I never thought I would get to 50. Not that I abused alcohol or smoked too many cigarettes but that number had remained so far off in the hazy distance I imagined it would stay that way. Signing a contract way back in ’95 to work for British Airways, 50 was the age I would be put out to seed. As I clickety-clacked in my high heels through many an airport I laughed at the very idea. Now I have been rudely moved to the next age bracket on those dreadful survey forms. I used to smugly tick the box marked 35-49, now there are fewer boxes left for my selection. Last week Andy gleefully announced he had received an age appropriate discount for me on our annual travel insurance. Yes 50 it has happened.
Andy who is still only 49 has now started smacking me on the bum and saying, ‘not bad for an old bird!’ Passing by one of Adelaide’s lifestyle retirement villages he teases me that at 50 I now qualify for entry. The idea of downsizing now with handrails and weekly bingo thrown in is a ridiculous notion. Getting older is a mindset I refuse to engage in.
I will take the stairs
When I was 40 I woke up and sat with my head in my hands. I was the mother of three children under four at the time but it wasn’t that, I struggled to deal with the concept of being that old. But why is it ten years down the line, several hiccups along the path of life and a few more grey hairs I feel ecstatic that I am 50. I have learnt not to waste time worrying about what anyone thinks of me. I feel comfortable in my own skin at last. And I don’t ever ask Andy, ‘is my bum big in this?’ As for the dreaded cellulite, honestly men do not notice. Battle scars from children, saggy boobs, and a few grey hairs. Who cares? It shows we have lived a little, gained some wisdom and we are still living life. Like a good bottle of wine we get better with age and dust can be blown off. In airports and undergrounds I observe commuters with their furrowed brows standing on the escalator, their phones clutched possessively in perfectly manicured nails, feet stuffed in painful shoes, and eyes glued to someone else’s world, and I sigh in relief that I am not one of them. I am light and free in my comfortable flat shoes and I will take the stairs.
Being comfortable in my own skin
There is something good about being 50, up until now I have been searching for something, a purpose, a reason for being here. So much time spent taking care of everyone else so I hadn’t had time to figure it out. Something clicked reaching this magical number, like a light bulb turning on, I stopped trying so hard. It wasn’t that I gave up, it just became easier to say no if I didn’t want to do something. Why is it we find it so difficult to say no? We spend our whole time trying to please others, partners, parents, teachers, bosses, friends but not having a clue what we want for ourselves. It wasn’t that I had become selfish, quite the opposite but finally I had figured out what made me happy. I was suddenly, without warning, deeply contented and I didn’t really know why. No major thunderbolt had struck me, I didn’t suddenly see God or have an angel appear before me. I didn’t win the lottery or have a rich unknown relative bequeath me an estate. I just knew that being my true self and loving her was all I needed. What I was looking for was right inside me all along.
Spare tyres are for cars
We all know the age-old saying, ‘you are what you eat?’ I am afraid its true. Would you put economy fuel in a Rolls-Royce? In your 20’s, 30’s whatever went in your mouth just disappeared, alcohol evaporated and the ability to bounce out of bed without a hangover was taken as a sure thing. Late night kebabs, Cadbury’s chocolate and boxes of king size popcorn scoffed at the cinema, it just required a little help from your mate with your zip as you wrestled on the floor. But slowly in your 40’s and 50’s if you aren’t careful something happens to your waistline, it disappears and rolls appear where they shouldn’t. Back in my single days I was called weird as I shunned the fish fingers, rice krispies and lazy toast and jam which were the staple diets of many of my flat mates, I just loved cooking healthy food. Eating a head of cooked broccoli as a snack has always been normal for me. I read an article the other day that eating it burns more calories than not eating at all. I threw spinach, avocado and chia seeds into a blender long before they became fashionable. Now who is laughing!
Why slow down and give up on your dreams as you get older? 50 is a time for a rebirth, new beginnings. It’s a time for fresh ideas and possibilities and a time to shine. Now with three teenagers I am only needed to guide from the sidelines, not to hold their hands and so it was time to look at what I wanted for my future. Up until now I had brushed the ideas of change to one side but I knew deep down I had been searching for something. Now the exciting paths of opportunity have opened up to me. There have been enough bottoms wiped, coffee mornings tolerated, bins put out, socks reunited with long-lost partners. Putting off to-dos and getting to the bottom of those useless never-ending lists is over.
I wanted something really badly and it wasn’t that new pair of shoes in my favorite shop. I had a niggling feeling that I wasn’t doing the one thing I should be doing. It was an itch I wanted to scratch only I didn’t know where it was. Like a dog craning its neck and going round in circles in search of its tail, I couldn’t quiet reach it. Then as I neared 50 I figured out what it was, and with it came a sense of peace and happiness. I realized finally that I was the most important person in my life and if I weren’t completely happy with her then who would be? And with that thought I discovered my creativity, my purpose and finally where to scratch. At the time I was holding a pen in my hands and a blank piece of paper and so the writing began.
Finding your purpose is liberating and satisfying. Like sitting in a warm pool of chocolate, luxurious and blissful. The struggle and search for fulfillment ends and the path ahead is straight, uncluttered, smooth. Doors start opening and opportunities reveal themselves. Others will want to slide in right beside you and a little bit of contentment rubs off on them and so then we can spread our happiness with the world.