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What I Learned Turning 50

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art. ~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Fifty is about to slap me in the face. It’s not planning to tap me lightly on the shoulder. Nope, its plan is an epic full on attack of body and mind, beginning with a huge powerful gut busting blow next January, on THAT day.

How do I know? Because I’ve seen the recon team and it isn’t pretty.

But everyone says, “Ah, age is just a number. It’s all about your attitude.”

Well, yes.

And no.

Because you know what? No matter how much my mind is over my matter, the matter is still turning 50 and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that.

I noticed the past year, the creep of time. The deepening lines on the back of my hands, the increasing layer of insulation around my middle, and the declining interest in throwing aerial cartwheels across the front lawn all meant something.

It meant change was coming.

But change is always … coming. We all know that. But then all of the sudden I turned the corner and it was HERE. I ran straight into it.

Ouch. It hurt. I cried.

One day, the shear realization of facing 50 started to bring instant tears, emotions running amok and an almost hopeless state of mind.

For women, as we begin the process of exiting our reproductive years, many, many changes take place. We experience the hormonal roller coaster that resembles puberty but in reverse. They aren’t the emotions of coming into our own, they are the emotions of coming undone, of coming “out of our own.”

We can become depressed with the feeling that life is over, that we’ve done everything we’re going to do, that our best years are behind us.

For many women, those emotions surface when we also see physical changes in our bodies and realize that Victoria’s Secret is not going to call anytime soon to ask us to be in their next catalog.

It’s a time where we can easily give up on ourselves and our dreams. We can fade into obscurity and into our stretch marks. We can decide that the future belongs to the young, that we can’t make a difference anymore and that it’s time to hang it all up.

Have you been there? Are you there?

I have a few words of encouragement. And right now, I’m using them to bolster us both.

  • Don’t give up.
  • Adjust your thinking.

Here are five words I can now use to describe myself that I never fully believed until I reached where I am now in my life. So can you.

  • Wise
  • Powerful
  • Non-Judgmental
  • Attractive
  • Unstoppable

Let me explain.

I am Wise. So are You.

When you’ve lived 50 years, you are wise simply for that. You’ve had 18,250 more days on this planet then someone born today to experience what life will throw at you.

You are wise because you have experienced love and loss and joy and sorrow. You have raised children (and that also qualifies you for sainthood in my book) and raised a husband (oops, was that my outside voice talking?).

You have traveled the world, gone to college, worked in the home or in the office. You have read books and walked the beach and made and lost friends.

You have run marathons and seen the ocean. You have seen death and you have seen life. You have lived. And that, in itself has made you wise.

You can speak from experience on more levels than you can even think of. I’m not sure when the change happened but slowly over the years, I started being asked for advice.

The next generation began to contact me for my wisdom in my field. They wanted to know how to accomplish what I had in life.

I was stunned because I didn’t realize I was “accomplished.” Some even mentioned they were nervous to contact me. This blew me away because I think of myself as a child still finding my way. But then again, I am 50, right?

I am Powerful. So are You.

Women often think of themselves as powerless, yet we are anything but. If you run your own household, think of the power you have over the direction your family moves.

And I don’t mean power in a controlling, authoritative, dictatorial way. I mean the way you lead your family in the direction of their lives.

The way you raise your family contributes to how the next generation lives and values everything from the ocean to each other.

In the workplace, a woman at 50 is much more respected than at 20 or 30. You know the direction of your life and your work..

You are dedicated to certain outcomes as, let’s face it, time is more of the essence. You are more focused and driven. You are more apt to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe because you have the experience of half a century behind your decisions.

And while you still do care, you probably care a little less what others think of you. You are less inclined to be bending because your self-esteem is more intact.

I firmly believe that a woman at 50 is much more powerful when it comes to men. But more about that later.

But mostly I believe we are powerful to ourselves. We are now established and rooted. We can and will accomplish anything we set our minds to.

We have solidified who we are. And even though our emotions might be doing somersaults in our head and our ovaries don’t know up from down, deep down we know how strong we are. Trust me, you do.

I am Non-Judgmental. So are You.

