For the last 2 months I’ve been referring to myself as 50, even though I’m 49. It’s a weird way that I trick my brain into being comfortable with the age prior to my birthday. I’ve been doing this for years. It was working great – I was at peace with it, I’m 50, no big deal.
However, as I opened up the envelope from my mother last night, I pulled out the birthday card and there it was…
Happy 50th Birthday!
My heart jumped. Seeing the number ‘50’ on the card was jolting. I was in disbelief. I immediately thought…shit…how can I be turning 50? The numbers looked so foreign to me.
I had trained my brain, but I hadn’t trained my eyes. It felt like I just had the wind knocked out of me; I feel like I’m 30 I thought. How did this happen? How could I be 50?
It started with some pink hair…
I decided to face this momentous half century occasion with some new pink hair. It reminded me of when I used to go to raves wearing a hot pink wig and dance all night long. Ohhh…those were the days.
Granted, I didn’t go all out, but instead went with a little peek-a-boo pink.
I called it my mid-life crisis – but my girlfriend Paula quickly corrected me, “No…it’s your mid-life celebration.” I smiled – and thought, she’s right. It’s amazing how powerful a single word is.
Leaving my 40’s Behind
It’s not a secret, I really disliked my 40’s . It was a tough decade mentally and physically. However, I had a great time traveling and blogging, the decade was full of incredible new adventures all over the globe. What I didn’t like was coping with getting older.
Sometimes I think the hardest relationship to manage and cultivate is the one with myself.
It’s hard for me to describe the aging process, but for me it has been somewhat similar to the 5 stages of grief. I feel as if I have lost something – my youth, beauty, health, and ability to concentrate – to name a few things.
Combine all of that with perimenopause and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. In fact, I spent much of my 40’s trying to figure out where the old Sherry had disappeared to. My confidence and self-esteem seemed to take a nose dive. And my once normal sleep had turned into night sweats and a constant tossing and turning.
The physical nature of perimenopause consumed me in my 40s.
The mood swings and depression weren’t any easier to deal with. For the most part I just tried to power through it. I have always been tough…so I told myself I could get through this. But I finally had to give in to medication. Thank God for medication.
Ch Ch Ch Changes
I recently read this article and about All the Ways Your Body Changes After 40 and thought about my own struggles.
•Forgetfulness becomes more common
Holy Jesus…make this stop. It’s one thing to have all of these physical changes, but when you can’t concentrate, I find it infuriating. I used to have a great attention span, and now poof…it’s gone.
•You may notice thinning hair.
One of the reasons why I colored my hair pink is because I wanted to do something fun with it before I lost it all. I’ve been diagnosed with some weirdly rare case of alopecia where you lose your hair, scar tissue is formed, and then it won’t ever grow back. They say it has to do with hormones, but it’s not your typical hair thinning as you get older. My whole hair line has moved back about 1 ½ inches. I lost all of my eyebrow hair too – which is part of the lovely alopecia process. Losing your hair for a woman is one of the most debilitating things (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/ricki-lake-s-hair-loss-photos-spark-overdue-conversation-about-ncna1110486). Granted, things could be worse, but there is not a day where I don’t look at my receding hairline and am not self-conscience about it.
So, I colored it pink because I thought I might as well celebrate it while I still had it. And speaking of celebrating, the best thing I have done is get semi-permanent eyebrow tattoos…it has changed my life. I’m just wish I could tattoo a new hair line in!
•Stubborn grays might appear.
Hell – I’d take the gray hair in a second if meant I wasn’t going to lose any more of my hair!
•Hot flashes might start as early as 40
It’s so strange when your whole body heats up like a furnace for no apparent reason and no warning. I’ve learned to dress in layers all the time. That way when the furnace turns on – I can start shedding clothes.
•Your bladder becomes ‘leaky’
•Weight loss won’t come as easily.
I can tell you what you don’t want to do in your 40’s…stop exercising. It’s a bad idea. Thanks to a number of injuries that I’ve been fighting for the last 5 years, as well as a more manic travel schedule – I stopped running and exercising. Bad idea. I’ve gained about 20 pounds in 40’s, and that’s not going to be easy to take off…but I am working on it.
