Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Good and the Bad of Fifty-Something


When I reached my 50th birthday, in the summer of 2009, I scarcely noticed it.  I was working at a job I didn't actively hate, I had a nice house in which I'd lived alone for the past year, a jolly social life, I was in a happy new relationship and felt as fit and lively as I had throughout my forties, even though the menopause was already standing at the end of the road, waving hello.  I spent my 50th birthday getting plastered on Cromer pier with several of those close to me.  Being 50 wasn't an issue.  I thought I'd just carry on carrying on.  It never occurred to me how different I was about to feel.


Age 49, in Cromer (where I used to live) with my friend Sharon

The change came when I got to 51.  The menopause had taken up residence and brought along its pals Hot Flush and Unreliable Moods.  My body decided to add a dress size.  My dodgy knees developed arthritis.  I'd never noticed I had these things called jowls, but I knew all about them when they began to sag.  Despite the happiness of the rest of my life, I kept feeling depressed and flat.  My sister, who is two years and four months older than me, told me that all this passes, as soon as the menopause packs its bags.  I couldn't imagine how this could be.  Surely, if I felt like this at 52, the only way was down?

But she was right.

 I do!!!! (in the bath)

Sometime around the age of 54, I realised that I'd accepted this new stage of my life, and no longer mourned what was before.  Which is just as well, because there's bugger all I can do about it.  Of course I have the odd regret or two, everyone does, and moments of nostalgia (perhaps more for the simpler, pre-internet days than anything else), but I'm glad I've done a lot of stuff and known a lot of people; if nothing else, it's all material for novels!  My mother often used to say 'youth is wasted on the young'.  Like most things older people say, I didn't understand it until I was old myself.  It's true, though.  If only I'd had the head I have now, I wouldn't have made so many dumb mistakes.  I wonder if part of this is simply being past the menopause; my moods/choices are no longer affected by my hormones.  



I didn't want this post to be all about superficial stuff, ie physical appearance, but then I thought, what the hell ~ most women talk, think and care about how they look.  So here it is: I think you have to accept that 'gorgeous' is no longer an option, and the sooner you do, the happier you'll be.  I've always felt sorry for the film stars who have all sorts of scary work done to their faces in an effort to keep themselves looking 30.  It never works.  Plastic surgery, botox, whatever, it doesn't make you look younger.  It just makes you look weird.  I am 58.  I have spidery liney bits around my mouth, the-jowls-that-sag, crows feet, a couple of lines around my neck, and a totally white hairline.  My youth has passed.  I can't bring it back; none of us can.  No matter how much money you have, you can't hold back time. 

Madonna, almost exactly one year older than me.  Even the lines round her eyes look lifted, and she's got that 'pillow face' look that fillers give you.


The good, bad and ugly of being 50+:
  • Good: In that I expect to be with my husband until one of us kicks the bucket, I am so glad that the ups and downs of my previously 'colourful' (euphemism for chaotic) love life are now over.  Now, I don't know how I had the emotional energy.
  • Good: I mind less what people think of me.
  • Bad: I have aches and pains that weren't there 10 years ago, and less energy.
  • Good: I've slowed down, and like being on my own more and more. 
  • Bad: There's stuff I didn't do that I am not able to do now, like travel and studying all the subjects that I find so fascinating.  There simply aren't enough years left.
  • Good/Ugly: That added dress size ~ mostly, I don't really care.  I just dress accordingly.  When I was younger I'd have been fretting, and loathing the sight of myself in the mirror.  
  • Good: I've stopped worrying about a load of stuff that doesn't matter, and feel more relaxed, generally. 
  • Bad: I have had to stop smoking, because it would be just crazy to have carried on.  I loved smoking.  I still have the occasional one, but it's very rare, because I'm now at the age when I have to take serious care of my health if I want to have a chance of living for as many more years as I can.  Yes, I now have to think about all that boring stuff like high blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol; that alone is hard enough to control.
  • Good: Experience has taught me how to deal with and understand the processes of grief, loss, rejection, bad days, anxiety, etc etc.
  • Bad/Ugly: I have to take about 30 photos before I find one or two I can use for social media/guest blog posts without thinking 'Jesus H Christ' every time I see them. And no, I will never photoshop them, because that's just nuts.
  • Good: I'm glad I had my youth before the women's liberation backlash; I feel saddened by the way in which so many young girls dress like hookers and feel under pressure to look and be sexually available.  But perhaps that is another blog post.

