Curious about life after 50? I started FiftySister for myself primarily, somewhere to write down my thoughts about ageing and life after 50. Creating content for this blog and social media channels is a lot of effort, but I really enjoy writing and taking photos for other women. After all, that’s where I started my journey, spending time online, seeking out new ideas and inspiration to make the most of my life after 50. Being over 50 isn’t all Tena lady and support pants, there’s a lot more on offer to women of every age, in fact, it seems that age is no limit at all to some women.
Ask the Doctor
I’ve told this story before but if you are new here its’ definitely worth reading on… I met a doctor who looked after senior patients, he was in his 70’s himself. I asked him “What’s the number one thing you have learned from working with elderly patients?” He didn’t hesitate with his response. ‘People who thought they were old, acted old and expected to get sick. They didn’t take care of their health or exercise. They had resigned themselves to illness and early death and therefore decided there’s no point limiting their intake of food or alcohol, they’d spend all day watching TV, eating crap without limits. Those who didn’t think about the number on the scoreboard (their age) continued to live their life as though it would never end. They took care of their health by limiting alcohol, exercising daily and eating lots of the good stuff, like colourful fruit and veggies’. “Did it make a difference to their final years or health?” I asked. With a hearty laugh, he boomed ‘Of course! The ones who looked after their bodies for the long term, lived longer and weren’t so sick. They didn’t expect or want to be sick, so when they showed signs of illness, they took action immediately’.
These are the Doctor’s words, not mine. This conversation happened on my 50th birthday. Those words have stayed with me to this day.
What are you worth?
What are women over 50 worth to companies who market on social media? To many companies, our demographic is strangely worth less than that of younger women. Which is surprising, as we have time to shop and money to spend. Recently a hair care company contacted me, asking me if I would make videos and posts for them in return for a free bottle of shampoo. My response – “Do you think I can pay my electric bill with shampoo?” – ‘What?’ – was the reply of the hair care company. “Well, you are asking me to perform like a monkey for a banana or a handful of nuts. My work is worth more than a banana, so unless energy companies start accepting bananas or shampoo instead of money, I am going to happily decline your ungenerous offer”. From my own experience, if I work for free, that’s what a non fee paying customer’s value of my time is. Nothing. Zero. Not even a banana.
There’s no magic pill.
I’m worth more than that. Even though I’m quite partial to a banana. I value my time, so I will never work again for free. I also value my time on earth and I know there’s no magic pill. I take care of myself by eating lots of plants, nuts, seeds, beans and fruit. I exercise daily, I don’t drink alcohol very often (2 glasses of wine or cider per week) and I spend as much time as possible with my dogs and in nature. I could still get sick of course, but I am doing everything within my power to make that less inevitable. In my head (and heart) I’m still 18. My face isn’t playing along, but I’m completely happy with my wrinkles, age spots and creases. I’ve enjoyed many days outside hiking, swimming and lazing in the sunshine. Laughter lines are to be celebrated. Those happy moments are written on my face for all to see. I hope I get many more belly laughs and lines before I return to, and become part of, mother earth again.
When people come to my home, the first thing they notice is that I don’t have a TV. ‘What do you do instead of watch TV?’ will be the immediate question on seeing the sofa pointing at the view, instead of a TV on the wall. Well, what don’t I do would be easier to answer. You see, I have a fear of missing out – ‘FOMO’ I feel that if I waste time watching TV, I’m potentially missing out on something better. If you thought you had a week to live, would you spend any time watching TV? I suspect not.
The problem I have is, that I have too many projects on the go at the same time, and any spare time is spent trying to figure out how I can squeeze more projects into my waking hours. I’m in the process of sorting my life out and developing a plan to have more structured days and a routine (I hate routine!) so that I can maintain and improve my fitness, as well as provide value to you the reader with interesting content.
You can use code FIFTYSISTER to get discount on the Dope Ropes website – click here or click one of the images above.
I’m prioritising my fitness so I decided today that jump rope/skipping is back in my daily fitness routine. I’m starting from scratch with just 5 minutes skipping today (it’s harder than I remember). Follow my progress to see if I can make it to 10 minutes…or more!
Things I’m currently working on.
