The age of reinvention for women is said to be in our 50's. Fifty is the age where a number of changes are taking place - not all negative.
-our eyes and jowls are drooping to the point of surgical intervention
-we have developed our own "internal furnace" at the exact point where we should no longer be going sleeveless
-knees are creaking, hips are stiff (the women over 50 on Dancing with the Stars must be taking some serious drugs)
-we begin to say what we're thinking out loud
-we no longer suffer fools or sweat the small stuff
-we realize that life truly is short and begin to a) bring those important to us even closer and b) jettison those who come into the "fool" category mentioned above (many times that turns out to be a husband...).
Whether or not it's done in a red hat, women in their 50's make great friends and support systems for other women as well as their children, co-workers or mentees. We've seen and done most everything and have lived through just about every fashion era (sometimes twice - I think we're on the 3rd round of platform shoes...).
By 50, we know ourselves pretty well and accept who we are. We may still be trying to lose weight, but are fairly comfortable in our wrinkled skin, and have figured out what we like and don't like. The lucky ones have enough financial stability now to move toward only doing the stuff we love - hence the reinvention phase. We might get laid off and that provides the impetus -- or we might finally have the courage to leave that well-paying job to start the business that's been in the back of our mind or move to the ocean or write that novel.
Fifty can mean the freedom to clean out our closets, get rid of all the stuff that no longer holds meaning and accept once-and-for-all that we are never going to fit back into the size 4's. Fifty can mean cleaning out our emotional closets as well, to pack away the negative people in our life and lighten our loads.
Fifty may not really be "the new 40" but it can mean a new-and-improved you. Eat the cake AND the ice cream - celebrate with your friends - think hard about what you want to be when you grow up. Happy 50!
2013 Addendum: I wrote the "50" post a couple of years ago and am now in my own "reinvention" phase. I spent more than 25 years in sales in male-dominated Detroit, and since I'm over 50 and SINCE I'm out of that industry now, I'm indulging my friends who are encouraging me to tell the stories. Names are (mostly) changed so that I don't have to give more money to attorneys - but the situations are all real. Here goes.