Everyone, meet contributing editor Jo Howell. She is sharing her adventures with us in a series of posts. We will let her explain (below) the plan she is carrying out. We are a little behind, as Jo has been engaged in 50 ways to leave her 40s for the past year, so we will occasionally feature a couple of posts in one. We hope this series will encourage anyone reaching a milestone birthday – or any birthday – to develop a similar plan. Let’s get inspired together! 

One week from 49.

Well, I’m exactly a week away from turning 49. I mean, seriously?! How has that even happened? Does that mean I’m middle aged? Or have I actually passed middle age? Unless I live to 98, I guess so……blimey.

So turning 49 can only mean one thing…next year is BIG milestone birthday time. Again. I’m sure it was my 40th only last year, but somehow almost 10 years have passed and here I am thinking ahead to the big 5-0 milestone birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing my life away; I’m just very conscious how quickly these birthdays seem to come around.

So much has happened since November 2008, the last big milestone birthday, yet so little has changed. So many loved ones (who partied like true rock stars at the bash) have since left us; friends have moved on, fallen out; houses have been sold and bought and hearts still remain empty.

Lives have also been created – my gorgeous godsons were ‘in development’ and one little Daisy wasn’t even a flower in her Daddy’s eye; the golden child has ruled the roost for 5 of the 10 years and illnesses have been detected, diagnosed and dealt with. Life has been busy, quiet, chaotic, calm, funny, sad and has moved on far too quickly.

And whilst I can’t stop the hands of time, or even slow them down, I can make my approach towards my next decade somewhat memorable. So, I’ve got this idea….

The big idea.

I realised that whilst I’ve led a pretty interesting life at times, there’s still so much I haven’t done. Simple things – like eating sushi, having my legs waxed or trying a wedding dress on – hard to believe but I’ve never done them. Yet I can check swimming with dolphins, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and pretending to be Lulu whilst dancing to Relight My Fire in front of 3,000 people quite firmly off my list of achievements. However, over the next 12 months (starting next week on the 12th) I intend to add 50 new things to my list as I depart being 40 and enter my fabulous 50s.

So, what am I thinking?! Definitely NOT jumping out of an aeroplane (why, why, why?!) but most definitely zip wiring across downtown Vegas in April. My ‘list’ (and it’s not a bucket list obviously!) is at the moment unknown – well mainly. I have some ideas of course, but I want it to be somewhere between planned and spontaneous. I want to enjoy new experiences, sights and sounds; I want to say yes to things I’d normally say no to and I want to laugh, cry , learn and live an exciting 12 months. I want to reach November 12th with a smile and a head full of 50 sparkly new memories.

Now, I’m open to suggestions of what I can add to my list as long as they don’t involve drugs, getting arrested or being naked in a public place – there are some things I just know I don’t need to experience. But things I do want to experience have got to be new to me; things I’ve never done. I want to be able to write about my new memory, be it good or bad, and share my feelings, my thoughts and maybe, just maybe, inspire someone to give something new a try.

And I hope more than anything that in 12 months’ time when I’m in my last week of being 49, I have created 50 Ways To Leave Your 40s.……with lots of style and a huge amount of fun!

So, that’s it. I’m now 49.

I’m still a little gobsmacked I am that age and not for any other reason than I could’ve sworn I only left school last year! I don’t feel 49 – not that I know what it should feel like but then I guess with the constant aches, pains, niggles and system slowing down, maybe I do realise I’m getting old – er. And thanks to the most amazing skincare and make up, I know I don’t look 49; 48 maybe, but definitely not 49!! But I am and that can only mean one thing…

12 months of new experiences starts right now!

Since the idea for ’50 Ways to leave your 40s’ popped into my head, I’ve spoken with family and friends to get ideas, motivation and inspiration. As it stands we’re looking at list of about 70 suggestions – and growing! And boy, what a list! Obviously, I’m not going to spoil the surprises, but we’ve laughed A LOT over the last few days of things I haven’t done – not ever having my legs waxed still seems to be the most surprising – and we’ve laughed even louder at the things I perhaps should do but won’t. At the end of this 12-month journey I will share those that didn’t make it – you’ll understand why!

If I can inspire someone – YOU maybe – to try something new over the next year (even if it is going to the Next sale at 6am on Boxing Day!) then I would be a very happy 50-year-old.
Today, I have no idea how this is going to pan out; I have no idea what life will throw at me in the next year and I have no idea if I’m going to laugh, cry, be sick or pee my pants along the way. But I do know I’ll be sharing my fears, high points and low points with you all.

So, buckle up, we’re in for an interesting ride!


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