This blog is about my journey of reaching 50, some of the steps on the way, what has happened since. I went from re-evaluating my life, moving forward, and then taking more and more leaps into the unknown. In that process I’ve used quite a few tools to help me navigate, the sometimes-bumpy terrain, challenging people, situations and the internal process of managing each step. Like many others do, I’m re-evaluating my life while going on a journey of discovery. The journey is both physical and metaphorical; I’ll be taking a trip through France and Italy and in the process possibly not only having new experiences but discovering more of who I am.
If we haven’t met or you haven’t read my website before, I’ve worked in the mental health and wellbeing field for over 20 years, after the birth of my second child I decided to embark on a new path of study as a second career. When I started I did not have a plan; I didn’t know where this would take me and it has been an exciting, deeply satisfying and sometimes painful journey. As anyone does in the psychology and therapy field, you have to turn a few stones over and dissect your life, learn who you are, unpack what you believe and examine all of it; then at some point you start to reassemble the bits that work and process then let go of what doesn’t work for you anymore and hope in the process to be of some use to the people who you come into contact with.
Hundreds of families, professionals, and young people; later I’m sort of back at this place I was 25 years ago wondering where I want to go next.
But its different this time, my children were just a few years old then, and now they are both grown men and living their own lives. When your children grow up, it forces you to notice what has been in the background for some time, feel some of the dissatisfactions even more or take time out to consider who you are and what you now want. This all started just before I approached 50.
Think about this age, 50, yes age is just a number but its more than that, it symbolises a point in time when many of us that approached it, now had a wealth of life experiences both personal and professional to inform our decisions and even activate our fears. Also, what I discovered is that all the things you usually want, enjoy or aim for, start to lose their significance and meaning. This can throw some people into a crisis, and I’m not sure how well our society helps others with this.
When they are now faced with considering where they fit in it all, what they want and even the meaning of their existence, without the proper tools and support , can leave many feeling isolated ,stranded and meandering. It’s not an easy place to be , if you’ve never sat back and thought about what was really in your heart or took action to discovery who you are and what lights you up. Even if you scraped through with just a few cuts and bruises from life’s challenges, there would be a point in time where you might find yourself looking in the mirror and asking some much deeper questions.
I hated the idea of turning 50, it represented many things to me, my kids, of course, would be older, and now I wasn’t able to tap into the things I had found fun, enjoyed or even wanted in the same way anymore.
Social constructs have a hidden narrative about how you meant to be at 50.
I’m not sure when I started to get used to the idea of being 50, well I don’t think I have, as a therapist I’m kind of good at utilizing the denial tool, but it’s taking a bit longer than when I celebrated my 40th and embracing it in the same way.
But 50, 50 had always made me think of the woman I used to see when I was small; who all just looked old and disillusioned. The woman in my community looked dowdy bored and downtrodden. I’m not sure the woman in the family helped challenge that view much. Marriage was portrayed as something, that after the initial falling in love phase, as servitude and oppression and I suspect for a lot of women it was. Tv only seemed to inflate these stereotypes too, they represented woman as lonely, haggard, on the shelf, or nagging old bats like in the long running hit Tv show, Last of The Summer Wine.
The portrayal of men was, that they were endlessly trying to get away from the grips of their powerful, controlling, ball breaking wives. The woman I saw seem to have just been slaving away at the cooker, bringing up the children and stuck in meandering relationships, just about remaining in view until they disappeared, apart from some woman, who chased a dream and ended up like Shirley Valentine.
I think that’s why that film was so popular, many of the working- class woman at the time couldn’t even suggest doing something they might find interesting, stimulating or going for a job, it just wasn’t done back then. Showing any interest outside of having children, running the home and being a good wife, puzzled many. My how things have changed.
