Yes, we’re both 50+ and proud of it. We’re also proud of our long-term friendship and writing partnership of 35 years. We’ve led parallel lives–raised five children collectively to be independent and self-supporting, tended to aging moms now in their 90s, continued to pursue our writing and speaking careers, tried to squeeze in time to travel, read, cook, exercise, entertain, and after losing our spouses, carve out new lives and find romance again.
Our lives have been derailed drastically. Barbara’s happened almost 15 years ago, after she was married for 31 years, then dumped. Margaret, “Meg,” was married even longer. Forty-two years. With their children grown, she and her husband planned finally to spend time together alone, until the fates intervened. Her husband got sick nine years ago, almost out of the blue, then sicker and sicker. Five years after diagnosis and different types of physicians and treatments that succeeded at first, then failed, he died.
We each cried as our lives unraveled like balls of yarn, consoled one another, and were cheered to move on by our children, other relatives, and closest friends. We tried hard to stop the scripts that kept running in our heads: We’ll be alone forever, life is almost over, we’ll never smile and laugh again. It was a challenge, with progress, then back pedaling, but a determination to keep moving forward. We each wanted desperately to knit new lives, certainly different than we knew, yet still joyous and exciting. And we are.
In addition to making new friends and testing new experiences–investing funds, selling a home, throwing a dinner party solo for the first time or going up in a small plane when fearful of all flight, we each started dating. We tried different ways to meet men that felt comfortable to our different styles, have dissimilar escapades to share, and have each found romance, intimacy, and companionship again. It’s definitely a new game when you’re over 50. Everything about life at this stage seems so fresh and different, and sometimes even uncomfortable. Some of it can be quite challenging–when to let go of a friendship or toxic relationship that no longer works, or how to lose those unwanted pounds when our metabolism drastically slows down yet appetites are still healthy.
We’re reporters and writers by trade; storytellers and questioners by personality, and we think we have worthwhile sagas, experiences, and humor to share. Many of you walk in similar shoes as middle-aged kids in the middle–having grown children who still need some parenting but also want desperately to be listened to–when they put away their cells; rushing to an aging parent or parents with fading memories and multiple health problems; still being cautious about spending money as you look to retire or have already done so yet also want to keep finding ways to remain active, healthy, and fully engaged in life.
So come along with us on our journeys, read our weekly blog and daily tweets with no holes barred about love, sex, design, careers, finance, familial ups and downs, female friendships, platonic male friendships, food and wine, parenting parents and grown children, and everything germane to living well @50 plus. We welcome your feedback, tweets and suggestions for topics. We’re here to help you as we’ve helped one another. Life keeps offering lessons, thank goodness for those like us who always love to learn.
Barbara Ballinger and Margaret Crane, LifeLessonsat50Plus.com