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So, what to do when you are... Tuesday December 20, 2016

Yes, when you are having one of those Special Birthdays, the ones that bring up lots of questions about The Future. 'What to do now you are 50!' there I said it, 50. According to a Google search, it would seem that my future options are to:-

1. Change career or become a Consultant.
2. Move house, downsize/upgrade.
3. Start a new small and trendy business.
4. Travel – not just to like Asda but Abroad.
5. Enjoy time with my partner now the children have left home.

Oh how I laughed and wept as I read that. I am sure there is a percentage of folk out there who will do some of those things but it's certainly not matching my current life/work/mental health imbalance. See below.

1. No job or career left to change.
2. Any business plan I have will be highly unstable.
3. Travelling anywhere is difficult when you've no driving license and going out further than Asda requires a lot of mental resilience.
4. No house to sell or downgrade/upgrade.
5. As for a partner, that's another thing that disappeared and now there is only the cat. I still have the children who I should have had sooner as they certainly aren't leaving home.

So what do you do when you are 50 (and have interesting mental health issues) and life hasn't quite turned out as you expected?

Here is my Mental Health Friendly at 50 'What to do!' list

1. Let go of trying to work, find work or be defined by work. Just be whatever you are at the moment. And do whatever you are doing.
2. If you live somewhere you like, then just live there. If you have to move then get all the help you can to do it.
3. Travel – well you know there is always the TV. It's way cheaper and less smelly. Never give up a dream of where you would like to go though – for me it is Bath and the Roman baths and I will get there one day.
4. If your children still live with you then enjoy it because one day they'll be gone.
5. Enjoy having a cat but if a frog does turn up then be sure to give it a wee kiss just in case.
6. Finally – Take it back to basics. Breath. Get out of bed. Shower. Eat cake with friends. Repeat daily. Remember you are an immense human being, yes really. REALLY!!

So that Special Birthday can just roll right on up now that I have got my own realistic 'What to Do' list. Sure I wont be jetting off to Venice or starting up a boutique hotel chain. I will however have good loving friends, a happy cat, teenagers and an abundance of cake. Not bad at all.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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David Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 5:30am

This is so negative and I have learned to never give up on anything and relying on Google to find answers which is a virtual reality World is pointless. As you state the small things in life are more important than some computer algorithm. Good Luck.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:19am

HI David - i am sorry that you found this so negative - it really is just my experience of having lost a lot, and now moving on and finding happiness in the smaller things. Thank you for your wishes of Good Luck - when i make it to Bath I will write another blog.

Orangeblossom Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 6:48am

Hi Sarah, thanks for the blog which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. We always have to start where we are from whiere will find it easier to develop an attitude of Gratitude. It will be embedded in our own reality & not be from the perspective of someone else's expectations of where we should be at certain milestones I in our lives. I am learning to disregard others expectations and remain 'Free Range'.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:18am

Hi there ORngeblossom. i like the idea of being Free Range...and i am glad you enjoyed reading it. Writing it has certainly helped me feel ready to embrace 50 - there are so so many expectations at any time in life and it is very freeing to let go of them. THank you

Matt Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 7:08am

Thanks Sarah for such a lovely and realistic post.
My wife died very suddenly in February leaving me with two wonderful children to bring up as best I can.
I know that I put loads of pressure on myself and even more so as we approach Christmas - so it was lovely to remind myself to set realistic goals and to take care of myself.
Thank you again

Sally Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 9:07am

So awful for you, Matt, to lose your wife suddenly . Sending out warm wishes, and please take good care of yourself. Take it one day at a time and lower your expectations as you allow yourself time to grieve.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:21am

HI Matt Thank you for your kind words too - indeed nothing ever prepares you for when things dont work out...those two things you mention are absolutely vital...realistic goals and self has taken my nearly four years to really understand this...and that has been around raising teenagers...I wish you all a gentle Christmas together x

Leanne Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 7:38am

Ahh what a lovely post. Yes your'e right life is not always neat and tidy and there's a different reality for all of us.
I know this sounds a bit weird, but I want to visit Bath too, Im doing a project on the town and need to go there. Happy to try and find a way to make that happen for you. Pick you up and drive you down? Im in Hertfordshire. Could it work??

