Mary Foley's "50 Reasons Turning 50 Rocks!"

Who she is: Mary Foley believes that energizing careers and events don’t just happen — they are engineered.

What she does: Foley has combined her engineering education, her passion for inspiring professional women, and her two decades of live program experience to help women invigorate their careers and help meeting planners power up the live events and communities that professional women crave. Known for her uncommon insights, candor, and humor, Foley is an author, featured blogger on, video maven, lively presenter, engaging facilitator, and event engineer — and she refuses to wear a pocket protector.

Why she does it: “I began sharing career advice after my 10-year career at AOL — when AOL was cool — where I started as an $8-an-hour customer service rep and rose to become the company’s first head of corporate training,” she says. “In a surprising turn of events, I have since appeared on the cover of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and been spoofed on the E! Entertainment TV Show, “The Soup.”

What people are saying about Mary Foley:

  • “Thank you for changing the ordinary into the extraordinary!” says Dr. Nakeina Douglas-Glenn, Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where Foley has lived for the last decade.
  • WOW is what comes to mind! Our Extraordinary Women’s Program could not have happened without Mary playing a critical role in front of the audience and behind the scenes,” adds Stephanie Phillips, director of member value and engagement for the Greater Richmond Chamber.
  • “You were fantastic! Inspiring, right-on-target message, plus fun!” says Vicky Carr of Lockheed Martin Women’s Network.

So it was great to connect with Foley on her 50th birthday (Feb. 17, 2015). Below, she shares her thoughts on what it means to hit this milestone.

Stay tuned for our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network, coming in March 2015.

By Mary Foley

Feb. 17, 2015 — Queue up the Beatles’ music: “They say it’s your birthday! You’re gonna have a good time!” That’s what we all want on our birthday.

Today I turn the big 5-0 and, honestly, I am in shock and awe that I’ve already put in five decades on this planet. The reality kinda slaps you in the face. It’s humbling, but it’s also inspiring.

Honestly, I don’t want to be young again (unless I could do it knowing what I know now). I’m not giddy about being elderly, either. Like I have a choice.

It’s been said that “aging is the only scientifically known way to live longer.” I do want to live longer, enjoy the ride, and make the second half of my life count.

So, in that spirit, here are 50 ways that turning 50 rocks — from my own thoughts, friends, and a few people you might recognize.

1. Let’s start with some denial. You’re really not 50. You’re 32 with 18 years of experience. — Leslie Crowley

2. You stop worrying about what other people think of you and start worrying about what you think of yourself. — Tom Davidson

3. “When you’re 50, you know you’re in great shape if you still have one.” — Melanie White

4. At 50, you’re old enough to have learned what to do and not do, yet young enough to still enjoy making mistakes. — John Donovan

5. Retirement planning, life insurance, and long-term care now actually mean something.

6. You get what actress Sophia Loren meant when she said, “There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age.”

7. Your wardrobe is simpler because you’re finally okay with getting rid of the three other sizes in your closet that you will never fit into again.

8. You’re not second-guessing or worrying about others. You’re happy with who you are! — Beth Bettley

9. You realize with some irritation that your parents were right about nearly everything.

10. It’s easier to look good at 50 than 20. People expect so much less!

11. You’re grateful for all the memories you’re already made, and you’re excited to create more. — Dianna Hayes

12. You are sure of yourself and what you want — finally! — Sherri Norman

13. You’re okay with the waiter or waitress saying, “Yes, Ma’am” instead of, “You got it, darling” because you want a drink, not a date.

14. You feel so liberated! — Cyndi Braxton

15. “50 years: Here’s a time when you separate yourself from what other people expect of you and do what you love.” — Jim Carrey

16. You have a real car again.

17. “By the time we hit 50 … we have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life serious, but not ourselves.” — Marie Dressler

18. “The face you have at 25 is the face God gave you, but the face you have after 50 is the face you earned.” — Cindy Crawford

19. Turning 50 means that your 20s, 30s, and 40s are behind you, and no matter how good or bad they were, Lord knows you don’t want to repeat them.

20. If you want that second (or third) glass of wine, you order it. Pure and simple.

21. You have regained an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy by not worrying about birth control or getting pregnant.

22. Like fine wine, you realize you’re not just getting older, you’re getting better. Like cheap wine, you have lowered your expectations and enjoy the moment.

23. At 50, you’ve racked up enough life experience to agree with Abe Lincoln that “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

24. You get to decide if you’re 50 years old or 18,250 days young.

25. You have the radar to know the difference between givers and takers, encouragers and criticizers, the sane, and the crazies — and what to do about it.

26. You know without a doubt that you still look 21 … from a distance.

27. You can wear comfortable clothes almost all the time, not just on your fat days.

28. You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished, but realize now is the time for your dreams to get bigger, not smaller.

29. Your wrinkels are like crime scenes. They mark where smiles and laughter have been.

30. You know what Josh Jones meant when he said, “There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.”

31. You buy a coffee mug that you don’t need simply because it says, “Do more of what makes you happy” and you must obey!”

32. You exhale in a big way.

33. The fact that you’ve made it this far, this good, is a good indication of your next 50. In short, you got this!

34. Breaking the rules is more fun than ever.

35. You know you can still fit into sexy underwear, but you also know it’s optional because you’ve figured out that being sexy has nothing to do with underwear.

36. You forgive yourself — then love yourself — for not being perfect.

37. Now more than ever you smile, knowing that the wisdom gained from the most difficult experiences is your biggest strength.

38. You know you have shortcomings, but based on five decades of characters who have showed up in your life, you know it could be a lot worse. So, whatever …

39. You know for sure why Lucy Van Pelt always made you smile. She’s not bossy, she’s bodacious!

40. All the embarrassing, awkward moments of the past are now quite endearing and hilarious.

41. Though you’ve collected a lot of roles along the way, you roll with them a lot more easily.

42. You’ve replaced “love is a battlefield” with “love is a playground” — or you’re going home.

43. You know for sure that you can change your career, change your relationships, or change your house without having to change who you are.

44. “No” is a complete sentence. — Shirley T. Burke

45. You have more fun than ever buying alcohol at the grocery store. When the 20-something cashier sees the bottle and hesitates, you say, “Go ahead and press the Old Fart Button!” — just to see what happens!

46. You understand that confidence isn’t knowing what to do, when to do it, and have no doubts. Confidence is believing that step by stepy you can figure it out.

47. Your best is yet to come because Napoleon Hill’s research concluded that the biggest success and contribution of the most successful people of his time happened when they were in their 50s and 60s. Everything before was preparation.

48. You are still considered young … by anyone over 60. So guess who you start to hang around?

49. Age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying you. — Jana Bridgman

50. You can now join the Fabulous & 50 Club! — once you figure out the secret sign, which you’re pretty sure is bringing a bottle of wine to the next meeting without being asked.

What’s your favorite tip? What did we miss? Click here to post it.

Learn more about Mary Foley at