Most of us don't like to think about getting older, do we? But often that is part of the angst of moving into midlife - the realisation that we have more years behind us than ahead.
Is it any wonder that hitting 50 can trigger a period of reflection. Reflection that so often leads to changes being made - in our careers, relationships, health... how many people, men and women, do you know who took up a new hobby, left a relationship that no longer made them happy, lost weight, got fit, started a business...? Maybe you did one of these things, or something similar, yourself?*
When we were children, as with so many life stages, ageing was something that we expected to follow a well trod path - the idea that we had choices about how we lived our elder years didn't occur to the vast majority of our grandparents and parents.
For our parents in the UK, the school leaving age rose to 15 in 1947. By the time they came to retire in 1995, both men and women could draw their state pension at 65. Our grandparents, if they were born in the earlier years of the 20th century, left school at 12 and joined the work force.
They were tired by the age of 60, especially if they had spent their lives in service or on manual labour. No wonder the pipe and slippers by the fire and the charity work and gardening stereotypes seemed so appealing!
I shared this poem by Bernadette Noll on social media because it really resonated with me and made me think about how I want to go through my life now. Smoothly, carrying the experiences I have had gently rather than with regret or resentment. I want to stop striving and pushing. I want to be in flow.
I want to age like sea glass.
Smoothed by tides,
but not broken.
I want my hard edges to soften.
I want to ride the waves
and go with the flow.
I want to catch a wave
and let it carry me
to where I belong.
I want to be picked up
and held gently
by those who delight in my
well earned patina
and appreciate the changes I went
through to achieve that beauty.
I want to enjoy the journey
and always remember that if
you give the ocean something
breakable it will turn it into
I want to age like sea glass.
How about you? Does this soft, gentle picture of ageing sit well with you? Or are you more of a skidding through life on an adrenaline rush type of person? That's the beauty of midlife now, isn't it? Our capacity to choose how we want to live is no longer diminished by outdated societal mores.
Don't want grey hair? Make friends with a good hairdresser, because you're going to see a lot of them! Too many wrinkles for your liking? Botox, fillers - a plethora of "tweakments" are now available. Want to go grey naturally? Help with the grandkids? Learn a craft? Start a business? Go to university? Virtually nothing is off the table if funds and aptitude permit.
Sadly, along with choice can come confusion. What do I want to do, to be? Life was simpler when we knew - and accepted - what was expected of us, wasn't it?
Health and fitness become more of a priority as we age - staying well and mobile are crucial to fulfilling your goals, more so than ever before.
Find out more about Bernadette on her blog: Bernadettenoll.net