50 Days, 50 Thoughts, 50 Books, 50 Years

Originally published August 18, 2018

In 50 days, I’m turning 50.

I have no business committing to writing 50 times in the next 50 days. Case in point: At the moment, I should be upstairs getting myself and an overnight bag ready to head out the door to chaperone my daughter’s swim team weekend.

But the same daughter said something to me the other day that I can’t get off my brain. Everyone knows I love books. And everyone knows I love to write. That translates into a lot of people asking when I am going to write a book. I suppose it’s not a fair assumption, in that it’s like asking someone who loves to cook when they are going to be a chef, but in my case, my standard response is, “I don’t have the time.”

And when it came up the other day, my daughter said, “That’s an excuse. I think you are afraid.”

Ouch.

This picture of me has an unintended but interesting reflection on it. I took a snap of the portrait hanging on my grandmother’s wall when we stopped for a quick visit with family last month. My grandmother passed a few years back, but the house and family remain, and the house remains the same as it always has, in all my years and all my visit to it. The reflection is a peek through my great-grandmother’s bedroom into the backyard. The same yard my cousins and I spent many a Christmas visit running around in snowsuits and moon boots, “sledding” down a slope next to the garage and making snowforts in the 4-foot-high mountains of snow left by plows as they passed my grandparents’ corner lot.

Those days, this age … you didn’t think about being brave. You just didn’t know any better. Nearly everything you tried was a first, and you’re young enough to honestly have nothing to lose. So I’m kicking off this effort with a thought on being brave as you head through your middle life.

My daughter is right — I’m petrified of writing things other people will read. My book blog is my book blog and I write it happily not caring if 5 people or 5,000 read it, though I am always thrilled when an author retweets a review. But I occasionally get personal with stories, and when those strike a nerve, it’s a rush. But it’s also scary, scary, scary. What if people disagree? What if people think I’m stupid? I can’t tell you how many times I have started an essay only to hit the backspace button, because … Why? I doubt the worth of my words?

So, for my daughter, and my sons, whom I have always encouraged to believe in themselves, I will be brave and share as much as I can over the next 50 days. There’s a lot to unpack.

Book #1: If you’re into essays about mid-life, then you have to read “The Bitch is Back.” Perfection.

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