Monday, April 4, 2011

Dealing with Turning the Big 5-0

I did not welcome fifty. I figured it was my official entry into wizened crone land. Most women don’t welcome it. In fact, my own eighty-year old mother still declares herself to be forty-nine and holding. As a whole, we women have an unholy fear of stringing together a five and a zero. Ironically, men do not have this fear probably because we regard a fifty-year old man as still being in his prime. Consider Denzel Washington or Pierce Brosnan, not exactly geezers.

What is the difference here? I happened to know many beautiful, personable females fifty and over, but they believe their best years are behind them. We universally accept in the United States that fifty is the mark of undesirability for women. I know this even as I fight against it. I think the cougar movement is an all out fight against being considered no longer relevant. I’m not sure I totally understand it despite my significant other being younger than me. LOL

Before I turned fifty I practiced saying I was fifty so it wouldn’t come as a shock. Secretly, I wanted someone to say to me, “Oh, no, you can’t possibly be fifty.” Then I would chuckled lightly and confirm I was. Many people did just that, especially my women friends. Thanks ladies, I will do the same for you. I joked it meant the most coming from my masseuse who sees plenty of naked women every day.

Consider when women are in their forties, there are more incidents of depression and divorce. Some of this resulting from being disappointed where they are at in their lives or how their lives turned out. There is even a higher incidence of suicide only surpassed by the teenage years. So on top of this there is a fear of fifty. What gives?

Fifty reminds you are not a young chick anymore as if the mirror didn’t. Marianne Williamson in her book, The Age of Miracles reminds us it is not about having a firm body anymore, but having a great soul. Of course, I want both. Mortality suddenly hides behind corners waiting to pounce much like death in Black Orpheus. My thirty-year high school reunion brought this lesson home to me since all my former friends were either dead or missing. Is this it? I am definitely on the last part of my life even if my relatives managed to live past eighty. If this is it, then I need to make changes.

Fifty can be the time when you suddenly quit living your life for others and start doing what you want to do. I found this out on my own. Before I turned forty-seven, I divorced, lost my job, moved to a new state and started a new job, which probably did not put me in the best mind set. According to the stress test, it was more than enough to bring on a heart attack. Instead of trying to control things out of my control, I had to let go.

Instead, I found joy in simple things such as growing my own vegetables and belly dancing. My pursuits were probably not the normal ones, but as a woman approaching fifty, I cared less what others thought. Ah-ha, the red hat lady syndrome is coming on. I will wear what I want and do what I want. I also will go where I want. When my children were young I dreamed of traveling somewhere other than Disneyworld and water parks. Now I can.

Fifty was this huge wall I thought I would hit and feel immensely older, but it didn’t happen. On my birthday, I took the day off with the plan to do exactly as I pleased. My daughter had been heavily warned against any black balloons or cakes. Instead, I enjoyed a leisurely day of poking through thrift shops and a massage. The day ended with my significant other turning up the romance meter and whisking me off to an exclusive restaurant where we had a private booth. I did not feel anything like a wizened crone instead I felt beautiful and loved not at all what I thought I would feel like on my fiftieth birthday.

Turning fifty became a release. Once I did it I had no reason to fear it. Suddenly, my life is opening up instead of closing up. I am a vital, fit woman with love in my life. The children are gone so I can go where I please and I have. Amazingly, at fifty I have more freedom and choices than ever before. Fifty really is only a number because I feel much more alive when I was twenty-seven with two children under two. Yes, it is good to be fifty.

Tell me your turning fifty story. If you don’t have one for obvious reasons to tell, explain how you feel about the prospect of turning fifty.


Jill James said...

Turning 50 scares me spitless. LOL But I feel a little more prepared reading your post. I like who I am now. I like where I'm at in my life. I like me.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Fifty is a piece of cake - I'm looking at 67 in May! :) I'm still smiling and get up each day knowing I am still a vital person who has lots to accomplish. After going through nine years of black tragic experiences, I am happy to be able to smile and get on with life.

My new motto: Don't fight fate.

I learned it's not what happens, it is how you handle it.

Glad your birthday has brought you happiness and I hope life continues to treat you well. You should travel to's like heaven over there and I know I will be going back to try to find where I lost my heart.:)

morgan said...

Jill James,
I have absolute confidence that you will turn 50 in style.

morgan said...

Thanls for your comments and insight. Scotland sounds fabulous.

Josie said...

Welcome to 50's land. It's not so bad when you've been here for a while. :)

Denise Pattison said...

Hey, Morgan, I turned 50 last September. I didn't consider it a big deal but I know most women do.

I've also heard the comments, "you can't be 50." LOL The latest was from a flight attendant who thought my 3 year old grandson was my son. I think I look 50 but many people tell me I don't. Not sure if I believe them or not but it is nice to hear it.

So many of my friends and family thought my husband and I were crazy for having kids when most people considered us kids. I was 20 and my husband 21 when our first child was born, two years after our marriage. My daughter came along three years later.

Now, I still feel young and they are out of the house. I have 3 step-grandchildren and one grandson. We're both able to enjoy them and do Disney World with them, yet we can go to places that the kids only tolerated when they were younger.

We're in the process of emptying our house and getting it ready to go on the market. We own a 40 foot 5th wheel now that we call home. We have land about 30 minutes from where my grandson lives. The step-grandchildren share the land with us.

When my husband gets a call for work, we pack up our 5th wheel and head out. No worries about family, kids, school, etc. No more being apart due to his work.

He's always encouraged me to write and it's something I can do with all the traveling we do.

50 is great. I highly recommend it. The anxiety that accompanied my young married/parenting years is gone. I no longer feel like I have to do things a certain way to please everybody else. I don't care if people like me. I like me and that's what really matters, isn't it?

Clarissa Southwick said...

I love your outlook on fifty. My strategy was to marry someone older than me. No matter how old I am, he's already been there and survived it with grace. His example makes it easier on me :)