Fifty & Fabulous! The Best Years of a Woman’s Life
by Jaki Scarcello
Chapter 6: To Begin Again and Again
Aging is not a choice. It comes uninvited, and as with many of our body’s tricks and turns, we cannot opt out. No matter what control freaks we may admit to being and no matter how effective we think we have been in that role, we cannot stop this natural process. However, within this time of change there are choices to make.
When we were in our 20s and 30s, we built our lives step by step, making decisions about how to earn a living, where to do that living, with whom to share that living, and the shape and style of that life. Then, for the most part, we got on with it. Of course there were course corrections along the way. Things changed—sometimes mildly, sometimes drastically—and we had some adjustments to make. But for the most part we were so busy living the life that we perceived less choice. How many times have you heard yourself say, “I’m to busy to think about that”? That is the “getting on with it” I am describing.
When the big 5-0 knocks on the door, we start to realize that this may mark a new era in our lives. We see that for the first time in many years there will be major decisions to make, and soon—decisions about issues we have had on automatic pilot for many years.
The choices we will have to make at this age are basically the same ones we made earlier. If we begin to look at them in our early 50s, we will have lots of time to nail down decisions. But if you blew out your 50 candles many years ago, there is no need to panic. It is never too late to make conscious choices to live the best life available to you . . . so start today, whatever age you are.
A word of caution is required here. We make decisions because that is how we function in the world, but we must never forget about chance. Chance will change our decisions and turn their consequences upside down. Sometimes it makes life more difficult than we ever expected—but sometimes chance brings wonderfully unexpected gifts our way too. So go ahead and make your choices, just leave a little space in your calendar for chance . . . now, pass the dice, please.
These are the choices you will make in your 50s and 60s:
- When do I want to retire and what do I want to do when I am retired? Is it retire or retread? Is it golf or can I really have that dog breeding business I always wanted? Is it time to go back to school for fun? Do I need to work part-time?
- Keep the house or sell it? Trade the big condo for a smaller place? Stay in the city or move to the lake? Move from the country to the city? Will we want these stairs or this garden when we are 80? How much travel do we want to do or can we afford to do, and how does that affect where we should live?
- Where are the grandchildren, and do we want to be closer? What do we need to do to assist our aging parents? Could we live so far from our friends, and where will we make new ones?
Even our intimate relationships can come up for decision-making at this time. Sometimes, sadly, in the thinking space that opens up past 50 we see that a long-lived marriage is less than we had hoped. Or we may find our partnership to be very rich and full—we’ve just been taking it for granted a little bit too much and we need to take a fresh approach. This kind of change can be a lot of fun.
Nature has generously given women this significant physiological event, menopause, to mark the gateway into the rest of our lives. Yes, those hot flashes are really warning lights. Perhaps the word menopause was originally created to suggest a time to pause for a moment—to think, evaluate, and assess. Without menopause we might slip into the 50+ years without realizing we are on the threshold of a new era and we have some preparation to do—without taking this time to harvest the knowledge that will nourish the rest of our lives.