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Turning 50 is kind of a big deal. First, the possibility life could be more than half over sets off a cascade of introspective questions regarding accomplishments to date, and, what the heck you’re going to do in an effort to remain relevant, now that you’re receiving love letters from AARP.

Second, ask yourself “What does 50 look like?” Some will suggest you’re no longer a “spring chicken” or you should “dial it back and act your age” but 50 looks however the hell YOU want it to look. It is YOUR life and nobody gets to determine this for you, not your peers, your family, the media or the self-talk telling you to do what’s expected of you. It is YOUR life.

My choice was to make 50 look FUN and to find a way to feel like a bad-ass.

Self-talk is powerful, it can be the difference maker in just about every situation. Finding a way to focus on the good stuff and recognize personal strength is important when life starts kicking dirt in your eyes.

Placing yourself in a position where you’re challenged, uncomfortable and maybe even a bit scared, pulls to the surface a fiery ball of courage and strength you may not recognize. Overcoming builds confidence, and confidence, not to be confused with arrogance, is one of the best tools in your tool box. Confidence builds self-worth and keeps the self-talk much more positive. Saying to yourself, “I’ve got this, this isn’t near as rough as when I (fill in the blank)” is far better than saying, “Ooooh, I don’t know about this. I’m probably not going to do well, so I better (insert excuse here).”

Having confidence
plus a feeling of self worth
and being fifty
makes you a force to reckon with.

This power should be thought of as “armor” rather than a weapon. When others behave ugly or try to tear you down just whip out your bad-assness and rise above it. When the self-talk tells you “you’re not what you used to be”, just pause and say, “Good! Cuz who I used to be, didn’t appreciate true love, dear friends, free time, my health, nature, and silence.”

I’m blessed with many female friends but only a few would be willing and have time to do the training and join me on a bad-ass birthday hike from one side of Grand Canyon to the other, in one day. Over a year of planning and consistent training was required. Each of us had numerous opportunities to let life throw us off track, but you can’t measure the value of accountability. We kept reminding each other “Hiking down is optional, hiking out is mandatory!” And as the hike drew closer each of us had our own self-talk starting… age, knees, feet, back, poop, puke, dehydration, what might prevent our success? NOTHING! Of course knees, feet and backs hurt… Of course there was nausea and poop issues… This was really, really hard!! Over 10,000 feet of elevation change, blazing sun, high wind and 70 degree temperature swings. But accountability and confidence in each other when it waned for ourselves prevailed and we pretty much nailed it.

Special note of thanks, love and adoration to my husband Joel. It was a birthday party and I wanted him there. He endured an eventful weekend with SEVEN women. Strangers were compelled to comment and compliment Joel on his ability to travel, sleep, get ready with, dine and hike in the company of seven women. Some thought we were a singles club and surely some thought we were Mormon. But we were a bunch of good friends going out to push our limits and each other.

And what is 50? It’s the birthday when I celebrated true love, dear friends, my health, and nature with the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever attempted and accomplished.

Written by: Sheryl Hammontree

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