I took this one to show a friend my white hairline!!!  Thanks goodness for hairdressers 😃

Stuff to bear in mind if you're going through the 50-something depression:
  • It won't last forever.
  • The key to being happier when you're older (and I'm talking seeing 60 on the horizon now, not just perky, youthful 50!) is accepting it and learning to enjoy this new phase of your life.  And only not doing stuff if it doesn't feel right, not because you think you're 'too old' to do it.  The phrase 'too old' is different for everyone.  For instance, I am too old to wear leopard print leggings/go to noisy pubs.  I am not too old to *** insert something you not too old to do/be in comments, if you wish!***
  • The menopause is a normal part of a woman's life, not an illness.  Ideally, all the bleak times in our lives (bereavement, heartbreak, etc) are easier to cope with in the long run if you face and accept them, work through them, instead of masking them with chemicals.  But this is only 'ideally'; of course I understand why some people choose HRT or feel they need anti-depressants for a while; many of us choose the pills route at some point in our lives. I used Prozac to help me deal with PMT for a few years, and it worked, but I think the key is not to let it go on for too long.
  • Skin care works, and makes you feel nice.  My skin is not too bad for my age, and I am sure this is partly due to slavishly slapping on the moisturiser and Tropics Organic Elixir.  It doesn't have to be expensive; I use E45 during the day because my skin is so dry that it needs moisturising every few hours, and I can't afford to spend £60 a fortnight on face cream!
  •  Long baths filled with nice smells, walks in beautiful places, reading good books and watching escapist stuff on telly make you feel good, too (and it is a sure sign of old age to think of 'a nice bath' as something of a treat, but there you go!).
  • My mother told me that the happiest part of her marriage to my father was when they were in their 60s and 70s.  And I am actually happier now than I have ever been.
  • We are so lucky to be at this age, at this point in history, generally.  Even 50 years ago, women of our age were thought of as irrelevant by so many people.  Now, though, it is generally accepted that this is but another stage of life, and can bring with it new discoveries, new experiences and a different sort of happiness.



Other 50-something stuff you might like to read:

Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey? by Sally Cronin

Not Invisible by Tracey Scott Townsend

Tamara Goriely on Tom Willams' blog:
Older women and sport: yet another gender gap

Loving The Fifty Something blog 
Sam Smith on Twitter


 

57 comments:

  1. Random thoughts from Terry's older sister (2 years and 4 months older, as stated above!) 1.I wouldn't have known that was Madonna if it wasn't stated; what on earth has she done to herself? Time to stop competing with her glamorous daughter. 2.Did you know that it was only the year before our mother was born, that women acquired any legal rights over their children? If they wanted to divorce their husband, he could take the children. We've come a long way, baby! 3. Approaching my 61st birthday as I am, I realise that one simply has to find a different way to look attractive (if that's important to you, of course). Trying frantically to look the same as you did at 30 is a hiding to nothing, and just reeks of desperation, which is the opposite of attractive. 4.Why didn't we listen to what our parents told us? But then, the vast majority of people don't! 5. Isn't it wonderful not to care what people think anymore, and especially not to be ruled by hormones, ha!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, to all those things!

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  2. One more thing - I saw an article about Amanda Redman recently, an actress who's my age and whom I always thought was very attractive. I didn't recognise her because she's had fillers/surgery. Her unique prettiness has gone, and she's got same 'had some
    work done' look as so many other actresses. What's the point?

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    1. Really? I must have a look. I found worse ones of Madonna...

