennis injuries (finally) healed, so I could start playing again. I went back to yoga. I started writing a blog. I become a Yoga Instructor and a Life Coach. I could be my own boss. I could make my own schedule. I could take the extra time for myself and find out what makes ME happy.
So I did all of those things… and then some.
And you know what? Time started flying.
And you know why? Because I started having fun.
This is what my grandmother meant by: Enjoy your life because it goes by in a blink. I just did it backwards. So now I am trying to help others discover what makes them happy… or at least happier.
As for turning 55, I spent the entire weekend playing in a tennis tournament with my husband and youngest daughter. We all won a trophy in our various divisions. If that isn’t the best birthday present ever, I don’t know what is.
So, yeah time goes fast when we are having fun…. and I am starting to do that in a big way. People love to assume that I because I left my television career that I am retiring. My response is: Heck no…I am just getting started!