Building my home and designing every aspect of the interior, exterior finishes, landscaping and of course I’m managing the budget.
I make videos for YouTube for my construction project, which haven’t achieved the number of views I was expecting, so I need to research how to use YouTube more effectively to ensure people searching for new house construction, can find my video.
I write for Wherever Magazine and also blog as often as possible on here – I’m aiming for posting daily.
I have started making wall hangings again from rope and shells I’ve collected from the beach.
I’m creating digital art of interesting places I’ve photographed around eastern Algarve, which I’m loading onto an online gallery where people can buy posters. I’ve made sales already!
I’m also creating a collection of NFT’s which I hope to mint/publish within the next couple of months.
My T shirt store ships my designs all over the world, but I am struggling to keep up with the maintenance of this store to be honest.
I paint abstract art on canvas with acrylics. I sold all my paintings when I left the UK. I now need to create more for my new home.
My Instagram had gone on the back burner earlier in the year, because I don’t like how it’s developing into part of the Metaverse, even so, I enjoy connecting with likeminded women all over the world through this platform. I said I didn’t want to enter the Metaverse, but I’ve realised I am already in it. The secret to not being swallowed whole by virtual reality, is to ensure you check out of your online world often, and reconnect with nature, animals and possibly some real humans 😉
FOMO or ADHD?
Two people have recently asked me if I have ADHD, as I’m involved in so many projects. I know I suffer with FOMO, ADHD……well I’m not so sure. My husband said recently, that he’s never met anyone else who has such a broad range of knowledge on diverse subjects. There’s a theme in the conversations. Is there something wrong with me? Am I weird? Do I care? – Not at all. But just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should. I decided to sit myself down and give myself a good talking to. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed for the past six months or so, not because of moving countries or building our home, but because of what’s going on in the world. I can’t make sense of it – mainly how people are treating each other. It really hurts my heart and mind. So I fill my time and head with new projects to distract myself, but I get carried away until I don’t know which direction to turn.
It’s time for me to focus and ask myself a few questions
What gives me the most joy?
What would I be prepared to commit to on a full time basis?
What is my best skill?
Which project generates the most income?
What activity gives me the most freedom to work where I want, when I want?
What will be my legacy/how would I want to be remembered?
What I am most knowledgeable about?
What skills could I pass on to other people?
….and so the list went on….
Lets get started with my answers;
What gives me the most joy? I enjoy receiving messages from women, who say that my words have enriched their life and enabled them to relax about and even enjoy the ageing process. Women who’ve been inspired to start exercising, eating more fruit and veggies and making a little more effort with their appearance. Women who’ve decided to fulfil their lifelong dreams, making major changes and letting go. My mission is to give women the skills, permission and power to enjoy ageing. I want them to cherish every wrinkle, embrace their silver sparkles and appreciate how blessed they are to be growing old.
What would I be prepared to commit to on a full time basis? Blogging and vlogging. Writing is easy because it just flows, but I enjoy shooting and editing videos.
What is my best skill? Communicating with people. Explaining things in plain English and being able to talk about any subject. I can use words to connect with people and they feel the emotion in my writing and humour.
Which project generates the most income? My blog and my freelance writing is regular income, my additional income is from videos I make for product manufacturers such as cruelty free cosmetic companies, which pays more, but is sporadic and not guaranteed.
What activity gives me the most freedom to work where I want, when I want? Well they all do that, but I can write notes whilst I am out walking, making my porridge, in the car (as a passenger!) or waiting around on the building site. I don’t have to sit at a computer all day, and thats something I am very grateful for. Putting it all together on the website takes the most time, but I enjoy working on that in the evening, making it look slick and adding all the different media content.
What will be my legacy/how would I want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as a woman who encouraged, supported and championed other women (and men!) to embrace who they are, and to be the best they can be, no matter their age.
What I am most knowledgeable about? This is tricky as I will tell you I am good at everything! But, I’ve spent years learning about the technical and creative elements to blogging. Creating content is my thing.
