Turning Fifty

By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.  ~  Marie Dressler

It’s harder to find good quotes on turning fifty years old than a person would think.  There are many jokes about it such as:

My back goes out more than I do,


My ears have more hair than my head.

But that’s just not what I’m looking for.  I suppose finding the one good quote by Marie Dressler should be sufficient.  I just didn’t think it would be the only one.  Perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place as so many celebs are turning fifty this year.

Jon Bon Jovi, Emilio Estevez, Marcia Cross, Jim Carrey, Ally Sheedy, Tom Cruise, Eriq LaSalle, Wesley Snipes, Michelle Yeoh, Steve Carell, Nia Vardalos, Joan Cusack, Kelly Preston, Daphne Zuniga, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster, Felicity Huffman and Ralph Fiennes; just to name a few.

“50 years: here’s a time when you have to separate yourself from what other people expect of you, and do what you love. Because if you find yourself 50 years old and you aren’t doing what you love, then what’s the point?”  ~  Jim Carrey

“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you,”said a favorite mystery writer Agatha Christie.

And Jodie Foster had this to say about her upcoming fiftieth birthday:  “There’s a nice thing about turning a certain age where you’ve made so many life decisions; so many non-chosen paths are behind you, and you don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Abdul, Sheryl Crow and Star Jones all turned fifty this year.  It’s a nicer group to be part of when you think of these people instead of the multiple invitations for joining AARP that show up in the snail mail and email on a daily basis.

And of course Ernest Hemingway had a thing or two to say about aging, though he was contemplating and likely planning his suicide by this period in his life.

“In order to write about life, you must live it,” he said.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
―    Ernest Hemingway,    The Sun Also Rises

This is the part that starts to catch up with us.  Only .006% to 12%, depending on whose calculations you use, of the world’s population lives to be one hundred years old.  So at fifty, the chances that you are on the downside of the arc of your life seems likely.  It could be depressing.

But it can also be challenging and the best part of life, especially for a writer.  At fifty we have lived through enough to have a little grist for the writing mill.  And we are less daunted by rejection and suggestions for rewrites than we would have been at twenty or even thirty.  I think we are also less afraid to say what we think and not especially concerned about whether or not everyone will like us.

Instead of a sunset, we should think of it as a sunrise, like this glorious one here at Garden City Beach in South Carolina where I am watching the waves carry out my forties and usher in the fifties.

Yes, that’s right.  Writingfeemail is turning fifty.  Yikes!

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  1. Happy Birthday, my friend! You’ve written a wonderful post. I can certainly identify with the fact that I worry less about what people will think when I say something at this stage of my life. (That can be good or bad.) As for your sunrise/sunset comment, when my Mother was in a nursing home years ago, there was a picture on the wall with the sun at the horizon. The “caption” read: The sun setting is no less beautiful than the sun rising.”.
    Enjoy your birthday vacation!

  2. Happy birthday to you! I hope your day is filled with love and laughter. I completely agree that the older I get, the less I’m concerned with whether people like me and so I’m not afraid of speaking my mind. I

  3. Happy Birth Day, Renee! I wish for you that, in the coming days, you get a chance to do all those stuffs which you love. I am sure this year is going to be special for you, as you are going to create a milestone by publishing your novel. So here is one stuff, which I am sure you love.
    Lots & lots of good wishes for this wonderful person, whom I’ve met through blogging and whose blessings always make my day special. More Happiness , success and peace to you, Renee! Enjoy your day!

  4. My 50th birthday was my favourite birthday. The year I turned fifty was also my favourite year. Don’t ask me about 51+ but 50 was amazing. 😉

  5. Well happy birthday my friend. Isn’t weird how at 20 we think 50 is so old and once we hit 35 we start re-evaluating age? I just turned 40 and 50 doesn’t seem old at all. I hope you have the best birthday ever and there was a lot of wisdom in this post.

  6. BIG BIG B-I-G 5-0 happy birthday to you, Renee 🙂

    I LOVED this collection of quotes – & you listing who turned 50 this year. Emilio Estefez – surely not?!

    Loved Jim Carrey’s words – what indeed is the point if you’re not, by age 50, doing something you love. What indeed. All the quotes were great.

    You know, I came out to Daniel the other night and said, “Mum’s got a grey hair!” and showed him one wisp of fringe. He said, “I know. I saw it already.” !!! I then thought, how sweet he never mentioned it, or treated me different. And then you think (!) why SHOULD he treat me different – what like an oooooold lady??? Just set me off thinking, it did, but I loved his matter of fact “I know. I saw it already.”

