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  • What new skills have you learned since your 50th (and not just for work)?

    In last Saturday’s email, Rest Less profiled some free courses available to do from home. The article got me thinking about the concept of lifelong learning and what (and how) we choose to learn as we mature – just in case you missed it, you can find the article here.

    I’d love to hear your stories. What are the best new skills (and not just work-related ones) that you’ve taken on and learned since passing your 50th birthday? What motivated you to tackle it? How has the new talent changed your life for the better? What was the format – on-line, short-course, weekend retreat, skills swaps? What’s still on your ‘to do’ list?

    Over time, I’ve enrolled in all sorts – coaching, on-line language courses, writing masterclasses, personal development, mindfulness, dance workshops…my list is long and varied! My ‘to do’ list includes (among many others) fencing, parkour, attending a writers conference and DJ’ing.

    Posted by Helen Burns
Viewing 19 reply threads
    • Reply by hirst2112

      Sewing and craft

    • Reply by bvpainter

      When I retired in 2000 at 68 ,I decided to take up painting. I managed to find a local group and have attended a few classes at a local adult centre. Also on the advice of a friend, who was a tutor at the Royal College of Art, I joined a life painting group.On his advice I also went straight into acrylics and then oils. I have never really got into watercolours. My painting has developed from being a figurative painter into painting mainly abstracts, as I beleive one has to progress as one develops ones skills. At present I also attend an online portrait drawing group, which is great fun. I have sold paintings through an online dealer and from exhibiting at local exhibitions.

      If you want a very absorbing hobby I can strongly recommend painting.

    • Reply by willsfireman

      I retired from the Fire Service at 52 and three quarters and trained as a Trauma Facilitator (a form of counselling but much faster acting) it took 4 years before I was qualified.

      i now volunteer for emergency service workers serving and armed forces veterans plus a scattering of private paying costumers.


      it gives me a similar buzz to crawling round in burning buildings except I now crawl round in people’s minds.

      • This reply was modified 1 month ago by willsfireman. Reason: Predicted text mistake!
    • Reply by jacquiwoods74

      During my work aged 50 I became a volunteer for a local tourist attraction /charity and became a tour guide, I’ve been doing it for 9 years and love it.

      I took early retirement in 2018 since then I’ve  done a map reading and orientation course. To help navigate my way around our Lake District walk so not to rely on my husband and correct him when he’s not going in tbe right direction. I often lead the walks now.

      I did an artisan baking course in March before  lock down Then decided to go low carb and have lost 9lbs during lockdown my husband has lost 22lbs. I now do zoom low carb cookery classes fortnightly and make lowcarb bread and cakes I’ve  done a mindfulness based stress reduction course in 2019 and am currently doing a compassionate based living course. It has all helped me meditate and I do it every day and its changed my life. I’m less reactive and more calmer and responsive and mindful . I vecame a facilitator for a company help managing people’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

      I’ve  started a charity this year helping disadvantage youths in Myanmar. I know nothing about social media but am working with Hootesuite and Mailchimp to organise social media posts and learn how to write newsletters. Next will be social media marketing,  and running a website.

      I learnt to ride a bike again after 34 years and was about to become a trainer to support other women get back to cycling before  lockdown.

      I was in nursing and we had to embrace the concept of lifeong learning to keep us up to date with our practice. It hasn’t left me and I don’t want it to.

      When I did work I gave myself the challenge of learning a new skill every year outside of my work and I did.

      Age is opportunity no less than youth itself

    • Reply by sarah_chil

      Just started cycling to and from work. Although I have had a bike for a while only did very infrequent trips. Now it’s 4.65 each way. Thankfully more downhill into work. Sticking to quiet roads and paths – the incentive as well as fitness was in case I couldn’t get in a bus due to social distancing requirements


      • Reply by jacquiwoods74

        Great,  have you come across Breeze. A cycling organisation that helps support women get back into cycling  there maybe a gropu local to you. We do bike rides for women only and its a good way to socialise too and meet new people outdoors.

    • Reply by sandraayris

      I love learning new things and always have something on my bucket list to learn.  I’m 57 and since turning 50 I’ve learnt ( in no particular order) to grow veg, to crochet, to swim with my face in the water 😂, to salsa, to use a drill to put up shelves (!!) and to speak Spanish.  I’ve also learnt patience and understanding caring for a relative with dementia.  Next on my list …. Welsh and map reading.

      • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by sandraayris. Reason: Typo
    • Reply by watermanjulie4

      I am disabled and havent worked for 33 years. However I have always tried to keep active as possible. However since an operation five years ago it has become harder and harder so now try to find things I can do from bed. I used to knit avidly but cant do it now because of shoulder pain so I taught myself how to loom knit as different ar movements its been great and made prsents for people and jumpers for myself. I have also tried to help people on forums for people with my illnesses. I try to help people newly diagnosed especially. I find it so ssad people struggling to try and do everything they did before and/or desperately searching for answers and cures where there are none. I advocate kindness to yourself and adapting and looking for success and pleasure in the smallest things. for example being well enough to make a phone call, or make dinner from scratch or watch a favourite movie. It makes me feel at least in a small way Im useful


    • Reply by willsfireman

      At 52 just before retirement from the Fire Service I took a course and an additional 4 years of supervision to train in Traumatic Incident Reduction. I recently qualified and help people who suffer with depression, ptsd and all manner of other trauma that they have encountered.i even do it online via Skype. My military and FS background of trauma really helped!

      • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by willsfireman.
    • Reply by dan_handman

      Helen… I love that parkour is on your bucket list!  I’d love to try lol… but I’m not sure my body would agree!  Despite me working out regularly and trying to keep fit…!  My mind is def a different (younger) age than the rest of me! Ha.  plus they will all laugh when they see a 50+ turning up to parlour class😳

      Helen I think you must be a gymnast when you were younger? 🙂

      • Reply by Helen Burns

        No, just hopelessly unrealistic, perhaps!

    • Reply by carole

      Hi everyone. I’ve just joined, glad to have found you.
      After I retired I took a BA at the Open University in Creative Writing and am now a published author.

      • Reply by dan_handman

        Hi Carole…

        Im 54 so not yet retired,  but I found your comment really inspiring!  A degree and a published author…wow!  Can you point me to one of your publications?

        Did it cost a lot to study?  And are you seeing a return from the book(s)? Or is it just for fun

        • Reply by eileen.fern1

          I am so impressed.

    • Reply by rydalsawrey

      Good Evening Everyone,

      Well since I turned 50 last September, I can definitely say I have had a spiritual epiphany and really taken my self care in terms of meditation and chanting to another level.  It felt right to do it and I really enjoy it and there are so many aspects to it – its such good fun too.  Its great for that ‘me time ‘ moment which I struggled to stick to for the past 15 years or so…. I took courses on New Skills Academy on CBT and Aromatherapy. I have always loved essential oils and wanted to learn the subject more. I have also got more hooked on learning digital marketing as it is the way forward…. I have taken up creative pursuits again including making my own cards, baking cakes again , crocheting, learning oracle cards and social media as well as giving bits of furniture a new lease of life… My personal development is an ongoing project, anxiety came from nowhere at the age of 46 when I had an underactive thyroid confirmed  knocked my confidence and I felt like I lost a few years sorting my head out….. I have many things still on my to do list, including touring the Outer Hebrides,  seeing Lindisfarne island, climbing a few more Cumbrian fells I have yet to climb, try to retrain to being a coach of some sort, I would still like to write ……. and be my own boss….. you have to have your dreams ……

    • Reply by jo.bodley

      We-ell…I had a massive nervous breakdown when I was 55, which I thought would be the end of the world…but it wasn’t.

      I found out who my real friends were- which is definitely worth knowing.

      I found out that there are lots of resources and organisations and individuals out there to offer help and support to people with any kind of mental health issue. I learned that mental illness is a protected category in work terms, that by law employers have no right to discriminate against people on the basis of it.

      I’m not pretending its been a bed of roses- it hasn’t, and theres a long way to go, yet.

      but in terms of recognising the issues, and the problem, and deciding to become part of the solutiuon- thats all been positive, for me.

      I think its shocking that so many (young) people are dying of conditions which are treatable, if only there were not such stigma about getting help.