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  3. What a thoughtful post. I'm heading for 50 this year and so are several of my close friends - sometimes I think 'Where did the last 50 years go to?' I love the pictures above and the last one about doing all the silly stuff before the internet was around it spot on.

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    1. That's something you stop thinking about too, Rosie - I remember when we were all heading for 50, the first few to get there were all 'how the hell did that happen?', but you kind of get used to it! Yes, I loved that thing about the internet - phew!!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this, Terry. I hit 42 in January and so far I'm not too worried about 50 (although that may change!). 40 was fine but I had a face like a slapped arse on my 30th birthday �� I feel more settled within my self at 40 despite the past few years bringing some pretty big changes and wish I had had the foresight I have now in my 20s and early 30s. It's a shame women (and to a lesser extent, I think, men) feel they have to undergo surgery to cling on to their looks. Fantastic post xxx

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    1. Thank you! I loved being 30 and 40, but 50 is a bit of a slap in the face - obviously because it coincides with menopause, but also because when you're 50-something you can no longer kid yourself you're young! Yes, I feel sorry for people who can't accept the passing of the years. Must be horrible to be that insecure! x

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  5. Ah, lovely Terry! What can I say that I haven't already said? You and Julia have never looked your ages. I remember having a conversation with you some years ago where age was discussed.

    I have to say that this weekend I've had a real ego boost. Having seen a picture of myself at Crufts last year and being totally shocked at how much weight I had put on, I decided to join the dreaded fat club before our trip to Crufts this year and have lost just shy of 3 and a half stones. Not only that, one of my friends who had never met my daughter was quite shocked to hear her call me 'Mum' as she didn't think I was old enough...as for the grey...I'm embracing it. As much as age really is just a number to me, I have to admit to feeling better about myself now, at 55, than I have done for a long time but at the same time I can't believe I will be 56 this year!

    As for looks...you and I both enjoy the quick perusal of how plasic surgery has changed some of the celebs and not for the better so embrace your looks Terry because, dammit girl, you could look a lot worse and have paid for the privilege!

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    1. Bloody hell! I bow to your superior willpower! Well done!

      Oh yes, we love those pictures.... and yes, to pay to make yourself look ludicrous, when you could just age gracefully???!! 56.... try 59!

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    2. Thank you...I have been ridiculously vain and catching glimpses of myself in shop windows all weekend...horrendous!

      59? Truly is a number. I really don't think you believe you are in your head and if I passed you in the street, I still wouldn't say you were 60. You're clearly doing something right or have amazing genes...or both!

      Embrace it my friend!

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    3. I would totally be the same if I had lost all that weight - why the hell not! One of the great compensations of doing without stuff you want to eat is being delighted with what you see in the mirror!!!

      I know I look young for my age (a combination of lucky genes, rigorous skin care, and taking care of what gets put inside me, I think!!), but, believe me, my body is TOTALLY nearly 60. I currently have my right leg in a fucking brace because my knee 'went' again - that's my 'good' knee, not the one I had operated on 2 years ago. I may look 10 years younger (on a good day!), but I definitely feel nearly 59 (not 60, ha ha!)

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    4. Ah but the knee could happen at any age (work with me here!) It's how you feel in your head!

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    5. What I feel in my head is currently 'are my knees going to GO permanently one day?' :D

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  6. i obviously can't relate to the hormonal intruders but I've noticed a number of changes in my fifties, most of which I'm not happy with. One strange thing is I have an almost obsessive desire to learn new stuff. I'm constantly in books and scouring the internet for knowledge. It's as though I realize I'm running out of time. I get sad often, thinking about periods of my life that i wasted and so I suppose I overcompensate. I work out a lot so physically I feel great except it takes me longer to recover from strenuous workouts. Well, this isn't a therapy session so I'll shut up but thank you for posting this; it got me to thinking.

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    1. Me too, Joe! Every day, I find something that I want to know all about.... I feel exactly as you do, as though I'm running out of time. I read and write almost obsessively. And thanks for reading!

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    2. I understand the 'running out of time' thing, Joe! I get very sad, mostly thinking of times when I selfishly didn't treat people right. But you can't go too far down that road, because I reckon I still have a chance to do the right thing.