Another programme that really represented how some couples started to review and question life as they got older was the Good Life. I didn’t realize it back then, back in 1975 when the programme was first aired, it captured the spirit of the time, this time focusing on middle-class couples. It opens with the midlife crisis of Tom, a 40-year-old plastics designer, and relates to the joys and miseries of he and his wife experience when they attempt to escape modern commercial living by becoming totally self-sufficient in their suburban home. The show ran until 2004 and was incredibly popular and seemed to capture the early stirring of people in society that had started to understand they could have more, want more and even change their minds later in life about all they had accumulated.
A lot of how we approach life and the various phases is different for everyone as it’s informed by your gender race, culture, and class.
When we were small, did we have a map of how we want our life to look? Or do we casually take on subconscious beliefs and ideas about life, love, children, marriage, and work from our families and shape it just a little? Do we declare we don’t want this but don’t really understand what we can have instead, do we model it on the TV shows we watch or on some of the other families we come into contact with? Do we declare we always want to be living alone, never have children or live a bohemian lifestyle?
I guess I’ve always been fascinated by the rich diversity of humans and how their inner worlds are expressed, and that’s was drew me into the work I do.
I saw many different models of family life. I knew I didn’t want the one I was born into and I saw some friends’ families and thought them strange and lived close by to families like Tom and Barbara in the Good life and found the difference in class and ways of relating fascinating, and I still do.
I look back and think about all the events in my life and how they happened, and they sort of just seemed to happen. Maybe that’s the way it goes, in your 20s and 30s you are getting ready for the adult world earning money and starting to build a life.
But what do you do when you grow up, and all you know is what you’ve been shown?
Messages about being a woman
As a woman growing up in my household; the message was quite different; my mum was incredibly independent, hardworking, strong and the breadwinner. I saw very early on what wasn’t usual back then, but a way that women can make it.
At 17, not only entered the workforce but the male world. I started working as a chef in all-male settings and became even more aware of how we were treated because of our gender. I liked working with the guys, but sexism was rife. We were paid less, treated as less and disregarded in many ways, our voice, our opinion, our innate gifts, stifled and shut down . Claiming your personal power and space was tough for a woman back then.
So, by my mid-20s; much to my surprise I was married with two babies and starting a domestic life.
That was until, a desire for something else and an inkling that I could create a new timeline and way of living started to ripple through my veins. I didn’t know what was happening at the time but looking back it was a blend of not wanting what I had, along with my interest in social history and the psychology of people and families emerged.
When my youngest was 2, I went back to college and retrained as a therapist. I was opened to a whole new world of fascinating information, world religions, psychology, philosophy and theories of the human mind and suffering. I found my calling, my enthusiasm for learning was established and I wanted to get my teeth into everything I could find. I wanted to help people, whose destiny’s had been carved out through the social, cultural and gendered lens, into something more.
It was the age of personal development, psychological discovery, and navel-gazing. The 60s enlightenment period had influenced a new genre of psychology and that was now affecting society and ordinary woman like me could start to get a bite at the cherry.
After a few years, I got the certificates needed and began to work with people from all walks of life.
I started to feel some purpose …..
How we are as humans and how we face life’s adversity and opportunity’s to fascinated me, and I wanted to know more and more. I studied and worked while bringing up my children and moved through the ranks. By the time I was approaching 50, I had worked with 100’s of young people, delivered training, and ran services that impacted young people’s lives. I was proud of what we did, but it took its toll, I’d have burnout three times.
The ever-decreasing circle and feelings of cynicism can start to stare you in the face as you get older, especially in this line of work. Those of us in health and local authority’s see the many ways of working with the same problems -different governments, same issues, same ideas wrapped up in “new ways”. Labor’s new deals, conservatives’ social discourse on creating citizens that care and give back, yet services are forever stretched and challenged to provide care and interventions for an ever increasing sick and worried society.
I was proud of the work I had done but like colleagues was starting to feel weary. It took a lot of energy not only to sustain the work but remain hopeful that I was still making a difference and impacting the world.
Many people on this path, either spiritual or psychological love helping people, seeing a spark of light, a nugget of information can make a big shift in someone’s life. We hold out hope when they don’t, bring the light when it’s dark and lend our brains when there’s is overwhelmed. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone have a complete distorted version of themselves realizing they are so much more and witnessing their lives taking off.
