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.)
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.
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.
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/
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.