Fearless, Fun and Fifty, Loving It All

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As I sit and write this, I am at one of my favorite local restaurants in my area, Vanda Cucina. It is 2 PM on a Wednesday, November 17, a typical fall day. The air outside is brisk and cool, with the indication that colder weather is approaching. Inside, the warmth and bread baking aromas encircle me. I am officially 50 – fearless, fun and 50 – and pondering what that means.

I took off work mid-day to be here alone, to write. It is the perfect time of day when the restaurant isn’t bustling either. I admit it was hard for me to take off work because my work team is my second family, and I wanted to also celebrate my day and entrance into a new decade with them. Yet, I wanted time for me, time to reconnect with myself. Just me, the computer and a glass of wine. It is pure bliss.

I don’t know how I arrived at this number – 50. Well, yes, I know – time carries on whether you want it to or not. But, where did that time go? I think many people ask themselves this question when they hit a monumental milestone. It seems like yesterday I was celebrating my 30th birthday in Washington DC, leaving my job and starting a business at 35, having a baby at 36 and then celebrating my 40th birthday. It all went slow up until 45, and then from 45 to 49+ the supersonic pace began. To me, age is only a number. I was never bothered reaching 30 or 40. Quite loved it actually! But I admit, the year leading up to my November 17th birthday (the 50 mark), I experienced an unsettling.

Our society, particularly for women, often marks 50 as a path to ruin – less desirable, less capable, passed over for the younger, less expensive generations. However, nothing changes with a number. I feel like I am at a physical peak – better than I ever have felt – active, intelligent, wise (even more so). I am not perturbed by the opinions of others, but something internally would not allow me to welcome 50 with open arms. I could not reconcile my mental and physical acuity with this new decade.

At exactly 10 months leading up to my 50th, I started meditating. (See blog post Silence is everything.) After four months of this new found activity of meditation (in April), I changed. I do not recall a specific day when this change happened, but it did, becoming at peace with 50 and grateful for where I am physically and mentally in life, paying no mind to the antiquated perceptions of society. I love my professional career and am surrounded by caring and amazing family and friends. My parents, at almost 80, are still healthy and active. I look in the mirror and see myself at 35, a wiser, calmer 35, except 50.

Capturing my internal peace

At this same time of my epiphany and harmony with turning 50, (insert smile here), I reconnected with another woman, and photographer – Stephanie Alvarez Ewens, a known photographer, yet so gracious and humble. We met many years ago, when she photographed me for a business article. Yet, more recently, through a dear friend, I learned that Stephanie was creating these amazing photographic journeys – capturing clients’ internal power, beauty, thoughts and transformations. She shared her session with me so I could experience her journey. The serendipity of aligning with my own milestone was uncanny. I said, “I want to do this with Steph; I am in.” I emailed her immediately.

As Stephanie puts it, the photo documentation “is an experience that goes beyond the photoshoot.” And she is right. Below are some of the captures from my session. I share them simply to show the moments in time where I am at peace with coming into 50, and also so when I get older I, and my children, can look at them and remember. (Laugh here.)

The day with Stephanie was about capturing a celebration of me and my life – laugh lines and all – and enjoying the pause. She took in fully what I wanted to experience, so that my final documentation would represent my inner peace and beauty. I love seeing the photos now because it has always been my struggle with body image, to see myself in photos. (We all have our “thing” that often follows us for many years.) Now, when I look at these photos alone or with my daughters, what I see is my strength that resides behind, and inside, the smile. Stephanie is a gem.

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4 Comments

  1. Carrie Humphreys

    love these photos…they do make you look like you are 35!

    Reply
  2. Jack Ratcliffe

    Love the photos Jessica great seeing you doing so well. Good luck

    Reply

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