I have arrived! I have lived half a century.

I somehow made it through the horrid decade of my 40’s. I made it through the dark forest of chronic pain.

Goodness people can whinge!!! The whinging I’ve heard about ‘turning 50’ has been significant.

If I can just take this moment to reply to all of you who have had a good whinge about turning 50 and who are in good health by simply telling you all most graciously to just ‘shut UP!’!

I don’t want to whinge about 50. I want to instead, and will, feel excited and look forward to my new decade. I am very relieved to be putting my horrid 40’s behind me.

One can really get lost trying to find their way out of life battles. I have often only been able to make sense of life at that point where I’ve been able to look back – at the time of completion and when I felt that something was truly over.

In the thick of things, I tend to try and stay positive and soldier on.

So now, looking back at my 40’s (here’s my whinge!), I see static moments and moments of falling behind life. My 40’s were awful!

Toward the end of my 40’s I see myself (and Theo) in a huge transition period – a changing of skin. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. To organise a whole new life while you’re living with a chronic illness is traumatic and very risky.

We put it all on the line. We were forced to put it all on the line and use our home as equity. I will never forgive the workers’ compensation system for not providing adequate support and keeping my compensation for themselves.

For the rest of my life, I will be seeking ways to recover those funds – Australian injured workers seriously deserve a class action!

Years without payments, years when we couldn’t work, years going unsupported from an organisation that supposedly prides itself on ‘returning people to work’. WorkSafe you can be far from proud of yourselves, you head a filthy system and Australia is about to hear exactly how vile your system is… again!

By far, one of my greatest birthday gifts I received was a call from the Victorian Ombudsman and news that Deborah Glass is about to release her follow up report. Further to, part of my horrid experience is being used as one of the case studies contained in the report.

Oh, happy birthday Soula!

I look for markers in life, not the number that marks an age. I look to see what I have achieved and what I have managed.

Managing chronic pain, managing my workers’ compensation nightmare and managing the rebuild of a whole new life are significant markers and something I celebrated — I celebrate that I survived.

More precious things I could celebrate were my beautiful husband and my gorgeous family (whom I hardly get to see now).

The arts, well, you all know how dear and present the arts are in my life.

So Theo bundled my loves together in our old home town, Melbourne and we had a wonderful few days… all on foot of course!

All activities planned around my capacity and the things I needed in order for us to max the celebrations.

There was no car action, but lots of sleep and quite a few glasses of wine. I had my stim playing various tunes and my seating aid at every occasion (disguised in a very special bag!).

It’s hard making the sacrifices in order to manage, but at least I have a way that I can do this now.

I have been in a situation where no matter what I did, I was always in great levels of pain and it was so hard (and rare) to enjoy moments. There are huge blank time periods in my life – I just wasn’t present.

Now, when I plan the big moments, I’m in them. I’m there! Totally there! I turned 50 and it was wonderful.

I feel fortunate, above all to have a partner who understands my limitations and accepts them.

I feel fortunate we are able to combine our creative brains and apply them to make a whole new life. Theo and I commit to the sacrifices in order to make the special moments that in turn make the happy memories.

We’ve completed the ‘setup’ part of the new life*. And so from here, we hope to begin the moving forward bit… building and living life.

Slowly but surely. Slowly but surely, life feels like it’s beginning at 50.

*Welcoming your gallery, art and skincare enquiries!

(Images were taken at the National Gallery of Victoria, painting The Banquet of Cleopatra by Tiepolo).