Article by Ceri Wheeldon
As a new year starts many of us will begin January with good intentions and New Year Resolutions for our health and happiness. But what if this year also brings a milestone birthday? Do we approach years with birthdays with an ‘0’ differently to other birthdays?
I asked Helen Sanderson and Monica Bell, who are both turning 50 in 2017, how they felt and how they were approaching the year of their milestone birthdays and the next decade of their lives.
Helen’s approach to turning 50
Helen, who runs her own decluttering business sees reaching 50 as an exciting time of life. She feels many of the things she has started over the years are coming together, and that now they are starting to blossom. She admits to reaching 50 far more quickly than she thought! Looking back at her 20s she thought of 50 as being old – now that is not the case at all. Her perception of 50 has changed. Helen is planning to have a big party for her 50th birthday – although her birthday will not be her only reason to celebrate in 2017, as Helen will also be getting married – waving the flag for ‘older’ marriages.
So apart from getting married, what else does Helen have in store? Well, she is planning on travelling more – and taking her business abroad, and is also launching a decluttering kit AND having a book published. Definitely not fading into the background!
A recent study by Boots UK on the attitudes of women approaching 50 identified three typologies, Fearless, Fatalistic and Fretful . Interestingly, when I ran through these different typologies with Helen, she said that today she would definitely fit into the Fearless category – but had we had the same conversation a few years ago she would have placed herself in the Fretful category, indicating that something has definitely changed for her on reaching 50!
When it comes to her body and health changing, Helen said that apart from noticing the wrinkles she is not as ‘elastic’ as she used to be, and it takes her longer to bounce back if she is ill at all. In the past, Helen tended to take her body and her health for granted – she just let her body do its own thing. Now she recognises that she has to do more by taking more exercise, drinking more juice, and detoxing – most importantly from her computer screen! As part of running her own business she spends far too much time on social media and she realises that she has to be more focussed – her time is precious. When she was younger she could burn the candle at both ends but now she cannot get away with it.
What is Helen going to pledge to do in order to make sure that she starts her 50s in a fabulous fashion? Now she recognises that she needs to take time away from multiple screens, she plans to work with a coach in 2017 to help her do just that as she pledges to take more ‘me’ time by having an online detox.
Monica’s approach to turning 50
Monica is embracing turning 50 with lots of change. For Monica, her 50th birthday itself is not too significant for her – although she is aware it is for others around her – and she is fully expecting her husband to plan a party! Monica’s perception of 50 hasn’t really changed as she approaches it, although she did decide to make significant changes in her life as she approached it. Monica has always dreamt of living by the sea – and so relocated her family (she is married with two teenage sons) to Devon from Buckinghamshire. She felt life was too short to not follow your dream. Monica has also embraced the challenge of looking for employment as she approached 50 – finding a new teaching role, albeit part time, while recognising the issue facing mature teachers; feeling less employable as they are more expensive to recruit than younger and less experienced teaching staff.
Monica is grateful to be reaching 50 in 2017 and not 30 or 40 years ago. As she says, if she had been born in 1910 would the same level of medical help have been there at key times in her life? For our generation doctors have been there to support women through childbirth, we have been inoculated against key diseases and have been able to see a doctor when ill.
As Monica said, perceptions have changed. Looking back at 50-year-old characters on TV (for her Ena Sharples came to mind) who were not that old, but were portrayed as being old. Turning 50 today is very different. Helen Mirren is ageless at 70, she looks fab.
And when it comes to the typologies, which of the ‘F Factors’ does Monica see herself as? Monica saw herself as a mix of two – Fearless in terms of getting out and doing things, but Fatalistic in terms of accepting things that might happen.
But what about Monica’s health as she approaches 50? What changes has she noticed? “My joints are achy!” She says, “I noticed the other day when I had to get into my car via the passenger seat and climb over to the driver’s side. The twinges!”.
Monica is also aware that she has to take more care of her health, and her weight moving forward. So to make sure that she enters her 50s as fabulous as possible, Monica has pledged to give up sugar in 2017- not easy when you have a sweet tooth and love to bake! To keep herself on track, she has bought herself a coffee machine so that when she is tempted to eat something sweet she makes a nice gourmet coffee instead.
If you were to look objectively at your own health, what pledge would you make to yourself for 2017 to be even more fabulous over 50?