I keep having to play the clip above because I keep forgetting how on earth you say quinquagenarian. Not the easiest age to say ~ much easier to say half a century or simply 50.
I’m not 50 until May but being ridiculously excited I have a countdown on my phone which is ticking down until the big day. To be clear the prospect of being 50 doesn’t fill me with great joy but the present from my husband for this milestone is a long weekend to Amsterdam. The hotel is in the centre so minimal walking for me and now that the girls are adults we can happily leave them at home dog/house sitting so we can go away with peace of mind ~ I could never leave my fur babies in a kennels.
I am also a little fearful about my impending birthday because 50 sounds so much older than 40’s and because it’s the latter part of my life, who knows what will happen next.
I looking forward to being able to say I’m half a century old and carry that as a badge, nod wisely during conversations as if I am holding a lifetime of knowledge ~ I don’t, my brain only holds random and wholly unhelpful information, but “they” don’t know that.
Looking back at birthdays past I can remember being hugely excited to become a “teen” then also again when I hit 18, meaning I could legally buy alcohol from the pub and buy condoms with a grin and bravado whilst confidently flashing my driving licence as i.d.
My 20’s are a bit of a blur, but remember them being a very happy time in my life, large groups of friends, getting married, qualifying as a nurse, moving from house to house as the family grew.
I cried when I turned 30, I really didn’t want to stop being twenty something, mum had banners and balloons all over the house and for no rhyme or reason I burst into tears when I saw them. I felt like I was being horribly ungrateful but after a few bevvies I managed to relax and enjoy the day.
The first year of being 30 saw me getting pregnant with my youngest daughter, she was born in 2000, only a couple of months before my 31st birthday. So perhaps being 30 wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
Throughout this period we moved a few more times ~ until we found our forever home in 2005, it was the end of a number of house moves during our time together. I grabbed my husband and we worked out that it was a total of 11 house moves until we could chuck the moving boxes away.
I love our home and we are constantly changing parts of it until we can get it just how we want it. Our next project will be creating a downstairs bedroom and bathroom so I won’t have to bear crawl up the stairs anymore. Then outside creating raised vegetable plots, getting glass in the green house ~ we have the glass and it’s been stacked against the frame for about 10 years now. I have a water feature ready to be fitted but need to decide where first. I also want to plant some fruit trees and reorganise bits and bobs, tubs and whatnot outside too.
I really embraced being 40 ~ it was a celebration of having come through many changes and finding exactly where I wanted to be and with whom I wanted to be with. My daughters are wonderful and they have a exceptionally strong bond with both sides of the family and grandparents. My husband is also a real treasure ~ to be fair I sometimes forget how long we have known each other ~ 46 of my almost 50 years to be precise.
My 40’s ~ I hoped for so much and had an idea in my head of how the years would go. The girls would move through school to either college, uni or apprenticeship. They would learn to drive, get cars and enjoy the freedom and fun that being a young adult affords. They would find their passion and follow it.
It started so well, mum and dad stayed with the girls whilst Dave and I jetted off to Nashville, Kentucky & Memphis ~ it was a awesome trip, one with many special memories.
THEN, it all started to go wrong ~ in 2009 mum passed away, it hit us all terribly hard despite knowing it was coming. The girls were devastated, mum was like a second mum to them, we were all incredibly close.
I don’t know quite why it changed and how it happened but we started to travel down on a path of health issues.
One by one my girls were challenged with mental and physical health issues, schooling was none existent or part~time and a waging of war between ourselves and the education health welfare officer and schools began, mostly about poor attendance and how to access funding for tutors or virtual school ~ no help was given.
I won’t go into the various health diagnosis because they aren’t really relevant, but suffice it to say they are lifelong chronic invisible mental health and/or physical health conditions.
We were challenged daily and at this time we utilised many varied therapists and treatments to desperately find a cure for the issues that found their way to us.
Despite the difficulties the girls illnesses made us even closer and a firm tight knit unit ~ it felt as if it was us against the world.