What value do I provide to other people? I know from reading my emails that I connect with people of every age and nationality. However, women over 40 are going through the same challenges that I have been through. Ageing is never ending…oh, well except from death of course, but some women can’t cope with the ageing process and are fighting to hold back the years. Ageing is awesome, I truly mean that, so I can take the stress out of ageing. Then there’s becoming an empty nester, down sizing, going grey, weight maintenance, self-care, dealing with stress and juggling too many things that 40+ women are dealing with. This is my space and I like it.
Streamlining my work life.
I am going to slim down my T shirt store to just offer positive ageing and silver sister T’s. It’s all too much work and I don’t have the time or the budget to grow that business further.
My digital art I will do on demand. If you want a portrait of your dog, a drawing of your house etc, drop me a line and I will see if I can squeeze it in. I love doing it, but I cannot focus on it full time as then it would become a chore.
I can’t let go of the NFT project, as I spent a lot of time researching this and it’s a challenge I want and need to complete. I am going to put it somewhere in my free mind space, to think about rather than taking any action the moment.
A BIG thank you.
So here I am, where I am meant to be. I’d like to thank my friend Rowena, CEO and editor of ‘Wherever’ magazine for encouraging me to write. She is a professional writer and has worked with the biggest brands and publications for many years. To be honest, I was a bit embarrassed when she first asked me to write a column for her. I told her “I’m not technically a good writer, I haven’t been trained and I know I make lots of grammatical errors”. She told me I am a good writer, because ‘people like reading my words. It’s that simple’.
I have lost my FOMO (fear of missing out) and can now focus on making this blog the best it can be. Stay tuned for regular content and guest appearances from some of my 50+ online friends and collaborators.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a beautiful day. Gail x
I don’t want to appear younger than my years. It’s perfectly OK that I look my age.
I know the beauty industry tries to convince us that we need to look at least 10 years younger than our true biological age, but why? I’ve received messages telling me I look ten years younger, and also 10 or more years older, it really doesn’t matter how old I look, its how old I feel, and I feel the same as I did when I was 18. I eat a varied whole food plant based diet, exercise daily, limit my time on social media and I spend lots of time in nature. It takes effort to feel good, sadly there’s no magic pill. I feel full of energy and ready to take on any challenge. More on this another day, I write less on Instagram posts as the limit on the number of words is too challenging for me!
I took this shot on arriving home from the construction site. My hair was covered in dust and was happily doing it’s own thing. I wandered into the bathroom and picked up the scissors. You see, my hair is falling out. … It’s normal. I have an under active thyroid and it causes my hair to wave goodbye to my scalp by the handful. Sometimes more than others. It’s OK, it’s only hair. 10 minutes of snipping and I have a shorter style.
It doesn’t matter if I look 54, 64 or even more. I just hope I look healthy and happy, as that’s my only wish.
Cutting down on social media time was much more difficult than I thought it would be. A few months ago I suspended my FaceBook account, tired of all the notifications beeping on my phone or flashing up on my screen. I have a UK phone and a Portuguese phone. That’s two lots of messages/Whatsapp/Telegram notifications to contend with. I had Facebook and 3 Instagram accounts; my own personal account, FiftySister and an account for my art. I have several email addresses which I monitor – receiving hundreds of messages per day. It was just too much noise all day every day and my brain was slowly frying, from the effort involved in constantly managing contact via so many apps on my phone.
I didn’t start my Instagram account to make money or to promote anything, I made it to hopefully inspire other women to enjoy ageing as much as I do and to embrace their silver hair sparkles. What started as a bit of fun, became a full time unpaid job. I was offered lots of promo and sponsored posts from a huge variety of companies, but I never accepted any paid content as it didn’t fit with the lifestyle I was promoting. For example, how can I promote products that aren’t vegan or cruelty free? Or products which can stop incontinence if I don’t have it? Or menopause creams and potions which are irrelevant for me as I take HRT. I got very frustrated watching women my age promoting products for wrinkles etc when it was clear they had botox or fillers. Nothing wrong with any cosmetic procedure of course, we are free to do with our bodies what we choose, but it’s unrealistic to expect the same results as someone who clearly has regular botox injections.