Throughout my career, not only did I learn ways to help people, but I also learned a range of techniques to improve communication, manage stress and increase happiness and joy.
Society was now moving into a new era, from problem-focused to recovery and even transformation.
I became fascinated by how we could not only live day to day but improve it and even elevate our lives.
I had for over 20 years been on a professional but also a personal journey. I also had to face and sort out my own family issues, in my past and present. It motivated me to find a lot of new material. I moved away also from digging up more stuff to introducing new ways of thinking and focusing. I started to see results. Is started to notice shifts in myself and others. I no longer believed that pain and distress needed a lot of time and effort that in fact, some people can make some big shifts with little input. I was experiencing much of what I was also teaching.
There was a point at which I started to have some real issues at work. When a workplace goes through a restructure, it can be stressful, and I started to look for ways to manage this and regain balance and harmony. Some of the work situations pushed me to the edge, and my thoughts returned to; what did I now want and where did I want to go next.
Positive psychology, the law of attraction and the increased interest in all things spiritual
With now having access to information at my fingertips. I could scroll; through the thousands of pages to explore what had been written on an array of topics. I listened to hours of Ted talks and videos on the law of attraction; I started to understand about how we could create a life we want. I had moved from thinking about suffering , struggle, distress and having to just get through it, but also about magnetizing change and becoming masters of our own destiny’s.
At the same time, I had also begun an interest in meditation and yoga. I had tried a variety of meditations as in the day job analyzing made switching off my mind and relaxing something of a challenge. I started to enjoy what was in fact a simple process that yielded some really nice feelings and results.
As I was approaching 50 I was going through a massive work change and within six months of my birthday I had left and had some time out and started to activity focus on what I wanted. The space in those months really helped me immerse myself in what I loved doing, where time just disappeared as I got more and more absorbed. In that process, I had learned that when you enjoy things your energy shifts and everything else around you shifts. People start responding differently, some issues just dissipate, and it motivates you to notice and discover this more . The trick is the consistency you applied.
I developed my interest in yoga more, retrained as a meditation teacher and started to do some workshops. I also started to design and write for my website, bought a camera and expanded my interest in photography. I also Took up swimming again but went to a new pool and started to play the music that I love much more.
These were the things I recognised brought in new light fun energy and lit me up
And now I came to a point in my life again where I was questioning my work, its meaning and what next. How did I want to spend the next decade? What did I want to give to the world while I was here. Would I carry on wanting to do similar work and aiming to make a difference. Was there something completely different out there for me?
My sons had moved out, and the feeling of possibility and expansion increased. Sometimes it feels daunting and others it feels exciting. But first I needed a long break and to do something Ive really wanted to do for years . To visit Italy .
The decisions I’ve been making haven’t been easy but staying static, and meandering isn’t either, and the voice in the back of your mind gets louder and louder. We are now at a time where we have to hear our inner calling, society has changed in many ways, and there are many more possibilities for women especially in the west, to reclaim who we really are, not who we were carved into or what society says.
We should show gratitude for those that helped us to be able to do this, the women who fought and risked their lives for our freedom, equal pay, opportunity and challenging the old system, stereotypes, and hidden agendas, all designed to keep us all in our place.
Fundamentally, my passion has always been about empowerment, helping people find their way, and managing the bumpy bits, while learning some new stuff to help them before they fly off happier, healthier and with a new vision to work from
And what better way to become even more energised and empowered by facing ones fears, anxiety’s and desires head on.
Find out how I get on, by following my blog.
The challenges, tools, and experiences of a 50+ woman, (still in denial lol) going on a trip, to explore and discover not only new places but more of herself.
You can also follow the journey that I take utilising a course called Heart-full Living, By Tom Evans , a course that is designed to one you up for allowing more opportunity’s and experiences to come to you as well as finding what’s in your heart