We managed to fund virtual school for our youngest just in Maths and English as the council refused to help pay for it. She has since gone on to attend College 2 days a week and model part time. She is going to Uni in September to study a degree to become a professional aesthetic practitioner. The Uni know of her conditions and are prepared and able to provide the appropriate support.
Our middle daughter missed secondary school education too and so accessed a local charity teaching functional skills in Maths, English and IT which she gained. Now she is a qualified piercer and building a portfolio to find a tattoo apprenticeship ~ she has taught herself up to a point by watching videos, practising on sheets of fake skin and my skin. She’s good but could do with some professional guidance, tips and advice if she is to take it up as a profession. Her goal is to have her own tattoo and piercing studio.
Our eldest managed to access uni via a foundation course, she has 1 more year left but is currently on a year out to explore the world and challenge herself. She spent 6 weeks in Jamaica living with a family and learning about their culture. She worked at local disaster relief centres and hospitals within the community. Now she is moving around as a team leader raising funds for St Johns Ambulance and when she returns to uni in September will work for them as their Student Ambassador with the option of a job when she graduates.
My lovely husband has also had issues with 3 heart attacks and two stents fitted.
The family health fuckery is completed with my compellation of chronic health issues.
BUT and this is a very important but ~ although the years following my 40th birthday have been far from easy it doesn’t mean they have been all bad. We have had a good number of highs too which are what have kept us going through the lows.
It is in this my 50th year that I am accessing long term physiotherapy via the rheumatology specialist physios. I am hoping this will help me reach a higher level of “wellness” than I currently have ~ I am working at it realistically and not holding any expectations ~ whatever improvement I gain will be a much appreciated bonus. Dave is *touches wood* doing better and the stents are holding firm. My girls are finding their way to their dreams ~ all be it via a very windy road as opposed to a clear cut straight line.
I suppose I ought to look at my 50’s as a time in my life when I can do “me” more and worry less about other things. We have plans for the house and garden which will make it a much more cosy and relaxing place to be. The girls will be further along their paths and hopefully ~ again much touching of wood ~ we will find ourselves more financially secure and have more time together to enjoy social pursuits.
I have decided for my 50th year to give myself a few goals to adhere to and hopefully achieve. Towards the end of last year I signed up for a online, open ended British Sign Language course ~ something I have wanted to do for many years. This year I intend to complete it ~ or indeed start it.
My other goals are to get out more, even if just down the road, to photograph more subjects and learn how to use different techniques and utilise my photography sphere more creatively.
Finally I want to be able to attend almost every physio session to get as well as possible. So far I have missed 4 of the 6 hydrotherapy sessions due to sickness but my physio is a complete gem and with a huge amount of compassion and understanding told me not to worry, to rest and see her at the end of February for a 45 minute reassessment appointment ~ if well enough by then to slot me back into hydro or if not to come up with a new plan.
Today, after a referral via my rheumatology physiotherapist I visited the Biomechanics Clinic in the Podiatry Department. I haven’t been to a clinic like this before and so had no idea what to expect. Dave drove me and stayed in the waiting area when I was called in. My therapist did a thorough physical examination as well as a medical history run through. I was informed that I definitely have Hypermobility Ehlers~Danlos and that nearly all my major joints are unstable hence my ongoing chronic pain. My right leg is also shorter then my left and my right side is significantly (worryingly) weaker than my left. I had to really struggle to push against the therapist hand and to pull my foot back up towards me too.
I have been given some exercises to do in conjunction with the rheumatology exercises. I have also been given special insoles and heal raisers. I had to walk up and down for her and my left foot rolls in and I walk like someone slightly pissed! The insoles and heel raisers are exceptionally comfortable but made me very wobbly and I had to hold onto the wall for balance. I am to visit monthly for reassessments and tweaks of exercises.
To my dismay I have to wear wedge heels ALL the time in order to support my hips and have been told that the swelling which is around both ankles and is around the Achilles will probably always be there. I have some special ankle support straps to wear when I have to go anyway for any length of time. Very sexy don’t you think?