I also saw a lot of women jumping on the cruelty free beauty bandwagon, and then 2 minutes later sharing a photo of their roast leg of lamb or their ‘ethical’ leather jacket….how can a leather jacket be ethical? I doubt the cow willingly gave up their skin for that biker jacket. I am not a militant vegan. You are free to choose your own path in life and take what you want and need from the planet. I choose not to take a life to improve my own. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, once I became vegan, and I felt a physical difference in my body within a week or so. To be completely honest I was shocked how quickly a plant based diet changed everything about my body. But more on that another day…
Time spent on social media was time away from real people – ironic eh? It really should be renamed antisocial media. It also took time away from my creativity, which had been a great source of stress relief for me. Looking back, I’d stopped seeing people, let go of all my recreational activities and replaced it all with screen time and arguing with strangers. Social media is a drug that you just can’t wean yourself off easily.
Reels is the worst thief of time, or so I thought until I discovered TikTok. My plan with TikTok was to upload content already created for Reels and to just throw it on the TikTok feed and ignore comments and messages. But… of course that wasn’t the case. I uploaded about 8 videos and left them unattended. I checked again to find I have a few hundred followers. Weird given that I had zero interaction with the app. I decided (I have no idea why!) to upload another couple of videos specifically for TikTok and boom! Within 24 hours I have thousands of new followers. At this point I panicked and decided to suspend my account. If I can’t cope with Instagram followers, why the heck would I try to make my situation worse? I also temporarily suspended my Instagram account to give myself some breathing space. Within 1 day of not posting on Insta I have emails asking where I have gone. What to do…? I reinstated my Instagram account but at the moment I am not posting anything new. I don’t really want to delete all the content yet….but maybe that time will come. I think it’s impossible to wean myself completley off it as I enjoy the creativity of it. I really like editing videos!
Since stepping away from all social media and taking an extended break, I have picked up lots of my creative hobbies again. I made Bird a new collar using Para-chord which was really therapeutic and completely distracted me from all that is going on in the world. I started creating art using photos I have taken whilst out on my bike. You can see this on my new Instagram account @ginandbird (I’m just posting and not monitoring that account at all) and I’ve collected lots of shells and driftwood to make wall art. I design T shirts for my FiftySister store and I’ve also started designing digital art like screen savers/wallpaper (like the one above) based on my own need for something fun and colourful. So I’ve been very busy – oh and I’ve been building my house here, which is going very smoothly. Busy, busy, busy, just the way I like it.
I shall continue writing and sharing my thoughts here, with potentially YouTube videos in the future, but I still don’t know whether I will do this so please bear with me. I have to find a balance that gives me a platform to connect with like-minded women, which doesn’t steal so much of my time. If anyone has any suggestions about how I can achieve this, please get in touch. I am a very private person who loves taking photos, writing and making videos – I’m a complete contradiction.
Social media is great for finding ideas and seeking out like-minded people. But you will stir up a hornet’s nest if you voice an opinion. I lost 7k followers overnight when I posted a reel regarding my feelings about informed consent. The reel was taken down by Instagram and that’s when I decided that I couldn’t continue to invest time on a platform which is so biased and fragile. One mistake and you are shadow banned or worse still deleted for ever.
Thank you for continuing to follow along on my life journey here. I love writing about anything and everything, so be prepared for varied content. I hope you have a beautiful day.
I’m as lost as everyone else in my midlife journey, so don’t follow me thinking I have all the answers. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying different eating patterns including intermittent fasting and Keto to keep my weight within a more healthy range. I’d noticed that my jeans were getting tight in October and my face looked puffy aka chubby! At my starting weight of 11stone 5lbs/159lbs/ 72.12kgs, I was definitely moving outside of a healthy weight range for my height of 5’6”/ 167.64cm. Most importantly I felt heavy and wanted my jeans to feel less snug.
I decided to try intermittent fasting as I’d heard lots of success stories about not only weight loss, but also that the body puts its effort into repair mode when calories are scarce. I went full ahead but without doing any research regarding best times to eat etc, I just thought I would wing it to see what worked best for me. I don’t like eating large meals later in the day anyway, as I don’t have the time to walk off the full belly feeling at night and feel less inclined to exercise after food. I planned to eat breakfast, lunch and miss out my evening meal all together. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t in my usual good mood first thing in the morning, I was grumpy, impatient and short tempered, but this was short lived and quickly remedied by eating breakfast. I normally eat a wholefood plant-based diet, rich in fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, seeds and beans. Breakfast could be nut butter on toast with extra toasted seeds and sliced banana. Lunch would usually be rice or noodles, with tofu, seitan or tempeh as the substitute for animal meat protein, lots of veggies with some fruit afterwards.
