Today’s Guest Post is by Jill Harrison who’s talking about her life after fifty. Read her endearing account of why she believes that our life’s path isn’t always of our own choosing and why we owe it ourselves to make the best and most of what life throws at us.
The years flashed by.
Fifty seemed so far away in the summer of 1973 as I lay on the grass in the backyard of my parents’ home listening to my latest Beatles record with my boyfriend the summer after we finished high school. Life and its endless possibilities and dreams lay before us like an endless summer.
Then suddenly fifty hit with a resounding thud. On my fiftieth birthday I walked into my office to see a colourful canopy of balloons floating against the ceiling over my desk. My work colleagues must have told my customers, as each one that called that day wished me a happy birthday. We had cheesecake for morning tea, and a bouquet of flowers arrived – what a lovely day it became.
But where the heck had those 30 plus years gone? Where was the girl that lay on the grass in the sun with her boyfriend? Somewhere in the intervening years I had left her behind.
Married for nearly 40 years.
I landed my first job at a university library only a few weeks after leaving high school and entered the big and fascinating world of university students. I bought my first pair of jeans with my first pay and put down a deposit on a sewing machine with my second.
My boyfriend and I had barely $2,000.00 between us when we married a few months before he finished Teacher’s College. My parents questioned the sensibility of this, but we were young, and anything was possible and doable. I guess we were right as nearly 40 years later we are still married.
Young dreams can often melt away.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing and sunny days – life never is. The dreams of youth haven’t all eventuated and my youthful innocence melted away as I climbed over the hurdles that life has thrown my way. I am not the same girl that lay on the grass in the sun that summer. Yes I still have her long hair, but now it is tinged with grey. I can never be that girl again.
The intervening years have changed me. I am stronger, more determined, more confident, and more likely to stand up for what I believe in. Married just before my 20s, I have moved towns, raised two sons, one with a disability, rolled a caravan, been made redundant twice, crushed two vertebrae in a boating accident, managed a dragon boat team, competed at two World Dragon Boat Titles overseas and paid off a mortgage.
Life after fifty – So far it’s been a time of action.
In my 50s I have gathered two grandchildren into my arms, coached a dragon boat team for survivors of breast cancer, had two dragon boats named after me, awarded life membership, spoke at the funeral of a close friend, started learning Flamenco Spanish dancing, write travel articles for magazines, publish a blog, embraced my passion for photography, joined a writing and a photography group, travelled over much of Western Australia, trekked, camped, walked some of the Bibbulmun Track, supported my father with my mother’s care and with her passing, and I am supporting my husband while we watch his mother’s slow decline into dementia.
As I watch the sunrises and sunsets pass I don’t know what the future holds – and in some ways I am still vulnerable. But I learnt a long time ago when my second son was born to shut the door firmly on my fears for an unknown future and the “what ifs”. Life’s path isn’t always our own choosing. But we owe it to ourselves to make the best and most of what life throws at us. In surmounting the hurdles we can still find joy, perhaps a different joy, but still joy.
Look back but also look forward and reach for your dreams.
Getting older? Perhaps it is a time for looking back at the girl we left behind, but it’s also a time to look forward – to stress less, to enjoy more, to give and receive love, to experience, to allow our true selves to come to the fore, just to do.
So go out there, be yourself, reach for your dreams, create happiness around you. Be feisty after 50!
Bio: Jill Harrison has a passion for travel, and wildflower and food photography. She’s been writing freelance articles for Australian magazines such as Go Camping Australia and On The Road magazine since 2002. Jill is a contributor to Getty Images, and is a member of South Side Quills in Bunbury, the Fellowship of Australian Writers Western Australia, the Photography Group of Bunbury and the Western Australian Photographic Federation. She is happiest when out travelling, seeking out new places to visit, and bushwalking with her camera. You can find her blog here: Life Images by Jill
What have you achieved in your later life? Why not share with us in the comments section? Or if you would like to be featured and write a post about getting older, similar to Jill’s, then please contact me via the Comment Section below or the Contact Page at the top of the blog. I’d love to hear from you.