Are you there yet? This is a big one for most women. Women are the most caddy, judgmental, gossipy, mean people I know. Thank the heavens those things mollify as we age.

There finally does come a time when we can simply let the blonde bombshell walk by and not bear our fangs. I’m not saying we don’t want to always look like a supermodel, but there comes a time when we can stop comparing ourselves. And it’s a joyous relief.

One New Year’s eve a few years ago I was sitting with a woman who was in her mid-50s and we were watching the party rage before us. A couple of the younger women were drunk and flirty and acting rather wonton.

She turned to me and smiled and said, “It’s their time in life.” It was completely non-judgmental. She was remembering fondly her 20s when it was her “time” to be “there.” She had no regrets, no jealously, no envy. She had moved on and was enjoying the time that was “now” in her life. I took her words to heart and more and more understand them.

I am Attractive. So are You.

The hair is a little greyer and there are a few more crinkles around the eyes, but that does not mean you are not attractive. I believe that men are attracted to older women largely because of what we exude from the inside.

We know who and what we are. We are confident. We mean yes when we say it and likewise mean no when we say it. We don’t play the same games we did at twenty when it comes to men.

I have to admit I’ve been hit on more times in the last five years than I was throughout my 30s. Single men, married, divorced, it doesn’t seem to matter. And while it’s been very flattering, it’s a bit disconcerting since they all know me to be quite happily married.

But my point is that I didn’t suddenly turn into a 22-year-old hottie. I believe that I came into my own as a woman, standing firmly on my ideas and ideals, my morals and my values. Knowing who you are and what you want is very attractive.

I am Unstoppable. So are You.

Put all of this together and you may see a different woman than you did at the beginning of this article. A shift in thinking and believing can create a totally different you and me. Seeing wrinkles as a base of experience and not as a deterioration of you is powerful.

Women at mid-life are unstoppable and unflappable for all these reasons.

Becoming the Best You and Me at 50

That’s all well and good for the mind and the soul but we still need to tackle the body. Women at 50 must make changes to adapt to the changing time. We need more exercise and less food. We need time for peace and quiet to reduce stress. We need vitamins and minerals to maintain strong bones and healthy skin.

I am learning that doing what I did at 40 is not going to work at 50. And if I want to be my best at 50, I need to adapt both new physical routines and a new attitude.

So when that day rolls around and 50 winds up for that gut-busting blow as the clock strikes midnight, I plan to be ready. I plan to show up strong and knock it right back to 40.

By the way … did you know?

K.T. Olsin, famed Country Western singer, produced her first album at age 47.

Laura Ingles Wilder published her first book, Little House on the Prairie in her 60s.

Katie Couric became the first female solo anchor of the national evening news at 49.

Ann Curry, anchor for both the Today Show and NBC News is currently 57 and going strong.

Shania Twain opened her comeback tour in a stunning catsuit at age 47. And even Madonna is in her 50s.

We are in good company.

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Carin Kiphart
About the author

Carin Kiphart, “Mantagirl” is one of the world’s top expedition leaders and was inducted into the prestigious Explorers Club in 2006. She is an underwater naturalist and passionate author of all things adventure and travel. At she and her husband, Sharkman, share with the world keys to a more exciting, fulfilling and purpose driven life through adventure. Her latest book, Travel Like a Pro is available on her website.

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2 thoughts on What I Learned Turning 50

  1. I loved, loved, LOVED reading this :)

    I’m ahead of you by a year, and, funnily enough, I hated turning 49, but loved turning 50.

    You’ve just articulated my manifesto, especially the parts that speak to coming into our own, the letting go of silly judgements and that all-encompassing sense of peace, even as heat and hormones rage on.

    Thank you for a beautiful piece of writing.

    And happy birthday.


  2. Carin, you beautifully summed up the benefits of turning 50. Every age has its benefits, but I do believe wisdom, power, and confidence increase as we get older…as long as we continue to grow.

    I feel much more secure now than I did in my twenties and thirties, when image was everything. Now, I can be myself. With maturity, we can learn to honestly assess how we feel about things, instead of wondering how we’re “supposed” to feel.

    The younger years were great, but there is a freedom that comes with mid-life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. We really are unstoppable!

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