This week I turn 57 years old. 57 YEARS OLD! Like most other 50-something-year-old individuals, I’m not sure how this happened – it feels like a blink of an eye. One day I’m a college girl, the next a young mother, and now more than one half a century old. How can I be over 50? Most days I feel, think and act like a 25-year-old, so I know it’s only a number. But when that AARP membership card arrives, it’s easy to think otherwise.

When I was growing up, I thought 50-plus women were old, that they were on the downside of life. I looked at my mother who, at the time, was actually younger than I am now, and thought she was over the hill. Now, I view that period of her life through a different lens.

On one hand, growing older can be a challenge. We must work hard at looking good, keeping our mind sharp, and maintaining our weight and health. Nothing comes naturally anymore.

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But, on the other hand, even with these new challenges, I truly feel the best I have felt in many years. I am stronger, more confident, much wiser, and doing work that I never dreamt possible. And, this transformation began at age 46, an age that most feel the best is behind them!

I know I’m not the first half centurion to say age is only a number, but it really is!

The reason I feel so great? I don’t buy into ageism. Sure, I joke about getting older, and my kids tease me about my age almost daily, but I don’t buy it!

People always say 50 is the new 30, and if you look around, it’s true. Middle-age people are accomplishing more than ever before and doing it at later ages. Growing older does not mean it’s time to retire, it means it’s time to refire!

My advice to you: don’t let age be a factor in your life. Don’t buy into the false messaging, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to embark on a new journey.

Here are a few ways to help you maintain a young heart and mind:

Be positive. First and foremost, what you believe is what you live. If you think you’re old, you will be. One of the best-known ways to keep feeling young is to have a positive mental outlook and believe in life’s possibilities.

Keep moving. Regular exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and dementia. It improves circulation, strengthens bones, and helps keep joints and the brain working properly. Pick an activity that you enjoy and get going!

Eat well. Find a healthy way of eating that works for you. Eliminate items that increase the risk of lifestyle diseases, which can potentially take years off your life. Fuel your body with energy boosting, nutritious food.

Stay connected. Research shows that social connection improves health, well-being, and longevity. Spending time with others provides feelings of belonging and purpose. It helps you have fun, be happy and remain content.

Try something new. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too late to follow a dream. Go on the adventure of a lifetime. Julia Child was 50 when she published her first cookbook, launching her career as a celebrity chef. Ray Kroc spent his career as a milkshake device salesman before buying McDonald's at age 52. Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first of her Little House books at age 65. Colonel Sanders was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car.

As comedian George burns said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” So … happy birthday to me (and to you)! I say, “Bring it on baby!”