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Helen Burns Posted 2 years ago
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.

6 likes & 67 replies
    • dan_handman 16th May 2020 at 6:26 pm

      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? 🙂

    • willsfireman 27th May 2020 at 10:06 am

      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!

    • watermanjulie4 27th June 2020 at 10:24 am

      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


      • Anonymous User (no longer active) 4th June 2021 at 12:53 pm

        You are an inspiration …. I admire your courage and optimism …

        Being excluded from the job market over 40 I used to think was a sort of ‘stigma’, but as time goes by I am more and more grateful I have had time to do just what I want to do. ..!

        The adage .. making lemonade from lemons …continues to make more and more sense as I age ….!

    • sandraayris 27th June 2020 at 11:29 am

      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.

    • sarah_chil 27th June 2020 at 3:02 pm

      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


      • jacquiwoods74 15th August 2020 at 8:20 am

        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.

    • jacquiwoods74 15th August 2020 at 8:17 am

      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

    • willsfireman 15th August 2020 at 8:20 pm

      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.

    • bvpainter 28th August 2020 at 8:59 pm

      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.

    • hirst2112 3rd September 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Sewing and craft

    • hilarypk 30th September 2020 at 11:09 pm

      What an inspiring thread. Turning 50 coincided with becoming an empty nester, so life became more flexible. I did a Couch 2 5k course, and started running 5k and 10k races (for free T-shirts rather than fast times!). I also did a Mindfulness diploma, bought a SUP, so I could try paddle-boarding, which I love and learnt how to teach English as an Additional Language to local primary school children. This opened up a wonderful window into learning about other cultures and making new friends, without leaving my town. Like others, I still have lot on my To-Do list, but I love the idea someone mentioned about learning something she didn’t believe in. What a great challenge!

    • Deleted User 1st October 2020 at 10:43 am

      I retired when I was 56, after having had a stroke. I worked in IT and was constantly learning new things. One course I did after the age of 50 was called LETTOL – Learning to teach online. It was aimed at people who wanted to learn how to set up lessons and courses online to teach others. I designed a course around life lessons we can learn from Star Trek. I had a stroke before I could use the information I learned during the course, unfortunately.

    • Deleted User 1st October 2020 at 10:55 am

      Last year I joined postcrossing.com, a website for people who send postcards to each other. People from around the world join in, I have had some lovely postcards, and found that I enjoy writing by hand, after using a computer all my life! Who would have thought it!

      • christine.gaylor 2nd October 2020 at 8:20 am

        Well life has been a bit up and down for the last few years. My dad died of Prostrate Cancer in 2014 and during this time we realised my mum wasn’t right. She was diagnosed with Dementia in 2015 and I cared for them both until September 2018. Being an only child it hit me really hard, I was very close to my parents, even though I am married, I don’t have children. So we moved house, back into my childhood home (61 years from new). We sold our house and I spent some time doing alterations etc…. In March 2020 I decided it was time to go back to work, I lost my job in 2011 and worked 30 years full time. I had to interviews with the NHS, I wasn’t successful, but gave me good experience. Then Covid 19 came. At 52 I have learn’t to paint, still an amateur. I am learning to sew – patchwork etc… and I love crafts, as well as gardening. Maybe I’ll get a job in 2021, who knows, but I am a little vunerable and I ain’t ready to die yet, so I don’t go far from home. Life as changed, but Covid 19 as helped those who want to find the little things in life that we are too busy for in working life. Keep safe everyone.

      • Deleted User 15th November 2020 at 11:57 pm

        Oh and I have started a French course this year, to refresh the knowledge I learnt at school. Only 10 minutes a day. It is amazing that I can remember the vocabulary I learnt at school!

    • gyongyimcd 1st October 2020 at 11:24 am

      Hello everyone here, so many inspiring stories. I graduated BA Hons at the age of 50, since then became a Volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Services qualified to be a Life Coach, and a Soul Midwife, attended many number of seminars, learned to do archery, mindfulness…  got a dog because I was afraid of them… and I found what really makes me happy. Wishing you all happy learning.

    • Mike Mc 1st October 2020 at 8:40 pm

      Since turning 50, 10 years ago..  I studied part time with the OU and earned a BA Honours degree in health and social care – took up wild swimmmg (outdoor swimming) and completed the end to end lake Coniston swim of 5.25 miles.i have done most of the great swim series in the lakes. And  I have also swam down the river Liffey on more than one occasion (sober!) I continue to swim outdoors in the summer, and move back to the pool for winter training. I have taken to gardening in a big way and love it.

