Christine at 50: I swear!

In the midst of moving chaos, we attended a sparkling birthday party for our beloved friend Christine, to celebrate her 50th birthday.


In the photo, I'm in a silk Chinese jacket, which I nearly donated before the party, and now that I've seen myself, will. The Versace fabric, sewn for me by a friend, is too much pattern for my current taste; time to say ciao.

Christine, by contrast, is wearing a soft grey long-sleeved tee and ice-blue capris. You can just see her famous vintage jeweled charm bracelet.

I think she's a double for Linda Eastman, Paul McCartney's late wife. That makes Christine shudder; but see what you think:

Linda Eastman McCartney


Christine made an intention on turning 50: she is going to stop swearing. Now, she's not the most explicit swearer, but has decided her behaviour is no longer suitable, and chose to stop– after the party. (I should add that Christine, a teacher, never swore at work.)

When you turned fifty, or any other significant "decade" birthday: did you resolve to make any changes?  

One friend vowed to run a marathon (and had not run since high school), another made a list of four places she wanted visit, cashed in all her air miles and made the trips over her 50th year. I know someone who decided to adopt a child.

Fifty was harrowing for me; I pretty much hid. Sixty was a breeze, no angst whatsoever. But I made no resolution either time, and wish I had. The setting of a goal, regardless of age, keeps us moving forward, learning.

Bokasana at 83!

Seventy is next, over seven years from now; how about me setting the goal of a birthday Bokasana (Crow Pose)? Bette Calman, the Australian yoga teacher shown in the photo, is 83. She says "Forget age, yoga keeps you young."

Christine practices yoga too, and swims in her school's pool for fifty minutes at lunch most days. A *%$**@# inspiration!


Mardel said…
They share a fresh, wide, friendly smile.

50 was harrowing for me. Just before my birthday my spouse took a deep plunge off the dementia cliff and I was woefully unprepared. He lived in a world of hallucinations, anger and recriminations; I remember feeling lost and crying on my birthday, which was otherwise mostly forgotten. My goal was surviving the year. Which I did. Dementia is a present in our lives, although the situation is now greatly improved and I think this is a more pivotal year for me, 53 in July.
Shelley said…
I hated turning 50 at well, mainly because I was going through the worst of the 'change' at the time and was miserable and stressed in my job. I managed to leave the job in the next year, fortunately. I made no resolutions, but will turn 55 at the end of this month. At your suggestion, I'm thinking about what resolution I might make at this half-decade occasion.
Susan said…
I stepped into 50 happily. My resolve at 50 was to stop denying nice things for myself. I had been raised y by an exceptionally thrifty mother (and a generous father) . For my mother, whatever was cheapest was best. She made me feel guilty over each new piece of clothing I might acquire.

During our early marriage, we had to pinch pennies. I had hardly noticed that over the years, things had changed, and now I COULD afford nice clothing, handbags, shoes, even jewelry if I desired it. So now, I can allow myself to have quality clothing and other nice things.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: We can't choose what those big milestone birthdays bring, when life goes on around us, oblivious to the date. Sometimes 53 or some other year is the momentous one.

Shelly: 55 was better, for me too! Hope you celebrate fully and exuberantly.

Susan: Though it is about the opposite, women who cannot spend on themselves, you might enjoy this old post:

I look for a balance, a place between mean denial and greedy over-indulgence. I find getting rid of half of our possessions has been a terrific exercise in that!
materfamilias said…
I think both you and Christine look wonderful in the photo, and I can see why you've hung on to that shirt, even if you've decided to toss it now. I think the rich colours still flatter, but perhaps I'm not seeing the whole picture.
As for 50, I was almost finished my Ph.D. dissertation, had landed a university teaching position in my own small city, had launched three of my four fledglings, and carved out time for twice-weekly Pilates. Menopause was still a few years off so skin, weight, etc., not yet a problem. Life was good, and I actually revelled in stating my age -- I saw the 50 as a badge of having lived, of having acquired a certain knowledge and even, perhaps, wisdom. For the most part, I still feel this huge good fortune and age spots, crow's feet, even the deep naso-labials, seem a fair enough trade off for getting here. But I am conscious of how much that sense turns on the luck of good health. At almost 58, I might have 25 years left, but how enjoyable they will be depends on my eyesight, my hips, my memory . . . and my spouse's.
All the more reason to make the best of my time right now, right?
and perhaps I might even put Christine's resolution down for my 80th. . .
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: It's a Chinese jacket with frog closing. Thanks, will keep for now, may be a good idea to have something bold now and then.

