turning 50 on the other side of the planet

Milestone birthdays mean different things to different people. When I began thinking about how I saw myself spending my 50th, I envisioned doing something big, something bold, something totally bad-ass. I dreamed of doing something that others would hear about and marvel, whoa… a 50-year-old is doing THAT?!?

In other words, I was planning my trip based on what would wow others. Because, ego.

So I considered climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Or hiking the 80 miles of the Inca Trail to Machu Piccu. Or even hiking to the base camp of Mt. Everest. (Because at least I’m sane enough to know I’m never going to summit that bad boy.)

I considered all of these. I actually looked into transportation, lodging, guided tours. And then I realized something.

I wanted to ENJOY my 50th birthday trip.

Not to say I wouldn’t enjoy doing any of those activities I was investigating. I truly believe I would, on many levels. But I also knew that each and every one of them would be a total fucking slog. Would there be good times? Sure. Would there be a giant sense of accomplishment when I finished? Absolutely. Would all those activities involve a whole lot of roughing it?  You bet your tent-sleeping, no-showering-for-days ass they would.

And I decided I wanted no part of that.

I wanted adventure. Awesomeness. Beauty. And I wanted a bit of luxury, too.

I decided to be kind to my body and soul for a change.

Within moments of this realization, a fantastic trip was booked. One which would provide 10 days of absolute adventure in incredible New Zealand, followed by 5 days of unabashed luxury in beautiful Fiji.

I share all this with you because I found it disturbing interesting that even as I closed in on 50 years of age, I still found myself fighting an urge to do things based on what others would think, versus what was right for me.

The vacation was one of the best of my life. I got to experience many dream-come-true moments, chief among them:

  • Seeing yellow-eyed penguins in their natural habitat. They are an endangered species, with only 3,000 left on the planet. What an absolute gift to see 3 making their way back home to nest after a day of fishing in the Tasman Sea.
  • Taking a helicopter to the Franz Josef Glacier and spending the next 3 hours hiking with axes and crampons up the ice shelf. Seeing blue ice for the first time in my life. Flying in a helicopter for the first time in my life. Drinking glacier water straight from the source… indescribable joy.
  • Entering a pitch black cave – literally so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face – and then experiencing the pure magic of hundreds of thousands of glowworms casting a green and blue bio-luminescence all around me.

All this was possible because I was true to myself and followed my heart.

Be true to yourselves, friends. Live your life on your own terms.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

New Zealand highlights:

Fiji highlights:

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34 thoughts on “turning 50 on the other side of the planet

  1. Oh, how I have missed you! And what an amazing lesson to share…something that hits home for me BIG TIME (turning 50 in March).
    You were so wise to mix adventure with luxury as well as be self-aware to know the direction you were leaning. I’m hoping I can be just as wise. Like you, I’ve been looking and researching. I’ve started what I call a bucket list titled “50 after 50” – 50 items to do after I turn 50. So far, the most interesting one is “learn to curse fluently in Spanish.”
    I love reading about your adventures, your thought process and adore those photos (the ice formations!!!). Thank you for sharing and I still hope to run into at the Atlanta airport someday…or Figi 😉

    • Dude, learning to curse in Spanish is an outstanding bucket list item! I’m totally stealing it.

      I can’t wait to hear about your 50th birthday adventures, lovely!

      p.s. I’ll be in ATL Wednesday to Friday this week, if fate finally decides to have us cross paths.

  2. That was a lovely 50, Nancy! I’m happy you did what was right for you….loved all the pictures and can only imagine how wonderful it was to experience all these adventures!! You deserved all of it!

  3. Your 50th celebration sounds perfect to me. NZ has long been on my wish list and all your gorgeous photos have simply re-enforced that desire.
    Well, since 60 was a total bust for me, I guess I’ll take aim for 65 😉

    • I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend NZ to anyone. We spent 9 of 10 days on the South Island and still didn’t see everything I would have liked to. To do NZ properly, I would think a minimum of 15-19 days if you want to explore both South and North islands. Truly a magical place.

  4. That all sounds fabulous, Nancy! Well done for choosing something for you. Those are memories you’ll treasure forever. The photos are fab. And Happy Birthday! 🙂

  5. Well done, you! Life is so much better when we stop worrying about what “they” think . . . what do “they” know anyway?

    Delighted that you enjoyed your grand voyage!

  6. Ah Nance, you are such a badass and like everything else since I’ve been reading your blog, you excelled at turning 50. What a perfect holiday! Such incredible scenery and some badass adventure thrown in within the luxury. I love it. Hope you are well and life in general and the job are keeping you excited and happy to be you xoxo

    • Oh, my lovely, things are hopping. I was offered a promotion (the kind you really can’t say no to) to take on a VP role for another division. My first day is today. So, basically, I’ll be even more rubbish at blogging than I’ve been this past year. Oh well…no rest for the wicked.
      Love you to bits and waiting for the latest shots of your gorgeous babies on my FB feed. xoxo

      • the first day was a shit show. I made the mistake of scheduling back-to-back 1:1s with my team members, which all ran over, and now I’m frazzled and in need of a drink. :-S

        Living the dream, babe…living the dream. 🙂

  7. Thank goodness you finally put a little luxury in the mix! I’m glad you chose this for your 50th. It was an adventure like your other trips, but focused on magic and wonder. I’m more one for the cultural vacations, but your photos remind me of how much there is to see in the natural world and how much it surpasses in awe-inspiringness anything we puny humans can do…

    • I’ve been missing my cultural vacations, Linnet. I need to figure out a way to squeeze some in (where to find the time though…). One thing this trip taught me is that I’m well past the tropical vacation stage in my life. I was bored to pieces in Fiji, lovely as it was. Once you’ve finished your book, had a spa massage, done the boat tour to the other islands… zzzzzzzz…it’s a snooze fest. Lesson learned.

      • My inability to go in the sun saves me from beach vacations, but I sometimes think I would like a rocky northern beach. Maybe in between culture-fests 🙂

  8. Happy 50th, Nancy, and Happy New Year as well. It looks like a magnificent vacation. I’ve been in the South Pacific once, and it truly is magical. Fiji sounds like Heaven on Earth. Maybe someday I’ll get over my fear of flying (again) and follow my heart to destinations unknown.

    • Fiji was by far the least interesting and least fun part of my trip, Rob. I mean, it’s a lovely place, don’t get me wrong, but I just find tropical vacations – be it in the Caribbean or the South Pacific – to be super boring. I need stimulation and activity. (And I don’t consider drinking at the swim up pool bar to be an activity..) The only ‘beach vacation’ I really see myself doing in the foreseeable future would be Hawaii, where I can still get my hike on and see something other than sand and ocean.

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