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  7. 50 was a long time ago for me so I can identify with lots in this article. Good, yes, I don't care what other people think. Bad, I hate that my left knee hurts when I walk any distance. Bad, I know I will never be able to travel to all the places I want to go (time & money limitations) Bad, I need to lose weight but just don't seem able, good, I don't care what others think about that. Good, that I am about to embark on a new adventure!

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    1. You sound not unlike me, Lindsay - I can totally relate to all that! Thanks for reading :)

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  8. Great post T, and being 52 I'm in the midst of all this stuff right now. I love the fact I just don't care what people think of me now, not that I ever did before really, and I'm much more relaxed, I think. Others who know me may not agree!

    I saw the film Finding your Feet on Friday and was impressed by the fact that so many of our actors have wonderful characterful faces portraying the ages they are meant to be rather than succumbing to the surgeons knife or injection fillers. I've always thought there is something beautiful about a face on which only time is the pen and you know what they say, if you don't have any lines you just haven't laughed enough.

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    1. Oh yes, yes, yes - and those who go down the plastic face route still don't get those young roles, I don't know why they bother. Though I don't think the lines around my mouth are to do with laughing. Smoking, maybe ;)

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  9. Great post, Terry. I can relate to all the points you make especially as I’m well past the 50s mark. Sometimes I think about having a little nip and tuck around the jowls but I do agree about plastic surgery in general. The lines don’t bother me so much but I would like a jawline. Ah well....
    I wouldn’t have known the picture above was Madonna either. The problem is they never know when to stop. So many ‘celebrities’ have ruined their natural prettiness, going too far with surgery.

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    1. I never had much of a jawline but it's all gone now! Thanks for reading - and your skin is pretty damn good for your age too! Yes, as I will be 59 this year, I now think of people of 50 as young pups. My face didn't totally start to collapse until I was about 55.

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    2. I have a really neat trick re the jawline and jowls - wear rollnecks! As in Nora Ephron's 'I Feel Bad about my Neck'. Terrific book.

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  10. Hi Terry - can totally relate .. though am into the next and almost next but one age - yet carry on as best I can. So glad Georgia mentioned the film Finding your Feet ... so will keep an eye out for that. Onwards we go - giving and enjoying life ... just be cheerful for as long as possible - cheers Hilary

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    1. Oh yes, cheerful has nothing to do with age! Thanks for reading :)

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  11. I now have 70 in sight ... how did that happen?

    But it’s fine - it’s been a privilege to live the life I’ve chosen. I’ve seen women live the toughest of lives and still able to smile - and to be generous to passing strangers. Sometimes growing older feels like hard work - but my life is easy-peasy compared with so many women across the world.

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    1. Indeed; I often remind myself how lucky we are to have been born in the western hemisphere at this point in history. Probably some of the luckiest people who ever lived!

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  12. Well, you made me laugh, Terry. And you don't look your age at all, despite the white hairline!! Can't remember the last time I saw what colour my hair really was. Now... as a slightly older woman than most here in the comments, I feel I can add something that always makes you look younger (not wanting a pillow face, slanty eyes or rictus grin it's not cosmetic surgery)... it's a smile! Yes it can give you wrinkles - eventually - but they are smiley wrinkles. Luckily - though,thinking about it, some might think otherwise, I never went through the menopause. Having had cancer, a hysterectomy at thirty, I sailed through my fifties, despite then having breast cancer. Husband says I'm leaving him bit by bit, having had so many operations but he has no chance; he's not getting away that easily! And, as 'they' say the alternative to all the 'Bad' of growing old, the alternative is worse. I still have too much to do. And I'm not too old...not to be able to touch my toes; I stand up when putting on my knickers. Cheers!

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    1. The only time I see my real hair colour is when my roots need doing, J - it varies from the white, as featured above, to fag ash grey, to a few bits underneath at the back that are still brown.

      That 'having too much to do' - I live in fear that I will die before writing all the books I want to write...!

