WHAT I HAVE LEARNED AND WHAT I AM YET TO LEARN AT 50

EMOTIONAL, FUNNY, INSPIRING, MUST READ

Isn’t it funny how when you are younger you have an ‘imagined’ idea of what the next chapter would be like. As a teenager i’d look at people in their twenties and think ‘look at those ADULTS, they look as if they have got their stuff together. But, then as you reach that milestone yourself it becomes apparent that it was all illusion. Nobody has it all figured out. Ashleigh Edwards is prime example of that: she is 50 and still on a steep learning curve.

  • I’m 49 and will be 50 next March. To say that I’m completely happy about it may not be 100% accurate, but I’m working on it.

  • I know that I’m blessed to have reached this age- and between you and me there have been some touch and go moments but frankly dear reader I stand before you in both shock and awe.

  • Shock as I am wondering where the hell the last 25 years went, its cliched but time honestly does fly.

  • I’m in awe as nature has been far kinder than I expected or feared and not only do I not physically ‘FEEL’ anywhere near 50, nor do I mentally feel anywhere near 50.

  • Ageing is the inevitable price we all have to pay for the gift of life and there is little one can do about it. I’m gradually coming around to the whole ‘ageing’ thing. Fighting it is futile and a waste of my mental energy. There is life after 50- and I’m looking forward to it.

  • I’ve spent the last 22 or so years dreading birthdays- first 30, then 40 and now the big 50 is looming but somehow, I fear it less then 30.

  • I have made a conscious decision to stop being consumed by the date on my birth certificate and instead I want to make damn sure that my next 50 years shows my first 50 what living is about. To that end I have reflected on some of the things that I have and haven’t figured out so far as well as some of my hopes for the future.

  • What I haven’t learnt:

  • How to manage my time or my money. I think these two things go pretty much hand in hand. I always assume that I have way more of both than I do. I have bought more planners then there are months in the year- but after a day or two they sit lonely and blank.

  • I have always struggled with doubting myself and what I am able to accomplish- and worrying way too much about what other people think of me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like it.

  • I can come across as very self-assured and I’ve been successful generally speaking but in truth I’m petrified of failure and being judged and struggle almost daily to believe in myself.

  • How to check cupboards or wardrobes before shopping. It doesn’t matter how many times I buy pasta when I already have a cupboard full of pasta, I will still buy more pasta the next time I go shopping.

  • How to stop procrastinating- refer to my first point about time management. If you give me 6 months to do something it will take me 6 months. Give me 2 weeks to do the same thing I’ll get it done.

  • How to stop taking on too much- its ok to say no. Validation is not achieved by how many things I’m ‘doing’

  • Where I fit in society- and I mean now. I don’t feel I fit into any of the boxes that women of my age usually are placed. I know I’m not alone in this, but I haven’t yet found my ‘people’

  • How to stop comparing myself to other people. Lucy Sheridan says there will be someone who compares themselves to me (she didn’t actually say this to me BTW) and that we all need to be aware of this and stop being so hard on ourselves- but I find this incredibly difficult.

  • I am my own worst critic and its damaging to me- and to my children who model their own self worth on how I see and treat myself.

  • What I have learnt:

  • Manners manners manners.  Manners are the best, but it can feel like they are the most underrated and underutilized tool that we have as humans. Thank you, please and you’re welcome cost nothing, but are gold.

  • Time and ageing have a subtle and inexplicable way of altering what you find enjoyable or take pleasure in doing. There is no point trying to fight it, in fact I am going to make the most of what I previously deemed as ‘old people’ stuff and in fact many of my ‘want to learn’ goals are things I would previously avoided as I thought they were only for the olds.

  • The other side of this coin is that you will wake up one day and something that you previously loved you will detest at worst, find irritating frivolous embarrassing or childish at best- this was low waist jeans for me.

