7 Ways I've Changed For The Better In The 7 Years Since Turning 50

This month marks seven years since the passing of my husband M. He left me two weeks shy of my 50th birthday. I often think about the words my bereavement coach S said during our class: "The heart never mends after losing a spouse, the hole just gets smaller."

"Are you really a different person since turning 50?" asked R at a boomer girls' gathering last weekend. "What's different, how are you different?" R wanted to know.

My answer was quick. I did not hesitate. "Yes, I am a different person," I said. I proceeded to list several ways I have positively changed during the past seven years.

Questions like this remind me to review my accomplishments -- big and small. In fact, this December marks a symbolic moment in my life after 50. My relationship with myself is quite the opposite of the seven-year-itch.

Unlike a potential wandering spouse, I don't want to be unfaithful to myself. The person I was before 50 and the person I am becoming after 50 are evolving into one authentic relationship that I plan to keep improving, growing, and moving forward. Yes, there is a constant push and pull between the two -- but lately the Judi after 50 seems to win out and make the right choices.

How Am I Different?
2014-12-30-plants.jpgI've grown just like my two seven-year-old plants, sprouting new leaves every day. In honor of my seven-year-itch, I've listed seven ways I've changed for the better:

I'm braver than I was before 50. A brave person went and bought a "condo on the corner" at the Jersey shore all by herself seven years ago. At the time, I was afraid that I might not be able to financially manage the payments. I still own my "condo on the corner" and have paid the mortgage each month. I even secured a landscaper to cut the bushes, a contractor to fix the deck, and a tree trimmer to trim the trees. I love walks on the beach, sitting by the ocean, and bicycle rides around the island.

I have a new identity. I'm no longer a corporate executive. I'm JudiBoomergirl, a blogger. I enjoy when I say "I'm a blogger" at gatherings like the one last weekend where people respond: "Really, ooh how interesting." (Okay, so the next question usually asked is: "Can you make a living at it?" And I say: "You can make money but few make a lot of money unless you make it your full-time job 24/7." That leads me to my next change.)

I've given up the weekly paycheck to pursue my passions. Yes, I worked hard the past 30+ years, invested wisely, and saved to have the financial resources to take the road that few are able to take at my age. It's getting easier to give myself permission to say "I've earned this privilege." (That's a BIG CHANGE too!)

I take time to stop, breathe, and be. A student of mindfulness meditation and yoga, I've learned that the present is the place where everything is happening. As Patty Chang Anker, author of Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, said at the 2014 Pennsylvania Conference for Women, "You can't create your future when you are so attached to the past."

Jon Kabit-Zinn, author of many books including Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment-and Your Life, also advises not to go too far into the future. "There are a lot of different ways to talk about mindfulness, but what it really means is awareness," said Kabit-Zinn during his interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes earlier this month. (If you haven't seen the segment, it's definitely worth a watch. Cooper said his mindfulness training changed his life. My mindfulness training changed my life too.)

I take care of my body by exercising. I ride my stationary bicycle every morning for 30 minutes. I go to yoga class five times a week because I love how yoga balances my mind, body and spirit. I'm not flexible and cannot do every pose perfectly, but that's okay. I use blocks so my hands can touch the earth and a yoga strap to help me stretch my legs. I can balance on one foot and then on the other foot. Sometimes I fall down and then I pick myself up again.

I have a new man in my life and I cherish his love. It was difficult to venture into the world of online dating after a 24-year marriage. I was lucky not to have to venture for too long until I met my boyfriend L. He didn't want to date me because I was a widow. I didn't give up, nor give in. "Let's have dinner," I said to L as we left the Starbucks after our first meeting in 2009. He was hesitant but agreed. The rest, as they say, is history. We make each other laugh and we're a good match.

I believe "less is more." I enjoyed reading Arthur C. Brooks article "Abundance Without Attachment" in The New York Times Sunday Review. My goal during my life after 50 is to do as Brooks says: "Collect experiences. Distrust usefulness. Know your center."

