50–Wow! It Really IS Just a Number.

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Hey that’s me! I’m 5-0! I turned a half-century old (young?) on June 17. My husband and I celebrated by heading to the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. As much as I love to hike and as many times as I’ve been to the mountains, I had never taken the time to visit the waterfalls that grace my state’s landscape. But this time, we did it. Go and do the things you want to do… NOW, a voice keeps telling me. And so I’m trying.

I had intended to write more about changes in the year leading up to my 50th birthday, or that’s what I said in my birthday post from last year; you can read that here.  However, nothing really felt different the previous year. I pretty much felt like the same person, perhaps more tired at times. I had a few more gray hairs than at 48, or 49, which I wholeheartedly hoped would turn into a shimmering silver mane as it grew out. It didn’t. As my hairdresser said, “Cheryl, you have only about enough grey strands to make your hair look a little dull. Ish.” Then she added, “Bless your heart,” because she knew how badly I wanted the silver look.
I had went from being a blonde my entire life (towheaded as a child, hair so fine and fair, that it appeared to be not there until I was about three. Lucky me.) to being dullish brown in my late forties. I recently caved and got a few caramel highlights put back in and oddly enough, I began to feel more like me and less tired. I wonder if this is some form of vanity that I didn’t know I had. Maybe that’s a story for another time.

It’s ironic that my last post also had a waterfall. I didn’t plan it that way. I wrote about having self-compassion in my pursuit of growing and stretching myself to keep writing and following my dreams. 
But water does seem to be a theme for me these days. It brings me peace.
As I stood in the refreshing, but chilly, North Carolina mountain waters, it was a coming-home. Maybe a baptism even, or at least as Merriam Webster defines
 Baptism: an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named. I needed to be initiated into, or claimed by, the mountains of North Carolina. As someone who has always struggled to fit in (everywhere), I finally feel at home here in North Carolina, especially when I’m in the mountains. I can’t straddle two worlds anymore.
This is where I am rooted. This is where I am grounded. This is where I belong.

And although I am still fascinated by (and will write about) the entanglements of landscape, history, trauma, loss, geography, longing, wounds, exile, and survival; I also know the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. I’m beginning to belong right where I am.
All thanks to that gritty hard-won wisdom of aging. Damn 50, I am liking you a lot!

Lower Catawba Falls, Old Fort North Carolina. IMG_3334

Upper Catawba Falls

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We hiked (crawled, clawed a bit :))to the top. Here we are.

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The “trail” on up…IMG_3375

Overlook (carefully, now…)IMG_3365

Ruins on the way.IMG_3433IMG_3383


32 thoughts on “50–Wow! It Really IS Just a Number.

  1. Happy belated Birthday! It looks like you had quite an experience in the mountains. Being 51, I definitely find myself seeking more experiences outdoors. NOW has come to have more urgency to me than it did before I reached 50. I love the photos and the video.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking good Cheryl! I just love how happy you look out there with your hubby and the waterfalls and the rocks! That is just the best way to celebrate heading into the next half century 🙂

    As I rock up the 60’s and get ready to say hello to 69 I can attest there is a timelessness that settles in, an agelessness where I feel younger than I ever was, or no-age whatsoever and there is always this impulse to burst into uproarious laughter at society’s designation of me, as old. Little do they know 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NC is such a great hiking state! I went to camp there as a kid and so did my children. I miss it. Happy belated birthday – I’m ahead of you and can attest that the number is simply that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Birthday Cheryl! What a great energetic invigorating and symbolic thing to do to mark it by. I can totally relate to this. And as someone else mentioned, for me now (56), being out in nature is the most important thing. Many life lessons have been learned, yes, aging helps, and one of the biggest is to hell with fitting in! I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider and its wonderful not to care any more and find ways of using that in my life in a constructive way for me and for others. Relish your fifties!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy birthday! Great waterfall pics!!! You know how I posted about Justin Hamm’s photos? he is in the same area of the Ozarks right now that I was in and he is there to chase the waterfalls with his kids! I wonder if there are waterfalls in every state or only in a few. Hmm, something else for you to research hahahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I was just talking to another WP blogging friend about missing notification emails. Maybe sometimes there’s a WP glitch? Maybe I get a glitch? Ha! Either way I appreciate your birthday well wishes!

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  6. Age truly is just a number, personal. I’ve long considered the second 50 years to be mine. The first went to my parents, husbands, children, and society. The second 50 are mine for me to do what I want, when I want. It ignore society’s rules and live only by my own rules. Thanks for reading my Blog. I like yours and will follow. I also have several of Mary Oliver’s books tucked into my poetry shelf.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. As women, we give so much of ourselves away over the years. It’s nice to finally say, Enough! It’s time for me, too! Thanks for following. I’m glad I found your blog, as well. TAF is a wonderful way to connect.

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