Is fifty too old to start over and reinvent yourself?
Rita Reynolds is an empty nester with a second shot at life. Her college-age son is spending the summer with his new girlfriend instead of at home with Rita as she had hoped. Her part-time job might be ending, which will toss her back into the job market. Underscoring it all is the realization that since her divorce, she’s been coasting on the highway of life. Now, the bumps in the road are too big to ignore.
A chance to teach a six-week baking class brings Rita’s almost-forgotten dream of becoming a professional baker back to the surface. Can she overcome her fear that it might be too late for a fresh start? With the help of two friends—Donna, her employer, and Karen, her ex-husband’s second wife—she’s about to find out.
Nancy Christie has been making up stories since she learned how to write, and she plans to continue as long as her fingers can work the keyboard. She can often be found walking the streets of her neighborhood, reciting lines of dialogue or recording plot ideas on her cell phone before they escape her mind.
Reinventing Rita (the first in her Midlife Moxie novel series) is Nancy’s sixth book. Her other books include The Gifts of Change, Rut-Busting Book for Writers, Rut-Busting Book for Authors, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories. Mistletoe Magic, her third fiction collection, will be released late 2023. Her books and short stories have won awards and earned contest placements.
You know what sparked the inspiration for this short piece of writing? My partner! I laugh as I write this as (at the time of me writing this) last week, I turned the big 40. This week while speaking to him on WhatsApp I told him, ‘I’ve got a pain in my knee.’ His dry, sarcastic, and witty response ( as usual which always makes me laugh) was that ‘already the joys of the 40’s is starting for you LOL.’ He too turned 40 last October.
I contemplated what he said to me, I never even linked my knee pain to my new turn of a decade. In fact, I linked it to an old injury I had as a young teen that to this day still causes my knee to act up, but not in the way it has been this week!
In other conversations in the lead up to my 40th birthday, we spoke about ageing, I said to him that, ‘ it’s different for men a few grey whiskers in your beard and a few in your hair are sexy! Men get more handsome with age.’ He kind of laughed and didn’t validate what I said in anyway in his own personal beliefs. I can only assume that for him personally he still sees beauty in women as they age, here’s hoping anyway! I reflected on this too, and started to think about what it is that I have learned about life at this milestone age?
My twenties were full of fun, travelling, working on what was then my chosen career and life path, and gaining stability. This was until around my mid-twenties, my late twenties flipped 360 degrees when I decided on a new path, I also had my first real lesson learning when it comes to relationships and love which set me up for later experiences, I also became a very proud mother just as I entered my thirties.
In contrast to my twenties my thirties were filled with learning who I am, what I want, don’t want, I’d say my biggest growth in life and as a woman, human, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, aunty, friend, partner, and generally as a soul came in my thirties. That ‘growing pains’ stage that often is linked to the late teens– to mid- twenties for me came in my thirties, in particular my late thirties , that’s very bizarre. In my twenties I thought I had it all figured out! I knew who I was, what I wanted, what was important to me in life… I was dead-ass wrong! In some respects about that. I think the turning point came when I had my son at thirty. Motherhood really gave me a different perspective of life, so did travel outside of the UK with a young child, learning about different cultures, and really being ‘open’ to all life has to offer. So, I guess at this milestone of forty I’ve learned these things:
When It Comes to Life’s Direction:
You know, I think I can confidently say that it’s really okay if you have a ‘plan’ or even ‘plans’ and they don’t go to plan at all. By this I mean you think, feel, desire, and work towards something and it just blows up in your face. You may even feel like some kind of failure due to the outcome. That is until you really look deeply at why things happened. This can be said for relationships too. If things don’t pan out how you envision, try to understand why, what part you played, how you can ensure it doesn’t happen again and let that shit go, move on.
Another thing about plans we may make is that sometimes there is a bigger plan for you, and your plan was just a tiny aspect of it to place you where you are meant to be. Keep that in mind too. In no way am I saying that you should just allow your plans to fail, but I am saying that if you truly know you had everyone’s best interest at heart, applied yourself, worked hard, really planned to make a success of whatever it is that did not pan out ( job, goal, relationship whatever) then you just have to walk away knowing that you did your best, and there is something better for you. A bigger ‘plan’ that you need to journey to.
Be Selective With Friends, Associates, and Your ‘Tribe’ of People!
This is something that I ‘saw’ with others a lot in my twenties, and I did also experience myself. However, as I look back now at forty and reflect I only cottoned onto this life hack later, in my late twenties-early thirties. In life you will come across people who claim to be friends, or even want to be friends with you and it is not always for a reason you would imagine. As in, it’s not about the innocence and beauty of friendship and connection itself, there is a hidden motive, agenda, or something they want, need, desire, or sadly are jealous of about you! Yes, jealous, some souls might be attracted to you and spark up a friendship with this mindset.