Loved what you said about 50; I felt those good things- my dismay was not about appearance but that so much of my life had passed; a sense of mortality overwhelmed me. Now, over a decade later I don't have such dread, except that this move is related to life's transit. We think, "How do we want to live now?" instead of "Someday...".
Deja Pseu said…
You and Christine look marvelous!

The year I turned 50 I launched my blog, and we took our first trip to Paris. My resolution was to travel more, and we have! And I've managed to keep the blog going; it's become an important part of my life.

In some ways, my 50's so far have been the best time of my life. I'm in a good marriage, have been with the same employer for 18 years now and have the vacation time and resources to travel once or twice a year. I sailed through menopause pretty much unaware between 50 and 51. The most important thing now is to maintain health and vitality so I can continue to travel and remain active for the next few (!) decades.
LPC said…
I love the photo of you and Christine. So warm. By the way, you have Very Good Eyebrows. I'm in mild awe.

And tell Christine she doesn't appear to be 50, but we'll take her word:). At 50 I had just separated from my husband of 20 years. Not an easy time. Actually rather like running through a gauntlet of swords, being stabbed. But it was necessary, and is easier now.
Gretchen said…
Duchesse, I would think twice before retiring that jacket. Having such a warm colour, especially on a "GTH" pattern, sometimes is just the thing to make the standard quiet clothes so soothing..a nice contrapuntal. I like the idea of Christine forswearing, um, swearing. Every year, that's my new year's resolution, and it lasts usually no more than an hour or so. Pathetic. So many amazing words and phrases, and I resort to gutter language. I will make more of an effort, and thank you for the reminder (seeing Christine's bracelet reminds me that my birthday gift to myself is a link bracelet to finally solder my charms to, so I can wear it!) to get on with living well.
Susan said…
Duchesse, I've never been about excess, but just the opposite. And, I'm also getting rid of many possessions because they make life more cumbersome. But, the revelation that I COULD buy myself high quality clothing and enjoy wearing it was a big one for me.

For years, I used every resource for the benefit of our children. THEY were well dressed, but I was not. I consider it a triumph to realize that I deserve nice things too.

I will read your link and I'm sure I will enjoy it.
Susan said…
I vote for keeping the Chinese jacket also. The colors are great on you and it's nice to have something unusual for just the right occasion.
You both look great...Christine does have a youthful look on her side at 50.
I am not a bug fan of prints but an exotic jacket like yours does have it's place...
I must say that you have great bone structure and your skin is perfection.
You wear 60 very well Duchesse!

50 was nothing more than another year passing for was 56 that really hit home that I was getting on...and now that my jaw line is slacking and my skin has aged more I do feel a sense of my mortality
but I am trying to put this on the back burner and savour all the gifts that are in my life...after all it's not all about me!
materfamilias said…
Yes, it's true, the horizon is well within view now, which makes a big difference to plan-making. I forgot to say that for whatever reason, 40 was the milestone that really brought mortality into view for me. I felt very conscious that I'd moved into the half of my life in which I was likely to die. By 50, perhaps because I'd been able to get with moving toward some important life goals, that was no longer an issue.
Loving this conversation, btw.
Belle de Ville said…
In my book 50 is the new 30 and I've had the injections to prove it.
Congratulations to your friend on making it 50 and looking so great.

Also, I love vintage charm bracelet!
Tiffany said…
Yes, definitely go the yoga goal. I set myself a couple every year now, regardless of whether there's a special birthday. It's amazing thing to get better at something physical (and mental too, in the case of yoga) as one gets older.