•Moisturize to help avoid wrinkles.
This is something I wish I would have really paid attention to earlier. Ah…but I’ve learned to accept and love my wrinkles. One of my favorite songs, The Story by Brandi Carlile has helped me see the that wrinkles have some good qualities:
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
I’m not one of those people with beautiful skin. I look my age, but that’s ok, because I don’t act it!
So here I am turning 50 and I’m happy to say I actually feel like I’m on the other side in a way. There is an acceptance that has happened lately that I hope and pray it lasts. I’m starting to feel like the old me again; confident, independent, strong. I’ve started exercising again, and have even started up running a bit.
The wrinkles, the hair loss, the forgetfulness – well – I have really just started accepting it all. There’s really nothing I can do about it. And I feel good.
Trying to Keep Kicking and Stretching!
They say as you age, you shift from promotion motivation – seeing our goals in terms of what we can gain, or end up better off, to prevention motivation – our goal is to keep things running smoothly. I know I’ve made this switch. I actually care very little about gaining anything at this point (except weight!). I love to simplify and keep things small. I put much more time into trying to get healthy, physically and mentally. This is why I live in a small studio apartment that’s the size of most people’s living rooms. I love the simplicity of it. And it allows me to continue travel blogging and doing the stuff I love.
I also credit things like travel, home, and trying new things to this transition into acceptance.
The Power of Travel
I know what you are thinking…when is she going to talk about travel – isn’t this a travel blog?!
I do believe that travel is a big piece of me getting on the right track. It makes me happy. I always feel younger and alive when I’m out traveling and exploring. It keeps me on my toes, and it helps me understand the world. I may be slowing down my travel a bit, but I’m not giving it up!
In fact, for my 50th birthday I’m celebrating by traveling to a new country – El Salvador!
The Power of Home
This is probably the best change I made in my 40’s – I got a home base. I needed it – more than I ever knew. I loved being nomadic, but I knew my time living without a home needed to end. And now I’m happier than ever having a home to come back to, having regular doctors that know me, having friends who tolerate my travel schedule, and getting to foster kittens.
The Power of Trying New Things
The coach at my gym says,
It’s so true. Challenge becomes even more important as we get older, it keeps us young in many ways and keeps us relevant.
Surfing into 50 in El Salvador
This is why I’m not just going to El Salvador to do my normal travel writing stuff, I’m going there to attend a surf and yoga camp with my girlfriends! I went to a surf camp last year in Panama and loved it so much I wanted to do it again when I was turning 50.
Let me be clear, I didn’t love it because I was good at surfing. I think I only was able to stand up twice! I loved it because I was learning and challenging myself. I felt alive again and learned how to be more comfortable in the waves. I felt like I gave my body and mind a big detox and I wanted to experience that again for my 50th birthday!
I have girlfriends from all parts of my life here joining me. My sister, my oldest niece, a friend from my life in San Francisco, 2 girlfriends from high school (one that knew me since 4th grade!), and my girlfriend Charlie who I did the Rickshaw Run in India with! Remember that time I drove 2,300 miles in 14 days the length of India in a 3 wheeled, 7 horsepower rickshaw…now that will keep you young!
You’ve heard of destination weddings, well this is a destination birthday!
None of them know how to surf either, but I’m so proud of them for getting out of their comfort zone and come join me on this adventure to learn something new. We’ll all feel younger!
The power of trying new things is how I choose to deal with getting older.
50 SPF at 50 Giveaway
I decided to celebrate my birthday on a surfboard, and I also wanted to give you all a chance to celebrate with me! I have partnered with a few of my favorite brands and gave away products that will keep you looking great at 50!
We all know how important sunscreen is as we get older, so I talked to a few of my favorite companies and they’ve agreed to join me in this birthday celebration! I gave away a SPF50 beach package including A Carve Designs SPF50 swimsuit, rashguard and beach bag, a Wallaroo Hat Company SPF50 Hat, and a $50 Amazon Gift card from Allianz Travel Insurance USA to buy a supply of sunscreen!