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  13. Words with oodles of wisdom, TT. I'll be 63 shortly and went through menopause at 45 (I didn't even realise what was going on until it was over...haha. All those night sweats and hot flushes...that couldn't have been menopause, surely? I was far too young. But it was). Anyhow, I've felt liberated from caring about what I looked like since I moved onto the barge. That happened at the same time as menopause, so maybe the two were connected. Who knows? I am content being what and who I am now and white hair? Well, if Emmy Lou Harris can make it something to celebrate, then why not? Being fifty something was fine and being sixty something is fine too, but like you, I am sad about the things I know I won't be able to do....there's still so much on my wish list, but yes, arthritis and various weakening joints are beginning to tell me my limitations! As for crow's feet, I've had them since my twenties, and if that's a sign of a life well laughed, then I'm happy with them!

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    1. I'll tell you something. It is much easier not to care what you look like when you are very slim, like your good self, because very slim people always look okay, whatever the rest of them is like. Those of us who have nasty lumpy bits have to make more effort, or we look not like older women with a certain careless boho chic, like your good self, but mad old bags.

      Yes, it's all fine, all of it, better, in fact, but it just pisses me off that my body doesn't work so well anymore. Come to think of it, it worked better when I smoked and drank. Hmmm!! :D :D :D

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    2. If I looked like Emmy Lou Harris, I'd be pretty chuffed as well!

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  14. What a great post, Terry. I think this philosophy fits for everyone 40+ too. I remember waking up after my fortieth birthday and wondering why every part of my body hurt - even the end of my finger!! ;) I'm 46 this year and the big 50 has been on my mind quite a bit recently. In my head I'm still about 19 but then I'll walk past the mirror and scare the s**t out of myself haha. It's been one hell of a journey and there's still so much to look forward to (after menopause, incontinence, loss of eye sight) xx

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    1. Yeah, everything hurt the day after my 40th birthday, too - probably because I'd been partying since 2 the previous afternoon and hadn't been to bed!!

      Fear not - Gemini is one of those signs that stays young!!! Well, I'm not incontinent, but my eyes started to go (just reading glasses needed!) in my mid 40s, and have got increasingly worse - I don't always wear them, but let's say I can see better with them! I have 3 sorts now - reading, writing and telly/shopping (or I can't see what's what in the aisles, it's all blurred!!)

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  15. Great post although a little scary. My 40s are proving to be chaotic and things are happening to my body which I didn’t want or expect. My emotions are all over the place and I can see why people have mid life crises. I just hope I am knee deep in novel writing by the time I am in my 50s

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    1. What you have to do is this: do all your crazy stuff in your 20s, 30s and early 40s. Then you don't have daft mid-life crises because you've already done all the stupid shit!!! ha ha - it'll get better. My 40s were chaotic too, much more than my 20s and 30s. Now, life is calm. And.... rest :) And I didn't start publishing novs until I was 52, so you're okay!

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  16. Having read this very funny post and read all the comments, I now feel as old as the hills. I don't understand how some of you describe the menopause as 'going'or packing its bags. I have had mine for 30 years and although it seems to be slowing down, it shows no sign of leaving!

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    1. Not quite sure I understand this...!! Menopause for 30 years ~ I assume you mean something else??

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  17. I've decided that the way forward is to have bits of yourself replaced with man-made materials. I have plastic lenses in both eyes as a result of cataract operations, and a titanium and plastic hip joint - yee har!

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  18. Great post - I'm 56 and still happily doing things I'm apparently too old to do. I don't give a flying f**k. Yes I don't look 30, I wished I'd known when I was 30 that I looked 20 and an extra half stone makes no difference to the world. Skin care, hair dye, your own style, laughing, drink, fags again if I make 80, good people because life is too short for crap ones. Yes time's winged chariot but it also means no more excuses - the things I want to do have to get done - and a certain amount of luck, I'm still standing after cancer but lots aren't. Aging can be a cosmic joke and a bit shit but the alternative is worse. Be nice to yourself, own your life.