I've not yet hit 50, but I hope to hit that particular milestone with enthusiasm - I had the mortality wake-up call a little early thanks to some family circumstances, so I'm determined to make the most of the rest of my life. I hope to do it with the verve that you and the other commenters display.
Duchesse said…
Pseu; Your comment is heartening and your blog has been an enduring delight to me.

LPC: Oh, thanks- little makeup on here, living out of boxes! Yes, separation is a gauntlet and begins the moment one realizes it is inevitable. Better days come, as we know.

Gretchen: Christine's elegance makes her swearing sound-how shall I say- almost proper. Readers have spoken, I will keep the jacket and appreciate your opinion. Oh,and charms, I'd get that baby roadworthy.

Susan: When circumstances change, our relationship to money often changes, but some women do not lose old habits.

materfamilias: When my first friend to die of natural causes went, in my late thirties, that was a shock. But at 40 I had one year old twins and was so immersed that I had no time or energy to reflect. At 50 I did, and it was ghastly. But 51 was a lark. Some birthdays are heavier than others.

hostess: 63 coming up in July! Another vote for the jacket, this blog is really influencing my life.

Belle: Christine is one of those casually glamourous women, like Rene Russo or Cate Blanchett... we just love her (and not only for her allure.) I will miss her greatly.

Tiffany: What, under 50? A mere child! One of my priorities is to find the right studio in Mtl. Not Bikram or Ashtanga though.
emma said…
Turning 50 was a blur, we were dealing with elder health issues on both sides, then as a family, we had to deal with the business of an elder who "knew she had sold her store" - but hadn't...then, unfortunately, we had to deal with her estate. So many changes and losses, we didn't have time to take stock, we were just coping!
When I was 53 I had my OMG moment - I got weighed before a surgical procedure and when the nurse stated the number, my eyes bugged out. What had happened to me?! The next year was spent walking in a nature reserve, doing yoga and cutting back. 20 pounds less and I am reassessing our "someday" plans and making them concrete in a 6 year plan. I realized my life is finite, and although I would like to think we'll have a long and healthy retirement, I also have seen people who have passed away suddenly, just before or after the golden handshake. I take nothing or no one for granted now, and life is better. I'm PAYING ATTENTION!
P.S. Inspired by Christine's awesome bracelet, I am building one with watch fobs etc. Thanks for your blog, it has been so helpful. Once I woke up from the haze of my early 50s & thought "Life is too short to wear black every day!" and started looking at fashion once again, I had the same thoughts you had..."Too old for babydoll, too young to die!"
cheers Duchesse, keep writing!
Tiffany said…
Have you done Iyengar? I like it for the fact that it is physically strenuous but is totally alignment focused so you work to whatever your own ability is ... I hope you find a great studio/teacher.
Duchesse said…
Tiffany: My studio for past 6 yrs is Iyengar. How many Iyengar yogis to change a light bulb? Only one but it takes 4 hours.
Duchesse said…
Emma: Thanks for the encouragement, much needed just now. Being awake, making choices, aware of how life changes so quickly- this is a gift. Sounds like you are living well, in all senses, now.
Susan Tiner said…
You both look lovely and happy in the photo.

I didn't notice 50 as I was too wrapped up in an unsatisfying consulting business. In turning 52 last year, I stopped to reflect on the bigger picture, including the past, and in turning 53 this year, decided it was time to make some changes, most importantly to pay attention to my appearance and explore the meaning of personal style. That's how I came to find bloggers like you :-).
Paula said…
The moment I saw the first photo, I wanted to ask you what her secret is. Ok, I get it. Swimming, almost every day during lunch break. So this probably means she does not eat lunch as well. I would love to be glowing as she is by the time I turn 40 but it seems as if my lifestyle is too lazy.
Duchesse said…
Paula: With amusement and good will, I correct you: Christine eats (in her words) "a huge lunch" when she gets out of the pool. And I can attest that she's a real eater. She has a naturally long-boned, slim build. (She is one of those slim women with an, uh, naturally voluptuous bust.) She watches what she eats, in terms of whole foods and balanced diet but she loves margaritas, guacamole and a good steak.

I don't advocate skipping lunch when teaching high school- can you imagine dealing with kids when starving?

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