3 June 2015

The Difference Between Our Forties and Fifties.

'You're a very handsome woman,' someone said.

'Handsome?'

Ouch.

When the whatsit did that happen?

My life reeled before me - all those 'pretty' comments that we nonchalantly let pass in our twenties, the 'beautiful' ones we disbelieve and bat off in our thirties and even those that come with a crushing caveat in the 'you're looking great for your age' forties.

'Handsome?'

What a killer wake up call!  They may as well have transmitted it over a tannoy, loud and clear for everyone to hear:

'Welcome to your fifties, Anya.'

*Devastated.*

Oh, and the irony?  As thick as our skin might become with age - because, metaphorically speaking, it really does - we care less for people pleasing and focus more on making the most of our own life - pointed remarks like this, no matter how well intended, remind us that, in reality, it is thinner all the time and, perhaps, a little easier to get under!

It was not lost on me.

And neither is it with regard to our sight - a similarly ironic scenario.  As we get older and our eyes deteriorate, we might need glasses to locate where our brows used to be but we are less blinded by b*llsh*t idealism, so we see life much more clearly nowadays.  We can pick out the losers and energy-suckers a mile off presently.  Instead, we are increasingly discerning over who we dedicate our love and time to, popping all those years of frustrated efforts to change or 'help' those who don't really want or need them properly in the past.  Let's face it, we've plenty enough of that to do a decent job of it!

When you enter your forties you're fresh out of your thirties - life is still a little rock and roll.  Once you hit your fifties, all those jokes about the menopause are less funny.  We're scared now.  We can really feel it coming.

And talking of trouble, we can't always blame hormones (or lack of) for our middle aged spread.  Tired of eschewing many a fattening thing for the sake of our figure for the last thirty years, I, for one, am relishing more cake, biscuits and butter nowadays.  It is unfortunate that the immersing of myself into the merits of them co-incides with my knees being too knackered to run or go to the gym anymore, but after decades of doing that (hence such issues) it has become boring and somewhat lost its appeal too.  This must be quite a common phenomenon, methinks!

Also, as our looks fade fast in our fifties - not that we appreciated we had any until they're going - there comes a moment we must re-think our make up.  Dark eyeshadow makes us appear witch -like - or, again, is that just me?!  We need lighter lipsticks as well, so as not to emphasise the wrong bits of us that are slimming and rather than being as judgmental as we may previously have been, we're suddenly seriously sympathetic to the notion of plumping for some botox (see what I did there ;) ?!).

While you're still in your forties, you kind of get used to seeing your mum staring back at you in the mirror - and there's no shame in that, but there's a lovely little surprise waiting for you later on.  My wonderful Nana has been gone for about a year, yet she's still here - in my reflection - just like she was when I was young.  i.e. when she was young. Perhaps, rather than being bitter, we could call it the privilege of lineage?

#SorryNotSorry about the spoiler!

So lap up all the compliments you can ladies.  Take them, treasure them and thank your generous giver for them.  Even enjoy a friendly builder's whistle, because, before you know it, your forties will have sailed seemingly seamlessly into your fifties and the nearest you'll get is a builder's brew and having someone calling you 'Handsome!'


youth is wasted on the young, oscar wilde, george bernard shaw,

Thank you to all of you who voted me into the final five of the Brilliance in Blogging (BiBs) Awards in the Best Writer category.  I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled and hoping that one day to share the story of leaving my lucrative London job because of keeping losing my voice, only for it to turn up here when I'm a struggling single mum!  I honestly, truly appreciate all your loyalty, love and support.  

Thank you, as always,

Anya XX. 

66 comments:

  1. 'Handsome' isn't a word I use to a woman - and I'm a man that does pay women compliments - but let's see. If I did use it, the word would clearly have intimations of maturity - but also of being attractive and having a certain level of intelligence. I'd also use it to a woman that I thought was in control of her life - a strong woman if you like. One word, but many layers. I don't think you should be too disheartened, Anya.
    And best of luck in the BiBs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mark - too kind. I realise it was a compliment but it made me feel very old! And I realise you are paying more. Thank you for your good wishes :)

      Delete
  2. What do yo mean? You are surely talking about womenn in thier 60s not us! Indie Nyall aged 52 1/2

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I was so flustered by this post that I wrote three spelling mistakes in one line of comment. :/

      Delete
  3. You are one of the most beautiful women I KNOW. Was in your 40s, are in your 50s and will forever be.