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    1. Do you know, I was just thinking that the other day - if I make it to 75, I might start smoking again and think, what the hell! Everything you say is so right... I wish I'd known when I was 30 that I was pretty damn lush and also NOT FAT - I spent all my 20s and 30s thinking I was fat when I wasn't, as I now see from photos. I don't drink any more (or hardly, anyway), because I went off it, but I shake your hand at the rest of it. So many of the people I've talked to online about all this shit have been through cancer. It shows one thing - it IS possible to beat it. Onwards with the green tea and blueberries.

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    2. Catherine, you are a woman after my own heart. When I read this, I thought that I could have written pretty much all of it. Went straight over to Twitter to follow you!

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    3. Catherine is a Scorp, Julia, and was in my zodiac writers series!

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  19. Love this post, and all the comments. I'm 48 and my face has just started sagging, it seems to fall further and further every day! But I can't bear that horrible puffy-faced look that all these female celebrities go in for, so definitely no fillers for me. I shall just have to put up with it! I agree with Catherine - skin care, hair dye and drinking! And I definitely care less about what other people think. In fact, usually not at all!

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    1. Oh yeah, once it starts.... you wait until your mid 50s, it's almost interesting to watch the facial ageing process unfold overnight!

      As for the cosmetics of today - thank goodness we have them. If we didn't have moisturising stuff and hair colourants, I would look 68, not 58.

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  20. The perimenopause has taken my eyebrows! Other than that I'm feeling better than I have in years - fewer migraines and up-and-down moods. Thanks for such a thoughtful and honest post.

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    1. If it wasn't for my knees and the lack of years left, I'd say this was the best time of my life!

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  21. I love this blog, Terry!! Rock Star. I am with you. I just turned 47 & heading toward 50 with the big M on the other side waiting for me. I am going through empty nest feelings with my son going off to college soon & peri-m hitting all at once.
    I am a little shocked by my emotional upheaval during this time because I had know I idea my heart and soul was so rooted to motherhood & I have never viewed myself as a hover momma, but I see how time marching on & the aging mixed in with it all while hormones fluxuatimg adds that extra punch.
    I been taken ng extra long walks & writing,reading more & dreaming up new dreams for me.
    This is an important topic & loved how you shared so openly.
    I agree regarding faceial fillers. I haven't touched them at all, while I know others that think it's the fountain of youth & understand their struggle but wish secretly I hope they don't over do it because their natutal beauty is always better .
    You look amazing in that photo you shared. Rock on Terry!!
    I am thrilled to know you & Julia. Big hugs. Loved this, m

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    1. Thanks for this lovely comment, Machel, and yes, lets hear it for no plastic stuff!! I can't imagine what the empty nest thing must be like... it's a change to your whole identity, isn't it? But you have other aspects to it. You look amazing too, and I am sure your 50s will be just fine once you get into them, because you are that sort of person xx

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    2. Ain't no fountain of youth, Machel, and those weird fillers make women look both deformed and desperate - not a good look for anyone. My sister and I are not mothers, so we can't comment on that. But I'd just like to say that you look just lovely, and you are lovely. And as far as ageing goes - well, in the words of the great Diamond David Lee Roth, you gotta roll with the punches, and you might as well jump!

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  22. Great post, Terry and you look amazing for a 50 something woman. I have to say though I had the most horrendous menopause and I had no idea what to expect because I think it's mostly not talked about. All I knew about were the hot flushes but my God they were the least of my worries. I'm 55 now though and have lived to tell the tale. It lasted for about 5 years and now I'm through it I feel more energised than I have for years. I've been able to reclaim my fitness and confidence and life is looking good :D

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    1. SOOO glad you're through it.... I know what a time you had. Good to see you again, I thought you had disappeared completely.

      As for being 50-something - another 16 months and I'll be 60-something - waaaah!!! I put the looking young thing down to eating masses of fruit and veg, not drinking, and obssessive skin care. I've become one of those boring shits I used to read about and think 'what a boring shit, go and have a large vodka and party'.