How Have You Changed Post 50?
I'm a work in progress and soon will have another year on my middle-aged-middle. As December came to a close, the last of the millions of baby boomers turned 50. How have your perspectives on life changed since turning 50? Was 50 as much of a a turning point in your life as it was for me? Share a comment.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

  • Betty White
    Doesn't it seem like Betty White has been around since David torpedoed Goliath with a slingshot? Our favorite golden girl is
    AP
    Doesn't it seem like Betty White has been around since David torpedoed Goliath with a slingshot? Our favorite golden girl is only 94 though. Even though Miss Betty White began her career in the 1940s on radio, and later appeared on late night talk shows and game shows (including "Password") in the 50s and 60s, she wasn't really a household name until, at the age of 51, she began playing "The Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1973-1977).
  • Morgan Freeman
    Who doesn't love Morgan Freeman? This Academy Award winner paid his dues and then some. Freeman worked for several years as a
    Getty
    Who doesn't love Morgan Freeman? This Academy Award winner paid his dues and then some. Freeman worked for several years as an actor, but really came into his own playing chauffeur Hoke Colburn in "Driving Miss Daily" at the age of 52 (although he was 50 when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Street Smart").
  • Sharon Osbourne
    Heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne has been famous for over 40 years as lead singer of the English band Black Sabbath. His wi
    Getty
    Heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne has been famous for over 40 years as lead singer of the English band Black Sabbath. His wife, Sharon, however, did not become a household name until their family reality show "The Osbournes" premiered on MTV in 2002. Just barely 50, Sharon became a media darling, which opened up many doors. She went on to become a judge on "America's Got Talent" and has been co-host of the CBS daytime show "The Talk" since it debuted in October 2010.
  • Regis Philbin
    Regis Philbin was comedian Joey Bishop's sidekick on the ABC television show "The Joey Bishop Show" from 1967 to 1969 and hos
    Getty
    Regis Philbin was comedian Joey Bishop's sidekick on the ABC television show "The Joey Bishop Show" from 1967 to 1969 and hosted his own local talk show -- "A.M. Los Angeles" -- from 1975 to 1983. But his name wasn't exactly on the tip of our collective tongues until he became a daytime staple with Kathie Lee Gifford in 1988 on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" when he was 57. His vibrant, caustic, yet fun-loving personality pushed him over the top sometime after the show began to gain in popularity with daytime viewers.
  • Abe Vigoda
    Born in 1921, Abe Vigoda captured the role of Salvatore Tessio in the film "The Godfather" in 1972 at the age of 51. His next
    Getty
    Born in 1921, Abe Vigoda captured the role of Salvatore Tessio in the film "The Godfather" in 1972 at the age of 51. His next big role came in 1975 when he signed on to play Sgt. Phil Fish on the television series "Barney Miller." And that's when Vigoda -- who passed away in 2016 -- really became a household name.
  • Tom Bergeron
    Sure, Tom Bergeron became the host of "Hollywood Squares" in 1998 and of "America's Funniest Home Videos" in 2001, 
    Getty
    Sure, Tom Bergeron became the host of "Hollywood Squares" in 1998 and of "America's Funniest Home Videos" in 2001, but he didn't really become widely known until joining the wildly popular "Dancing With the Stars." The amiable host was 50 when the show premiered in 2005. After more than 20 seasons as host, it appears he's a keeper.
  • Mike Wallace
    Maybe Mike Wallace was well-known in some hard-core news circles, and perhaps he was on a first-name basis with a few news ju
    Getty
    Maybe Mike Wallace was well-known in some hard-core news circles, and perhaps he was on a first-name basis with a few news junkies many moons ago, but it wasn't until he laid his groundwork as a superb gotcha reporter on "60 Minutes" which he did from 1968 (after he turned 50) until 2008 -- that his star really began to shine. This well-respected news journalist sadly passed away on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93.
  • Samuel L. Jackson
    Born in 1948, Samuel L. Jackson appeared in more than 100 films before the age of 40. However, it was only after he landed th
    Gabe Ginsberg via Getty Images
    Born in 1948, Samuel L. Jackson appeared in more than 100 films before the age of 40. However, it was only after he landed the role of a hitman in "Pulp Fiction" in 1994 that his star really began to shine. For this performance, Jackson received a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
  • Andy Rooney
    Andy Rooney is another personality that seems to have been around since the beginning of time, and we're all glad to have bee
    Getty
    Andy Rooney is another personality that seems to have been around since the beginning of time, and we're all glad to have been the recipients of his off-the-wall satirical takes on human nature. In 1978, at the age of 59, Rooney began his "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" segment on the CBS news show "60 Minutes," continuing through 2011. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us think. It doesn't get better than that. Rooney died on November 4, 2011 at the age of 92 only a few weeks after his last appearance on the show. 
  • Joy Behar
    Joy Behar was 54 when she was cast as one of the original members of "The View," which made its debut in August 1997. A few y
    Getty
    Joy Behar was 54 when she was cast as one of the original members of "The View," which made its debut in August 1997. A few years before that, you could catch Behar doing hilarious stand-up comedy on television. But she only became a household name sometime after "The View" became a must-see, daytime television talk show.