Week 50: Birthday Bash


I did it!!! 50 Weeks at 50 is complete, and what a journey it has been. What better way to mark the end of the year than a celebration, and celebrate we did. I had never thrown myself a birthday party. So the Saturday after my birthday, a few, okay maybe dozens, of my friends drank and danced underneath the lights of my backyard. What a glorious party!




At the end of this post I will give my thanks and thoughts from the party. But right now, I’m going to do a little bit of reflecting back on this past year. And if you’ve noticed, it’s taken me a while to actually write this Week 50 blog since the date of my party, because…well, I don’t really have an excuse why, I guess I really don’t want it to end…


I decided to start the 50 Weeks to 50 blog because…who really knows why.. A mid-life crisis? Or a mid-life awakening? Regardless, as I was approaching my 49th birthday, I began to think ahead to my 50th. I knew I wanted to commemorate the Big 5-0 by doing something special. But as I prepared a list of the possible activities, I realized there was (and is) so much I wanted to do — how do you pick one? Therefore, the idea of 50 Weeks to 50 was created, and voila here we are a year later (plus a few weeks).


Looking back, there were some weeks that have stood out in my mind, and for my loyal five readers too. (Later, I have included the readers top 10 list.) Here’s a few comments about what stood out for me:


  • Most Emotional – Week 5: Shelter for the Night. I stayed one night at the women’s shelter run by San Diego Rescue Mission. I still cry every time I read that blog post. And I continue to feel I need to do more. The women and children, can be any one of us, could have been me. A single mom with teen sons. I’m one of the lucky ones. And during this holiday season, or anytime of the year, the best gift you can give yourself, is to give to others.
  • Most Memorable – Week 45: RiSE Up. I will never forget the feeling of watching all of the paper lanterns rise up into the dark, desert skies, and all written with people’s hopes, dreams, and resolutions. I was able to share the experience with those I love, and the memory will never be forgotten…“because every dream needs a voice.”
  • The Funnest – Week 46: Speeding Across the Bay. Okay funnest may not actually be a word, but riding the speed boat was pure and simple fun! We will definitely do this again!
  • Most Exhilarating – Week 37: Up, Up and Away. You would think that jumping out of a plane would have been the most exhilarating, but I really, really was captivated by floating up in a balloon and looking below at the beautiful San Diego landscape. Another activity that I will absolutely do again in many different places. To me it was exhilaratingly peaceful.
  • Scariest – Week 17: Jettisoned the Jetpack. I thought I was going to die by drowning. I have never felt so scared in my life. The experience made me feel so vulnerable which I didn’t enjoy. I’ve always felt that I can pretty much do anything, and I thought I could do this even without ever learning how to swim. I was wrong. And I still haven’t learned how to swim…still on my list.
  • Quirkiest – Week 14: Love is Your Salvation. Salvation Mountain and Slab City is one of the most interesting places I have ever visited. It’s not just a tourist attraction, but a way of life. The people and the place may seem quirky, but they’re happy living a very simple life off the grid. Sounds like a fun retirement plan to me, although I need someplace closer to the ocean.
  • Most Romantic – Week 38: Overnite Pow Wow. Yes, it was romantic because I was with Richard. But the romantic part was staying in the pow wow campground overnight, and listening to the heart pounding songs of the Native American men and women. We couldn’t understand the spoken words, but the emotional vocables told a passionate tale. One that will forever be remembered in our hearts.


There are obviously many memories from the last year, but I’m not going to relive them all – that’s what all the blog posts are for! If you’ve missed some, go back and read them. (I have a list and links on my 50 Weeks to 50 Table of Contents page.)



partynancyluciemejamie2  partysandiejohnheidi  partylizbotmelacychris  partykleins  partyjemmaria  partygals4  partybecks  partyanne

What a great party!!! A somewhat last minute 50th Birthday Masquerade Party came together quite nicely, mostly due to the help from my Unofficial Official Birthday Party Committee. Plus, so many friends all got into the theme of the masquerade, and I was happy that both men and women wore masks. Food, drink, dancing was enjoyed by all. Everyone loved dressing up and taking photos.

partybotjemchris  partybotdavid  partylacyrosey

Thanks to so many people (I know I’m gonna forget someone), including: Rosey for taking care of rental tables, chairs and linens; Marie B. and Kim for handling the wonderful decorations – transforming my backyard into a magical backdrop; Gigi for food ordering, and her son Evan for designing the party banner and making the 50 Weeks video (I will have to upload on YouTube); Lisa-Marie for picking up food; Lacy for going shopping with me and lots of clean-up the next morning; Heidi for set-up; Dawn for helping with the wishing tree; Sharon and Marie W. for being there; Chris for coming from the OC; David and my sisters Liza and Roselma for all the kitchen duty and clean up; to my parents Lita and Elmer for creating me; my sons Brad and Grant and their friends for “volunteering”; and to Richard for making the 50 Weeks songlist, helping with everything and doing all the guy stuff. Without everyone’s help, it would not all have come together. It takes a village to produce a spectacular party.


