This weekend I had another birthday. Since it seems I was 50 for only about 3 months, and enjoying that milestone and nice even number, I was surprised at the speed with which the next one rolled up.   It has been a great year.  Looking back to when I was coming up on THE BIG 5-0, however, there were things I wanted to have done by that time … be fit, be the ‘right weight,’ hike more, speak Italian, learn to paint, and so on.  While my life is better than I could have dreamed and I have many of the qualities that I value (strong friendships and loving family relationships), personally there were accomplishments I wanted to have achieved.

Because I lost three of my four brothers when they were fairly young, I look at birthdays as gifts and time as finite.  Life in my family seems not to be long-lived so, for this important fiftieth birthday, I embraced truly living deliberately … to do the things that interested and took care of me.  I wanted to no longer put off having experiences and a quality of life that I might never have if I didn’t get on with it and work with what I had (me) so, I gave myself permission.  It has been a great year. I have been getting up early to work The Artist’s Way, a book of recovering and growing our creating self, I am exercising often, even jogging, and taking myself out into nature regularly.  For me, today, life is to be lived on purpose, with purpose.  I have reached an age where I realize that honoring my truths, wants, and needs is the best way I can be in the world because when I take care of what I value (my wants, my health), I am a better and more loving person to those around me.   If I could go back and speak to my younger self, I would say, “Don’t worry so much.  Accept others as they are and don’t spend time thinking about what other people think of you.  Live the way you want, honor your belief system, and keep the focus inside your hula-hoop where you have some ability to change the things you can.  It is going to be o.k. ”

It is a gift to be this age, and to have had the experience that 51 years brings.  I have this knowledge, this place in time, and because life continues to grow and change, I am excited to get up in the morning and get on with the day and see what comes, more open to possibility and the places that I will grow.  I am emerging.

About Renee Bates

Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.



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