    Ah, happy birthday 🙂

  7. First off, Happy Birthday!!! 🙂 This was a great collection of quotes and I was glad to see them since my own big 5-0 is coming all to soon. I’ve found that every ten year milestone brooked a new and interesting section of my life’s path and I can’t help but believe that the 50s will prove to be the same. We live in a new age where our health is better for us at an older age than at any time in human history. We are able to better enjoy our senior years as never before. Perhaps this is a time of new found wisdom? Or a time to throw off old traditions and live it up? Who can say. Let the adventure begin.

  8. Happy Birthday!! I’m grinning at you, because as I age, it gets better–this whole living thing AND this writing gig I have. Here’s hoping for many more wonderful years!!

  9. Happy Birthday Renee! Can you hear me singing? You look like a monkey …”

    These quotes are wonderful — you are obviously still growing — which is way better than “growing older.” Much better!

    Many happy returns.

  10. Happy birthday. I couldn’t agree with you more. Since turning 50, my four daughters got married and my 8 grandchildren were born. I write and paint and occasionally sell something. I retired from a job I loved and at 67, I am looking forward!

  11. Happy birthday! And you are bunched in with a prestigious group. I love your quotes. I don’t like to think about getting older, I like to think about what more I’ll experience and how much more I’ll appreciate life. I wish you all the best!

  12. Lovely quotes. Perhaps a spring garden just blooming other than sun pix? You’ve worked hard to get here (just like a plant struggling to break up soil with roots, grab nourishment, and get free of the ground’s heavy crust) – and now the fun begins.
    You’re only halfway there at 50.

  13. Don’t think of it as turning 50. Think of it more like being 30, with 20 years of experience. I’ve got a few more years of experience on you. Enjoy your birthday!

  14. Don’t bank on it, Renee, that ‘we have learnt our hardest lessons’ by the time we turn fifty.
    On this happy note: May the future hold what is good for you.

    As an aside: Isn’t 50 so last century?

    With much affection and wishing you all the best,

  15. Happy Birthday, Renee! I hope the decade will be as good to you as it has been to me. I’m just at the other end of it. For some reason, I loved turning 50. I guess it’s just a lovely round number. I have also been blessed with good health. And about the time I reached this milestone, I suddenly found important people around me dropping like flies. Too many people die just before or just after retirement and I became hyper-sensitive to the magical quality of each day of life. I’m still looking for the wisdom that we assume we will have at this point in life. But I have great peace and calm in my life…even when deadlines and outside stress threaten, I still cherish each unique and beautiful day.

    In three more months, I must face 60. Now this one hurts. I don’t know why. I’ve not had difficulty with any other age. But this one just sounds . . .old.

  16. Happy Birthday! I’ve got you beat by three years. And getting older just means you’re wiser.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and I hope you’ll be back

  17. Happy Birthday Month! Turning 50 didn’t really bother me. (Neither did turning 60 for that matter.) I do care less what people think, and I’m a lot more free with what I think. It’s a no more bull time of life! Enjoy!

    1. Thank you. You are aging wonderfully and it is encouraging to those of us right behind you! And I’m glad you stopped by. I’ve been reading your blogs but disqus says my browser needs to be switched to firefox or safari in order to leave a comment. Yikes! Is anyone else besides me having trouble leaving comments on your site that you know of?

  18. Sorry I’m late to the party! Hope you had a very happy birthday. Looks like a lovely place to spend it. Here’s to the rest of our lives–may we live it well.

  19. Hope your birthday was wonderful, Renee. You are right about having a lot of material as a writer at this age. There is something liberating about it. Glad you got to see such a beautiful sunset on your birthday. It is stunning. HAPPY BIRTHDAY XXXXX

  20. I did fifty 13 years ago. You’ll survive. You will find 50-60 your best years despite whatever adversity may befall you. My advice: I gave up alcohol 10 1/2 years ago. Eat healthy and things like bacon, sausage, pepperoni and anything fried must no longer be part of your diet. Laughing helps too. Perhaps you may find a good cartoon blog. Thanks for visit.

    1. No wine or bacon? Yikes. I do laugh a lot – usually at myself. Thanks for the encouragment. Fifty seemed like a heavy number as I approached it. But it looks like I am in good company.

  21. Renee, I so agree with this post! I turned 50 two years ago, and actually, it wasn’t too bad! I still don’t like admitting I’m in the 50s group…a little vanity lingers! But functionally, I think it really is a time in life when you can begin to be more yourself, your family (children) obligations are lessened, and you can have more freedom to do the things you really want…all good stuff! Congratulations, and a belated happy birthday! ~ Sheila

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