Over the years I’ve become more aligned with the belief that people have an ‘energy’ about them. Myself included. The more I observe people, interact with people of different cultures, religions, backgrounds, belief systems, and generally go about my daily business I pick up on this about people. This ‘energy’ is what will introduce you to the world before you’ve even opened your mouth, if you’re authentic. In some cases, people will try to portray an energy that is not what it appears. Ever heard the saying. ‘All that glitters is not gold’, that’s what I mean when your mum or elderly relative told you that.
Without sounding like a pessimistic soul, or putting a real downer on people and making connections, I do want to say that I have learned that you need to be mindful of who you allow into your private life, space, energy, and claim as a friend. I have a natural ENFJA personality type based on the sixteen personality types; it is very accurate for me! So naturally I am more extroverted, have no problem speaking with people, meeting new people, and being in social situations which is often why I find it very easy to make friends in person and via social media, but I am genuine and authentic with who and what I am… not everyone out there is.
Whether you are introverted or extroverted like me and have an ease with people, protect your energy. Get to know people well enough before you really trust them. It could also be that I am an Aquarius and I am true to my star sign’s trait of being a people person but a ‘popular loner’ meaning, people will get all of the real me, but I don’t need to be close and tight with everyone at first I do believe in the power of building connections. That is unless you meet someone and you jus know they are part of your ‘tribe’. This happens when you are able to pick up on the energy of people I spoke about, and spot the sense from the nonsense, or the smoke and mirrors that people can sometimes give you.
In my days at university, I met a wonderful girl who over ten years later, we are still in contact and we don’t even live in the same country any more. The day we met we clicked, and stuck together as students, job searching, having families, etc and it’s because she is very authentic and a genuine friend of mine. Every time we talk on the camera which may not be often we spend hours!! There’s a lot of love between us. My point here with this learning is that you must be selective, go into situations with others with your eyes wide open, not a barrier up on your personality or who you are, or your ‘realness’ just your eyes open! When you feel a genuine connection with another person’s soul, guard it, nurture it, keep it, honour it, be a good friend, and be there for each other even if you are in different time zones and locations.
Cut People Off (Energetically) Who Don’t Serve You And/Or Disrespect you.
Listen, I am as bold as brass when it comes to deciding that I need to cut ties with a situation, person, place, or thing that is negatively impacting my health, wealth, mental state, and energy. I want everyone to do this. I have learned that too often we ( as in you and I) can make excuses for people’s narcissistic ways, negative behaviour, abuse, and general disrespect when you yourself may have done none of these things.
No, it needs to stop now. Learning to be strong enough to say, ‘enough is enough’ is a game changer. You don’t have to be nasty, rude, or disrespectful . Just energetically remove people from your space and life. This can look and feel different for everyone, but for me it’s a simple block, delete, and no contact. Sometimes there’s not even an explanation. In most cases where I have had to energetically distance myself from a person , situation, place, or thing who is disrespectful to me etc I have tried, tried, and tried, to articulate ‘what’s up’ and they have not listened. Later in life I slowly learned that in order to protect my peace in life, it’s best to not ignore red-flags and cut off what does not serve who you are, are what you wish, especially if you have done nothing to deserve what you are experiencing. Let no person, situation, place, or thing be immune to this energy block from you. I mean no one! Family too! Take this life hack and apply it as needed! Just don’t allow anyone to mistreat you purposefully and expect that you’ll be okay with it.
Ideal Romantic Partners Are Based on Characteristics, First.
What I have learned is that often times you ( as in you and I) can focus on the wrong things, always date a person’s character first focus on this a lot as well as the physical attributes and attraction. You may even find that the person you ‘click with’ is someone so unassuming, and maybe not who you would have imagined! And when this happens it can be such a wonderful experience, as you have been matched based on:
Real connection that can develop into love.
A person’s character and energy should be the things you measure and get to know. Even if this person is of a different race, background, part of the world, etc to you if their character and energy matches yours , makes you feel love, protected, safe, provided for, they are stable mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually, and is a good father or mother figure etc this is who you should be dating and commit to. Not the man or woman who society says you should date, or the man or woman that only has physical attributes to offer you that will disappear as they age anyway, not the man or woman that you have any major doubts or red-flags with. Do not fall for the ‘okie doke’ people can give you and date their character, who a person shows you who they are believe them. If they lie, cheat, steal, abuse, but ‘ make you laugh and are attractive’ the whole person needs to be thrown away as they have shown you who they are, regardless of if they ‘make you laugh and are good looking.’ This is just an example but you get my point, what good is a person to date and commit to if their character and energy is off as a person? No good, none at all!