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  23. As someone who recently hit 50, this was very interesting as well as entertaining; a really fun and honest look at life. My own 50 crisis also had the "must get more healthy or I'll die" aspect to it but was otherwise more existential in nature. It was all about needing to achieve things before I die and the very permanent nature of death.

    It really highlighted for me the differences in the challenges faced by men and women in getting older. Men don’t have to worry anywhere near as much as women about physical appearance. The obligation for them to present themselves in a certain way is simply not there – when I was writing a piece about being 50 I didn’t even mention these things; they were so irrelevant to me I hadn’t even considered them. Male privilege writ large.

    Reading your blog and all the comments is a sobering experience – I would agree with all your advice, but that’s easy for me to say. I imagine it’s far more difficult to break the spell when you’ve spent your whole life under that pressure to look right on every occasion. It’s really shocking that society still works in this way – we should have got passed all that by now but I sometimes wonder whether things are actually getting worse rather than better on that front.

    Thanks for provoking my thoughts!

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    1. Hi, thanks for reading and commenting!

      Re the looks thing, yes, I know, it pisses off most women that men are not judged on how they look in the same way as we are, but it is human nature - you can't change that in a matter of a few decades, or ever will do. Regarding what I wrote about the ageing appearance, I don't mourn the passing of my youthful beauty (that's a joke, btw) because I feel that I must look a certain way, but because I want to like what I see in the mirror! But I don't get hung up about it. If it was that important to me, I would have posted a picture of me looking glamorous so that everyone could give me compliments, instead of one to illustrate my white hairline!

      The needing to achieve things before I die is very much on my mind - I thought that had come across, perhaps not. Much more so than worrying about jowls and lined necks. But I do tend to express myself in a lighthearted way, for the entertainment of my blog readers, so perhaps it came across as a bit superficial to some! I will say, though, that many of the men I know have at some point whinged about looking older. Many men in Hollywood have plastic surgery too! And yes, I agree that in some areas, things are getting worse on that front. Certainly today's young women are under far more pressure than I was when in my teens. And their peers are far nastier, it seems.

      Being 14 months off 60 is a completely different ball game from being 50. I started to realise that when I was about 57. Your body starts to FEEL old, it really does. Your skin starts to go papery, and that makes me sad, not because of how it looks, but because it means I haven't got many years left, and my time is nearly done, and that makes me panic about not having done nearly enough STUFF!

      But isn't it great to feel better in your head?

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    2. Thanks for the response – I agree with you on so many of these things. The "needing to achieve things" did come across in your post - my point was more that I have the luxury of entirely focusing on this aspect, rather than having to give a thought to the other stuff. I think what really brought it home to me was you saying something to the effect of “I really didn’t want to talk about appearance, but it’s unavoidable”.

      I take the point that men in Hollywood have plastic surgery as well, but I’d venture that the percentage of men who feel pressured to look as good as George Clooney in their 50s is far lower than that of women who feel pressured to look as good as, say, Nicole Kidman. And terminology is interesting – men have weathered faces, women have wrinkles, for example. As you say, it’s so ingrained it’s difficult to see it changing any time soon, if at all. The real problem, though, is not so much the differences in the concepts of beauty in men and women, it’s the fact that appearance is used to judge women far more than it is men. That is what needs to change.

      I’m certainly already noticing the aging effect on my body. Not so much in my mirror reflection – if anything, I look a little bit younger since I gave up commuting into an office a couple of years back (in MY opinion, anyway). It’s the aches and pains, the reduction in flexibility and balance, the fact I seem to be a bit more awkward than I used to be – I’m starting to feel old inside. Fifty was a bit of a jolt to me in a way that neither thirty or forty were. It’s the acceptance of knowing you are more than likely over half way through life – with more time gone than is left.

      I’m still panicking about it, to be honest. My head’s so full of things I want to achieve that I end up doing very little of it. At the moment, I don’t feel better in my head. I have to lift myself out of the slump and just get on with it. There’s not really any alternative, is there.

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