In her inspirational book 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life, Maria Leonard Olsen bravely chronicles her less-than-ideal childhood and struggles with sobriety. Part one centers on why she made a list of 50 activities she wanted to experience after the age of 50. Part two goes through the list, one by one, grouped by category. Part three includes two other lists created by daring senior women, a list of recommended reading, and book club discussion questions.
Rapidly approaching the big five-oh myself, I was fascinated to read about the author’s adventures and accomplishments. Her list included international travel, further education, social daring, physical challenges, spiritual quests, lifestyle changes, and some thrill-seeking behaviors.
The first section dealt with the author’s journey through rehab and the AA community. Some who have not experienced addiction, whether of a loved one or themselves, might not be able to identify as much with the author’s struggle. However, the information is relevant to the story since it was the catalyst for the author to create a new life and experience new things.
While extremely motivating, not all the activities on the list are within reach of the average 50-something woman. The author had the advantage of living in the D.C. area and access to the upper crust social circle, which made some of her accomplishments less challenging. She admits to that in the book’s conclusion. Also, not all of the things the author chose will appeal to every woman, but that’s not to say that other women won’t enjoy reading about them.
With the premise of “challenge yourself,” the author presented her after-50 list. I especially appreciated the self-reflection question at the end of each list item. It made me pause and think about where I stood concerning this aspect of things, such as travel or spirituality. The quotes introducing each list item were also apropos and thought-provoking.
While I appreciated categorizing the items, it might have been interesting to have them ordered chronologically instead as the author moved toward her own self-actualization. I’m positive her list choices correlated with self-discovery. I imagine the trekking through the mountainous regions of Nepal was early on while random acts of kindness occurred when she was more settled with herself, but with no timeline, that’s pure speculation on my part.
There was a lot for me to ponder in 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life by Maria Leonard Olsen as I, too, approach my fifth decade. If you are in a similar position, I heartily recommend a little armchair adventuring with Ms. Olsen.
I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.