Five Weeks to 50!

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In five weeks I turn 50 years old. This unfathomable fact is a sentiment familiar to anyone who’s ever stood at the precipice of this milestone birthday. How could 50 years have already passed, so fast and yet so slow?

I find myself mind-traveling to random moments of my past, tiny movie reels of memories. There’s the time my camp counselor Nicky took us on a canoe trip down the Delaware River for an overnight campout. I slept outside for the first time, one eye open to the “albino bear” rumored to live in the area, not realizing that the closest thing to an albino bear are polar bears that dwell far from the Pennsylvania woods. What I remember most though was the beautiful starlit sky and the crackling flame of the campfire while we laid in a huddle by the river.

In another flash of memory, I’m driving through the Arizona desert in the dead of night, the stars in the sky a kaleidoscope of light pointing me westward across the United States. My friend Allison and I arrive at the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunrise and naively decide to trek to the bottom, unprepared for the experience. It was a long night of wakefulness without a tent or a sleeping bag, the howls of wild animals in the dark distance.

I catch a glimpse of my wedding day, remembering how excited I was to be a bride and have this great party, ignoring my uncertainty about what I was committing to. And although it didn’t work out, I can’t call it a mistake. Our continued abiding friendship is proof that we’re in it until death parts us although not in the way we’d originally intended.

I think the reason the past feels both far and near, is because, well, it is so far away. I was 11 the first year I went to sleep away camp, drove cross-country when I was 22 and got married at 28. We’re talking years ago. But what makes it feel so close is that every one of those experiences informs some element of my current reality. Like sewing a quilt, the memories of my past are swatches stitched to the fabric of my life.

I doubt I’d have embraced trekking as a hobby had I not spent my summer days walking in the woods of Camp Lenape. There I learned the joys of wandering, the chatter of my mind subdued beneath the crunch of the gravel and the call of the birds.

I still think nothing of getting in a car and taking an 8 hour drive because what I learned on my cross-country jaunt is that the open road clears my head and allows me to think horizontally, seeing opportunities rather than obstacles. It also gives me a chance to play the soundtrack of my past, like the Grateful Dead, Led Zep and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, a play list largely influenced by my camp friends, many of whom are still in my life.

And I remain a sucker for love and marriage, believing in it more now than I did at 28. There is no better opportunity for growth than committing yourself to someone for life, even if it changes shape midway.

Because the past informs the future, mining my memories is helping me formulate my plans for what’s ahead. As I reach back for glimpses of who I was and the dreams I held, I can better understand what speaks to my heart. What does the part of me untainted by heartbreak, mortgage payments, credit card statements and unstable economies want? If I could customize my future, what would it look like?

I have some ideas and at 50 there’s little time to waste in the pursuit of a life that fulfills the very core of me. What I need though, is a clear plan and lots of courage in order to create it. And the only way to cultivate both is to do a little pre-Spring cleaning. A detox of body, mind and environment.

As I count down the days until the big 5-0, I’m boldly eliminating clutter as an offering to the mighty forces I am summoning to my aid. I’ve upped my intake of green juices, green tea and raw salads for greater clarity of mind and my apartment, a chaotic and whimsical museum of my past, will be jettisoned of its relics, making space for the future.

And guess what? I’m a little scared. I’m also totally excited about the possibilities. I feel the earth moving beneath my feet and know it’s time to take the next step.

But before I do, I’m going to sweeten my journey with a scone and tea…. and then I’ll get to work 🙂 Stay tuned…

I’d love to know how you handle life changing moments and difficult decisions… Do you sit in quiet contemplation? Drink a bottle of wine? Write? Talk to a friend? I’m curious to know. I’m sure you all have a coping skill and it’d be nice to hear yours.

Happy Monday!

Banana, Peanut Butter and Blueberry Scones

Growing up with Cuban parents meant that junk food was cheese not Cheetos, a proper breakfast included eggs rather cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were considered an odd American dessert rather than lunch. In fact, to this day I’ve never tasted a PB&J sandwich.

But I did taste peanut butter for the first time at camp and it was love at first bite! I’m still a sucker for it and combine it with apples or bananas for a healthy snack.

