This is the year I turn 50, as will according to Google, such female acting luminaries as Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, plus Carla Bruni and Sam Taylor-Johnson. Of these fellow, "soon-to-be" quinquagenarians I would most like to align myself with Julia or Sam whose approach to ageing seems most akin to my own of wanting to grow old gracefully rather than pursue a quest to look younger. I want to enter this next decade of my life knowing how best to keep healthy and look fantastic without resorting to alternative means of feigning youthfulness. The taut foreheads of Nicole and Carla are not for me.
Turning back the clock is something we all wish for from time to time, not simply from an aesthetic perspective but in order to be able to relive those fabulous experiences that have shaped who we have become. In my 20's I was a single, ambitious career girl who worked hard and played hard. In my 30's I experienced my most significant life changes. I got married, became a first time mother, a divorcee, a single working mum and then a woman embarking on her second marriage. In my 40's I put the brakes on my PR career and became a full-time parent. Every decade has been filled to the brim with wonderful life experiences I wouldn't change for the world.
Now on the precipice of my 50's I am older, wiser and certainly more self-assured and with one teenager about to turn 18 and leave home for University, I have the time to take stock, make some amendments to my lifestyle and embrace the next decade with the same enthusiasm as the last four.
- The Reality of Midlife
So at the juncture of this second half of my life what is changing? What does facing 50 really look like - warts and all? Facially most people would say that I have not changed that much. At a party over the summer I was recognised immediately by an old work colleague I hadn't seen for 30 years. I have lines on my forehead and around my eyes but these have been with me most of my life and having watched my mother age before me I am pretty sure they go with my genetic territory. But genes can't account for everything.
Our skin is made up of around 80% collagen when we are young and then as early as the age of 25 it starts to decline as the natural moisture is depleted, so as you would expect, at 50 mine is not as plump and dewy looking as I would like anymore and is inevitably getting drier. Aside from my skin, my teeth have also suffered the test of time and are thinner and susceptible to chipping.
Physically, I am gaining weight. My waist has moved through the decades from an enviable 23 inches to a comfortable 27 inches. This is not big I know that, just annoying in that with a passion for following fashion I have a wardrobe full of clothes that I can't bring myself to throw away because too many wage packets were sunk to buy them, but equally I can't wear for any other reason than my burgeoning peri-menopausal waist. I am a bit stiffer than I used to be and with creaky knees I worry about osteoporosis. My eyesight has also declined; where once I could manage to read a menu at least without my glasses, that is no longer the case and my hearing is definitely not as sharp as it once was.
Getting older is fraught with new challenges and is also quite frankly expensive as you do find that you need "retouching" a little bit more than previously. My hair needs reviving with a colour on a more regular basis, as do my eyebrows which are getting sparser as each year goes by thanks to the "pencil thin" brow being all the rage when I was a teen. I also spend more than I should on face creams and love a good facial. This may seem superficial to some, but the consensus amongst my girlfriends at least is that feeling better about ourselves is crucial to our overall well being. Just because we are getting older does not mean we have to hang up our heels and hide ourselves in dowdy clothes, invite in the wrinkles or relinquish ourselves to the onslaught of sprouting grey hairs. Far from it.
So having painted a gorgon like image of myself physically, what is happening mentally? Well I am becoming more forgetful for sure, particularly my short-term memory. I have been known to walk into a room to do something and instantly forget why I am there. I tell my teenagers a piece of information and then repeat it again hours or in some cases just minutes later. I misplace things regularly and have an annoying habit of putting things in the wrong place or even in a safe place that I then can't recall! Are these early signs of dementia or can I blame this on the dreaded menopause too? My mood swings are increasingly more godzilla than bambi, but of course "It Must Be My Hormones!"
- Embracing 50
As I turn 50 and continue further along my life's journey I want to know how best to care for the inevitable changing needs of my skin and body; I want to know how best to nourish myself not only for a long and healthy life but to look and feel great; I absolutely want to continue looking my best whether that involves a new make-up routine or a style revamp; I want to explore supplementing my regular Pilates and Barrecore habit with different exercises as I age; I want to combat my forgetfulness, restore my hormonal imbalance (because there must be one right?) and prevent the onset of disease such as that experienced by my mother. Ultimately I want to be the healthiest, fittest and best-looking 50 year old I can be.
It is, however, about so much more than wanting to feel and look good. I want to continue to enjoy being a parent to my gorgeous teenagers and watch them flourish into successful, happy adults. There is so much more to come with them yet.
What is great about this age is the confidence that comes with knowing who I am. I don't have to prove myself to anyone anymore - apart from myself. So I want to continue to pursue the hobbies I love as well as investigate new ones. I am not going to shy away from offers of work, I have the time and the skill and as facing 50 looks like it is going to be more high maintenance than I imagined I can't afford to be fickle.