Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Pamela Madsen

The Treacherous Fifties: How Turning Fifty Might Turn Your Life Upside Down

"Enlightenment" is jumping out at me from behind every AARP membership card.

When I was in my forties - it felt like everyone was having extramarital affairs. Mid life hormones were running wild and everyone was jumping naked into the pool. It was like one last grab at youthful abandon and recklessness. Now that everyone is turning 50 around me - the stakes have changed.

Instead of racing after red mustangs - so many of my friends are looking into meditation, green juice fasts, and rebooting their lives with a range of issues from sudden unemployment to breast cancer.

Oh yeah - sex still rings high on the host of issues that many of my peers are taking on - but those who are reaching for that brass ring want it more out of a sense of finding enlightenment then cheap thrills. When it comes to sexualty - everyone wants to keep their libido going, but they want to somehow connect it to their souls.

"Enlightenment" is a word that is jumping out at me from behind every AARP membership card. There is no mistake that the brand new show on HBO is called "Enlightenment" and the star seems well past 40 on her way to 50. You can tell this by looking at her neck.

Suddenly 50 feels as traumatic and transformational as turning 21, but without good abs and everyone talking about non surgical face lifts. For me - this was unexpected.I was completely unprepared for this life passage.

I turned 50 on a high with a hot, new sexy book deal from Rodale. I remember wearing a shimmering black dress at my book launch party only six months ago - as I simultaneously blew out my birthday candles. But I once again - somehow like the sock-eye salmon I was swimming in the thick of it with the rest of my generation trying to get up stream to lay my eggs and find peace.This time I didn't want to raise the little fish. They would be on their own.

All of a sudden - in some kind of weird cosmic blast - I found myself discussing my health and not the latest Kama Sultra. This from a woman whose book was all about mid life sexuality. Conversations with girlfriends now rotated around stress reduction, the economy, loss of jobs, and loss of hair.

We now had to schedule our martinis around colonoscopies. It felt as sudden as a tsunami.

When I landed home from my book tour - I was a physical mess. Eating my way through "Drive-throughs, Diners and Dives" may have sounded good on the Travel Channel , but two months of BBQ had not helped my waist line, my growing hyper-tension, and work related stress had contributed to a host of health issues that made me feel less like a mid life sex Goddess and more like Dr. Ruth. All of a sudden I was seeing specialists in my down time instead of attending Tantra Workshops. I actually found myself saying "Is this what 50 looks like?" with a down turned mouth. This was so not my image.

Not one to go down without a fight - I decided to take this on. Okay - so I was fatter than I had been in a while, had a really bad case of GERD, Hyper-tension, and then there was something so weird going on with my suddenly expanded optical nerves that the doctors asked me to participate in a medical research study. Being a guinea pig in the service of all human kind was fine and good, but it became clear to me that I had to take matters into my own hands.

Oh I know. I could rejuvenate! Why not? I just had to set my mind to it.

I wasn't sure if I could spend my life in a pretzel back bend, but I was open to going to Kripalu and trying it on. Jenny Craig and dieting never worked for me - even if I loved their mini pizzas.I needed what people are now calling "a life style change".

I knew that this was going to be big - and was going to require more than one self help book. I had the buzz words down. I had to learn how to "quiet my mind", eat raw, juice, support my adrenals, balance my hormones, protect my gut, walk, meditate, detox, do the master cleanse, use food as medicine, find God, and more. There was coffee and wheat grass enemas, plasma rich platelets, stem cells, manifestation, the power of positive thinking and the power of now. This was making my stress meter climb as I looked at all of my healing prospects.

Who has the time, money and ability to figure out all of this? What will work? What won't? How can one ordinary 50 year old (even if I was kind of spunky) with rapidly declining health and an extraordinary desire to live the second half of my life as fully as my first half - rejuvenate herself?

It was right then - that the advocate in me rose up. I decided that I was going to fight the fight - not just for me....but for all of the other mid life people coming up hard aganist the realities of being "50ish" learning the whole game is changing.

I am inviting you along on my journey! I don't know if I will find my answers at The Chopra Center or Hilton Head Health. I really don't know where I am going to land. I just know that I can't do this alone in some kind of replay of "Eat, Pray, Love" in a pizzeria in Italy or an ashram in India.If I could do this alone - I would have done it already.

Right now I am heading towards The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY to attend a workshop on "Healing on the Cellular Level".

I am not sure where this journey is going to take me - but there is something about 50 or there abouts - that holds the real possibility of rejuvination, reinvention, and yes dare I say it regeneration.

Any thoughts? Love to hear them. We all would..