In Categories, Your Stories


Today’s guest post in the Your Story section is contributed by lovely  Lifestyle Fifty reader, Ruth Tearle, a dynamic change management consultant from Cape Town in South Africa.

What a wonderful gift, thank you Jo! A chance to reflect on one’s life and what it means to be over fifty on this wonderful blog for older women.

The Lifecycle of a woman and the Cycle of life

Looking back over the years to my childhood, I’m aware of the compression of time. So much has changed. And yet, so much is still the same.

Everything changes.

From being in the dark, to understanding.

As a teenager, I always felt ‘in the dark’. I was told to trust what doctors, teachers or people in authority told me. And yet, I would often feel let down as I discovered that they didn’t really have the answers

I was brought up in an age where information was scarce. Information was power. Information was controlled by gatekeepers who didn’t want to share their power. And gate keepers abounded. On a national level, censorship meant that we only got to read what the authorities wanted us to read.  My knowledge of the world was limited to a newspaper, the government controlled TV or a few magazines.

Being ignorant was sometimes the easy option

I remember how much it took to do research. Driving to specialist libraries.  Flipping through cards or microfiches to find a clue as to which article may cover what I was looking for.  Taking down the article’s location. Waiting in a queue to give it to a librarian. Waiting at a desk for the librarian to bring the article to me. Reading the article and discovering it didn’t cover what I was looking for. Deciding whether it was worth my while to go through the whole process again. Sometimes being ignorant was a far easier option.

Inspiration from my couch

I remember driving miles going from doctor to doctor trying to understand the cause of my short breath and sleepless nights.  I regret the many days and weeks of my life I wasted trying out medication after medication that just didn’t work for me. I remember feeling too scared to challenge the doctors who weren’t helping me.

Learn how to overcome the things that niggle you

Today I have the world’s greatest authorities on any subject I can dream of- sitting in my iPad, in my lounge.  Knowledge and even wisdom, is available instantly, 24/7. I am no longer in the dark. Although I still have many health issues and ailments, today I take responsibility for my own health. I research whatever is bothering me, and then have an intelligent discussion with my doctor. I finally understand what triggers asthma attacks and how to deal with them. I understand how to get and keep fit. How to exercise.  How to overcome whatever niggles I have.

Things are easier today. I can find inspiration from my couch. I can sit in on lectures by my favourite authors using YouTube and my iPad.  I can get instant inspiration. Instant information. Instant know how.


 From isolation to connectivity

I grew up in apartheid South Africa. Apartheid means separation. As well as being separated from people of different races, sanctions meant we were also isolated from the rest of world.  Our connections were with people from our own town, our own race and our own religion.  So, as Kurt Vonnegut describes in his book “ Cat’s Cradle”, I tended to mix with “hoosiers”.  (A hoosier is “a group of people who claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless.”) .  Although I was surrounded by people, I was often lonely.  I couldn’t relate to these hoosiers (people of my religion, culture and city) that I was told I should relate to. I just couldn’t see the world the way they saw it.

As a teenager and young adult, I felt lonely and disconnected as many of my friends emigrated to other countries. Keeping in touch by letters (which took 6 weeks to be delivered), resulted in losing touch with one another. Phone calls were too expensive.

Now I feel more connected than ever before

Today, with emails, Skype, and social networking, I can connect quickly and easily to people who share my values, my interests, and my world view.  I meet many of them online, in discussion groups. Most of my connections today live in different countries, in different time zones, and have a different culture or religion to me. And yet, I feel more connected  than I have ever felt in my life.

Nothing changes

From being blinded by smoke screens to seeing clearly.

I have recently been reading many of Kurt Vonnegut’s books. Books I tried to read in my twenties, but couldn’t understand or relate to then. Although Kurt Vonnegut is a generation ahead of me, much of what he wrote  about when he was in his 50’s in “Hocus Pocus” is something that hits buttons for me today.

Even from generation to generation, people rarely change. The games they play and the pretences they hide behind are as true today as they were 50 and even 100 years ago.


I no longer trust or believe that people in power, or authority do things because they are wiser or better than anyone else. I no longer stifle what I see, think or feel because someone more powerful tells me that I am unpatriotic, not a team player, or lacking in something.

I no longer expect some stranger to come out of the blue and solve my problems for me, or give me instant fame or success.

Create what you want to create

This has been the most liberating for me.  I simply accept what is – and create what I wish to create.Because I no longer expect people to do anything for me.  Instead of feeling disappointed by what others don’t do, I am often delighted when people do reach out.

Life will always be difficult.

M Scott Peck once wrote that:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

I no longer believe that life is easy, or will get any easier in the future.  It is difficult to stay fit and healthy, and relevant – and as we get older I know it will get even more difficult.