      I have walked my first daughter down the aisle and learned how to become a grandad to my youngest daughters son who is soon to be married. I have also learned how to save!

      I have finally found my dream job – thanks to the OU – and continue to enhance my spititual well being through prayer and meditation. I have also learned how to look after my physical and mental health.


      Its true what they say. You are as young as you feel.



    • KayDanceStyleSparkle 13th November 2020 at 7:46 pm

      At the age of 62 I took an Exercise to Music Instructor course as a personal challenge ….. and passed with flying colours!  Since then I have also qualified as a Dance Fitness Instructor.  I offer charity classes and have raised thousands of pounds for the local community.

      I will look back on the year 2020 as a year of opportunities and achievements.  In order to keep my lovely little groups together, I very swiftly had to adapt my almost non-existent technical skills and learn how to use Zoom, something I had never heard of before March!  Eventually I got there!  These days our classes seamlessly transfer from Zoom to face to face, and face to face to Zoom as and when “lockdowns” occur.

      I also needed to take many Covid-19 industry related training courses and assessments, and now have almost enough certificates to wallpaper the sitting room!

      Ready to learn whatever it takes!  Love a challenge!

      Anyone fancy a no charge, no obligation dance …..?!  Just for our “rest less” community.

    • T 16th November 2020 at 7:49 am


      i have taken an Aromatherapy course and Reflexology enjoy both very much. Now looking to make gifts for the festive season.

      T .

    • Deleted User 16th November 2020 at 8:18 am

      Glass fusion. Loved the course but the kit is expensive so I’m contemplating if I should get a kiln or not. Already tried stained glass making, which was great but requires alot of precision and patience.

    • Inky Ess 16th November 2020 at 8:42 am

      I have never stopped learning, my whole life there has always been one course or another even when working full time.  I love learning new things.  I’m 63 and over the last ten years or so these are some of the courses I have taken (some in person, some online):

      Silversmithing, jewellery making, Hatha Yoga Teacher Training, Meditation, Botany, shoemaking, Sewing, Italian (still learning!), French (ongoing), symbology, creative writing, journal therapy, art therapy, canine behaviour, Reiki, ceramics and watercolour painting.  I may have missed out a few! Lol 😂

      At present I am doing several online courses including mobile photography, Blogging Business, and Buddhism.

      I am naturally curious and believe in learning about new things constantly.

      I think it may stem from the fact that I left school at 15 without any qualifications, with my mother shouting at me that I would never amount to anything.  That gave me the drive and determination to prove her wrong.  I started work as an office junior, progressing to Junior Secretary, work hard at night school while working full time.  I never let my lack of formal qualifications hold me back and wholeheartedly believed (and still do) that there was always a way to get to where you wanted as long as you were prepared to work hard.  Nothing ever stopped me from realising my dreams.  And by golly I had a lot of dreams!

      My ultimate learning ambition these days is to be able to work towards a degree in Jewellery Design.  That would be like heaven for me right now.

      happy learning!


      • Cindy 14th December 2020 at 8:34 pm

        I left school at 17 going straight into working with animals. Ten years later I went to uni and got BSc. Later completed MSC with OU. Then life! Now after HN C in Applied Chemistry (for fun), I’m turning my attention to training my dog. Also started Mantrailing. Now doing a chemistry course with open uni. Open course which is free and only 24hours long! I’ve forgotten so much!

    • onthecut 16th November 2020 at 8:58 am

      Me I’m finding still hard studying as at 58 my Dyslexia was not spotted at school. But I’ve learnt more because I want to ie just got my first response in Emergency care level 4 6 months of hard work

    • VFP 16th November 2020 at 10:13 am

      Well, the most challenging was learning Mandarin. I did this for six years, completing a GCSE and working on an A level. But life got in the way and I gave it up a number of years ago. I have also learnt about web design, social media marketing, GDPR and much more. I want to learn to write fiction so I just completed an excellent fiction writing course (free) on Future Learn and am now doing the 100-day writing challenge by Tim Clare. Also I am always learning how to train my naughty puppy!

    • Cindy 14th December 2020 at 8:24 pm

      I completed a HNC in Applied Chemistry a couple of years ago. Last year or so really started to take an interest in training my dog.