    I've been thinking about this a lot recently too, as my face is certainly different now I am in my 40s than even 5 years-ago but I love it. Every line and wrinkle tells a story and it's a real privilege to wear this old face every day. If I get to look like my nana does now, who is 82, then how lucky will I be!

    Besides, handsome to me means strong and beautiful x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you sweetie - I hope you feel the same about your face in your fifties as you do in your forties! XX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I am sure you will - have just left comment to that effect at yours - you're fabulous XX

      Delete
  5. Handsome is much nicer than the phrases my ten year old uses to describe my appearance, which include references to my witchy chin hairs, yellow teeth, and armpit stubbles. Bless her. I'd weep with relief if she called me handsome. Don't sweat it! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh bless you! Yes, my kids can be just as cruel / honest! ;) And come my next decade I'd probably love to be called handsome! xx

      Delete
  6. Wise words indeed. Thanks for the heads up. - the40yearold

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forties are fabulous and fifties are too, just differently and not how you might foresee! XX

      Delete
  7. Oh I hear you! I suppose 'handsome' was meant as a compliment, which is a plus, but I do see what you mean. My dad used to refer to me as 'a strapping lass' thinking that was a compliment, he never understood why I didn't take it as one. I think once you hit 50 (and sail past...) things do seem to deteriorate quickly. My skin, hair, joints and pretty much everything else are not what they used to be. Great post xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad to have struck the right chord! Yes, it was intended as a compliment but IKWYM re your dad's too! They mean well but..... ouch! I can't believe the difference in my skin, hair and joints so quickly into my fifties, but at least there are other (more important) things to embrace! Thank you xx

      Delete
  8. Oh blimey this has struck a chord with me. You are so right, we don't appreciate our youth and looks when we are younger. Funnily enough I look back at photos of myself and I really like the me in my 40s. My thirties I looked a frump and had weird glasses and too short hair. In my forties I definitely felt better but, oh the shock of turning 50 - there really is a difference. It's the crepey neck I'm not keen on....!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I'm so glad, but not! Wasn't sure if 'd gone a bit OTT but was just honest, as per usual! Tried very hard not to come across as bitter - but the difference between 40s and 50s is immense which only those of us old enough actually understand! ;) Thanks for understanding and commenting XX

      Delete
  9. Funnily enough, although I still loathe the sight before me when I look in a mirror, I think I loathe it less now than I did 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe I am starting to care less about my looks, or maybe I am going to be like a fine wine and get a bit better with age. I hope it will be the second one but I am not too confident!! x PS - I am happy to organise a lynch mob for whichever insensitive (and obviously blind) person who call you 'handsome'...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh bless you - that's horrid you feel like that about yourself. Make the most of beautiful you now - because you are! No lynch mob required thanks anyway - it was a lovely (young) female friend of mine who obvs meant very well ;) ! X

      Delete
  10. Yes I'm not sure I'd have taken 'handsome' too well either...who calls a woman handsome anyway? I think you're gorgeous Anya. My next big birthday will be 40 in a few years and I'm actually looking forward to it. I love that I feel less bothered about what other people think now and I dress for me rather than others. The wrinkles around my eyes are proof that I never stop smiling and what's better than that...hurrah for crows feet. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was meant very well by a lovely female friend, thanks anyway. So glad you never stop smiling! xx

      Delete
  11. Handsome does seem like an interesting comment but it is all good isn't it? I think you are gorgeous but as your wise words say, there is so much to be gained from getting older that are perhaps more important than being pretty or complimented by others. Lovely post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - yes, interesting and it does have distinct advantages! X

      Delete
  12. The biggest difference between 40s and 50s is that in your 40s everything still works - you're basically post-30 - and in your 50s it's all going downhill - you're basically pre-60 - from joints to skin and beyond. The increased self-awareness and confidence is offset by the fading of everything else. Oh well. :)

    Still, it's a wake-up call to care of one's health properly, to eat well, sleep enough, and generally take a more serious interest in one's physiological needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At some point Sarah - looking for a way to saying 'getting older' I nearly wrote that 'once you're in your sixth decade...!!!!' but shocked myself and really couldn't bring myself to do it so never said it, only for you to do it for us lol! Good point about the taking more care of ourselves though :)

      Delete
  13. You know I am joining the 50 brigade next year and I have so many thoughts,doubts, questions but underlying all the disappointment of advancing time I'm so happy to be alive.
    Can't wait to see you and talk properly x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You look nothing like it though Mari! And in my first post about hitting 50 I acknowledged that some people don't make it and I am grateful to be here, getting older. I did wonder whether to mention it again but stuck with lighthearted vanity and now feel suitably chastened xx

      Delete
    2. I wasn't chastising you! Far from it. I was just saying for me, it's one of my coping methods with getting my head around such a huge number. I am also so grateful to have others in my life, like you, who can shine the way ahead for me so superbly.

