What kind of life do we have after menopause? It’s a question that’s been much debated recently. I don’t want to go into hormonal issues, that varies so much from woman to woman. However, life after we reach our fifties oftentimes comes down to how we look at our future.

We can look backwards to all that’s passed and grow quite wistful because that time is over – our own childhood, parents, the teenage years, romance, marriage, kids. However, if we’re only going to look back at the good old days, then it can feel like the remainder of our life is going downhill and there is nothing to look forward to.

To really live, we have to look forward. That doesn’t mean forgetting about the past, it means very deliberately planning for the future. I like to think of it as standing half-way up a hill. We can look backwards at the path we’ve climbed and enjoy the view, but it’s important to look uphill to the path we’re taking and greet it with anticipation. We don’t know what we might find there – but there should be laughter, there may be tears. It is life’s hill we’re climbing, onward and upward.

There are two Victorian women who inspired me to look up that hill. Ida Pfeiffer was a German wife in her late forties when she set out to explore the Holy Land. She was cheated throughout the trip but came home buzzing with life. She immediately sold her household goods and travelled for the rest of her days, writing tales of her adventures through Africa and South America. Isabella Bird waited until she was widowed to travel and took off over China, Japan, Persia and out across the United States on horseback.

With their stories in my head, I have no choice but to take their lessons to heart. I love my kids, I’m so glad they’re out there living full lives. I would love to spend more time with them, but hanging onto their coattails is not the answer. And nagging is out of the question. I’d hate them to dread seeing my name when their phone rang.  I need them to see that I am out having adventures. I want them to wonder what I’m up to and call me – or better still, occasionally join me.