Note: Enter Period is over.
This is only available to US Residents
A Final Thought on Turning 50
I recently watched the totally touching and funny movie, JoJo Rabbit. At the end there was a quote by poet Rainer Maria Rilke that I adored. In fact, I intend to use it as my motto in the 50’s.
Thanks for hanging with me through my troubling 40’s. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a kick ass decade!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
By Lisa Loevenmark February 10, 2020 - 7:44 am
I have been following Ottsworld for quite sometime and I love all the posts but this one on turning 50 is my all time favourite. I’m 52 and can totally relate to all Sherry is saying (except the hair loss). I get annoyed that everything in the media portrays perfect looking young women doing all the accomplishing in life. I know us 50 somethings are out there, we’re not invisible and I am so happy and excited when I see anything highlighting how great being a 50+ woman is!! Happy Birthday Sherry!!!!
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:43 pm
Thanks so much Lisa!!
By Melanie February 10, 2020 - 7:47 am
Thanks for this. I am turning 46 this year, and my focus is really starting to suck. I could go on some more about the things I’ve noticed in this decade, but will instead congratulate you. This celebratory trip for your 50th sounds perfect, and I love the pink hair.
By Sara February 10, 2020 - 4:35 pm
I’m right there with you, I’m turning 50 in November! I relate to many of your posts so much. There are plenty of us single gen-X ladies out there who live to travel!
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:42 pm
Thanks Sara!! I highly recommend a destination birthday in November!!
By Suzanne Fluhr February 10, 2020 - 5:25 pm
I’m sitting here at 65 with 4 recently diagnosed thoracic spine compression fractures—so, yes, keep on exercising, make sure you get enough calcium and talk to your doc about whether a bisphosphonate can forestall bone loss if that has been an issue in your family. For the 1st time, I had to cancel a planned trip to sit on the couch with ibuprofen as my new best friend. I’m tempted to delete this as it just sounds like a whiney Debbie Downer. So, I’ll add this. At age 60, I was content with the way my life turned out and I still feel that the rest is gravy. If I were to depart this world tomorrow, some people might be sad, but no one (including me) would consider my demise tragic. BTW, I enjoyed my 50s while experiencing everything you’ve described except hair loss—so there’s that. Your girlfriends’ destination birthday sounds like a brilliant way to celebrate. Happy New Decade.
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:42 pm
Thanks for the well wishes Suzanne! I hope you can take care of yourself and get healthier – I know how debilitating injuries can be – but go slow and power through.
By Vive February 10, 2020 - 8:35 pm
I turned 50 in Blanes, Spain, and left out the next morning to walk for a week along the Camino de Ronda, following the path you and your father blazed before me. (And with your guide downloaded to my phone.) So it’s cool to see you meditating on 50 yourself a year and a half later. Many of the age things are difficult, and you’ve been handed some special challenges, but I can say that so far I’ve found the 50s far better than the 40s in so many ways. It’s a cliche, but settling into my midlife has brought ease and confidence and a new kind of gratitude. Wishing all good for you.
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:40 pm
Vive – congrats on the doing the Camino Ronda – that’s so cool! I love to hear it when people have actually done something I wrote about! Thanks for the reaffirmation that the best is yet to come!
By Tricia Irish February 10, 2020 - 10:11 pm
Happy Birthday! The Fifties are great! I know yours will be too. I would love to be Fifty again! It was powerful!
You are so right tho….for a strong independent woman, seeing your body slow down, and break down has been one òf the hardest things for me. The edge softens, a word will often escape me. Desires do change. I rarely want to go out late ….a book seems much more interesting! Roll with it! But Travel! That will keep you sharp! Everything’s new….., language, customs, food. I know you’ll have a great decade, and more! We’re right there with you!
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:38 pm
Thanks Tricia! I agree – travel does keep you sharp! I saw the effects of travel with my mom last year in Ireland – it was so good for her!
