The baby boomers have grown up and many are now empty nesters wondering what life holds for them next. AASMA DAY talks to Lancashire woman Tricia Lemon who decided to make a positive change with a mid life crisis gap year and has written a book “My Eggs are Scrambled” about her adventures and experiences.
While vacuuming around her home, Tricia Lemon wondered if Mr Dyson had an invention to stop everyone else sucking the life out of her.
It was around two years ago that Trica, 54, of Preston, began questioning her life and searching her soul for answers to what the future held.
She felt shocked as the realisation sunk in that she was no longer young. However, she also didn’t think she fell under the label of “old” and was keen to set herself apart from the people she saw while sipping coffee in an M&S cafe which she mentally renamed “The OAP Creche”.
Tricia recalls: “I covertly left the cafe trying to flee my awareness of growing old and feeling cheated by life.
“When I looked at the older generation, they were not portraying happiness or joy.
“They looked cold, sad, lonely and a little bit dead behind the eyes. I’ve seen happier goldfish.
“The reality was not matching my idealistic spiritual vision of an older age.”
Tricia felt she had done everything society expected of her – she had a house and mortgage, had been a wife, was a mum and had a career.
Realising her daughter would soon be doing her A-levels and thinking about leaving for university, she pondered upon her own future.
Tricia explains: “When I was younger, we were all brought up to aspire to having a home and mortgage with the belief that when you were 50, you would have paid it off.
“But the reality is most people have not paid off their mortgage by 50 as they are taking on second mortgages, having second marriages and being made redundant.
“I realised I wasn’t going to pay my mortgage off until I was about 65 and the whole concept of being liberated and financially free felt like it was never going to happen.
“I felt like I was a slave to the mortgage industry and it started to feel ugly and tainted.
“Gas and electric bills were high and I felt drained just trying to keep up with running a home.
“I saw myself as a woman in my 50s who was never going to pay her mortgage off; I wasn’t going to get my pension until 65, but I realised I could potentially live until my 90s because everyone is living longer.
“My daughter was getting ready to start her A-levels and thinking about going to university.
“I knew this was the time where I could explore a completely different way of living.
“I thought: ‘Do I carry on being a slave to my mortgage after my daughter has left and rattle around this house on my own? Or do I do something different.’
“The crux of it was did I want to just carry on doing the same? Or did I want to explore a new life for me.”
Tricia decided to sell up her home and follow her dreams.
However, she admits the sticking point was she didn’t really know what it was that she wanted to do.
Trica says: “I had done the house and mortgage, been married for 10 years before divorcing, been a mum and done the career thing.
“I decided I now wanted to do what I wanted to do.
“The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to do!
“So I decided I needed time to ‘unpick myself’ and take a full year out and go travelling.”
Tricia grew up in the Ashton and Fulwood areas of Preston in a working class family with a dad who was a labourer and a mum who was a housewife.
She recalls: “We were never given the aspiration to climb the ladder or make something of our lives.
“You were just expected to get married and have a home.
“I left school with just one CSE. It was one of the first comprehensives and there was a lack of aspiration among the teachers.
“I left school with nothing, but I wasn’t accepting that for my life.
“That’s why I did a degree later in life as I knew I had a brain.”
After leaving school, Tricia went into retail and worked for Chelsea Girl fashion shop.
She ended up working in retail for around 15 years and worked at Asda in Fulwood where she became a regional manager looking after the George brand.
She then became a store manager at Barton Grange and in between, she had her daughter who is now 19 and did a degree in employee relation and business at the University of Central Lancashire as a mature student.
After that, she did a lot of contract roles in internal communications to help employees understand what is going on in their business.
When Tricia began getting disenchanted at the prospect of a stagnant future, she knew it was time to explore something new.
She says: “I knew I had this window of opportunity and that’s when I got the idea of selling up.”
Tricia put her house up for sale and it took about a year to get the sale sorted.
She then handed in her notice at work and sold her car and belongings.
She admits it was an emotional wrench selling her home, even though she knew she wasn’t leaving her daughter without a home as she split her time between Tricia’s and her dad’s.
Tricia explains: “As a woman, your home is your nest and your security and part of your role as a mother.
“There is a powerful relationship with your home that women strongly identify with.”
