I have just turned 56! How on earth did that happen? I am sure the last time I looked I was only 25 ... but you know what, age really is only a number, and the important thing is that we embrace the life we have, live life to the full, celebrate every stage in our lives and be the best we can be. At 56 I find myself with an empty nest and new opportunities ahead of me. And so that poses the question, what next? It is an exciting time for all of us heading into our 50s, and onwards to 60 and beyond. As I have passed that half way mark, is now a good time to start planning the next phase and finding a new purpose?
A little bit about me ... a very quick and brief summary of my life so far! I was born at 4 minutes past midnight in a small maternity hospital near St Paul's Cray just outside Orpington. As a child it was always a family joke that if mum had pushed a little harder my birthday would have been a day earlier! We moved to Bearsted when I was 4 and then to Buckinghamshire when I was 14. I got married for the first time when I was 21 (way too young) and then divorced quite soon after ... I met my now husband when I was 23 but we didn't marry until much later on. I wanted to be a Nurse but a phobia of vomiting stopped me pursuing that dream, I worked as a Personal Assistant for many corporate organisations (including pharmaceuticals) until I had my son at 31. I've not worked outside of the home since but I am a Director of mine and my husbands business and I taught myself bookkeeping but more recently I have loved building and developing my blog. But most importantly I have two adult children I am incredibly proud of and I have loved being a stay at home mum.
But how about this empty nest and finding my new purpose in midlife? I think my children will always need me so I have no intention of stepping back from my first love, being a mum but it is exciting to have an opportunity for some me time!
This blog post is sponsored by Ourtime.
Here are my '8 tips for embracing confidence, having fun and finding a new purpose' ...
Celebrate the now! It is often the small things that bring the most joy!
When I started to research content for this post, I looked back over my photo stream for the last year, I thought oh nothing much has happened, it hasn't been a very exciting year - what with some mental health dips due to hormones and the current financial situation around the world - but how wrong I was, what I found in that photo album was lots of laughter, silly moments, romance, weekends away with my husband, weekends away with my daughter, time spent with girlfriends, time spent with family and friends ... and what I noticed was how important it is to celebrate what we already have, the little moments. I have a happy life, and whilst it may not always be perfect, it is the small things every day that make a big difference and provide us with a clear sense of purpose.
And there is my life’s purpose - my family life, my new great niece, my friends, my dad, my sisters. And all the memories we have made including the recent ones, after the gloom of the pandemic, we all started catching up again n 2022! And how good did that feel!?
TIP 1 | Practice gratitude every day, I love writing in my journal as well as looking over old photos and reminding myself of the good things that happen every day even if they aren't always immediately obvious.
Set some fun life goals!
But of course there is no reason why you cannot appreciate what you have now but also set some new exciting goals for what is to come next!
My coach recently asked me to write a list of 20 things that I'd like to do that really excite me! I found it quite hard to start with but then I settled into the flow and you know what - it was all about making memories with my loved ones. My plan now is to create a new Vision Board so I can see my new goals every day, to remind me to get out of my comfort zone and live my best life.
On my new bucket list there was a lot of travel, nothing too exotic, but European cities I'd love to visit, the ultimate beach house I'd love to stay in, skinny dipping in the sea, and of course there was a pair of Jimmy Choos too (ones I can walk in). Some goals were more realistic than others (a few were restricted by money)! But we can dream and if we don't have goals then how do we know what excites us!?
TIP 2 | Create your own Vision Board for the year ahead ... I have a lovely hessian noticeboard in my office that I use to display a collection of quotes and images that represent my dreams, needs, desires - all the new things I'd like to try, the new skills I'd like to learn, new activities that interest me, like a visual action plan for finding purpose every day! It is a wonderful way to be reminded of all the different ways we can embrace the life we have and make the most of every minute.
Plan your ideal life
I don't mean the out of the ordinary but the daily stuff, the routine, how would you like your life to look? What will help you jump out of bed in the morning, what do you look forward to every day? Now is a great time to start to do all the things we never got around to doing when we were younger or when our children were small.
I know that I like a simple life, I don't want to be too busy, I don't want to feel overwhelmed or under pressure to do things I don't want to do. For me having quiet time at home to just be present in the moment is really important to me. I love my writing, and I want to make sure that my ideal life includes time to write and be creative. I like nothing more than time in my garden, a walk in my woods, a meal at home, a hot bath and time watching TV.
On a deeper level, I want that connection with family and friends, to feel loved and supported at this stage of life is really important, if we can't have it now when can we? My younger years were fraught with anxiety and lack of confidence but I am determined in my later years to let those worries go.
I hope one day there will be grandchildren but for now I love that I no longer have children under 18, both mine have left home and I have time and space for me, but I still get to spend time with them doing grown-up things!
TIP 3 | Let go of expectations ... and live the life you want, rather than worrying about FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and comparing yourself to what others are doing.