BUT to my absolute horror I have been ordered to buy some Crocs to wear around the house and am banned from walking in socks or bare feet. I have been told to have them by the bed to put on immediately when I get up in a morning and wear them all day, every day in the home. This is because they have the wedge heel that can support my hips when I’m not going out. I managed to find a purple pair in a sale with next day delivery from Sports Direct so will have them tomorrow.
However, when I go out I have three other options; my walking boots with the insoles and heel raisers ~ these old walking boots are incredibly hardy and comfortable with ankle support which are perfect for winter and icy conditions because they have awesome grip. They are a pain to do up though with all the hooks and whatnot but once on very comfy.
My new trainers which were specifically recommended for me to wear when out casually in the summer ~ Nike Air plus the insoles and heel raisers. Good old Sports Direct came up trumps as this purple and white pair were reduced in the sale which is awesome.
Then I also have my old faithful zip up super comfy but exceptionally ugly mid calf length boots with wedge heels which have the insoles and heel raisers in too.
My other boots or shoes can be worn only on special occasions and only if I put the insoles and heel raisers in them and not for very long. My orders are to always wear a supportive wedge heel.
I am hoping that my 50th year will see me finally coming out the other end of the menopause. It feels like I have been perimenopausal for an eternity. I will dye my hair as many shades of purple as I can. I will wear what I damn well please and don’t care whether it is deemed “age appropriate” or not. I will feed my hobbies and passions and will cheer on my girls and husband to feed theirs too.
So, approaching 50 and beyond ~ what does this mean to me?
50 darlings is the new 40!
You need scaffolding for your boobs as they head south.
Hairs grow where they shouldn’t ~ on nipples and chin etc but falls out where it should be such as pubes and eyebrows.
You learn about Tena lady as you laugh or sneeze and a little wee comes out.
Your bladder weakens and so you have the holding skills of a toddler.
Your eyesight goes and so glasses are a must ~ I’ve perfected the looking over the top of my glasses manoeuvre.
You seem to have a constant supply of wind in your bowels which means you release wind at random moments, they can sometimes be long and tuneful or silent and violent, occasionally only a squeak or perhaps a loud brief bang. Fart with abandon, don’t apologise instead just smile proudly at the creativity of your bottom piano.
You can give fewer fucks ~ you’ve earned the right.
You’ve passed the child rearing stage of life, now is time for you.
You can speak your mind and not be bothered how others respond because you damn well know that your opinion is as valid as the next persons.
You don’t care if people don’t like you ~ so long as you have your core of friends/family that know you and allow you to be you then everyone else doesn’t matter.
You do what you want to do and not what you think other people want you to do ~ hell, you are heading down towards the dark side so now is the time to do you to the max.
You are most likely much healthier (ahem) now than when you were younger as you are much more aware of what is good for you and what isn’t.
Equally you indulge in what isn’t good for you intermittently with gusto ~ because it doesn’t matter all that much anymore anyway.
You can either work the silver fox look or dye your hair any colour of the rainbow to hide those greys ~ the options are endless.
You *cough* are far wiser and more knowledgable so can pass your pearls down to the younger generation ~ not that they will necessarily listen.
You are comfortable enough in your own skin to laugh at yourself and embrace all that you are, your imperfections are what make you the person you are.
You look back fondly at times in your life you thought were awful at the time and realise how little you knew back then and how far you have come.
You wear you age with pride ~ you have lived this far and you appreciate that fact, not everybody gets to do this.
You can genuinely forgive others, you know that the problem is with them and not with you ~ let negative friendships or relationships that have run their course go ~ live life to the fullest without restraints because you’ve earnt it.
You are what you are, you wear what you want, you make your own rules and if you put your mind to it you can pretty much do anything you desire.
Life doesn’t stop now ~ go out, sing loudly, dance and slide around the kitchen in your socks, wear ridiculous clothing or live (like I do) in lounge wear and revel in the comfort of it.
Life at 50 sucks only if you allow it too ~ so pull that finger out and LIVE!
I will leave you with this from Moana which always cheers me up when I feel glum, I can often be seen very loudly singing along to this in my car because YES it’s on my Spotify playlist! I hope it lightens your day too…