In the evening, I opted for a large glass of freshly squeezed/prepared watermelon or orange juice. I felt hungry occasionally, but a cup of matcha tea would dull that feeling until the next meal. For me, the intermittent fasting approach meant that I could continue eating exactly what I wanted, carb heavy with pizza, pasta, toast (lots of wheat!) with no extra meal planning or major change in diet. I quickly lost 16lbs/7.26kgs without much effort or inconvenience. My energy levels remained high during the day, with only a notable dip first thing in the morning before breakfast.
My weight stabilised at 144lbs/65.31kgs and didn’t budge any lower. I had plenty of energy for hiking, swimming and cycling with little thought or concern for what I was eating. I’d highly recommend this way of scheduling food as it’s as simple as only eating two meals per day.
In December, I started listening to podcasts about the keto diet. As a vegan, this is a little more difficult as I don’t eat animal protein which makes up most of the keto diet plan. I was curious whether it was feasible to follow a keto plan as a vegan. Instead of toast or a vegan pancake for breakfast, I had either an apple or banana with nut butter and toasted seeds. Interestingly, I didn’t feel hungry at all at any point during the day. For lunch, I substituted wheat spaghetti with a sweet potato version, which is gluten free and lower in carbs. I followed a keto way of eating for 2 weeks and within the first couple of days I noticed I was peeing more. I expected to lose a couple of pounds over the first 2 weeks, but actually the result was zero weight loss. I was still exercising 2-3 hours per day, sleeping very well, not feeling hungry and my energy levels remained constant. No highs or lows, just adequate.
It’s important to note that I stopped drinking alcohol a few months ago as I noticed that after only a small glass of wine, I would feel less than 100% the next day. I feel like I am recovering from poisoning after only a small amount, so it seems pointless to continue drinking. I was a social drinker, enjoying a glass of Gin & Tonic with friends, but rarely drank alcohol when home alone. Giving up alcohol was easy, maybe when we return to a more social way of life I will be tempted to crack open a bottle of Ginger & Rhubarb gin….who knows?
I have become very conscious of my intake of cereal, especially wheat which I am keen to reduce. Trying the keto way of eating forced me to find alternatives which I really enjoyed. Especially the sweet potato spaghetti/noodles. I could happily continue on the intermittent fasting regime without any stress about carbs, but I did like not feeling hungry on a low carb diet. Going forward I will continue with two meals per day, but try harder to reduce wheat and carbs to combine intermittent fasting and Keto to keep my weight stable.
It’s important to me to stay in shape and to ensure I feed my body what it needs rather than what I want. It’s not always easy as there’s so much temptation, but ultimately, I know that if I want to live a long and active life, I need to invest in my health every day. I will keep you posted and share updates and recipes along the way.
What have you tried which worked for you? Have you tried intermittent fasting?
I suddenly arrived at a difficult crossroads on my blogging journey. I didn’t like where all roads were taking me, so I’ve decided to leave Instagram and start over in a new direction with my blog. Crazy I know, considering I had 75k followers late 2021 (which was slowly decreasing and melting away as I’d stopped posting so regularly). Instagram is changing, rebranded ‘Meta’ and now rapidly going in a new direction which I don’t think will be good for my soul. It started as a photo sharing platform, a way to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Someone who could take better photos from interesting angles and add a few words to share their journey. I really do miss that about Instagram.
Meta (formerly FaceBook and Instagram) makes its money from advertising and selling data from users and creators to provide the product – for free. It’s a great business strategy and worked well until they started censoring the content, based on input and restrictions put on them by their clients. Accounts were shadow banned or disappeared overnight, with no resource or humans available to resolve or even discuss the issue. After all, you are getting the platform for free, so why should they provide you any ‘customer’ service.
