It’s not often that I can say First Lady Michelle Obama and I run in the same circles, but this is OUR year! You may have noticed that recently, the First Lady celebrated her 50th birthday; she is a fellow 1964 birthday. Yes, I am admitting it, this year I will also be celebrating my 50th birthday — although a few months away yet.

So, what is the big deal about turning 50? My grandmother is 99 years old, still sharp as a tack, healthy and happy. According to my family history (two grandmothers and two great grandfathers all lived past 90 years old), I am just entering mid-life — happy, healthy and on most days, still sharp as a tack. Bring on the 50th birthday; I will wear it with pride.

What does turning 50 mean? I guess it makes days less fearful, lower stress, a greater appreciation of everything life has to offer, more of the “don’t give a da**” attitude about what others think of you, etc. It also means bone density tests, colonoscopies, menopause, healthier diet and more. Now if you factor in that I have young children, my age will not allow me to slow down; I need to be there for my boys. I love playing baseball or golfing with them. We enjoy running 5Ks together, hiking, horseback riding and so much more. I am the mom in the front row of all their sporting events, their musical performances, their school activities. So yes, I will be turning 50 later this year, but my age will not define who I am.

Let’s review some of the fabulous happenings from 1964 besides the First Lady and I being born. The Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “Mary Poppins” graced the big screen, Lucky Charms, Pop-Tarts and Diet Pepsi hit the grocery shelves, The Civil Rights Act was signed, Ford Mustang was introduced, the Rolling Stones’ first album was released and some terrific TV shows such as “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” hit the airwaves.

In 1964 is the Chinese Zodiac year of the Dragon: Dragons are born leaders, can be stubborn, feisty, enthusiastic and charming. Dragons are not well suited for growing old — well, that explains a lot on why I refuse to grow old!

Besides the First Lady, who are some other 1964 ladies? The list includes actress Sandra Bullock, five-time gold medalist in speed skating Bonnie Blair, model Elle Macpherson, actress Courteney Cox, pro basketball player Cheryl Miller, actress Mariska Hargitay, TV personality Hoda Kotb, singer Trisha Yearwood, and more. Looking at that list, I would say I am in pretty good company, strong and successful women.

I’m sure when spring rolls around and the Rose Garden at the White House is in full bloom, my invitation will arrive for a Girls Night Out to celebrate our birthdays together. If the First Lady would like to invite the fabulous women I’ve listed above, my big birthday year would be complete. If not, the 50th anniversary of my birth will still be fantastic sharing it with the people I love — my family and friends. Happy Birthday First Lady Michelle Obama — let’s make this year the best one yet!

• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at

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