    • Cindy 14th December 2020 at 8:28 pm

      Love learning. Did MSc with OU a few years back and I’ve studied in and off over the years, with a HNC a couple of years ago..just for fun. More recently I have for into training my dog with help from online courses.

    • Tuppence 16th December 2020 at 11:22 pm

      Technology, technology and more technology. I decided to write and create presentations and a variety of other things all of which sound like work but aren’t. Because I love doing it all! Actually, if I sat down and wrote the list it would fill a small notebook …

      I truly believe learning (anything) helps your brain to stay on track. And isn’t that what we all want?!

    • Bryanthemercman 17th December 2020 at 9:56 pm

      I have learnt Genealogy and if anyone is interested in researching their family tree l can offer my services.

    • Slowloader 18th December 2020 at 8:45 am

      I work in finance professionally – 3o years + now. Don’t want to do that forever. I have been a reiki madter for years. This year I used the extra time during lockdown to complete my training as a Tantra teacher and coach. Suddenly I feel I have an alternative to accountancy to make a living and will launch my practice next year.

    • NeilP 2nd January 2021 at 8:55 pm

      Learning to play the guitar. It’s not as easy as it looks 😂😂. Very slow progress but I really enjoy it.

    • Lizzib 16th January 2021 at 10:09 pm

      I was made redundant at 51 from the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve just turned 58.

      I re-trained as a dog groomer and ran a successful mobile business for three years. I loved it but stopped to become a full-time carer for my partner.

      I was determined not to stagnate. I took up walking football, the only female in the group, and walking netball. Don’t be fooled by the ‘walking’, they are hard work. I’m hoping a walking cricket group is going to start locally once covid is under control.

      I joined a creative writing group and did a short story course with a local author. I’ve written a collection of short stories and a novella (first draft) and have the backbone of a second novella drawn up.

      I’ve recently completed a Diploma in Proofreading and Copy Editing (with distinction) and am looking to set up my own freelance proofreading business. I’ve helped the local author polish four novels ready for publishing and am currently helping with a screenplay for another local.

    • karsteele 24th January 2021 at 2:27 pm

      Patience; tolerance; love of the world around us; caring. This may sound strange but before that I had been a severe depressive. The birth of my grandson was like a light switching on that I had never seen before.
      Since then I feel I have grown, I read, I write and love to learn. When I find something that interests me I can’t rest until I find out as much as I can through reading and occasionally internet. But preferably the first. In my 60s I studied at local uni and got my Masters in Literature. I have continued to explore my life and the world (by travelling) and my grandchildren with joy. As I got older I became deeply concerned about our beautiful world and like to ‘commune’ with nature, although I can no longer go for long walks. (hip)I am fortunate to have had good health although I am creaking a little now. I am 80+ Karen

    • Lovetohelp 9th April 2021 at 11:11 am

      Wow so many inspirational people. I think once you get to 50, there’s so much more to do after children have grown up, or life experiences have taught you. I lost my favourite job at that time, unfortunately, due to ill health, which didn’t help my mental health. In the last year, my son inspired me, we both cook and eat healthy new vegetarian recipes, he works out at home, so I found a fabulous 50 YouTube channel which got me enjoying working out too. I have been walking to work regularly too. I never used to work out or eat healthy, loved my desserts too much 🤣. Lost weight, feel better and now want to do more & learn more. I want to train as a child counselor with place 2 be charity when I can afford it, go to acting/drama classes, join walking groups, join a choir, maybe foster babies, get a dog, had stray cats before, make new friends, holidays with new friends, get some kind of family support work again, do IT course, maybe learn French for the family I work with, and more. 😃

      • Colin in Kent 16th April 2021 at 4:42 pm

        My wife did a lot of work with Place2Be in Kent – unfortunately, like many counselling services, they rely on volunteering rather than offering paid work, but they do provide excellent training opportunities.

    • Incurably Curious 16th April 2021 at 6:41 pm

      When I was 51 I finally finished my six years of study with the OU and was awarded a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Social Policy. Then, after a gap of a few years where life got in the way, I studied for my Masters Degree when I moved to London. I was awarded, when I was 59, a MSc in Gender, Sexuality and Society. I would now love to work on a PhD but work and money gets in the way. Not bad for someone who left school at 17 with a handful of GCSEs.

      I have also travelled all over the world, mainly on my own and had loads of amazing adventures and met so many inspirational people. I have learned that you have to adapt and change if you want to fulfil your true potential. If you think you are getting old or are too old to do something; then you will get old!