However, on the emotional moving out day, Tricia and her daughter saw a butterfly land and Tricia saw it as a sign.
She told her daughter: “When I brought you home here, you were small, a tiny helpless baby in my arms and now you have turned into a beautiful butterfly.
“Your wings are flapping and you’re ready to fly and I have to let you go.”
Tricia, who confesses she is a “self-help book junkie”, felt her search for spirituality had come to an abrupt stop.
She decided to unpick herself from motherhood, the corporate world and commercialism and went travelling solo to countries including France, Dubai, Bahrain and Norway.
Tricia explains: “I wanted to unpick everything and be ‘naked’.
“When I was travelling, I had no home, no car, no status.
“People did not know me as a career woman or mother. People meet you and automatically give you these titles and form stereotypes about you.
“However, people were just seeing me and meeting me as I am.
“It was about being just Tricia again.
“Tricia likes to have fun and adventures, loves travelling, meeting new people and is open for new challenges and beginnings.
“However, there are times of loneliness when you are travelling by yourself.
“In Dubai, no one spoke to me for two weeks.
“I travelled in Europe and went to Arabian countries and the Far East.
“The idea behind it was to see what it was like to be a woman in another culture. I wanted to see if I could live there and work there.”
Tricia, a keen cyclist, did many cycle tours and cycled mountains as part of her adventures.
She says: “I love cycling and the way it makes you feel liberated and free.
“When you go on solo cycle tours, it is a great way to meet people.
“People engage with you a lot more when you are on your own than if you are sat in a hotel lobby as a couple.”
While travelling solo, Tricia visited deserts, cycled mountains and the Norwegian fjords.
She even became a “love tourist” and embarked on a relationship with a Frenchman and one of her inspiring moments was sitting with him in Paris while eating a Toblerone.
Tricia returned to the UK for a short while before going travelling again for another four months.
She came up with the idea of writing a book when people kept questioning her about her travels and her reasons behind them.
Tricia says: “I kept getting blank faces when I tried to explain as it was too difficult to describe why I was doing what I was.
“I felt there was something about what I was doing that was maybe pushing new boundaries for women of my age.
“There are lots of women like me. The baby boomers have now grown up and are empty nesters.
“Since the age of about 16, we have had our lives mapped out for us.
“I wanted to explore what there is for women when their life is not based around a mortgage, children and a career.
“I wanted to see if there was another world and what the possibilities were.
“Is the world open to other ways or do you just mooch towards old age?
“I knew drifting towards old age and drifting or another 10 years was not for me.
“I thought ‘What a fantastic opportunity to try something new.
“Writing the book was part of that exploration.”
Tricia wanted to capture her Northern feisty humour in her book and “My Eggs Are Scrambled” give a humorous and observational insight into her journey as a Lancashire lass downsizing her life.
Tricia says: “When you get to your 50s, your physical health declines and your hormones are all over the place.
“Your looks are fading, your figure is changing and your children are leaving home.
“You have to dye your hair – and then on top of all that, you go through the menopause!
“All these things are saying: ‘My life is going into decline.’
“But what I am saying is: ‘No it is not. The next 20 years could be the best of my life.’
“I have done all the things society expects of me. Now it is for me to decide what I want to do.”
Tricia has returned from travelling and says she is now clear about what she wants to do next and what doors are possible to open at her age and which are a little more firmly closed.
Tricia knows there are many more women asking the same questions about life and hopes her book will inspire them to make a change.
She says: “I think there are a lot of women going through the same emotions and questioning what to do next.
“There are more than four million baby boomers who are now hitting their 50s.
“Their children may have left home; they have been married and maybe divorced or widowed and had second relationships.
“I don’t think they will all do what I did as it is not for the fainthearted!
“But I think some of the feelings and emotions in my book will strike a chord with many women.”
Tricia has published “My Eggs Are Scrambled” under her author name of T S Ralston.
She says: “I am not looking for a happy ending in my life – I am actually looking for lots of new beginnings.
“My mind and body are hungry for new beginnings and adventures.
“My eggs may be scrambled, but my passion for life will never have a use by date.”
• My Eggs Are Scrambled by T L Ralston can be bought on Amazon priced at £4.
• LOOK OUT FOR A NEW REGULAR COLUMN BY TRICIA COMING SOON IN THE LANCASHIRE EVENING POST