Believe in yourself, without a doubt I am far more confident now at 56 than I ever was at 26 or 36 and probably even at 46. Turning 50 gave me a big midlife confidence boost. With less money worries and my children growing up I was able to start making time for me. In 2020 I went away for two nights by myself, I loved it! This year I went on my first retreat - it was amazing! Oh and then there was my boudoir photoshoot! I did my first one when I was 48 and this year I was lucky enough to do another one and despite being 7 years older, I actually felt more confident in my body.
Did you know that the age we feel our most sexiest is 53? In research 40% of respondents admitted they've let go of worrying about how they come across! A quarter said their relationship and sex life became more exciting. So we are absolutely not past our best at 53! Or 56! Do I feel at my sexiest .... yes! I am happily married but the research by Ourtime, a dating service for over-50s, found that we do gain more confidence in our middle years and we understand what we do and don't want.
TIP 4 | Do something out of your comfort zone ... book your own photoshoot, boudoir or otherwise or if that feels a bit too much, how about a personal shopping experience? Maybe visit a beautiful lingerie shop where you can be measured, advised and helped to choose something beautiful and sexy?
Let go of stereotypes and limiting beliefs
Ignore the style rules, embrace the daring, be more dynamic, don't let convention get in the way! If you want to wear leather trousers - go ahead! If you want to wear a short skirt - do it! If we don't do these things now, when will we? What are we waiting for? A third of those polled by Ourtime said they let go of previous insecurities and inhibitions after 50.
The year I turned 50, I went to Turkey for a holiday with my sisters and our children. I went to a water park for the first time ever, I came down the big slide, I went on the zip wire, I did white water rafting and I covered myself in mud.; It was exhilarating!
I have no intention of being boring or tame ... I plan to get on with my life and decide how I live it based on what I want to do and what I can do. If I want to do it and I am still capable of doing it, then I will! On my bucket list .... horse riding along a beach! And why not!? This summer I went horse riding with my friend in Hyde Park, okay my riding skills aren't as good as they once were but it doesn't matter. We are a long time dead so let's enjoy life while we can.
TIP 5 | Choose one activity that really excites you ... and aim to do it this year!
Learn to say NO!
This really isn't an easy one for me, I am a people pleaser and I like to help others. But I am learning to be a little bit more selfish, if it doesn't fit in with my lifestyle or needs then I am getting braver and turning things down!
I am also working on setting boundaries, the best way to describe a boundary is that 'it is teaching someone how to treat you' and I hope being clearer with my needs will enable a new start and let's face it if we are happy in ourselves, everyone else around us is happy too. Boundaries can help us with physical space, body and feelings, and setting a boundary communicates the line we are not prepared to cross.
TIP 6 | Keep a note of any frustrations and then see if you can use them to help you create new boundaries.
Keep an open mind
Never say never, I have sometimes hesitated or refused to do something, only to regret it and then backtrack. So often I think I can't possibly do something but push myself and go ahead anyway, and then I am so grateful I did!
Find new interests and don't rule anything out. Crocheting, sewing, solo travel, volunteering, running, hiking, open water swimming, skiing, paddle boarding ... nothing is off limits. In 2021 on holiday in Cornwall, I tried paddle boarding, now it was very hot and the sea was very calm but it was one of those activities I thought I could never do but I loved it so much we went twice.
TIP 7 | Remember in midlife we have many years of experience to share with others and doing some volunteer work can really be rewarding and improve our quality of life and it might just lead to meeting new friends.
Don't give up
Life is short, live every moment. I was certainly reminded of that through the work of Dame Deborah James (aka bowelbabe). The sadness I feel every day from losing my mum to Alzheimer's, yes she is still alive and living in a care home, but with dementia you lose your loved one twice, it has been the most devastating thing to witness. My mum was only 21 when she had me, what if I also succumb to this awful disease? I must live every day to the best of my ability and never give up on life and having fun.
Keep active, take care of your body
The good news is that we don't need to take up an extreme sport to keep fit but simple daily tasks carried out on a regular basis to look after our physical health can have a massive impact. Getting out in nature, walking, lifting some weights in 'snackable workouts', joining a yoga class, And physical activity really boosts our mental health too.
TIP 8 | If you are feeling low, have a list of things you can do immediately to feel better - try and include opportunities to laugh, move, connect with nature, listen to music and journal, all these different things can have a real impact on helping us to enjoy the present moment as well as contribute to finding our midlife purpose and of course, they are fun!
Dates with my husband!
Go on dates, meet new people and embrace midlife
Whether you are single or married, the same rules apply! I love dates with my husband, recently we had a night in London staying at The Waldorf and visiting the Churchill War Rooms and we had a weekend at Leeds Castle earlier in the year, we've also had countless nights out by ourselves and with friends and lots of lovely easy-going days, walks in the countryside and family outings.
So what are the attitudes to dating in midlife?
I asked some of my single friends and acquaintances for their thoughts ...
I have tried online dating in my fifties and I really enjoyed the experience. I received some nice compliments and enjoyed a lunchtime meet up. It was actually just a nice opportunity to spend some time with a man as I love the masculine energy. Becca Heaps founder of Tentshare.