Influencers post highly filtered photos which everyone seems to appreciate. Post a photo without one and people will be horrified and share their unfiltered feelings on your timeline in record time. Verbal abuse never bothered me, but the effort deleting, blocking or reporting the accounts was such a waste of precious time.
So here I am, back on my blog, all new, starting over from scratch. I am both relieved and excited. There’s no mystical algorithms, trolls or pressure to post daily, but I will post regularly as I miss telling stories, writing and sharing a photo here and there. If you sign up for my mailing list I will send you an update once a month and hopefully will be adding offers, vouchers and promo codes if any companies want to work with a silver haired, unfiltered, cruelty free, midlife woman. Let’s see…
“When you stop worrying about; the grey hair, squidgy belly, flabby arms, wrinkles, crinkles and all that comes naturally with ageing, you have found freedom, and most importantly, more time to enjoy life without self imposed limits”. – Gail McNeill.
A fresh makeup free morning today. I love wearing makeup, but I also love for my skin to feel wild and free. Just a generous application of @ravenbotanicals Raven Botanicals facial oil, after shaving my face – yes, shaving my face is normal! (I shave every couple of months to prune my flooffy face. It feels good!).
Wrinkles, age spots, scars and broken thread veins now adorn my face. Gone are the thick eyebrows and blemish free tight-fitting skin.
I receive many messages from women who hate their changing face. Slowly melting whilst their hair invades the space below their hairline, leaving it ever thinner on top. My eyebrows need a pencil, my skin needs a good foundation, a swipe of lipstick, a wave of the magic wand of mascara, a bit of blush and dab of highlighter and I’m ready for the day. Happy with the new face which has a little more skin each year. I’m certainly not complaining, I’ve had a lot of use out of this face, it’s had quite a lot of wear and tear!
Don’t you think it’s incredible how you can guess a person’s age so easily? Most will guess within 1 year or 2 a person’s age. That’s how I know it’s a natural process I cannot and will not fight. I’m not attempting to turn back a clock which is naturally and happily advancing forward, day by day, giving me more wonderful days on this earth.
My grandma wore floral dresses (never trousers), had soft silver hair, her eyes were a little cloudy, she was short, squidgy and a soft pillow when I needed somewhere to rest my head. I adored her, and I want to be like her. She had a marshmallow belly, bingo wing arms and wore an industrial strength bra – with a stash of a folded paper tissues tucked inside, always ready to wipe away a tear when needed.
I was asked recently ‘what are you selling?’ I’m selling a healthy midlife body and positive mindset. The cost is your time and commitment. It starts today with you appreciating you are still here and have the ability to change, to embrace and adore your perfect ageing body. One of the saddest things which has increasing monetary value and is highly sought after, is a toy which is decades old, still in it’s perfect box. No scratches, scuffs or creases. Unplayed with. Untouched. Unloved. That toy never fulfilled its purpose. I think the secret to positive ageing is to live in the moment. Not in the past. Not in the future. We are here. Now.
I’ve been hitting the bottle again today. Don’t panic! It’s the same temporary vegan hair colour I’ve used before. Instead of adding it straight out of the bottle I’ve mixed it with my shampoo for a softer effect. It will wash out within 1 week, quicker if its sunny which it should be for the rest of the week.
My sister sent me a recipe for dandelion honey yesterday. I was intrigued but not convinced it would be a successful experiment. Seb jumped over a high wall and collected lots of flowers for me from a meadow next to Churston Woods. I could have jumped over but didn’t rate my chances climbing back as I don’t have his Spiderman climbing skills. I’ve been getting a bit frustrated lately, I just can’t help it. I hear so many people talking about supporting the NHS by staying home or clapping once a week but they still smoke or are grossly overweight. They don’t consider or appreciate, the additional load their poor choices or lack of care places on the NHS.
I struggled with my weight all my life and never gave my body the care and attention it craved. It eventually crashed and it was only then I realised how stress and neglect was affecting my body. My life chasing the next goal was taking me closer and quicker to my grave. The only goal I want to achieve now, is to wake up other mid-lifers up to the long terms effects of their current lifestyle and diet. If I can do it, anyone can. What inspires you to make positive changes?