Plus thanks to all those who shared the special night with me, brought presents and donated to my favorite non-profits. And you can still make your tax-deductible donations before year end to: Centurion Foundation, EdUCate!, San Diego Rescue Mission, and/or UCHS Adopt-A-Family — which we desperately need donations right now to help bring some extra cheer to a few UCHS families.

partymrlaw  partydancing  partykellyhank

My favorite part of the night was dancing underneath the stars when light rain showered upon us while AC/DC was playing. You shook me all night long baby! Rain is good luck, so they say. Here’s to a wonderful year being 50. I have decided to capture this year through a daily Instagram post, so you can follow me there — jsamala. And we had such a great time throwing this party, be ready for next year, because It’s a Dead Man’s Party!




What did I take out of this year? It took a special event, turning 50, to motivate me to get up and actually do some of the things I have always wanted to do. But actually doing the things you want to do shouldn’t be limited to those special times, you should live your life that way all the time. I know there are practical limits – finances, work, children’s events, general life commitments — but commit to yourself. If you’re unhappy all the time, quite frankly who wants to be around you? And if you’re unhappy, so are your kids. Be a role model to them in a positive way.


My college business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, motto was Action Not Words. I had a very memorable year by doing both really – acting on my 50 Weeks list and writing about it. I happily feel doing both is the normal way for me to live. With my AARP card in hand, bring on my second half of life! It’s going to be a great adventure!!!




UCHS Adopt-A-Family: http://uchsptsa.org/

Centurion Foundation: http://www.uc-centurionfoundation.com/

EdUCate!: https://www.uc-educate.org/

San Diego Rescue Mission: http://www.sdrescue.org/




Links to all blog posts are at: 50 Weeks to 50 Table of Contents


50 Weeks Reader’s Top 10 Posts


1 – Week 49: Black’s Beach Birthday Suit (This post won by a landslide, you know what kind of minds my readers have!)

2 – Week 14: Love is Your Salvation

3 – Week 5: Shelter for the Night

4 – Week 13: Curling

5 – Week 19A: Going Commando

6 – Week 11: 24 Hours at 24 Hour Fitness

7 – Week 3: A Reading

8 – Week 4: A Jump of Faith

9 – Week 47: Cooks in the Kitchen

10 – Week 20: What SUP with that Yoga




Jemma’s Birthday Song List*

1964         I Want to Hold Your Hand, Beatles

1965         California Girls, Beach Boys

1966         Summer in the City, The Lovin Spoonful

1967         Somebody to Love, Jefferson Airplane

1968         Jumpin Jack Flash, Rolling Stones

1969         Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye

1970         25 or 6 to 4, Chicago

1971         Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who

1972         Layla, Derek and the Dominos

1973         Superstition, Stevie Wonder

1974         The Joker, Steve Miller Band

1975         Killer Queen, Queen

1976         Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry

1977         Walk This Way, Aerosmith

1978         Because the Night, Patti Smith

1979         Heart of Glass, Blondie

1980         Pop Muzik, M

1981         Bette Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes

1982         Tainted Love, Soft Cell

1983         1999, Prince

1984         Legs, ZZ Top

1985         Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears

1986         True Colors, Cyndi Lauper

1987         Livin on a Prayer, Bon Jovi

1988         Sweet Child O’Mine, Guns & Roses

1989         Like A Prayer, Madonna

1990         Roam, B-52’s

1991         Groove is in the Heart, Deee-Lite

1992         Everyday People, Arrested Development

1993         500 Miles, Proclaimers

1994         Linger, Cranberries

1995         Run Around, Blues Traveller

1996         1979, Smashing Pumpkins

1997         If It Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow

1998         Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Venue

1999         Save Tonight, Eagle Eye Cherry

2000        All the Small Things, Blink 182

2001         Beautiful Day, U2

2002         Get the Party Started, Pink

2003         Crazy in Love, Beyonce

2004         Let’s Get It Started, Black Eyed Peas

2005         Mr. Brightside, The Killers

2006         Crazy, Gnarls Barkley

2007         Rehab, Amy Winehouse

2008         Viva La Vida, Coldplay

2009         Use Somebody, Kings of Leon

2010         California Gurls, Katy Perry

2011         Rolling in the Deep, Adele

2012         Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen

2013         Little Talks, Of Monsters and Men

2014         Happy, Pharrell Williams

Bonus       Don’t Stop Believing, Journey

*Compiled by music trivia wiz Richard Patchett, with a few edits by Jemma that he was not aware of until reading this list.


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