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Redefined at 50

Updated on January 29, 2012

Let me quote in part Jules Feiffer, "At sixteen I was stupid, confused and indecisive. At twenty-five I was wise, self-confident, prepossessing and assertive. At forty-five I am stupid, confused, insecure and indecisive... "

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman

Vanity passed on

Mama was vain. For someone who had seven kids, who ran a home like she ran a company, and had time to direct a church choir, she was by all standard, quite amazing. With my own eyes, i saw my mom age well, and with much grace. She never seemed worried about adding another year, she always had the answer to defying age, like some health drink, a new creme, and so on. When i say she was vain, i mean she took especial care of herself from head to toe, compared to many women peers. She had a beauty regimen, and she was consistent. It was through her that i learned, beauty was not just a physical thing, but a lot more about attitude.

For some reason, I never liked the 80's TV sitcom "Golden Girls", not even when i turned 50. As popular as it were, I could not relate, nor appreciate four grey haired, previously married women, who shared apartment, act 'cool', and made fun of the many oddities of being oldies. I thought the show tried very hard to make light of the 'pains' of being over the hill.

I didn't know how vain i was until i experienced the dread of turning 30. I was in horror, but couldn't tell anyone about how i felt. That in itself was a frightening idea, to share my fear. But, as many women who have transitioned like me know, you survive crossing over, and realize, life goes on. And if you're fortunate, no new wrinkles that showed up, there are no creaks in your body when you get up from bed, and you're still 'hot' based on how your partner's treating you!

But, at 49, i thought...this is it! Middle-age? No, no, no! Get away from me! You can go ahead and surmise why i felt this way. Anyway, i didn't let anyone onto me, how depressed and horrified i was. I really thought my life was over, and that i was going to just fade away into nothingness. I didn't have a clue what to do with myself, and whatever i imagined to do, i didn't like what i saw. But one 90 year old lady would change all that. I was fortunate enough to watch the mother of my brother in law play piano in one of her solo concerts. I still remember vividly, watching her fragile figure, slightly stooped back, wearing a lovely long gown, her hair well coiffed, a crown of beautiful grey (never been dyed), and with arthritic fingers play skillfully, from memory, classic from music piece after piece, applauded profusely by an adoring audience. As she played, i couldn't help but think that i was wasting away the one and only life God had given me. But there she was, like a heaven sent gift, bringing a powerful game changing message just for me . I was completely knocked off my socks that night, i left that concert hall deeply reflective, and wonderfully inspired. Rebuked as well.

This is my 50th hub, and by way of celebrating this milestone, i'm indulging and sharing my journey about the time when i turned 50, or 'golden girl'. 50 is a good number, not that i'm into numerology. But, a milestone is a milestone, and when i hit that age, it was a critical time in my life. It was the year i found my redefinition, and in writing my 50th hub, who know's if there is a new defining that's about to happen again. Will i be writing more hubs, or publishing a dream photo book? Who knows.

But before i go ahead of myself, i do want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the HubPages community for welcoming me 7 months ago, and allowing me to write (and challenge my skills) and connect with many wonderful writers, some who i have come to endear. Muchos gracias! Gratis! Mahalo! Salamat!

"You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind", and when i turned fifty that's exactly what i did. I retired from my corporate life of 15 years. After putting in years of so much hard work, running corporations, i had completely burned out. I quit in order to save myself. I didn't like that i had become so much like a robotic machine and serving someone's else's vision, opposed to my soul and essence. This artificial makeover had taken it's toll on me, psychologically, physically and even socially. When your family and dear friends tell you, time and time again, 'you have no time for us', they hurt and they mean it. If you hear yourself saying 'I'm too busy" much too often, then you are likely missing out on what is truly most important in your being in this planet. Like i did. This is just one of the many lessons i learned from my unholy pursuit in our material world. People are more important than things.

To celebrate my 50th birthday, i actually threw a once in a lifetime party by inviting friends and family to personally thank them for the priceless community they have afforded me. I made special mention of those who, knowingly and unknowingly, were the bridges that kept me sane, alive and strong, for the long haul. That night, I even wore a mustard yellow outfit to make a bold statement of my maturing.