By Coral Musgrave February 11, 2020 - 7:13 am
I travelled more in my 50’s than I did in any other decade. My first RTW was at age 53. And I was truly bitten by the travel bug. Although I had travelled before, to Norway with the school aged 11, and then Austria and Germany again on school trips, overland to Greece at age 20 when I was at uni, holidays with family throughout the 80’s to the 00’s with children for two decades, once I was in my 50’s I finally had both the time and money to travel more. Thanks to you and this blog I celebrated my 60th last year on a lakeside campsite in rural Rajasthan and later in an amazing hotel with a group of people who a few days ago had been strangers. I have done things I never thought I could or would do, and will never do again, experienced both beauty and terror, learned a lot about myself, rediscovered who I am, and want to continue doing so as long as I can. To that end, yoga at least once a week, eating well, lots of walking, sunscreen, a good 50 spf hat and looking for the next adventure is what keeps me going. The last 10 years have been a roller coaster of change, a move to a much smaller home, an off loading of ‘stuff’ and lots of travel. Long may it continue, Love the pink hair, mine is currently a subtle ish purple.
By Sherry February 11, 2020 - 12:37 pm
Coral – this is awesome! I love that you are pushing yourself, it will keep us young! And the simplfying and downsizing is also a path to happiness for so many of us! Thanks for following along with me! Hopefully you will join me on one of my next Ottsworld trips!
By Kathy February 11, 2020 - 7:05 pm
I am turning 50 later this year and your post totally resonated with me! I feel like I am just getting my second wind now (can relate that 40s were no picnic) and can’t wait to do more — more exercise (no, don’t love it, but keeps the parts moving!), trying new things, and travel. And I love the quote at the end — I think I’m adopting it too! I am a new follower but love your spirit and posts! Can’t wait to see what’s next!
By Sherry February 12, 2020 - 11:29 pm
By Merrilee February 11, 2020 - 11:35 pm
Great post! Happy birthday! Thanks for all the 40 to 50 transition stuff. I thought I was just pre-occupied with too many activities and that was where the scatter brained-ness was from. It is fun to follow your travels (and was fun to be on first Ireland group trip), see your photography, watch your kitten videos, and read about your life. Thanks for telling it so authentically and open. Looking forward to your next adventures and the tips that help us all do more adventures and new things.
By Sherry February 12, 2020 - 11:29 pm
Thanks Merrilee! Wish you were here with us in El Salvador!!
By Nora February 12, 2020 - 8:46 am
Happy Birthday, beautiful lady. I am So so happy to have found a kindred travel spirit in you! Looking forward to being roomies again soon 😉
By Sherry February 12, 2020 - 11:29 pm
By Palma February 12, 2020 - 11:02 pm
Sounds like you should get your thyroid checked. Typical symptoms of low functioning thyroid is loosing hair especially eyebrows. Check out Aviva Room MD, women’s health advocate with tons of info about thyroid health, how to get tested etc. and what to do about it.
Age is just an attitude. Getting old is a privilege that not everyone has. Enjoy it, with it comes wisdom.
By Sherry February 12, 2020 - 11:28 pm
I’ve actually already had it checked. And it was all fine.
By Irene February 14, 2020 - 5:01 am
So happy I found this blog! I have been a consummate traveler my whole life but I have an 11 year old. Are there any travel moms out there? Do you take them with you
By Sherry February 19, 2020 - 11:49 pm
I don’t have any kids – but there are plenty of people who travel with kids! Check out https://walkingontravels.com/. or https://stuffedsuitcase.com/ or https://we3travel.com/
By Simon February 21, 2020 - 5:00 am
I am sure you gonna rock at your 50’s as well. Cheers!
By Sherry February 26, 2020 - 3:06 pm
By Laura March 24, 2020 - 4:07 am
Happy Birthday Sherry! I like that your blog is refreshingly honest – you aren’t posed for sexiness and your travel ups and downs are real. And…you’ve outlasted many in the industry. Keep on rocking your bad self!
By Sherry March 24, 2020 - 4:36 pm
Thanks so much for following along!!