Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Messy Middle Roadtrip Podcast. I’m Nicole, one half of our dynamic hosting duo. We’re entrepreneurs, wives, a mom, a favorite auntie, creative souls and women who are fearlessly navigating the middle of life. In between our regular podcasts, Sandra and I will be going solo to talk about our areas of expertise. Sandra tackles showing up as your authentic self with lessons she’s learned in her photography business and I tackle wellness. Today I’ll be sharing a 50th birthday letter to myself.

This podcast was created to bring together a community of women over 40 who embrace the past, appreciate where we are now and take action to live our best life. Because it’s all about the journey.

Happy Birthday Month Middlers! Yes, over the years, I have morphed my birthday celebration from one day, to a week to a month. Why? Because I can and you should too. I love filling my month with smaller, meaningful celebrations with friends and family. I have to admit that I’m bummed out that I wasn’t hopping a plane to Jamaica with the hubs for the work incentive trip I earned. The original plan was to spend the week celebrating with my work wives and their husbands on the beach but covid had other plans. I’m still uber proud of my accomplishment and plan to travel later in the year with the travel voucher I was gifted, instead. 

This year I’ve enjoyed being treated to a Stitch Fix from my mom and mother-in-law which included jeans which is an item I haven’t worn much during the pandemic. It felt extravagant and was a fun experience to work with my personal stylist to navigate my preferences like fitting my dancer calves into stylish skinny jeans. Yes, even though Gen Z is hating on millennials for their skinny jeans, crying-laughing emoji and side parts, this Gen-Xer is here for all of it. I also scheduled a tea time zoom call with one of my good friends who I haven’t seen in forever…three hours later, we were all caught up and felt energized and grateful for our friendship. My birthday falls on Super Bowl Sunday this year, which has happened to me before. I’m not a huge football fan but I do like to eat dine-in tailgate, so it’s all good. I plan to continue my micro-celebrations throughout the month. 

I’m recording this the day before I turn the big 5-0. It feels momentous and ordinary at the same time. I remember my surprise 40th like it was yesterday. My husband Tim connected with three of my friends from different facets of my life: work, my previous job and my writing group. He rented out a private room at our favorite local restaurant and set up a fake dinner date complete with the kids going to their grandparents’ house for a sleepover. I had no idea about all the behind-the-scenes planning going on…even though he left the guest list on the counter at one point and thought I’d seen it. We walked into a room filled with 50 of my closest friends and family for a catered meal. It was magical. I love surprises and often had the chance to be the coordinator but had never been on the receiving end. I loved every minute of it. My 40’s were amazing even though I silently battled my auto-immune issues. Tim and I raised our girls and successfully built our careers while renovating our house one room, one project at a time.

I expect that my 50’s will be equally amazing with a little extra sparkle thrown on top. I’ll see my girls finish high school and college and get to cheer them on as they figure out a career path of their own. Tim and I will work towards career goals with early retirement and travel and a beach house thrown in for good measure. I realize that I’ll experience sadness and loss as our parents are getting older, but for now I choose to enjoy every moment with them. 

This major birthday milestone had me thinking about my journey. I watch my girls as they navigate who they are and who they will become. I try to impart my own wisdom and perspective but cannot blame them for brushing me off when their 13 and 17 year old brains aren’t ready to embrace the power they hold. What if we took the time to write ourselves a letter on our 50th birthday? What if it contains the child-like wonder we had growing up paired with the wisdom of experience? Well, I decided to do just that. Here’s my letter to me…