According to research carried out by Lottie's (a free service that helps families and retirees find the UK's best care homes and retirement living communities) there has been a 91% increase in online searches for 'dating in your 50s', Lottie's co-founder says 'Almost everyone will be on the lookout for love at some point in their lives. Whether that's the first steps into dating in your youth, or making a more serious commitment when you are older, finding love is high on most people's' agenda' there is no doubt that good connections through companionship can boost our health and wellbeing and dating apps have made it easier to find and meet like-minded people.
Lisa is a Graphic Designer from Buckinghamshire, she runs her own design consultancy Duke Design Works ….
Becoming single just before my 50th birthday after a 19 year relationship ended and hitting the menopause during my 40s, was life changing to say the least. My natural progression to online dating thereafter was interesting, entertaining, and chaotic but never dull.
Yes, there have been the awful disastrous ones which I can still dine out on and give my friends endless amusement, but ultimately the men who have 'graced my presence' have been varied and diverse.
I have dated a pilot, actually 2. I have dated a doctor, an HGV driver, several ex- professional footballers, policemen (seems to be a lot them on the dating apps!) and even a volcanologist! Who knew that last one was a vocation!
Having dabbled with online dating for nearly 5 years now, I am still grateful for the experiences and variety of stock it has presented. Where else would I get that scope of men? Not gonna find a volcanologist down my local wine bar that’s for sure! Online dating opens those doors.
What it also gives is the luxury of assessing what you actually want in your next partner. Yes I am still looking, but having dated the various men I have ever matched with, I have gained complete clarity on that. Confidence, wisdom and sassiness also comes too. Ultimately being happy in your own skin, never taking the knock backs with online dating too personally gives you the edge.
In my eyes, there isn’t anything more attractive than a confident, happy grown-up loving life!
Don't be shy!
The dating game is a tough one to navigate but when it works out it can be life-changing and rewarding.
A recent study found that 81% of women aged 50+, have a better idea of what they are looking for in a relationship now vs in their 40s, that 22% are proud of their age and 33% are saying that age is just a number and doesn't mean anything (survey by Ourtime in 2020 among 510 UK singles aged 50+). Hurrah, I love these stats, it is certainly encouraging to know that more and more women are finding their midlife confidence.
There is no definitive answer to finding your purpose in midlife but for me, it is all about being happy and doing what I want to do and giving up on pleasing others all the time.
Dating in our 50s
Ourtime is encouraging us to create our own destiny in 2023 - if you are single of course - maybe the new year could be the perfect time to meet someone special, it really is never too late to feel empowered and have more fun, and if that includes trying online dating then go for it. I think the modern midlife woman has proven that life really doesn't end at 50 it is only just beginning!
Ourtime is an online dating platform that allows you to share your interests with other like minded singles and find someone to enjoy your life with, who has similar interests to you. They regularly host real-life events so you can meet others casually in a group setting without the pressure that a 'blind date' can bring. Ourtime works hard to keep its site safe and secure and it is easy to report and block profiles if you feel at all uncomfortable. They offer a video chatting option so you can meet informally before progressing to an in-person date. Ourtime is available on both a desktop an app.
I know that I have often worried about safety with online dating and having chatted to friends as well as my own children about it. It does seem that dating as we knew it has evolved into something completely different. I met my husband in a nightclub in 1989 long before mobile phones and apps. However, I probably took a risk even then! I was reassured to find out that Ourtime have taken safety very seriously and are doing as much as they can to make dating in our 50s a safe and enjoyable experience.
Ourtime have kindly shared a promotional code with my readers, please use FIFTYANDFAB30 to get 30% off a one month subscription.
Disclaimer: *This promotional code gives you 30% off a one month subscription. It’s valid for a subscription purchased between 12/01/2023 and 31/03/2023. It can only be used once per user, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion offered by Ourtime. Beyond the initial period, your Pass will be renewed automatically with the same subscription package you originally chose and at the full price.
There really is nothing shameful about ageing, we should embrace who we are at every stage in our lives, please don't lock yourself away, go out and have fun - whether that be dating in your 50s, trying a new sport, travelling or having the best time with your friends, do what works for you! And remember - you can date yourself too! My solo trip to Lymington in 2020 was exactly that, my London days out are me taking myself out on a date! I love it!
This empty nest isn't so bad afterall!
Happy new year to all my friends, followers, readers new and old, thank you for being here and supporting me, I wish you all happy and successful 2023.
Disclaimer: this blog post is sponsored by Ourtime, all words and opinions are entirely my own and I had full editorial control over the content I have shared.
I am linking up with Is This Mutton for #WowOnWednesday and Mummabstylish for #chicandstylish
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about health, menopause, fitness, beauty and style with a focus on the over 50's.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my 50s. I started this blog in 2016 with the purpose of helping other women at this stage of life. I’m delighted that my blog has grown to over 13k visitors per month. Visit my Work with Me page and request my Media Kit for details of product reviews, blogging services and social media content creation.
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