Once in a while though, when I need comfort food I’ll whip peanut butter into something and make myself a treat. These past couple of weeks, as I’ve contemplated my next steps I hit the kitchen and experimented with my old camp buddy and here’s what I came up with. It’s a variation on the Elvis Scones I made a couple of years ago but moister and with less date sugar. Now I have 12 opportunities to ponder what’s ahead while I nibble on a healthy scone and sip a cup of green tea… Enjoy!



  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • ¼ cup date sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vanilla, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 to 3 ripe bananas (2 if large, 3 if medium)
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blueberries


  • Preheat the oven to 300’F
  • Mix the first 5 (dry) ingredients together in a bowl. Using a fork, break up any chunks of flour so that it’s blended well.
  • In a larger bowl, mix the remaining (wet) ingredients, using a potato masher to mash the bananas and mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, blending well until you make a batter.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Using the one-third cup measuring cup, scoop out batter and place on parchment paper until batter is used up (I made 11 good-sized ones, and one smaller one).
  • Place scones in middle rack of oven and back 45 to 55 minutes. I suggest you check it after 30 minutes and test with a toothpick to see how it’s going. My scones needed 55 minutes until they were done.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy with a cup of tea J

Share Your Thoughts...

24 comments on “Five Weeks to 50!

  1. AvatarAllison

    Sitting in the Asheville airport reading your blog and the comments and have to admit I have tears in my eyes. Yes, where has the time gone? Wasn’t it only a decade ago we were wandering the streets of our neighborhood at night because we were now to cool to ride bicycles but still too young to drive? I just love and adore you, your writing and your community. My sister for life!

  2. AvatarSusan

    Happy upcoming birthday! I’m half a step behind you, turning 49 this year. I have enjoyed your writing and making your recipes the past few years. It occurred to me that there are not a lot of positive role models for a woman who’s aging and that could be you! I don’t know if you’ve done a post about menopause, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts and I’m sure others would, too. I’m not sure who to go to for information/advice on what’s to come, but if you’re up for the topic, I think it would be great. While there may be a lot out there already, I know most of it is not aligned with what I believe. Just a thought. Thanks for all your good work!

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thank you Susan! And thanks for the vote of confidence in being a role model for aging women… your suggestions are on my agenda. There’s no doubt about the fact that things change. Not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. When your hormones start to misfire and then die, all kinds of changes occur and they are not all bad. It can be a really great time of life if one approaches it as such. So yes,I have a lot to say on the topic and it’ll be coming down the road in the coming weeks.
      Thanks again for your comment and your belief in me. It means a lot.
      Have a great upcoming weekend!

  3. AvatarSunny

    Hi Barbara,

    You are going to be a FABULOUS 50-year old woman! How do I know? Because you are a fabulous 49-year old! I love that you’ve reached out for inspiration from those to whom you regularly inspire!

    As I get ready to turn 62, here’s what I’ve learned about transitions that may be of help. Rather than attempting to SEE your future, it can be much easier (for a Pisces, especially) to get in touch with how you want to FEEL day by day. Embodying those feelings will effortlessly begin to shape your reality.

    As an example, I had run a nonprofit educational organization for 13 years when all of a sudden someone hacked into my website to steal the address to use as a phishing scam. My website had simply disappeared from online. I didn’t have it in me to rebuild that labor of love so I’d consequently have to close the school. I felt victimized and broken until I asked myself how I wanted to feel about this instead? I responded with a simple “grateful” which led me to “excited” and then “enriched!” What birthed over the next few days was a vision for an online school, which would afford me access to many more people than I presently had access to, provide me with an almost passive income stream, and still allow me to teach and mentor. That was just 4 years ago. It was an exciting time and one that I would never have created had I not been smacked down, so to speak, by unforeseen circumstances. I am nothing but grateful, excited, and enriched by a new, quite luxurious lifestyle that affords me one of the most valuable commodities – FREE TIME! This has bought me freedom in every way.

    So I ask you, “How would you like to FEEL in this upcoming era? I mean everyday?
    Who do you want to BE?
    How do you want to move through the world (from the perspective of your internal experience)?

    May your purging ritual bring you a great sense of spaciousness and renewal! May your life continue to reflect your highest values, your energy output be rewarded with abundant input, and may you feel an entire rainbow of feelings that makes your heart sing!

    Happy Birthday, Barbara!

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      What a wonderful and timely note, Sunny! Thank you, for taking the time to write and inspire (and reassure) me….

