I recently talked to a childhood friend who said turning 50 was her biggest nightmare and here she was driving a cute Fiat 500 in the country lanes, feeling happy in her skin. Why would it turn out to be the worst for her, while I saw turning 50 as regaining my freedom and felt grateful to have reached 50!
I can understand her point and would lie if I'd tell you turning 50 was all plain sailing it wasn't. My mind filled with all the negativity around growing older. Being ignored when applying for jobs, opportunities closing, getting fat, sagging jaws, health detoriorating... Yes, I'd have all these fears, but then something happened, my mindset changed developing an incredible sense of freedom, it was a now or never moment! Here's to celebrating 50 and the good stuff about it!
1. I gained more freedom and independence as my kids entered their teens years. (Don't hear me wrong dealing with teenagers is probably the toughest job for a parent!) Enjoyed the fact that I could leave the house without finding a childminder for every step I took, it felt so liberating to be able to exit the house on the spot as a last minute decision!
2. I've spent my life trying to be a people pleaser! Trying to shape round corners out of square boxes, kept smiling when I just wanted to say F...*. Felt an incredible strength capable of breaking the walls I'd build around me; it meant that I didn't care about what others were thinking of me! Again what a liberation!
3. Following my real calling, photography, not just any photography, feeling aligned with my values and creating images from the heart rather than chasing money for money. I love seeing women transform and lighting up in front of my camera!
4. Making a difference, I feel very strongly about Women causes, fascinated by women fighters refusing to settle for the ordinary against all odds. Joined the Chérie Blair Foundation as a volunteer sharing my business insights with women launching their business in the developing world.
5. Not as fit as when I was 25, feeling tired often but refuse to moan and complain about it, instead I discovered yoga, changed my eating habits, which means fewer carbs and sugar, my waistline is very grateful, trust me! I started to learn the piano and Spanish!
I can hear some of you say; we will never be able to compete with a 25 years old! It's all down the hill from now. I will say no one asks you to compete with a 25 years old, let your kids have their youth! And if you fear about being left for a 25 years old, enjoy your freedom, confidence is the best beauty trick!
Change your mindset. I feel privileged in the sense that I have fantastic models with ageing parents, being active, keeping curious about life. Every Friday my mum and their friends go out dancing, having fun, do they moan about being too old? No, they embrace life because the alternative of growing old is giving up.
Choose yourself a role model; there're so many who will inspire you: Inès de la Fressange, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama...As for women out of the public eye. Look closer, for the women around you. I've met remarkable women in their 90s, one of them was flying on a glider for her 90th birthday. I saw a TV documentary about South-Korean women in their 70s, going under sea collecting shellfish in their wetsuit, go to Scandinavia and you will hardly notice a woman who'd plastic surgery, they embrace their wrinkles and are beautiful, everywhere you look there'll be a model to be inspired from!
So my dear friends, reaching 50 feels scary but what an incredible sense of freedom you will gain. Don't fear, keep learning, live the moment, have fun, spread the love, enjoy. Some days will be tougher than others, just make the most of your time!
PS. As for my age, if you're asking, I am the same age as Michelle Obama (52), what a fantastic model I can look up to!