On Becoming 50

When do you have your best and deepest philosophical thoughts? Unless you’re extremely disciplined and have a life far more structured than mine, it’s probably not while you’re meditating. I was having the following thoughts while vacuuming the upstairs landing and bathroom…

 They used to say that life begins at 40. But if they now say that 40 is the new 25 then when does life actually begin now? Well, I am declaring unilaterally (because who are these mysterious people “they” and just how are “they” qualified to pronounce on my life anyway?) that my life really is beginning at 50.

Yes, I turn 50 in a few days’ time and I think it’s going to be the best birthday ever. Not that there’s a big celebration planned; no it’s all very low key, but because this birthday is the one where I think I’ve finally grown up.

You see, it takes quite a long time for some of us to find out who we are, to accept ourselves and to start playing to our strengths rather than trying to overcompensate for our perceived weaknesses; to stop comparing ourselves to others and to start doing the things we actually enjoy without apology. For some of us, yes, it takes 50 years.

And it’s a great age. Most of us still have our health and reasonably fit and active bodies. We are still physically capable of doing anything we want. We could start training to run marathons and nobody would laugh. We could even declare an ambition to climb Mount Everest or sail across the Pacific (with no existing experience of either mountaineering or sailing) and it would be possible. Furthermore, for most of us (and I’m the exception here) our children are of an age where they are mostly independent and would not cause an impediment to that marathon running/mountaineering/sailing. Yes, the children have grown up and there is only a microscopic chance of any more children happening.  Phew! I think that for most of us, that’s a weight off our mind that we didn’t even know we were carrying.

But the big freedom of 50 is that we are entering the third age of Woman. If the first two ages are Maiden and Mother then the third one needs to be Wise Woman because nobody needs another C-word. (If you’re a bit mystified by this look up Paganism and the Triple Goddess and it all becomes clear.) With maturity and wisdom comes authority and I for one really welcome this gift more than any other. Being only just over five feet and a bubbly blond, I seem to have spent most of my adult life trying to prove I am just as intelligent and professional as my tall brunette sisters. Finally, it’s as though I don’t even have to try anymore. Hey, bring on the silver hair: I’m ready. No one’s going to dismiss me as a blond airhead again.

But there are some additional considerations about this 50 business. I’m a Golden Spring, which means my best colours are at the warmest and most yellow end of the Spring spectrum. As my hair turns silver (it hasn’t actually started yet, but it’s going to) my skin will change its pigmentation. I will still be a Spring, but my double star colours may change. There are also some decisions to be made about age-appropriate clothing. I’ve already told you about the suede jeans that went out in the last wardrobe review (yes, consultants need wardrobe reviews too!), but there may be other items and styles that no longer work so well. As I leave the reproductive stage of my life I am conscious of needing to give a little more emphasis to my femininity – doing just a little more Ingénue with the Gamine.  My hands are starting to look older (our hands are always the oldest part of us – they do the most work – and don’t let any man tell you it’s our mouths!) so I’m thinking it’s time to go back to my regular manicures at the salon and even returning to nail-varnish. Thank Goodness for shellac. Nails have come a long way in the ten years mine have been naked.

So it’s not all jam, but it is still a lot more jam than rice pudding! At 50 I have (mostly) got my life the way I like it. I have a husband who meets nearly all my very exacting requirements, two children who seem at the moment (saying this with everything crossed) to be turning out not altogether too badly and a job/business that I adore with a passion most women reserve for shoes. (What can I say? Shoes, in their widest entirety, are just a small part of my job!) Yes, at 50, you really do know what matters and you have learned to value it. In the end, as everyone says, it’s a loving family, a fulfilling relationship with your significant other, a loyal circle of friends, a worthwhile job. Oh, and a decent vacuum cleaner. I really do need one of those. Just not as a birthday present, please.


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