On middle-age…



I was looking at my pooch last night as she took a flying leap from the floor to land on my lap. ‘She doesn’t know she’s middle-aged,’ commented my husband. ‘Do you think she’ll ever grow up?’

It was her birthday yesterday – Adventure Spaniel was 8. That’s 56 in dog years.

He was right though – she doesn’t know that she’s middle-aged. And why should she? She’s happier not knowing. She is, however, becoming more vocal about what she wants, and even a touch more wilful…but always with a wag. I can learn a lot from my dog about attitude to life.

Is there anything better than a doggy grin?
Is there anything better than a doggy grin?

I’ve never been one for labels. I detest titles and hierarchies – at the same time that I recognise they are necessary. I’m happy to call whatever shots need to be called in the office, but when someone calls me ‘Boss,’ I cringe – even though to them it’s probably about respect. It’s the same with the whole Mrs Tracey thing: that’s not me – it’s my mother-in-law.

I have the same relationship with numbers. I get hung up on the number in a label, the number on the scales, the number on a birthday card, the numbers I used to write on the white-board every day that would determine whether the day would be completely hell-ish or actually close to ok.

It’s probably why I dislike the concept of middle-aged. It’s a number – or, rather, a group of numbers – and a label combined…my two least favourite things in the world. Yes, I’m 49. In March I’ll be celebrating turning 50. Will I be celebrating it? Absolutely. I’m about aging positively – but not about labelling it as such…and yes, I realise that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast on my morning commute. It was (as it often is) The Creative Penn and Joanna was interviewing Jonathan Fields from The Good Life Project. The Good Life Project, in case you’re interested, is all about what makes for a good life – I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming.

Anyways, at about the 38 minute mark he talked about how studies have shown that – despite the creaks and the pain and the influence of Mr Gravity – as people get older, their happiness (or contentment) tends to increase above that of younger people whose bones don’t creak when they sit down or stand up, and whose faces go back to normal quickly from sleep wrinkles. It’s largely to do with a letting go of things that can hold you back from being happy. Things like expectations, worry over what others think, undue concern about what others have, that need to keep up with the Jones’s.

As we get older, we tend not to care about that so much and instead do the things that make us feel good. We look for the things that light us up. He said that we give so much up in the name of being and adult – and one of those things is play. There’s nothing about being a grown-up that says you have to extract the levels of fun in your life. He said a lot more about actively looking for opportunities to play, but that’s a whole other story.

The thing is, as we get older we also realise just how quickly life is shooting ahead and that all those things we worried about that were dramatic and big and chaotic, really didn’t matter that much – in hindsight. In understanding this we gain a perspective that allows us to lighten up.

Like Debbish said in her post yesterday, sometimes we realise that what holds us back is not our age, but the expectations of what we thought we should have achieved by now.

There’s not really that much I’d like to go back in time for. Perhaps I’d like to be the size I was when I first thought I was overweight. But other than that? It’s the years that have given me all these fabulous experiences – and all these fabulous experiences have also left their mark on my face and my body. It’s like that meme that says something about if you could give up wine and be skinny for ever, which colour would you choose: red or white?

Besides, as Indiana Jones once said: It’s not the years, it’s the mileage…and I’ve still got plenty more in this engine.

Linking up for the Lovin’ Life linky with Debbish and Deep Fried Fruit.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

15 thoughts

  1. I was having the exact same conversation with my daughter yesterday about our Alfie (Border Collie x) He has no idea he’s meant to be in his 40s. He runs, jumps and plays like he’s a teenager. He definitely reminds me that it’s all about the mindset. Dogs teach us a lot …

  2. I’m 60 next year and I gave up looking at numbers when I turned 50. I love this stage of life and making the most of it. Life can be wonderful if we have the right attitude and there is much for you to enjoy when you turn the big 50! Great post and joining from Lovin’Life Linky

  3. Totally agree with you about the whole middle age tag. I really don’t like it at all. I’ve passed the 5-0 mark and I refuse to make my age an issue. After all, it’s just a number, isn’t it? Love the #FFF !! 😀 Visiting from #TeamLovinLife

  4. Our 12 year old lab still jumped around like she was a puppy even though her hips were arthritic and she had lost a lot of condition. I always used to think I wish I had half her vitality and contentment. Old dogs are just so lovable! Maybe there is a lesson in there for all of us!

  5. The more I read about your likes and dislikes, the more I think you’re much more an Aries than a Pisces…As for being middle-aged, it’s the same as thinking to be fat when a size 12/14 (U.K.)….When you get to be one hundred and thirty, you’ll think of fifty as being soooo young and full of prospects. F*** numbers, labels, titles and all the rest. It’s not about THEM (the compulsive judgers), it’s about you, baby! 🙂

  6. Well said, Jo. I turned 50 in August. A year earlier, I was freaked out at the prospect. Now I just feel grateful, privileged to make an age that a few of my friends didn’t. Enjoy a milestone worth celebrating.

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