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:25am

Hi Leanne, neat and tidy hasnt featured much - but i am learning to love raggedty edges and unusual patterns...a project on Bath sounds v intersting - i am interested in the baths obvs and the Roman history...I am up in Scotland and it is a long train journey...but i like that it could be a possibility. It wouldnt be until the summer really for me.

Hopeful One Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:24am

Hi Sarah- thanks for a thought provoking post.Ah yes those birthdays with zeros in them do get one thinking! You seem to have done that and decided that you are happy where you are and that is just as good a decision but remember not to give up dreaming... that trip to Bath might just work out with Leanne!

Here is today's laugh...

An 80 year old hears that there is a shortage of sperm donors at the local hospital. He decides that he is fit to donate. He comes into the hospital and says: "I want to be a sperm donor." The nurse is trained to be politically correct and does not want to be seen as ageist so she gives him a specimen jar. She gives him a leaflet which shows him what he needs to do. She tells him to come back the next day with the donation. The next day, he comes back with an empty jar. The nurse is not surprised given his age .The nurse asks "What happened? Where's the donation?" He says: "I went home and I tried hard .When I did not succeed I asked my wife to help.. She didn’t succeed either. So we asked our neighbour “The nurse gasps.”Oh my word! You even asked your neighbour?!" The man says. “Yes and we still couldn’t open the jar.”

the room above the garage Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:33am


Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:28am

HA ha that's great - i cant open jar lids ethier..although i havent tried a sperm donor jar obvs.. Yes some dreams i can hand onto and as you will read above Leanne has suggested a lift option = how lovely is that>!

Tychi's Mum Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 11:56am

Hi Sarah, thank you for your brilliant post. I love the idea of embracing raggedy edges and living "free range". I am having to accept doing not working....not being able to plan ahead...and many,many other things besides. I laughed at your "travelling, and not just to Asda..." You're doing really well if you can make it to Asda! When I'm at my worst I couldn't even dream of it. Even when I'm well I call it "Planet Asda" because I always feel like I've landed on a different planet when I'm in there. Happy birthday and embrace your 50th year...the year you get to Bath....woohoo! xxx

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 12:08pm

Hi Tychi's Mum - i love that - Planet be fair i only do Tesco Man ha ha as in delivery but it worked well in the blog for those times when i did try a supermarket. I relate to your not working and not planning ahead - awful...and yet after struggling with it over several years...i am closer to being ok with the non work, and do less deep breathing at lack of planning, or over planning ( will write a blog!). My friend who no works and is often asked 'oh what do you do?; She replies with a line from one of her friends who simply smiles, pauses and says...'What do i do? I do wonders!'....Guaranteed to amaze anyone who asks!! I havent tried it yet but the next one who asks is getting it ...Thanks again for your reply.

the room above the garage Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:31am

Hello Sarah, thank you for making me smile at the thin end of a day! Yes to your new list! Society, of which Google is definitely a real part, has a great way of pressuring us and you have neatly stepped away. A girl after my own heart. Happy Birthday when it arrives, love ratg x.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:36am

Aw thank you RATG - praise indeed from one of my favourite bloggers...i am glad it made you smile..iguess i have stepped away..although the process was painful...i am not looking forward to the day itself - some point in January. I celebrated so to speak through out this year going to a gig ( James) and having two spa hotel treats with spesh friends...all very sophisticated and including afternoon tea and cake followed by a nap! Pioneers...thats what we are.

Lesley Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:01pm

RATG, your comment nailed it! Time to step out of techie reality and into real life. Methinks at times that people were happier when they could not be aware of so many "possibilities" x

Shian Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:34am

Hi Sarah
As a 54 year old just trying to cope with a new job and the challenges this involves I found your blog very comforting and reasuring. I have two wonderful teenagers and it is so important to appreciate them every day. I think we can be very hard on ourselves and our expectations can create stress and anxiety if we feel we are not matching up. Dreams and plans for our future are great but I also agree with you that being gratefull and happy with the things we do have in our life is good for our well being and mental health . I think your sense of humour comes through which is also also very important . Thanks ????

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:50am

THank you so much Shian for your response - it sounds v much that we are in similar boats .. teenagers are a boost for sure and a good way to practise anger management and dont sweat the small stuff...and most def a sense of humour is the only way (if poss) to handle it, we have laughed a lot with many silly things...and it keeps it real. the new generation are certainlu coming in with a more wider view of what life can be. All the best with your new job.