Aging can be a cruel thing, if you let it. I find that many of the young tend to look down at our so called 'age group' as inutile and irrelevant. I used to be intimidated by technology, like many of my baby boomer friends. But, unlike them, i not raring to 'age' sooner than i should. I have too much of a curiosity about the world i am still breathing in, and i want to continue to be part of the great big and exciting technological 'wiring'. I know my passion, that's why I went back to school and took a Computer course. I was the oldest student around, would you believe? But, i didn't care. I have to say, it's the best thing i ever did. It's unbelievable what a little machine and the techno highway will open to anybody, including a 'grama' like me. Now, I am back in the map, and have recaptured my lost dream to be a photo journalist. The negative voices that used to taunt me and say 'i can't do it' has, so far as i know, have been silenced. Or, even if they are still around, i'm much too happily engrossed to listen


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    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      T4T, believe me, you will have some anxiety when that special milestone happens. It's alright, you will realize, like many of us, it's just a number! Thanks for the comment and visit.

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 8 years ago from Michigan

      An excellent hub, you gave a good look at turning 50. And what it was like for you. I myself don't look at 50 as being that old, however when I approach it I might have a little fear myself. Thank you for an interesting and inspiring hub.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm glad to meet another 'middle-ager'Mike L! 40 they say is just when life begins, and 50 is when we get confused again, but still have lots of fun!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Congratulations on the big 5-0, a milestone I hit a little over a year ago. I threw myself a birthday party at age 40, and it was a special, memorable moment for me. I hope I can grow older as gracefully as you seem to be.


    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Hahaha Lady E! I see, you are young forever, like me! Thanks for the congrats and visit!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      This is a lovely Hub and well done on your 50th Hub. I like the way you celebrated your 50th Birthday - friends and family play a vital part in our growth in life.

      I just celebrate my 21st every year. lol.

    • John Z profile image

      John Z 8 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you for this hub. It truly made me re-think my own lack of direction since I became 50. Thanks again.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks James, i enjoyed 'distorting' that young Sylvia image!

      Williamjordan, nice to know there's a latebloomer here like me!

    • Williamjordan profile image

      Williamjordan 8 years ago from Houston TX

      Another great Hub I was a late bloomer myself.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I love that painting.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Don't worry, i have no problem about exposing my true identity. I really should have used my real name instead. You can write about starting life at 40, and how so true that is for many of us.

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 8 years ago from USA

      U-ups! Did I blew up? I thought you confessed to James your personality.....Sorry-y-y-y! LOL!

      I still have to come to my 50th hub.... and then we'll see....

      LOL again.


    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      You wow me again ReuVera! Folks are probably wondering who is 'Sylvia' here. Thanks to Facebook we are stripped of our mystery my dear Vera! Like i said, this age fear must be a woman thing. But, i like that, you and i remain 28-35! Hurray!

      I want to read a hub from you about the same subject. How about it? Much love and aloha!

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 8 years ago from USA

      Sylvia, congratulations on you 50th hub! More and more to come!

      What you wrote about your turning 50 I experienced when I turned 40! It was a hard acceptance! It was my turning crisis point. It hit me hard three days before my 40th birthday and I was not myself! I felt like life was over! Then the Day came and I was still "I am", and my friends came and took me out to the nature and threw me a party among man-grown trees and stones of Israel land. And life became colorful again!

      So, when I turned 50 this year (oh my, what am I doing, giving out information!!!) I wasn't upset at all, I was happy and cheerful!

      Inside I am always in a range 28-35 years old!

      What a great way you've put it- "serving someone's else's vision, opposed to my soul and essence." This is what we have to avoid! The age is just a number.

      Thank you so much for this fantastic hub! And your "self caricature" is awesome!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Helen, I think you are too young to worry, but i think this freaky aging is a woman thing. Thanks for dropping by!

    • Helen Cater profile image

      Helen Cater 8 years ago from UK

      I am really trying to accept getting old. Everytime a hit a number with 0 in it I freak out.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      L Marie, your idea sounds great! Since we are each other's fans already, we can take it to another level. Mahalo and aloha!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      You know i'm a big fan James. Sylvia is moi, and the Warhol'd painting is a digital artwork i did on myself.