      Delete
    3. Oh bless you. It's a great coping method actually and it's good to be reminded of our less attractive options. I often think of a friend who only just made it past her 40th birthday and that keeps me humble, deep down and really! Most of us just ignore the number tbh once we've had the parties and no-one can shine the way better than you, but thank you anyway xx

      Delete
  14. I can't believe I'm writing that I'm only a few years from staggering over that half century milestone. I often ask myself how I got to this age. When did that happen? I'm still 16 in my head although my ancestors are definitely sniggering at me in the mirror these days. I find that fascinating. I can see my Nan's 80 year old cheekbones like an imprint over my reflection. I definitely didn't come into myself until my very late 30s but now look back on my early reflection as far more gorgeous (if slightly nerdy) than I gave myself credit for at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't believe you're that age either Gem! There is a privilege in seeing the lineage - but it's still rather disconcerting when we feel so young inside. My nana said she still felt in her thirties even when she was in her nineties! Your forties are wonderful, as are our fifties, so we should just enjoy and embrace (easier said that done though, sometimes!) XX

      Delete
    2. My fabulous builder who is 65 and leaps up ladders like a gazelle said society needs to,forget about the numbers. I think he's got a point. When I think about being 47 I feel old but when I look in the mirror and see a younger woman looking back at me I am reminded nit to out a number on it. I think I'll now stop telling anyone my age and ignore it myself as well and see how that feels 😃

      Delete
    3. Honestly, all those 'age is just a number' things are hollow until you really get to that point yourself! I'm there ;) xx

      Delete
  15. I love posts like this Anya- to see what lies ahead for me!!

    My favourite comment from your post is:
    "When you enter your forties you're fresh out of your thirties - life is still a little rock and roll". I turned 40 last September so this applies to me! I still feel a little rock and roll. I hope that feeling lasts a bit longer:-)

    The 'handsome' thing was obviously a compliment but I can see why it's perhaps less easy to accept than "You look pretty". However those 'pretty' comments given to girls in their 20s are all about what they look like and not who they are. Beautiful is a bit more accepting of the looks and substance package - I wouldn't mind being called beautiful - I'm more than just 'pretty' (and I don't mean that in a 'looks' way!)

    But handsome is a complement for the whole woman. With your life experience, your sacrifices along the way, the process of becoming exactly who you are, the maturity and confidence that it takes to accept your flaws as easily as your attributes - both physically and otherwise. With all that worldliness wrapped up in the body of a strong woman - would 'pretty' cover it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully Nadine. I'm happy that life is still a little rock n roll for you and hope it remains so forever tbh! I've just found that things deteriorate in our fifties in a way they don't beforehand and we don't realise other people notice it too until - bam! - something like that comes along and we realise we don't look as young as we feel inside still. There are lots of advantages to being older that come with age, but we still feel young XXX

      Delete
  16. I love this post. &, assuming that you have not also been relentlessly told to put make up on (NOW!) by a 2 year old, I can assure you that you are looking much better than me! I have always found this use of 'handsome' a little odd. It is clearly intended to be complimentary & nice, but the word just does not seem to work well - people should stick to 'beautiful', which is what they mean anyway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My LO is always asking if I will wear a skirt - he is fascinated by them because so few women (in our school run) circles wear them now! I tend not to though because of the shoes palaver that always comes with that :/ No matter how well people mean - they sometimes bring us up straight how old we really are and I am no better looking or handsome than anyone, inlcuding you! XX

      Delete
    2. My mum, who was a teacher & has never been much of a skirt wearer, told me that she once went to school wearing a skirt & one of the little boys shouted, 'Miss, look! You've got legs, Miss!' x

      Delete
    3. I completely get that - my son was exactly the same! We don't realise how uncommon they are until they point it out to us! :)

      Delete
  17. Oh yes this is so much the truth. For me one of the biggies is looking at all the clothes I wore for the past 30 years (while thinking I was overweight) and realising that actually I looked perfectly fine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes - not enjoying our figure while we had it too! I am so glad not to be alone with these thoughts!