Sheena Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 9:14am

What an excellent blog Sarah! You sum up beautifully how we should all approach 21st century living - as the unique people we all can be. Also, how good for your offspring to have as an example someone who recognises that being oneself is living :) Happy Christmas Sheena

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:47am

Thank you Sheena - it's hard work being unique :) thank you too for your comments about my offspring - they have certainly had an interesting time of it - my youngest is off to do Psychology at Un all being he has an interst in how the brain etc works...wishing you a very happy Christmas season too

Ang Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 9:31am

Thank you Sarah that's a comfort, I constantly find myself panicking about not owning a property and being 'successful' enough at work. It's exhausting. thank you x

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:39am

Hey Ang...thats a great reply. in that i know i am not alone! The perfectionist stress has been a big one for me, hence the blog. I dont know your background but owning and working were big things for us...and here i am renting and signed off for a long hope you can panic less - there are masses of people renting and it has a lot of benefits..and i am pretty sure even though i have never met uou that you are massively successful at work, its just that you cant see about that?

Adrian Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:14am

Hi Sarah
I'd like to share this inspiring poem from William Ayot which popped onto my desk the other day – you may not feel that you are there yet (I certainly don't) but I'll bet something in you recognises that place and can use it as a beacon for those parts of you who are still lost. May you have a Happy Christmas and a Blessed 2017.


There’s a beauty to it, though you don’t notice
till its nearly over — a smoothness and a subtlety
like a water-worn pebble that sits in the hand,
silver-grey granite, polished to perfection.

The harsh self-judgments and the anxious breathing,
the fretful nights and the unforgiving dawns,
fade like a fog till you’re left with the certainty
that everything’s alright, and as it should be —
that you’ve done enough, that you are welcome.

In that moment, the faces around you soften,
and you are left with the understanding
that the world is a kinder, more gentle place;
and though you wish that you had known earlier,
you also know that — given your history —
the rough, uneven path that brought you here
was the only way that you could have taken;
that every stripe, every bruise and cicatrice
was earned like a medal, for valour, or foolishness,
or simply getting up again each cold, hard morning.

And there’s a call, like a distant soprano,
floating in the high, gothic arches of your memory,
reminding you of innocence once lost
and the roads that took you away from yourself.

But that was back then, and this is now.
Time’s made you a person to be reckoned with.
It’s like you’ve learned to flow with the current,
to bend with the wind. Nothing can surprise you.
Now you seem to know every curve and feature
of any landscape that presents itself.
People no longer trespass in your mind,
and you have acquired the power to bless.
Sometimes you catch people looking at you.
You’re puzzled at first, but then you realize
that, imperceptibly life has transformed you.
You have become the thing you once admired.
© William Ayot

Angela Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:20am

Never heard this before, it's very good, I am going to write it down it's so helpful. Thank you.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 11:04am

Aw thank you so much for this beautiful poem Adrian - it is written with such grace and flows like that water on the pebble. I shall make of copy of this and pop it in my WRAP ( Wellness Recovery Action Plan).Like you i would hope i am on my way there, albeit a bit of a roundabout...thank you

Tychi's Mum Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 12:14pm

Thank you Adrian for the very inspiring poem. Ive printed it off and put it in my "Beat The Black Dog Box." I know many of us Moodscopers are very inspired and reassured by the power and beauty of the written word. I can't recommend highly enough the book "BLACK RAINBOW - How Words Healed Me - My Journey Through Depression" by Rachel Kelly. I find it helps me to get through the really dark times...she writes beautifully and has included a really interesting selection of poems and extracts....

Tutti Frutti Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:19am

Hi Sarah I just don't really get the generic lists of things to do and why you should reconsider your life because of a big birthday rather than your own circumstances or events in your life. The first 3 on the generic 50 list sound dreadful to me and I would want to keep the travelling within limits to do it in a comfortable way that didn't make me anxious. It just so happens that 50 is the next big birthday for me and it probably will involve a rethink as I only have one child and she is likely to go to university later that year. I can't imagine that my husband is suddenly going to become less involved in his work so I probably will have time on my hands and I am going to need to think through what to do to make sure that I don't sit around on the sofa getting depressed but also don't go mad taking on so many new commitments that I end up exhausted. At least I still have a few years to go to work this one out. Your list sounded much better Sarah. Good luck. Love TF x

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:55am

Hi Tutti Frutti - it sounds like you are already planning ahead wisely - and one of the biggest downfalls of getting free time seems to be doing too much - and with any mental health issue that is never i hope my list will be of use and please feel free to add any on - i look forward to your blog in a few years?