Dear Nicole,

You made it! It’s hard to believe that you survived decades of terrible fashion choices and questionable decisions, but here we are on the eve of your 50th. Looking back through old photos, there is no shame in your desire to look like Dorothy Hamill with your bowl haircut at age 7 or your penchant for Mork From Ork rainbow suspenders with khaki pants. And luckily, you didn’t die or permanently cripple yourself trying to run in your Dr. Scholl clogs. Your imagination was always your best playmate and it kept you company during the lonely years after your parents divorced. You made snow forts, climbed trees and decorated cardboard boxes as busses, classrooms and spaceships to keep you occupied for hours. You embraced your inner dork. as you marched up the hill to your girl scout meeting, in full uniform, singing The Wall by Pink Floyd. You were reserved in new situations but blossomed once you connected with friends, allowing them to see your goofy, silly, authentic self. You loved your grandmothers fiercely and are proud to have been raised by them. You preferred art over math and reading and writing over science…still do for that matter. You were a little bit sassy and loved to make people laugh. You defied gravity with your big hair in the 80’s and confidently brought back Gone With the Wind style for your Junior Cotillion. You watched your mother work tirelessly and sacrifice everything for you but didn’t truly appreciate her efforts until you graduated college and stepped into the real world. You were obsessed with dance from the age of 6 and have never outgrown that. The dance studio was your favorite place to be and the lessons you learned about dedication, team work, long hours, patience, self-confidence and facing your fears have served you well. You shed that small-town girl perspective when you moved to Boston for college and persevered even though you cried daily with feeling homesick. Your eyes were opened to different cultures, socio-economic disparity, religions and racism. You found your people who had similar beliefs, sense of humor and world views and you made lifelong friendships. You were scrappy and weren’t afraid of hard work and long hours. You lived paycheck to paycheck and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, learning to live on ramen and expired eggs. You met your soulmate when you least expected it and get a kick out of the fact that he was on a date with his ex-girlfriend at the time. You paid off student loans, traveled together and bought your first home knowing that this was forever. You gave birth to two beautiful daughters that challenge you every day to be the best version of you. You also have moments of sadness that catch your breath when you remember the miscarriage you suffered in between. You’ve struggled with your relationship with your Dad but know that it taught you how to stand up for yourself, be resilient, lower expectations, keep promises, communicate, know that you cannot control the actions of others – only your own, always be the one to reach out and tell others how much you love them. You’ve been a good daughter, wife, mother and friend…even on days where you’ve felt like you’ve failed. You’ve worked hard to heal your body and know that self care can include sleeping in, naps or disconnecting from social media. You are a talented writer and need to stop second guessing yourself. You have found your purpose and your passion with your career and should not feel guilty about devoting time and energy to pursuing that. You are beautiful inside and out. This includes the gray hairs in your signature soft curls that you love. The laughter that created your crow’s feet. The mom-guilt that nags at you when you need to crawl back into bed after making sure the kids are awake for online schooling. The self-doubt that sabotages your progress with submitting your picture book manuscripts for publication. The psoriasis that makes you feel embarrassed and not-sexy. The thoughtfulness you possess for buying the card and then forgetting to send it. Your organized piles of paper and clutter that drive others crazy. Your infectious smile when you bust out with dance moves in the kitchen or belt a tune in the car with your teenagers. Your pride when you look at all you’ve accomplished so far in your life and love for the people – good and bad- that have been a part of that. It has all shaped and molded who you are.”Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss   

My wish for you for the next 50…

Be brave. Be true. Live boldly. Continue to ignore what others think. Dance to the beat of your own drum. Show people how much you love them with your actions. Look for the light and if you can’t find it, be the light. Don’t watch the news. Breathe. Laugh everyday. Always look forward, never backward. Be confident that you can do amazing things. Be authentic. Speak the truth. Sprinkle kindness like confetti. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t hold grudges. See the world. Do not pass on your limiting beliefs to others. Continue to learn and grow. Be present. Love fiercely. Surround yourself by people you admire and respect. Allow yourself some grace. Listen to your instincts. Nurture your body and soul. Rest. And most importantly, know that every step you take is the right one because it’s all about the journey…  

Thanks for tuning into today’s show. I hope my words resonated with you. No matter how old you are, I encourage you to take time to write yourself a love letter. Acknowledge all you’ve accomplished, give a nod to the messy bits that make you – you and embrace how freaking amazing you are!  

You can find more at messy middle road trip dot com or connect with us on FB, Instagram and YouTube. If you like the show, please subscribe and send us some love by rating and reviewing the podcast. Sandra and I are looking forward to our next road trip with you. Thanks for riding shotgun. Until next time… 

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