But then… Nothing has changed.

What’s  important is that we must make the most of each stage of our lives and learn from each of life’s new cycles.

Ruth Tearle is the owner of Change Designs a web portal filled with practical tools and articles to support  people at work. She is the author of many inspirational books and cards.  She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and enjoys the wonderful outdoor lifestyle it offers. You might like to follow Ruth  on  Facebook   or  Twitter  or Linked In

Over to you Lifestyle readers …

What significant changes have there been in your beliefs as you get older? Does anything in particular stand out? Why not tell us in the comments section?

(If you would you like to write a post for the “My Story” section on Lifestyle Fifty please feel free to contact me with your idea.)

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Showing 15 comments
  • Bec @ The Plumbette

    Yes, even though I’m 29 I agree that life is hard and that it doesn’t get easier as you get older. But your confidence sure gets stronger and you learn what you really want to what you don’t.

    • Johanna

      So right Bec. It’s the getting stronger and more confident which helps us through. I hope your judgement and insight as you age continue to be as sound as they are now.

  • Renuka

    I appreciate this post a lot – it talks about the changes in a woman. I remember, as a teenager how I used to feel and then when I turned 20! And now when I am in my early 30’s. I feel the best today – wiser and more confident of myself and life!

    • Johanna

      That’s great Renuka, and I’m glad you liked the post too. Yes wisdom and confidence can only happen as we get older 🙂

    • Ruth Tearle

      Good for you Renuka. If you are feeling like this in your thirties, then just know it gets even better.
      I enjoyed looking at your blog on solo travelling in India. It takes a lot of confidence to travel alone. But you make it look so vibrant and exciting.

  • Janet @ Redland City Living

    What a wonderful age we live in. It blows my mind that I now work from home, writing for websites and coordinating social media for businesses – a job that really didn’t exist when I was at school! I love that quote by Ruth too 🙂

    • Johanna

      I totally agree, Janet. It is a wonderful age we live in and with so many more possibilities than we had when we were younger I think. Ruth has some amazing quotes – her Bubbles and inspiration cards are awesome – you might want to check out her products 🙂

      • Ruth Tearle

        It is pretty awesome how the internet age has affected jobs. For those that enjoy writing, there are so many opportunities.
        But for extroverts, who prefer talking to writing, things are getting tougher. So many jobs are disappearing. Remember travel agents, recruitment consultancies, even investment brokers? Now it is so much cheaper, quicker and easier to do things ourselves online.

  • Rae Hilhorst

    Thanks Ruth, you have given us much food for thought. I to now feel more connected than ever before, I love the technology we have available at our finger tips. Many women my age are astounded that I use so much technology. Bring it on say I. xxx Rae

    • Johanna

      Rae you are a techno legend! Keep on trucking and this old girl will be right behind you 😉

  • Life Images by Jill

    Hi Ruth (great to see you!) I have been a fan of Ruth’s since reading your book “Blackboards, Bubbles & Cappuccinos” and receiving your little block of quote cards. I have the cards on my mantlepiece and pull one out at random. The one I have had up for a little while now is “be true to yourself and the world will come to you”. And I think that is the essence – be true to yourself. You need to live your own life as you want, not as someone else wants, and not through other people. However finding your true self can be a long journey with many twists and turns in the road. And yes life is difficult – you wouldn’t feel the satisfaction of working towards something, and overcoming obstacles, if it wasn’t. I guess you have to make a “leap of faith”.
    Thanks Ruth and Jo for this post – Lifestyle Fifty gets better and better Jo!

    • Ruth Tearle

      Hi Jill. Thanks for your comment. What a wonderful start to the week!
      I am so pleased that the quotes from the Inspiration Bubbles Cards, inspire you. I loved the images you created around the quotes on flickr. They inspired me back.
      I’ve just been to your Life Images blog. You have such a wonderful way of combining bring images and words to create a vivid story. You are certainly living out your interpretation of being true to yourself. Even though we have never met in the physical world, I feel very connected to your creative spirit.

      • Johanna

        I’m so glad that I’ve connected you both (Ruth and Jill) in the virtual world because I do think that you have kindred spirits 🙂 Now I have to work out how to get you to meet in real life 😉

        • Ruth Tearle

          I agree Jo.
          Jill. Would love to see you in Cape Town. There is dragon boating here too. Perhaps you need to organize an Australian/South African event as an excuse to visit?
          I haven’t done dragon boating, but have just started kayaking – for fun, and to enjoy the scenery.

    • Johanna

      Such beautiful thoughts Jill. I’d like to put that up as the challenge for all Lifestyle Fifty readers today: “Live your own life and not through other people while working towards something and overcoming obstacles.” I think that should be a quote on an image, Jill – I can feel a Pinterest coming up 😉

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