Today is brought to you by the number 51. A little battered and rusty, maybe in need of some new paint, but still fully functional. A little bit like me. Today is my birthday – number 51. :-0
I think the weather was a birthday gift; simply perfect. Cool but not cold, blue skies, abundant sunshine and a nice tailwind. I took some time for a long and peaceful ride up along the ridge and to the river. Contemplating aging, longevity, fate, the ride ahead.
The fifties have been a little unsettling to me. Not so much out of vanity, or even fitness and health … more of a wariness of fate, I guess. This year, I am on the cusp of having out-lived both my mother and my grandmother. I think it’s always been in the back of my mind: questioning my destiny, wondering if I would outlive them? They each died too young; my mother from an unexpected brain aneurysm during her 51st year, and my grandmother died during childbirth, delivering my mom. She was barely into her twenties.
And while I think I lead a reasonably healthy and active lifestyle, I find myself wondering if it will really make a difference in the end or not? Not that I intend to stop doing what I do – I love to cycle, swim, ski, walk, run, hike … they are simply a part of who I am, what I like to do, and the experience enriches my daily life. I really rarely give the fitness/health benefit much consideration (probably because I don’t work all that hard at any of it, lol.), but I’m sure it’s better than not doing any of it.
Are we a fitter generation? I like to think so, but sometimes I am not entirely sure. Obesity statistics, diabetes and heart disease statistics are alarming. My mom was reasonably active, very slim and always maintained a very healthy weight. Although she had been a smoker during her younger years (like many of her generation), she had given it up. She liked to hike, cross-country ski and play golf. She was a fabulous cook – and instilled in me an appreciation of healthy food and fine cuisine.
So while I consciously attempt to make lifestyle choices that are forward-thinking in regard to health and wellness, I know that it is no guarantee. Several years ago, we were all shocked when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my right breast; fortunately it was completely benign – but I will confess that it scared the crap out of me. I had no family history, no obvious risk factors. It made me realize that despite the best prevention efforts, there are no guarantees. You can do everything humanly possible – eat well, maintain a healthy weight, wear a helmet, ride defensively, raise your heart-rate on a regular basis – and ultimately, you just never know … it might be a log truck, it might be genetics.
For now, the road ahead looks likes a long one, a good one. I will keep riding, wearing my helmet, and eating the good foods. I will swim, and read, and take pictures and try to keep my brain and heart in the best condition I can manage. I look forward to the “someday” when I can take a grandchild (no rush on this one, boys) for a ride on the back of my Xtracycle, and put him/her on her first skis up in the snowy mountains. I am filled with the love of my family and friends – which is as good for the heart and the soul as riding a bike. My goal, for now, is to be able to pedal a bicycle on my 90th birthday. And enjoy a cupcake. I’m not so sure I’ll still be blogging about it by then – but who knows? 😉
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51 is not so bad — I turned 52 this year. Consider this: until I was 50 I was only riding about 3,000 miles a year. The year I turned 51 and rode over 4,460 miles. This year I’ve already gone over 6,400 miles. SO, by the time I am 70 I’ll be ready to ride in the Tour de France!
I hope your birthday is awesome!! Lovely pictures of your mom and Grandmother, beauty runs in your family. 🙂
Thank you Michael for the most kind words; they mean much. I have to tell you, though, that I was saddened to read the day’s post on EcoVelo – and while I completely understand and respect your decision and wish you the very best, I hope you know how much I (we all) have appreciated all you have accomplished and shared through EcoVelo. I looked forward to your feed in my mailbox each and every day; I learned so much, and I was continually inspired by the amazing photography, and was greatly honored when you posted my pic of Elisabetta. It is and has been, by far, my favorite site. I apologize for not being a more frequent commenter (I am so bad at that kind of thing), but I hope you know I never missed reading a post. I wish you and your family the very best, and hope that we can somehow continue the “conversation-on-two-wheels” somehow or another … Meanwhile, I wish you a wonderful holiday season, and many lovely miles together by bicycle. Sending a hug your way.
Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. Can you hear Tom Jone crooning for you? You look fabulous, so don’t stress. I am right behind you coming up hard and fast on 50. I find it hard to believe, where did the time go? And when people tell me I don’t look a day over 33, I smile and tell them “This is what 49 looks like” and THANKS- of course.
None of us knows the days we were given, only the One who gave them. So live your life, that’s what it’s here for.
I’m glad you are fit, strong and healthy. I pray you have thousands of days of being silly, joyous, vibrant and active. Don’t look back, except to remind yourself of the good times, keep your eye on what is before you and enjoy everything you have now.
Oh, and have a huge glass of wine and expensive chocolate- you earned it.
Note: tumors are more common than doctors let on. You can have one- or more- show up in the mammary, or uterus one month and disappear in a day, week, month etc. Doctors won’t acknowledge that fact ’cause there’s no money or repeat business for them in it.
Hahah … Tom Jones. But no, it doesn’t make me want to throw my panties… lol.
Happy Birthday! I too will enter my ‘fifties’ this year – I had the same experience at 41 – being 40 wasn’t a big deal, but being “in my forties” sounded so much older!
Both your mother and grandmother were beautiful women, now I see where you get it. Your mom would be so proud of you, and I wish that you may enjoy many more birthdays!
Thank you, young’n! (I had to say that in a Southern drawl just for you, you know. 😉 Hope to see you one of these days soon!
What a beautiful heartfelt post…I’m sending it t a dear friend of mine who lost her mom too young also but is as active as you.
I turn 50 next year and I’m looking forward to many more years ahead, though I hear your concern about our inevitable mortality. Enjoy the rides and your family. You are a beautiful woman.
Thank you so much for your most kind words, A!
Got my BSN (second BS degree) at 54, ran my first marathon at 55, rode my second Century (Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred) the day before I turned 64… keep looking for interesting things to do and keep moving! Oh, and Happy Birthday!
All you girls are making me feel so old! I’m turning (gasp) 64 next month. But who’s counting? Each day is a gift and should be lived to the fullest, time and energy permitting, and Cas, that’s just what you manage to do. So, good on you! Laughter, fun, silliness, studious research, causes, daydreaming…these are all good things, and you’ve managed to encompass them all.
The calendar age doesn’t matter…….I’ve finally learned that one. And, just think, next time some guy gives you the “eye” you can secretly smile and enjoy being 51! Myself, I love it
(note: don’t look in the mirror though, the shock is too great, Doesn’t match the self image)
Cheer, P! Thank you. Oh, you are always so wise, my friend. And always the best example of how to properly live life. I have gotten rid of all mirrors. (lol)
Beautiful post, and we share the same birthday (though I’m your elder). I too reflected on much you wrote about. I too share an interesting health history with my mother and grandmother. A very rare, genetic disease much like MS (but not) which both my grandmother (had) and mother have. There’s a blood test to confirm the diagnosis but no treatment. I therefore choose not to take the test and live as best I can………
Thank you – and happy birthday back to you. I love how you have chosen … and hope that you will be spared that inheritance. Wishing you the best!
Love the words. Love the pictures.
Thank you, Tim. 🙂 Love the Holiday Dummy!
You make 51 look good! Happy holidays!
Well you are so sweet, thank you!
I came upon your blog via another blog and another blog…you know how it is, like turning pages. Anyhow, I am so glad that I did; I really enjoy it. I have a blog that may interest you
http://citysimplicity.blogspot.com. The next time I update mine I will add yours to the blog list. But mostly I just wanted to add that I can really identify with this post in particular. I turned 50 a few weeks ago and have now outlived both of my parents (dad @ 49; mom @ 47). I can understand that looming over, but more importantly I can understand still missing them everyday. Thanks for the beautiful post
Happy Birthday…..thanks for another round of great pictures and beautifully flowing words.
Thanks, Darryl! 😀 And wishing you and your beautiful family a very happy holidays!