We’ve all had them, some of us lucky ones have had many of them.

Birthdays signified so much when we were young, right?

Presents! Everyone applauding! Laughing! Parties! Birthday cakes, candles to be blown out, good wishes for another glorious year!

For those few hours, we were the star of our own show.

Do you remember those?

When we were young, the years stretched out ahead of us forever, or so we thought.

When we were 9, we couldn’t wait to be 10; we couldn’t wait to finally be 21 when we were 20 (OK, probably a lot earlier than that, right?)!

Life unfolded in small steps, with each day getting us closer to ages we couldn’t wait to be.

Being a teenager just seemed so glamorous – going out at night, dating, driving a car …

Being engaged / married / parents also seemed exciting for many of us, things that would signify we were adults, grownups – we’d be able to do everything we wanted to do!

And then life changed.

We grew up. We turned 21, 30, 40 …

We learned that it wasn’t all wine and roses; there were a lot of ups and downs we hadn’t really known adults faced.

But we were still young, still looking ahead, hopefully still living a good life.

Then, boom!


I remember turning 50, which seemed so momentous.

Old broad!

Not young anymore!

It actually felt odd to celebrate it. I mean, really? Celebrate being on the downside of life, of being on the “back nine,” as they say in golf?

My daughters were then in their 20s; how on earth did THAT happen?

And that was 25 years ago, folks. Yup. I turned 50 quite a while ago.

And you know what? Life surprisingly continued to get better and better.

I finally had grown up to be a woman my parents – especially my dad, who died in 1987 at the age of just 72 – would approve of. Would enjoy being with. Would appreciate.

A woman who learned lessons from them and so many others about living a full life of joy, love, caring, helping.

A woman who is far stronger today at 75 than she ever was at 50. A woman who walks four miles nearly every day with her dogs up and down the hills of our small condo village, who owns a tiny cottage above a beautiful bay, who has no debt, who still works and loves all of it!

A woman who knows very clearly who she is, what she likes and doesn’t, and how to live her best life, hopefully for another 25 years.

What brought this on? Looking at another birthday in mid-April, my 76th, which seems older than 75. Closer to 80 than 70. Wow.

But I’m grateful for every day I wake up, for every day the sun shines – heck, even for the fog that this time of year socks us in for hours. It’s all a part of a life I’m loving.

Looking back at that picture of me (I think it was my 10th birthday) just reminds me of life long ago, and how lucky I’ve been and still am from that day to this one.

How about you, friends? How has your life turned out from what you thought of when you were a youngster? Was there a specific birthday that really surprised you?


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. Susan, I never thought much of how old I was. When I was five years old, I killed a copperhead that was after my sister. In later years she always told me to Be Bold, Be Fearless and be a Dragon slayer. I wanted adventure in my life, and Indeed I have. I have lived a life filled with adventures, stories told and lifetime friends.

  2. Happy almost birthday, Susan!
    You’re still a bit shy of the regression to how six-year-olds talk about age, “I’m six and a half!”
    I’m told that comes back when you are 100 1/2.
    I will turn three quarters of a century old in October -Iknow, I know, I’m just a kid, But I’m still loving it and you are my role model.

    • But that’s kind of how it feels, Alan! Yeah, we used to be looking to the next number with glee … now? Well, we’re hoping to reach it and still have all or most of our faculties!

      And yes — you ARE just a kid, but you’re gaining on us anyway, and thanks for being a bright light to so many.

    • You’re way ahead of where I was at 37, Joanna, and good for you! I was still a mess, trying to please too many others, but not having the nerve to speak up and out … not then. In my day (the ’60s-’80s), women just weren’t seen as much more than mothers / teachers / nurses. Surely not entrepreneurs and the like.

      Now? While there’s still some bias … OK, a lot … so much more is possible. Keep on keepin’ on, Joanna! 😊

  3. What a lovely and hopeful post, Susan, of growing into oneself.

    And then – bam – “I finally had grown up to be a woman my parents would approve of.” One part of me wants to just hug you; how long you had waited to feel that way, and how important that was that you write about it 25 years later – and one part wants to hug me, wondering if that is still part of my motivation and if so, what I believe it will take.

    • Well, Charlotte — thank you.

      I know I’ve written several articles on being adopted at birth and having a mother who was terribly damaged as a a child, who wanted someone to help her … and she got me. She tried; she really did, but she had very little to work with inside herself. Lucky for me, my dad was just plain wonderful, loving beyond what many men showed back then. And my mother’s sister, my beloved Aunt Kit, also came to my rescue many times …

      But yeah, I did grow up and thrive, even if it took longer than I might have wanted. And here I am! Finally comfortable in my own skin (as Joanna Bennett wrote), and loving it. Thanks for being along for the ride, Charlotte! I appreciate you!

  4. Dear Susan, My friend. There are many similarities. My birthday is in May, and we share the same birth year! I remember when I was about fifteen or sixteen having a hang-up because I thought I looked too young! Chance would be a fine thing now! I even wire glasses to look a bit older! I remember my 50th; lunch in Brussels.

    You are as old as you feel; or think. Forgetting tge odd word which jumps out an hour after a conversation! I’ve enjoyed a WhatsApp face time with you and Carol Campos; you have a sense of humor to say the least! I guess I’m fortunate in being reasonably fit. I climb hills and walk in the countryside. I engage with people; critically important.

    I just love your description of the change in perception as we get older. But bring older does not mean sadder or always thinking I wish I had done this or that, because life is to an extent preordained. We go through challenging times to bewhere we are. Brilliant, Susan!

    • Ah, Simon, my friend. And Carol’s friend. And actually, probably the world’s best friend!

      So glad to have you in my life, even from far away; I will always treasure the baby pictures of Bianca, the fun exchanges we’ve had here, and the one time we did talk on Zoom — something we need to do again and again.