Posted by: Admin | July 2, 2010

THE LAUNCH OF PROJECT50

So, today I enter my fiftieth year…

According to the 2001 census, I am part of the UK’s largest age group: there were 4,625,777 of us aged 35-39 in 2001, out of a total population of 58,789,194, ie: 7.8%.(1)  That makes us a pretty significant demographic group, one that can’t be ignored as we bulldoze our way through midlife to retirement.

But enough of that!

What I want to know is, does that make me… OVER THE HILL…?

Mountains above Stoupa, Greece, June 2010

A new grey hair each week and ever deepening wrinkles, failing eyesight – a blessing since it means I can’t see the former so clearly in the morning mirror – and creaking knees that bend but can’t be relied upon to straighten again.  An empty nest, (now they’ve gone, what exactly am I for?) and a growing realisation that this is it: the rehearsal is well and truly over.  It always was, of course, but knowing that more of my life is in my past than in my future is a sobering thought.

I’d rectify that if my liver hadn’t given up the ghost ten years ago.  Half a glass of wine and I’m drunk.  An hour later I’m hungover. One of the last things my father said to me before he checked out at 58 was: “LIfe’s a bitch and then you die.”  Thanks, Dad 😉

Bette Davis famously said that ageing isn’t for sissies.  But I am a sissy!  I’m a paid up member of the English Suburban Sissy Club – if they had badges I’d have earned my nth degree of sissy-dom.  I’d be a Patrol Leader.

Getting older is a bit like childbirth: there’s no changing your mind, no going back, no matter how much you yell or swear or rage against the dying of the light.  No amount of corsetry or face cream can save you.  The illusion that we have an element of control over our lives is exposed as the sham it always was, so we might as well face it head on.

Is that the essence of that old cliche, the midlife crisis?  (does anyone know how to type an accent over a letter – do let me know!) That we start to let go and roll with what life throws at us?

Or … ON TOP OF THE WORLD?

Kilimanjaro Summit 2005 - courtesy of Neil Blackwell

So the kids have gone (along with most of my money).  I’m fortunate enough not to have elderly parents to care for since I’m unfortunate enough to have lost at least one.  Suddenly, my time is my own.  Husband of my heart has his own routines – work, gym, cricket, sport on TV – I can now read a book from beginning to end without interruption. No one wakes me in the night because they’re hungry or they’ve wet the bed (not even husband). No one calls me from A & E in the middle of the night because they’ve “tripped on an uneven pavement” and smashed their nose on the way out of a club.

I could eat a whole box of chocolates whilst watching American Idol, lying on the sofa in the nude if I so wanted. (If my window cleaner’s reading this, it’s ok, Terry, that was just an imaginary scenario).  I can dance, if I really want to, or sing at the top of my lungs and no one’s going to roll their eyes.

Looking around me, I see so many people whose lives are falling apart at 50 – divorce, unemployment, bereavement, illness – and so many, often the same people, who live their lives with energy, optimism and enthusiasm.  I sense that 50 could be fun… if I let it be so!

Over the past year, I’ve re-trained as a photographer and am slowly building my business, specialising in portraiture.  I never expected to discover something new about myself that would give me so much pleasure.  I feel a growing urge to connect with … well, people like you !  And I’m having a blast, looking for and meeting interesting folk to interview, talking to radio DJs and magazine editors and generally spreading the word about project50.  I hope that you will too – take a look at the “Taking Part” post to see how you can get involved.

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for the very first SATURDAY INTERVIEW

Bye for now!

(1) source: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/pyramids/pages/uk.asp Accessed on 01/07/2010

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Responses

  1. Happy Birthday to You! I think what you’re doing is really interesting and I eagerly look forward to your future articles.

    I find being older tremedously empowering, and other than reverting to my slimmer and prettier self, I wouldn’t turn the clock back for anything.

    My children are still young and dependent, but I guess the trick is to remember who you were before you had them, add a great big dollop of experience and attitude, then take life by the bollocks! You will be unstoppable.

    • Thank you, Wartime Housewife! And thank you for agreeing to be the subject of next week’s interview!


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