Fifty recently overtook 21 as the “peak” milestone for partying. We spoke to five inspiring 50-somethings about their achievements and adventures, from touring America to becoming a student again, to find out tips for how to make the most of your fifties, and beyond.
Travel the world
Philippa is an award-winning, record-breaking, globe-trotting quilter who teaches in the US at least three times a year. “I wish I'd kept a record of all the US states I've visited – it would be a lot,” she says. Currently based in the UK, Philippa has taught in Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but feels privileged to be able to work from home: “I'm very lucky to have something that continues to inspire and interest me, not only in my own work but also in my teaching.”
Get into a big project
Three years ago, Bob helped develop the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa. “It will provide approximately 14 per cent of Kenya’s energy requirement from a source of low-cost renewable energy,” he says of the project, which took place in a remote area of Northern Kenya and entailed overcoming formidable obstacles.
Go back to school
As an intrepid interior designer, Sarah has also travelled outside of her comfort zone. Her design work has in the past included a fit-out contract for a large villa in post-war Kurdistan. “I visited there twice and on the second visit I had trouble finding a flight because of the huge build-up of excitement over the imminent first general election following the death of Saddam Hussein.” For her, it’s never too late to start something new. Sarah is about to become a mature student; she has plans to study at Lisbon University’s Faculty of Fine Arts later this year.
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Try something new
“If you’d asked me in my thirties if I’d be doing yoga in my fifties, I’d probably have laughed in your face,” says Jacqueline, who describes the practice as an important thread running through her life. She says yoga has sustained her through difficult times and taken her to unexpected places, “both geographical and metaphysical”, including a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
Exercise your demons
Trish, who is a union worker, also proves that age is no obstacle to making important life-changing decisions. “Only now, in my mid-fifties, am I cautiously proud to say I am trying, and succeeding, to get into regular exercise.
“While this may not be something particularly impressive to others, a number of life events have made it difficult to achieve… a combination of a late-diagnosed health condition (now resolved), working full-time, four boomerang children and a mother with dementia has seriously impacted on my free time.”
What’s next on Trish’s list? “Learning Spanish and taking golf lessons – but I might need to retire first.”