      Delete
  18. Handsome always seems such an old fashioned word that I associate with Jane Austen etc. I'm not sure it is a word I would use to describe a woman. Besides you are beautiful and don't like anyone tell you different x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - perhaps it's more of an old fashioned thing - rather than just for 'old' people! And you're very kind but not feeling it right now! X

      Delete
  19. Handsome is such an odd word to describe a lady, especially one who looks as beautiful as you do but I guess it could have been worse. Love this post x x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right Cass - could have been so much worse lol! *slaps self*

      Delete
  20. Couldn't agree more... it's a shame we can't blend the energy of our youth with the beauty of our twenties and wisdom as we grow older. You are beautiful Anya... don't ever forget that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful combination - I think you wrote something around those very lines Izzie! Thank you for your kind compliment - but you know what I mean xx

      Delete
  21. Wow, this sounds like An American in Downton Abbey paying a compliment that just doesn't work in a British context...a bit like the difference between a bum-bag(British) and a fanny-pack(American), they both do the same job but I know which I'd rather use!!!
    Once upon a time I was on a school PTA and someone called me 'endearing' when I was trying to run a big event (that no one else would)...someone else then said to me 'never let anyone call you endearing, what they mean is young and naive'...I decided at that moment that the only thing I wanted to be called was 'formidable'. And so I was!
    Only you should choose how you want to be described, no one else, believe it and others will see it too. But if you are looking for some ideas I think you should start with beautiful. ��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good analogy thank you Donna and I'm sure 'endearing' was used out of context too for you- when they maybe meant 'friendly?' Can imagine you as formidable and think I'll adopt that word too instead! No, not looking for ideas, thank you, just moaning! ;) X

      Delete
    2. Haha, I'm not really formidable, just a good actress ;o) so long as no-one calls me bum-bag
      anything else will do. hehe ;o)

      Delete
  22. Ahh love the comment from Mark, he is such a gent! I can;t say I ever want to be handsome but yes it is a realisation coming to terms with again and luckily in the last week or so with a litte bit of tan I've felt better at what looks back at me in the mirror, I sure think the smile helps! Mich x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - he's lovely and it's nice to get a man's viewpoint, He had assumed the compliment had come from a male - which, I think, would be worse in actual fact! Realisations hurt but beng here is all that matters in the long run. So glad you're happy with what you see and long may it continue. A smile can bring about a whole transformation, you're right! XX

      Delete
  23. Very insightful post Anya. I so agree that you can now see through the time wasters! I wonder what the 60s will bring? x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susanna - yes, age brings wisdom and please don't bring that up yet!!

      Delete
  24. Oh you've got me thinking, I don't have a problem with age, what I have a problem is other people's problem with it, how they judge and bracket and decide based on what they see. The problem with being 'older' is that physically there are give aways, what ever you might feel in your head - like you say, your knees give up, your eye-sight changes, your skin changes. I'm still the same person, I guess like you wiser (I hope).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you've put it in a nutshell there Gemma, thank you - other peoples perspective vs how you feel inside vs how your body keeps you in check from all the cleverness accumulated! You're a way behind me yet, I know XX

      Delete
  25. What a strange choice of words to give a compliment - I immediately thought of BBC period dramas and hammy acting when I read it!

    I completely agree that the revelation of caring less about the meaningless stuff and being more selective about who (and what) to spend time and energy on is a big bonus of getting older. I'm still getting used to the forties but I'm very glad of your spoiler - forewarned is forearmed and all that ;)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I guess I'm going to be grateful for 'handsome' in the next decade though Catherine! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great post but to be fair, I'd rather be called 'handsome' than get 'what the hell happened to you?!' which I suspect is what I'm well on the way to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh stop it. You're amazing and beautiful and clever and not yet handsome but you bloody will be one day! XX

      Delete
  28. So enjoyed this Anya, in a pleasure/pain sort of way. Made me smile - eyes, knees, skin - check! ...and all a bit close for comfort now, with 50 looming x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pleasure / pain sort of way - love it, thank you :) x

      Delete
  29. I'd better get my yoga on then! That's why I've become so committed again in the last year or so, so that I retain my health for as long as I can. Handsome? Handsome? That's a strange compliment to pay a woman. I would have said beautiful - you'll always be beautiful! X

    ReplyDelete