Manage episode 282647863 series 2794950
Seventeen years ago, I was 33 and the year was 2004. A highlight of my day was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Sitting cross-legged on my couch, I’d give my full attention to my hero on the small screen. Oprah was my teacher who loved teachers and I was a teacher. She made me think, feel inspired, consider possibilities, smile, be moved to tears, and dream big. She showed me by example, how one person can make an enormous difference and to believe in the goodness of (wo)mankind.
I don’t remember where my baby was when I watched Gayle King surprise her BFF, Oprah with a 50th birthday party on national TV. She was likely climbing on and off my lap because I couldn’t wait to put her to sleep to watch this special and very hyped-up episode without commercials. Oprah’s star-studded, highly produced surprise “50th Birthday Celebration in Style” began with John Travolta toasting his friend with her favorite Cristal Champagne. Stevie Wonder serenaded with a backdrop of walls of roses. Oprah reflected by saying, “To deny your age, to lie about your age, to pretend to be something else that you are not is to deny the essence of your life. Every moment is worth celebrating with candelabras, with your heart, with your sincerity.”
As I watched Oprah take this outpouring of love all in with gratitude, I told myself I too would one day have a big blowout celebration. I too would feel the gratitude from being surrounded by my dear family and friends with great music and great food, everyone I loved there to celebrate my milestone birthday.
Let me backtrack a bit to 1997, the year my mom turned 50. I’d just turned 26, was dating my future husband for almost a year at that point and was teaching my third kindergarten class. Mom was about to be divorced for a second time and rather than wallow in sorrow, she threw herself a party at a Greek restaurant. When I looked at my full-of-life mom who was still so young at heart and had the wonderful audacity to throw herself a big party to celebrate, fifty didn’t seem old. Yet those 24 more years felt a lifetime away.
The year is now 2021 and it’s my turn to cross that imaginary threshold of turning fifty. This was going to be the year I’d celebrate in style like Oprah, a birthday blowout party so full of love and celebration all the guests’ cheeks and their abs would hurt from all the smiling and laughing. Only I can’t gather with my dear friends and family because we are in the darkest days of this worldwide pandemic.
When I realized I only had one month left in my fourth decade and I would not be able to party in style as I’d always hoped, I realized there was so much to celebrate anyway. By reflecting on the big and important life lessons my Mom and Oprah taught me, I was claiming the life I was meant to live and sharing it with a countdown to turning fifty gratitude reflection.
Forty-nine years from now, I’ll be 99, the age the iconic Betty White just turned. Her sense of humor and mischievous spunkiness is wildly endearing and worth celebrating. She reminds me to stay young at heart, not take things too seriously, smile, and laugh, and then all will be golden. Honor and celebrate all the days of your life. Thank you for celebrating with me.
SHOW NOTE LINKS:
Rachel’s Essay- Celebrating and Owning my 50th Birthday- Just Like Oprah Did
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