      I’ve been sitting here all morning, writing, asking for a sign that the road I am about to take is the right one. I too am being spurred by events somewhat out of my control and within days of realizing that I had to do something, I came up with an idea that may be better than anything I would’ve envisioned had I not been forced to make a decision. Yet the challenge also feels like I have to suddenly turn an ocean liner 180′ in 30 seconds or less.

      What I also know, is that I have worked for years to take this step even though I never considered it before and would not have seen it had I not been forced to think of alternatives and options. So gratitude is something I feel and will likely feel more of as I walk down the path to a new reality.

      I thank you again… I am choosing to see your note as the sign I needed. Once I’ve settled into the process, I’ll be writing a blog to announce it.

      Wishing you every happiness~

  4. AvatarGinny Duffy

    28 years ago I turned 50 and I have to say that I am infinitely happier now. Bob and I are on the ground in Dallas Airport today on our way to San Miguel Mexico for two months as usual. If you apply my trajectory to you, you will have even more wonderful memories, be in prime health and look just as beautiful as you do now.

    Thank you so much for your health advice over the years and your fabulous recipes. Love the cream of asparagus soup.!

    Big congratulations on the first half of a life well lived!

    Ginny Duffy

    PS: Still highly recommend the book, “The Healing Code” by Loyd and Johnson.

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thank you Ginny! I appreciate your thoughts and insight! I know that you are a wonderful example of a life well lived.
      I’m glad you enjoy the blog and the soup! I hope you and Bob enjoy your time in Mexico!
      Stay well!

  5. AvatarCeleste

    Hi Barbara, Happy upcoming next phase of your life. You’re making it magical in your way. No moss grows under your feet, that I know. Another journey. Xo, celeste

  6. AvatarLori Russell

    Handling life changing moments is something that I know all to well now. I have found that surrounding myself with positive and happy people has helped me on my new journey in life. I read something today that might make sense. This is a small part of it. “For each pang of grief, depression, doubt or despair there is an inverse towards renewal coming to you in time. Each tragedy is an announcement that some good will indeed come in time. Be patient with yourself”. Not that turning 50 is a tragedy!! But it can be life changing. You will always be ok. You just strike me as a very positive and uplifting person. Happy 50th!! Lori Russell.

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thank you Lori, for commenting and sharing a little of your journey. I hope that as time passes, your grief becomes more bearable.
      I’m not despairing over turning 50 but rather I recognize that I’m at a point where I can be more bold in seizing the moment…. I just need to cultivate the courage and insight to act wisely. But I am happy. Life has so far been kind to me.
      I am wishing you the very best!

  7. AvatarMARIA

    Hi Barbara, I found out in the 57 years I am on this planet that friendship is the most important to care for. If you give love, love comes back to you. And most of all love yourself! I do the evening and morning meditations from Louise Hay they are such a big help. And not the least your advices on nutrition, you are an expert. I love you all will be well.

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thank you Maria! I am so glad to know you have found the path that suits you and feels comforting to your soul. You’re right, love is the key, as is good health and self care.
      Stay well and thank you for your kind words~
      Lots of love~

  8. AvatarIraida Mendez

    Mark is right! You don’t look a day over 40. Beautiful inside and out! Your writing is wonderful, you are so talented! Mom.

  9. AvatarFrancesca

    Lovely blog B! Can’t wait to help celebrate your milestone under the Spanish sun! Hope to do experience more reckless hiking adventures and campfire evenings with you in the second half of your century. Aggghhh that sounds strange. Hahaha… Love you! xo

  10. AvatarAva

    Wonderful post. So many struggle with the idea of reaching the BIG 5 0 that it’s encouraging to read a more positive perspective. I have had much less anxiety achieving 50 than I experienced reaching 40, which threw me for a loop. Now, I’m at the pinnacle of life eagerly planning my next half-century. I’m more positive now because of the confidence I’ve gained the past 10 years managing my own wellness. That’s made all the difference.

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez RPh MS Post author

      Thanks Ava! And it’s nice to read that you’re approach to happiness begins with your own wellness. I feel the same way~ if I’m not balanced body, mind and spirit then nothing works, and this was true in my 20’s, 30’s and at 50 too!
      Wishing you every happiness in life~

  11. AvatarMark

    You look great Barbara. Testament to your healthy living teachings. If I had to guess your age I would have guessed around fourty. Keep doing what you’re doing.


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