I’ve also learned to be very open when it comes to dating, have your ideal list of who you are attracted to yes, but I’m talking directly to women here: don’t cut yourself off from men outside of your ‘box’ age, race, height, etc as you may find a man outside it that completely takes over it! … In a good and positive way!
Understand Your Love Language, Now!
I smile as I write this, one of the best books I have ever read in the non-fiction genre is Five Love Languages: Secret To Love That Lasts by Gary Chapmen . This book will help you understand not only how you wish to be loved and can select a partner who ‘speaks your love language,’ it will also help you understand how your partner or future partner wishes to be loved. If you understand your own love language you are more likely to avoid those who don’t understand it, and save heart ache and time wasting. If you understand another person’s love language you are more likely to be able to love them well. The result of understanding love languages and dating a person who speaks yours, and you speak theirs ( naturally without force or difficulty) can, will, and does lead to long lasting partnerships. The research the professor did for the book clearly highlights how and why understanding love languages is a key starting point, as well as dating a person’s character.
I wish I had learned about this book in my twenties! I didn’t read it until I was around maybe thirty-four, now at forty I can honestly say I recommend it to everyone!
Have A Financial Plan, Always
One thing I have learned is when it comes to money, always think of tomorrow, and the day after, not just today. It’s as simple as that. Strive to have good financial planning, live within your means or budget, don’t try to impress others, and place your investment into things that ‘appreciate’ with value not ‘depreciate’ as much as you can.
When it comes to finances and relationships, always date someone who has a similar financial outlook on life as you! If not you’ll have a very hard time. One of the biggest causes of relationship strain and break up is: financial management, or lack of it.
Remember Who You Are And Be Who You Are
It sounds so cliché but it’s true, I’ve not heard a truer word yet. In my experience of life so far at forty, I can honestly look back and say there were times I ‘thought’ I was myself, but it was more like what was expected of me, or I misunderstood what and who it is I really am, until life experiences happened and shaped me into who and what I really am. Stand strong in your own authentic self, whoever you are, don’t hide it.
Find out who you are, find your purpose, spend time working on and with yourself, be selfish and do that work. I promise you if you can fully work out who you are, why you are here, what you want, and you live each day as who you really are ( in a positive way), you will attract better people, places, situations, things, and experiences your way as they are fully aligned with you! The bullshit will filter itself out.
Always in every and any given situation know who you are, be who you are, and don’t allow anyone or anything to change who you are if you are happy with who you are. Love yourself in such a way other people can tell you love yourself!
Be Kind, Be Considerate, Be Open Minded, Understand the World Around You
It’s one thing to understand the self, but if you have the ability to understand the world around you and those that grace it you’re onto something great. People will have different views and opinions to you, and this is perfectly fine. Listen to them, try to understand them, and always be able to agree to disagree. When President Trump was in power I learned this concept a lot! I also learned this concept when there were a significant number of black people who lost their lives in the USA shortly after George Floyd’s death. Not everyone around me felt how I felt, and I am a very vocal person. The learning I had is to understand my opposition even if I didn’t agree with it.
Outside of this context and political events, generally speaking understand what is happening around you, and don’t take everything at face value. Form your own viewpoint but understand it!
Being a kind, considerate, and open minded person sounds great! But it also makes a person rounded in their energy and personality. Not only that being kind allows you to be authentic too and read other people’s responses to your kindness and energy, and you can filter out who and what is not needed.
The world is a big place, don’t ever place yourself in a box, get out there, travel, experience, see, do, like, dislike, and experience all life has to offer for you. Even when times are hard and you encounter a negative experience, learn from it. Take new challenges and experiences that come your way that seem safe to do, sometimes a new experience or direction can open up something you never imagined to be possible. Don’t be fearful too much, a natural cautiousness is needed in life, but a fear that holds you back is a hindrance. Use fear as a motivator if you can, if there is something you wish to do or achieve and have a natural fear, take small steps towards it, and where possible minimise the fear and risks, move forward with confidence.
Connect With Nature
Just get out there! Open spaces, woods, forests, rivers, the sea, ocean, lakes, parks, beaches, anywhere that is not a concreate jungle go and spend time there. Just walk, think, observe, plan, express gratitude, journal write, exercise, meditate whatever! Just go! And take your kids if you have them too.
I was born in London so I’m a ‘big city girl’ naturally, and always will love the city, and the vibe of being from a place like London that can be found in many other cities around the world too. It was not until I had the experience of living outside of a city that I appreciated nature, I have moved back to the city now, but I do have lovely outside spaces to escape to often with lakes, woodland, parks etc. Connect with nature, you will never regret it! Make it a life habit.