  • Striking up a conversation in a grocery store / bookstore / park is a good thing. Many people who have been the object of my attempted exchanges have disagreed but that is their loss. I will carry on being the friendly American asking if they have ever tried this jar of sauce or what they think of this book or that. Talking, being friendly and nice is a good thing and as corny as it sounds the world really does need more friendliness.

  • I completely relate to Phoebe Waller Bridge’s character of fleabag (despite being about 20+ years older). I find any sort of introspection to be excruciating and actively avoid it and I will happily ‘play to the camera’ to deflect any sort of emotional vulnerability I have. I have bought so many self-help books and my audible is chock-a-block with motivational manuals. I genuinely buy them thinking that this time will be different but it’s a real stumbling block for me- the fear of facing and addressing my own demons.

  • I think that one of my best traits is my very puerile sense of humour, one of my worst is that I can think that I am absolutely hilarious. I cackle when I laugh, but only when I am genuinely side splittingly peeing in the pants amused. This may be annoying for those around me it is in fact is a good thing, laughing is good for me and my soul. Its something that I want to do lots more of.

  • Pelvic floor exercises were not just a ‘suggestion’ nor were they some way that the ‘patriarchy’ thought up to make us women do even more shit that we don’t want to do. Do them, you will thank yourself later.

  • The neck and the hands need to be a huge MASSIVE part of your skincare routine. If not, you may find yourself with the face of a 25 year-old but with the neck of a turkey and the hands of a fisherman.

  • Learning to say sorry, as it does not come naturally or easy to me has been one of the best things I have done. The injury to my ego is insignificant by comparison to the benefit that it produces.

  • I can get myself into a right flap about the most stupid of things whilst hugely important things can wash over me with a shrug of the shoulders. The upside of this is that I can deal with all kinds of sh*t once the cards are down. I had a very acrimonious divorce that sent me into a massive black hole of despair. All the bad things that can happen in a divorce did. I was on my knees, but I survived and actually I thrived.

  • I thrive on chaos.

  • Give me peace and quiet and I flip out.  It gives me too much space to get all ‘introspective’

  • Sleep masks and their invention is proof that there is a god.

  • I adore my children (I have 7, all my own) but I need to be more than just a mother. They are my greatest achievement and I should be able to take great pride in the people that they are, or that they will be, but somehow, I still feel a need to be more than ‘mother’. I’m now doing the law degree that I always wanted to do. I have no idea what I will do when I finish, probably my masters.

  • I always need something to do. It keeps me sane.

  • Running is not only good for you it’s enjoyable and it’s helping me in more ways than I ever imagined it could. These are words that I never in a bazillion years thought that I would think or say but I say them now as a fully paid up member of the smug runners’ club. Membership is free actually and I encourage each and every one of you to join

  • Things I would like to learn:

  • I want to learn to cook, garden, bake and sew. I want to do a life drawing course. I want to throw a pot. I want to learn to speak French. I want to keep learning and experiencing and encourage others to do so too.

  • I want to learn to accept and love myself -including my flaws. It is the inside stuff that’s important, not the packaging. When I’m dead and gone no one will remember my dress sense or a wrinkled forehead. They will remember how I made them feel.

  • I want to be in more photos with my children. There are very few pictures of me, and this goes back to my previous point.

  • I want to find my people, the women who feel the same as me and who maybe need a pal who ‘understands’.

  • Finally, I want to live my life according to the immortal words of Miley Cyrus:

  • There’s always gonna be another mountain.

  • I’m always gonna wanna make it move

  • Always gonna be an uphill battle

  • Sometimes you gonna have to lose

  • Ain’t about how fast I get there.

  • Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side

  • It’s the climb.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Claudette June 21, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    I really enjoyed this! I have to say that my last 6 months or so I have become more *me* than ever before and see this as a positive move. So much you have listed resonates with me. 🙂

  • Reply Becki June 23, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I have three days left before my next multiple of ten birthday and, I’m not going to lie, I’m finding that quite tricky. With that in mind, so much of this list resonates enormously. Thankyou xx

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