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The Big Zeroes

watch us go from zeroes to heroes

Just as I was considering my first Big Zeroes post about knitting socks for my mum, this article was published in the Guardian, labelling people who turn 50 as ‘quintastics’. The article asks if turning fifty makes people slink into old age, or gives them a new lease of life.

In my case it’s both. My earliest photographic memory is being ten at Bultins, standing in my swimsuit in a model pose. That was possibly the last summer that I would wear a swimsuit, as I was entered into a ‘picture of health’ competition where I felt very uncomfortable parading in front of a large crowd in my swimming costume. I came third.

I was a very insecure teenager, with lots of serious problems (although they didn’t seem serious at the time through the beer goggles). I wouldn’t leave the house without first applying Carmen heated rollers to my poker straight hair and dollops of makeup, along with the latest fashions. As I reached thirty, my security crisis had deepened and I was living in a foreign country with my three children. I hated going to the beach despite the heat and covered up with layers.

At forty I was beginning to find my feet. My fortieth birthday was spent with my brothers and my children, in the evening I went to a bar and someone asked me why I was so boring as all I could talk about was my work-in-progress and my academic life. This prompted a much-needed overhaul of my life and the realisation that I had found my passion in research and writing.

The years between forty and now have been the best years of my life. Although some personal tragedies have happened and at times I have been terribly unhappy with life, my joy and surprise at finding out who I really am, and having the opportunity to work for the greater good, has helped to balance this.

In August, my partner and I went on holiday to Cornwall and chanced upon a beautiful surfing beach. Like other holidays, I had brought a swimming costume that I never wore (it still had the tags on it). This year was different. I realised that the years had stripped away the mascara and the curls, and even the clothes that I was cowering behind, and I no longer had anything to hide. The picture above is me surfing at Widemouth Bay earlier this year.

So, while I realise the years have taken their toll on my body and I’m perhaps more than halfway through this fantastic journey, I have the knowledge to no longer be afraid of what other people think – a balance which I know will serve me well in the next quintastic decade! That’s my plan for the next ten years, to live it like I’m thirty-four!


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