Angela Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:27am

I liked your blog very much Sarah, thank you. Getting through a couple of hours of the day is my current coping mechanism. Also stop comparing myself to friends who have their own home/ been married 35+ years/ have many grandchildren. We each have our own reality and deserve to be proud of our achievements. My love and hugs to all moodscopers x x x peace be with you all.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:58am

hi Angela - yes i know the getting through a couple of hours does make you review the basics ..and we do indeed have our own realities which are a massive achievement...hope todaya that your couple of hours goes well and you can put a gold star on your calendar. If you manage to eat cake too then that is two stars x

The librarian Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:30am

This is brilliant, Sarah! Thank you for giving such a great alternative perspective on how the world assumes people 'should' or 'ought' to live their lives!

Happy Birthday and Happy Christmas.

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 11:00am

Thank you The Librarian - glad it has been of help in challenging those pesky perspectives. I think being on Moodscope and being brave enough to write a blog def keeps your perspective in good shape - there are plenty folk like us doing our thing, and doing well. Happy Christmas...and thank you for the birthday wishes!

Milliecat Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:53am

Thank you to everyone who has left me a comment - i feel very supported and appreciated. It has helped to reduce my anxiety about the big ( or maybe not so big ) 50, to embrace my unique - ness and to be massively grateful for what fabulous things i do have. Also about keeping dreams going, and about beimg real...and ultimatelu being true to yourself. Many many Moodscope thanks x

Leah Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 11:26am

Great blog. As someone with only 13mths left od my 50s I can tell you eneter with confidence! Actually I am no longer into the big 0 birthdays- too much pressure and expectations. or me I am just one day older after all we all just one day older, so why worry.Enjoy the cake.

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:50am

Thanks Leah - i think i agree that by the next birthday with a 0 in it, i shall be less future anxious - and with only a week to go i am looking forward to embracing the next decade..And i will def enjoy the cake!! x

Peter Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 12:30pm

Hi Sarah, I'm just 53 and the generic to do list for those turning 50 made me laugh, partly sardonically, partly (due to your words), with relief. My 'work' situation is something I am working hard on to accept as guiltless. Like so many of us, I am imbibed with the 40 hour, 48 week 49 year programming. It's liberating and frightening to be in a position where I can't/choose not to, (not sure which it is) do that anymore. My children (boys of 18 and 20) have just returned to me after many years absence. My partner and I separated recently, though we are still friends. How lovely our lives together could possibly be if our respective children had 'gone to university!' Finances mean that local day excursions are the biggest travel arrangements I can cope with at the moment; and even the expense of the coffees and cake leave me a little bit panicky. But I have them anyway. It was lemon drizzle this morning, courtesy of my eldest. Keep going, and I hope you get to do the long journey South to Bath in the not too distant future. And I hope that will be a metaphor for all the life journeys you will make.

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:58am

Hi Peter - thank you for your lovely words - and i was interested to read of your current situation, given that it seems to fit closely with mine. Work, money, teenagers,partners and mental health stuff...and lemon drizzle cake...very important. I shall get to Bath. It may take another year, but this year i will get to the Cavalry Events at Hadrian's Wall...and build up to it. I hope that you also have a 'Trip To Bath' kinda idea...and that you will make it there too. Thank you x

Sally Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 4:04pm

Hi Sarah. Meant to comment earlier but ran out of time! It was extremely brave of you to open up. I also liked your list!
How many of us pretend that we are "achieving" goals, when we are truly not! Think of the self congratulatory Christmas newsletters, the effect of which is to make one feel small. Ridiculous because true worth is immeasurable. It's not about owning, successful career, travelling to exotic places, and "look at me!". It's about doing what you can, valuing people in the true sense and being kind and considerate. I'm sure it's about much more, too, but those are the ones that jump to mind.
Well done for delivering such an interesting blog, and for being such a valuable Moodscope member!

