50 years of me.

babyThere are days in life that you think will never come. Or that you cannot imagine what they will IMGP2983be like. 50 is one of those for me. And yet come it has. When I was young I was convinced that I would retire at 50.  In the only meeting I ever had with a ‘financial planner’ this is what I told him.  He scoffed (naturally!) However, having spent a life as a serial retiree: thus far I’ve retired from being an actress (25) teacher (32) screenwriter (41) playwright (47) and in the last couple of years with the emergence of ebooks and digital publishing I find that at 50 I am in fact not retiring but starting out afresh.

I try to live my life in the moment but being a writer structure does play a large part in my daily life. While I’m no great believer in the linear narrative, I spent long enough as a screenwriter to have a close relationship with the three act structure and it occurs to me that today I’m just starting out on the Third Act. No more intervals before the final curtain then!

My First Act was up till I was about 25. These are the years when I ‘found’ myself and before I really became a career writer.

My Second Act was the last 25 years. It’s these 25 that I’m going to sit and contemplate today as I move into the Third Act.

Since it is my birthday and at 50 I MUST have achieved some sort of wisdom, I’ll indulge myself by telling you my theory of life (the short version) as it stands.  This would perhaps be my narrative arc.

It is this:  Find out who you want to be. Be it.  Work out where you want to be. Go there. Stay there. Live. Be happy in truth and honesty and love. 

It’s that easy. This is the principle I live by. My first 25 years were marked by vast amounts of movement and change and instability. Most of that time life was out of my control.  I’ve sought to rectify that in the last 25 years. I claimed my life and worked at turning it into what I wanted it to be.

atheneI wouldn’t have achieved this state of enlightenment all on my own of course and the final piece in the heraclesHappy Ever After JIGSAW came 7 years ago today when I married the man of my dreams. It took 30 years from falling in love to getting married but let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.


But of course, at 50, you have to be a bit nostalgic for past youth. And here is a video I made which is essentially a love story for my own past and for St Andrews which was the place I FIRST embarked on finding my personal identity.   I realise looking back at it now that the reason St Andrews is so important to me is because it was where I first got the chance to BE myself.  It’s the first place I ever felt safe. And in control of my life.  And though it’s half a lifetime ago now, it still holds me in thrall.

The memories are personal of course, and the journey was all my own.  But every journey is shared to some degree with people and places and thoughts and things.  This was the first stage of my journey to MYSELF and I’m happy to share it.

Finally, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone I’ve ever been friends with over the last 50 years. You’ve helped make me the person I am today.  And I cherish every one of the memories.


About callyphillips

22 Responses to 50 years of me.

  1. Julia Jones says:

    Happy birthday Cally – and it’s lovely to see a photo of you and George. That’s the clue surely, it’s not just finding yourself, it’s finding the person who will let you be yourself – more fully than you would manage on your own. Have a lovely day

    • Thanks. Yes you are so right. I knew it from the first moment I saw him… as they say in Sound of Music ‘somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good!’

  2. Bill Kirton says:

    Happy birthday Cally and many many more of them. It seems to me that your secret is that you actually live life rather than watch it pass. And, from my perspective of having had many more nows than you have so far, I’m pretty confident that you’ll feel each moment is well worth living in. Have a great day.

  3. jan needle says:

    What a brilliant and lovely film, Cally. Who was the singer? Sounds a bit like the wondrous Iris Dement but it can’t be, can it? Have a fantastic birthday, and St Valentine’s, and everything else.

  4. dennishamley says:

    Have a great birthday, Valentine’s Day and Wedding anniversary Cally. That was a wonderful, though far too short, autobiography. But your 3rd act will be far more than 25 years. My Act 3 has passed that mark long ago and will continue for years yet, even if the audience gets fed up with it. 50 years? I look back on thet now as the first flush of youth.

    • Yes Dennis, I cut it right back. Decided against too much unbridled nostalgia – leave them wanting more or some such – or charge them for it!!! ha ha… I loved your post today by the way. And yes, I guess the goal for Act Three is to throw in as many plot points, diversions, and mock denouments as one can! I know I’m still just a juvenile compared to many and it’s quite nice that actually!

  5. Debbie says:

    Happy Birthday!

  6. Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to you and George. LOVE the video!

  7. Happy birthday, Cally – lovely to know a little more about you!

  8. dennishamley says:

    Sorry, I forgot. The video was terrific. Moving and satisfying. Yes, student life does let you find out, if not who you are, who you are likely to be.

    • I can watch it again and again. Sad eh? Except that now it seems more like someone else’s life than my own. But it’s one of those films I’m glad I made. Whereas I have films of dogs that I still can’t watch 10 years after their passing. Conclusion? There is power in media for memory. I’m going to try and make an Act Two video this year. Can’t even begin to think what soundtrack to use… watch this space.

  9. Mari Biella says:

    Happy birthday and anniversary AND Valentine’s Day – wow, if that doesn’t call for a celebration, what does?! I hope you have a fantastic day, however you choose to mark the occasion.

    It was nice to find out a little more about you. And I like your theory of life. If I’d tried to live like that years ago, I’d have saved myself an awful lot of trouble.

  10. Pauline Fisk says:

    I’m a day late. I’m always a day late! I hope you have a great day. I’ve really enjoyed taking a few minutes out to read your birthday message and watch the YouTube clip. I found the photos really touching. Something really shone out of them. Keep shining.

    • Pauline Fisk says:

      I meant HAD a great day, not ‘have’. Though, of course, I hope you’re
      having a great one today too.

      • Thanks. Had a good day. Feeling somewhat delicate today. Enjoying learning about Shropshire – keep up that good work. it’s quite a task a whole year blog. Been there, got the scars (typoed that as csars… interesting!)

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