      I did a course at Dulwich Picture Gallery targeted at mental health service users in their 50s where I met 4 wonderful people who are still my friends today.I learned to stop caring what people thought of me, and to talk louder, so that now Ican run communitygroups.

      So all I am saying is…its never too late to learn something new, to change direction, to drop old habits and behaviours which are no longer serving you.

      • Reply by Helen Burns

        Hi Jo

        Thank you for sharing your story, which is one of hope for anyone who is going through challenges, particularly with mental health.  It’s reassuring that there is help available at what can often be an isolated time. How wonderful that you’ve been able to learn from your own experience and take that forward into supporting others.

    • Reply by jackiej1

      Hi, My name’s Jackie.

      I was made redundant in my 50th year. I’d forgotten until I checked my CV just now!

      I’m 58  and since then  I’ve done a basic Customer Service Training. I’ve trained as a Relaxation Consultant, Wellbeing/Life coach and am currently Doing a Holistic Colour and Style Consultant training. I use these in my own life and plan to support others with these modalities going forward.

      I used to go to Salsa lessons and gave up many years ago until I found a great company that’s provides online training. So I’m learning some new and improving on old skills around that.

      I’m very much into personal development and spiritual growth so am always developing skills along those lines as well.

      I’m happy to be part of this forum.






      • Reply by dan_handman

        I’m replying to Jackie as I’d love to learn more about how she trained to be a life coach/ relaxation consultant?  (I love that title! )

        I’m 54 and unfortunately just being made redundant.. for the 3rd time in my career… kind of had enough of the corporate world and exploring other options.. but how long/ how much does it cost to retrain??

      • Reply by jackiej1

        Hi Helen.

        There are bit’s in each work related course I’ve done that I’ve liked. However I have to say I’m enjoying the salsa dance training very much. This is probably because I wanted to be a dancer when I was a child and I love the music.

      • Reply by Helen Burns

        Welcome Jackie and thank you for sharing – you definitely haven’t stopped learning and it sounds as though your interests may lead to a new career too. What’s been your favourite course, so far?

    • Reply by pinkgekko

      As a trained scientist, I challenged myself to do something that I didnt believe in.

      I took a Reiki course.

      My challenge, was not to analyse it, not to think how ‘energy’ could possibly be used for healing, but just to accept it at face value and see what happened.

      It was an extraordinary experience that is difficult to put into words, so Im not even going to try.

      The learning for me was to be more open and leave my preconceived ideas behind… try it, you never know what you might find !




      • Reply by biltonjosephine

        That’s so inspiring. To do something with such an open mind.

      • Reply by Helen Burns

        Thank you for sharing, Angela. I particularly love the idea of deliberately pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.

        As Eleanor Roosevelt recommended in “You Learn by Living”:

        You must do the thing you think you cannot do.


    • Reply by janefromfieldsend

      My partner and I had bought a property in Italy in an area where few people speak English. Apart from needing to speak Italian for practical reasons we wished to be a part of the local community, so at the age of 56 plus I started to learn Italian and continued with this for some years. Some years later I was facing potential redundancy and feel that showing I was still up for learning something new went in my favour. Years later, in another round of restructuring, I was redeployed into another post as a project management officer, and completed a certified project management course. I’d thought that I might just scrape through, but actually got a good pass mark.

      I was lucky to work for a local authority that took equalities very seriously, but at the same time I definitely think that showing I could still learn something from scratch was important in keeping me in the workforce until the age of 72.

      I finally retired just over two years ago after the death of my only son which totally devastated me for well over a year.

      Yes. there’s a lot of prejudice out there, and in the current circumstances of the pandemic, and over 70’s being told to stay at home to protect themselves, sadly O can only see it increasing. However I think we have to show that we can still learn new skills and come up with new ideas.


      Jane Foster

      • Reply by Helen Burns

        That is a lifetime of new learning, Jane, thank you for sharing your story. It’s particularly rewarding when we find we can positively surprise ourselves and in the end, we are the only ones who can show up with our curiosity and willingness to learn – no one else can do that for us.

        The loss of your son must have been very painful. I was sorry to hear of that.

        We look forward to hearing more from you on the forum – I’m sure I saw someone mention they were learning Italian, you might have some local tips and tricks you could share.


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