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 12:01pm

Hi Sally - thank yuou for your words - yes it is about being true and genuine and considerate - you are quite right - and it is so easy to lose all that as a big day approaches. It has been great receiving all these replies - i feel very connected with Moodscope just now which considering how tricky this time of year is, has been a lifeline. Thank you

Tutti Frutti Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 5:51pm

Gardener Just put a reply for you on yesterday's blog. Hope you are feeling a bit better today. Love and hugs TF xoxo

The Gardener Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 7:03pm

Thanks TF - I am here - very shaken at being driven to despair - my friends and mentors have watched it coming - not in any 'told you so way' but knowing that the somewhat 'superwoman' image I have acquired does NOT stand up to the emotional battering which is living with Alzheimer. I have a somewhat ironic consolation - the endless admiration about how I cope with the situation - even doing a 'custom designed' house to cope with him - great challenge for me - 7th wreck I have dealt with in my life (if you count me, the 8th) God help me, he's off again, just the same as last night. Take control. Think of blogs above - I love people 'planning' their life via Google - do you think it would do me a Life sort? I don't think ANYTHING in our life was planned - opportunities arrived and we grabbed them. This is woman's stuff - we intended to 'plan' a family, get established first. I went to a Family Planning Clinic in London before we were married - the woman who dealt me was a cross between a Girl Guide leader and a SMERSH agent. It was all very clinical - suppose it had to be. I DID try, but the Dutch Cap became a sort of frisbee in my hands - so first son turned up when I was 20, we were living in a rented cottage (and lucky to get it) with no electricity and a bucket toilet, I helped build a cesspool while pregnant with No 2, whose birthday is tomorrow. One of our farm workers bought NO 1 a trumpet and drum kit - it was a very noisy Christmas, and no surprise that noisy jazz figures largely in No 2's life. All my life, even quite young, I have attacked life and all its problems with zest? Yes. Bloody-mindness? Yes, definitely. I've used brains and energy, found a creativity I never knew I had - have become a gardener of some not here in France. And, as I walked towards that water last night, I pulled up the images of those children, as the cavorted joyfully in wrecks of houses where anything went because you could not make them worse, and where the five of them (and their endless friends) could make as much noise as the liked without annoying anyone. Excuse this screed, I'm so glad to be alive. No 2 got together with a like-minded French student (Papa very rich, lived Avenue Montaigne in Paris). There was a line of cones on the main road. The two young devils moved them all and lead ALL the traffic down a very select cul de sac. Police soon arrived - luckily we knew them - put things to rights then came and had coffee and ate all my cakes. Memories are my current therapy - could do worse.

Leah Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 8:50pm

gardener memories are my current therapy. it is reassuring thst memories are comforting .For many memories are a nightmare.. I think even super women show their vulnerability that's what makes them super. you have your memories and your wit and your adoring fans on moodscope. hope all this we will help you get through. hugs for you. Leah

Mary Wednesday Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:10pm

Millicat - I loved this blog. I turned 50 three and a half years ago and it was only then I started writing. Or - maybe that should be started seriously writing and taking myself seriously as a writer. My daughters are 14 and 12, and although I am blessed in having a rock of a husband and a house we own, life has certainly not turned out the way I imagined it would at 18. But - I'm still here; I have not taken myself out of life: I have not chosen to leave the party early. That is my triumph. Anything else is a bonus; especially cake. And cats. I especially loved your line about giving any passing frog a wee kiss, just in case! Thank you so much for writing this blog; it is a real gift.

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:46am

Aw MAry Wednesday - thank you so much for your reply. i like how you describe that you have not taken yourself out of life. i know how attractive that can be sometimes, and if you can stay with life, then really anything else really is a bonus! IT is good also to hear that you have a good man by your side and two lovely daughters and a home....and some writing skills?? And, (this is the big one) you know how strong you need to be to stay at this party. I wish you lots of writing creativity and success in the future x

Lesley Tue, Dec 20th 2016 @ 10:17pm

Great blog, Sarah. I have spent too many hours/months looking at what I should be.

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:41am

thankyou Lesley - those 'shoulds!!'they should get lost!

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