    • L. Marie Figtree profile image

      Luana Higuera 8 years ago from South Bay, CA

      Well, from one boomer chick to another, congrats on 1) reaching the fabulous fifties, and 2) not looking it! I enjoyed reading your insightful piece here, as well as your artistic wares, and can't wait to see what else you have to share. Thanks so much for your kind comments on my hubs and for the vote of confidence - perhaps we should form our own mutual admiration society, because I can tell from the word jump that we are definitely birds of a feather and should stick together - mahalo & aloha! ~ L.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Oh yea, I'm a big wheel alright. :)

      I missed something here: did you paint that? It's an awesome painting. I saw "Warhol" on there. Who's Sylvia?

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      James: Too funny about the word, which my husband thinks does not exist. Thanks for droppin' by despite your celebrityhood as a hubber. Hats off!

      Jiberish: Hahaha! You remind me of a few of my friends who stayed 21 forever! It is really something about aging for us huh? Congrats on your next grandchild. Thanks so much for being so generous with your praises.

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 8 years ago from florida

      What a beautiful painting. Congratulations on you Hub, I enjoy reading them. My 50th birthday was hard, I stayed 49 for 3 years, it seemed that life pasted by so fast I didn't want to accept it. Then I also became a grandmother, and things changed, I admit my age, and am looking forward to being a grandmother again in November.

      The corp world caused me to miss out on the little things in life. Thank you for sharing, keep hubbing.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Inutile? That's the first time I have grabbed for my dictionary in a long time! Good one!

      This is a lovely , inspiring Hub! I enjoyed reading your words here. Congratulations on your 50th Hub!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Great year Coffeesnob! Why not write a hub about the perks of life at 50? Thanks again for the visit.

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 8 years ago

      Welcome to the 50's! I'm 53 and still having a blast. sounds like you are doing the same - press on!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Bk, i love being a grandma. I 'recommend' every woman reach 50 (by the grace of God), and know what it's like! Now that i am past (ok, way past) 50, i actually think it's great! Gosh! we are being brave here of giving our age away huh? Lotsa lotsa thanks again!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I vaguely remember 50 - it came and went so fast. But I am enjoying the wisdom that comes with age. I think I was born old - my mother used to call me 'grandma' - a compliment.

      Congratulations on 50 hubs - that I found absolutely necessary!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks Harris!

    • harrisdy profile image

      hdy 8 years ago from Texas

      congrats! thanks for sharing this article.

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks Feline! I am greatly inspired to continue writing here in HP, esp with your encouragement!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      Congratulations on your 50th! May you continue to delight us with your beautiful photo hubs! :)

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much Jill! You are always so kind. It's hard to believe i have made these 5o hubs. How true, age does not really matter when you think about it. We're alive and kickin' and we can hub!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      Wow! Congratulations on your 50th hub! This is great!

      I'm sure you will have more coming! I really like your attitude. I also feel the same way. Just being alive and reaching 50 or 60 or whatever age is always reason to celebrate. It's only when we stop learning that we become old!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      What can i say to you Dohn. I feel like i have a son in you, and i'm not kidding! I have an only child, a daughter, and i helped my sister raise her 2 sons. That was meaningful for me. I understand how you feel, and thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to writing more and like i said, we'll see how far we will go from here. You are one hubber i really appreciate very much. You write from your soul and that is always a good thing. More power to you!!!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really enjoyed this hub very much IslandVoice. I hope that I can accept aging as much you did (now). I see my mom who is perhaps around your age and a part of me is heartbroken over the things she can no longer do. I always push away the thoughts that tell me that a day will come when my parents will leave this world. I don't think I'll ever be ready for that day. My favorite line here was:

      This is just one of the many lessons i learned from my unholy pursuit in our material world. People are more important than things.

      Congratulations on your 50th hub. It certainly is an accomplishment and know that it made you feel good to have reached this milestone. You know I love your photography. Your art is inspiring and so is your writing. You have definitely found a fan in me :D Congrats! Here's to 50 more wonderful hubs that will come sooner than you think!


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