my birthday (yesterday) and why reinvention is still a thing

by Sharon Santoni

Yesterday I turned 64 years old. Not a big deal, a million people did the same as me. But I published a post on Instagram about reinvention and in answer to a question that I’m often asked, and it appears that my words hit home.

Here is what I said:

Reinvention is so important. I absolutely believe that our power and our right to reinvent ourselves at any age, is one of our greatest privileges.

When we take the decision to step out in a new direction, we are being brave; we are showing confidence; we are taking risks; and we are getting ready to have a whole lot of fun.

Ageism – when is it a thing?

People talk about ageism as if it were ubiquitous or inevitable. I know we all feel differently about this. In my own experience the barriers that ageism can create are mostly in my own mind. For example, I sometimes worry about walking into a business rendez vous where I’ll meet new people. “They’ll think I look old, they’ll assume I don’t understand social media etc etc”. It’s pretty easy to build up the negative.

In reality, what I have nearly always found is that if I arrive with a smile, well prepared for the meeting, I know my subject inside out and have all the facts at my fingertips, then it is a breeze. Yes, I’m often the oldest in the room, but hey! my social media figures are bigger than most of those young things!

In reality, it has often happened that at the end of a meeting, a young woman comes up to me, and tells me her own story, and her dreams and thanks me for showing her that the options are endless. Maybe we should start talking about ‘reverse ageism’?!

Reinvention – where to start?

Another thing that happens a lot is that people write to me, or ask me questions and say that they don’t know where to start. They don’t know how to reinvent themselves, they are not sure what to do.

Of course I don’t have the answer to everyones individual situation. I can only tell my own story and how it played out for me. And how I followed my heart and what I enjoyed most.

In 2010, having been a full time mum for 20 years, I felt the need to reinvent myself. My kids didn’t need me as much as they used to, and I was dangerously close to bored. I started a blog in February 2010, and to my surprise I found an audience. I was quickly hooked on blogging. It was such a learning curve: how to use a computer; how to take photos; how to use social media….. the whole process was very intuitive and creative, and I was happy!

I maintained the blog for over 5 years, posting every day or almost, and building up a strong community. I’ll always be grateful to the people who started following me at that time, and for the friendships I made in the blogging world.

In 2015 I was offered a book contract by Gibbs Smith, and another in 2017. Having books changed everything. They gave me a credibility that I couldn’t earn from blogging alone.

In 2017 I hired my first team member, and we launched the subscription boxes, we grew the tours and in 2019 started the magazine.

I worked hard, I got lucky, but most of all I had followed my heart and started out talking about something that I loved and found interesting.

Moral of the story, there is no point (I think) in carving out an artificial path to reinvention. It has to be authentic, and it has to make you happy. And most of all ….

Start before you are ready

This is just plain and simple. If you are waiting until your check list is completely ticked off, until you are completely ‘ready’ for your reinvention, then you’ll probably be waiting a long time because that moment never really comes. Start before you’re ready, your plans and ideas will evolve and you’ll figure it out as you go. I promise.

Age is just a number …. right?

Society’s opinion on age is evolving so fast. 60 may well be the new 40; 80 may be the new 50 … who knows?! The important thing is doing our best to stay healthy, being kind, being honest and working with what we’ve got.

I believe that with age comes endurance and a deeper understanding of the world around us. With the passing years we have an experience that cannot be bought on-line. Every mistake we have made, and every right decision we have taken serve to help us take the best decisions in the future. There is no point in worrying about the numbers, it’s better to use our energy living and enjoying the moment.

Voila, my two cents worth on why I feel so strongly about reinvention. I know that many of you are wondering about your next step, or have also walked some interesting reinvention paths, and if you would like to share them in the comments below, I’m sure we’d love to hear.

photos 2 & 3 by Franck Schmitt


Brita Benson February 2, 2023 - 8:23 pm

Thank you Sharon, I’m impressed with your creation and ability to reinvent your self and your life.
I too reinvented my life path aged 50, it seemed a magic number. I decided to become a yoga teacher and travelled to India which had been a lifelong dream and one I consistently put off thinking next year would be the year. But this didn’t come to fruition until turning half a century!
Now I no longer put off what I know to be in my heart. I believe this too is part of aging and maturing, finding belief in yourself and feeling worthy enough to take risks that may lead to a deeper quality of life.

Life has been so different since making this change, I’m happier, more self sufficient and stronger than in my youth.
It’s definitely inspiring to hear other’s stories so thank you for sharing yours. good luck with your future ventures.

Sharon Santoni February 3, 2023 - 9:56 am

“I no longer put off what I know to be in my heart” ! Yes, this says it all!


Pauline Jones February 3, 2023 - 2:23 pm

Thank you Sharon for a beautiful article. It hit home for me . I will be 89 next month and two months ago I started to learn the art of rug hooking from Deanne Fitzpatrick in Nova Scotia. It is absolutely wonderful to feel the wool passing through my fingers, the softness and love it contains . I’m designing my rugs and a Cheticamp frame will be here next week! I say they save the best for last. Blessings,Pauline Jones

Pauline February 2, 2023 - 11:27 pm

Congratulations, Sharon. I have been following you since those early blogging days and I read your posts every day. I have loved everything that you do and hope you will continue for many years to come. You are an amazing woman!

Sharon Santoni February 3, 2023 - 9:58 am

Thank you Pauline, it means the world to me that I still have readers from my early blogging days!



Jana Fitzgerald February 9, 2023 - 8:27 pm


Gray February 2, 2023 - 11:39 pm

I commented on the blog. So good. It’s the whole point of my blog – State of Gray!! You are correct and you hit the nail on the head!! You are inspiring and are in the same boat as so many of us. My tagline is “relavent and relatable – conversations of reinvention”. Good wishes to you on all your endeavors – you inspire me on so many levels!

Mae Nohilly February 3, 2023 - 12:04 am

Dear Sharon,
Wishing you a beautiful day , and an even better year ahead of you. You are such a beautiful person and an inspiration to all.
You are truly amazing.

Lilliane February 3, 2023 - 12:06 am

Good for you! I left the corporate world 12 years ago, at age 59, to start my own agency. The freedom to do what I want, while providing the best for my clients, has been incredible. It was frightening, and I often wondered if I was doing the right thing, but in the end, it has given me creative license, and peace of mind, that I would not have had otherwise. And just think how happy you are making all of us when we read your emails? Thank you for jumping in with both feet and making your dreams a reality!

Pauline Jones February 3, 2023 - 3:16 pm

Sharon, thank you for such an inspiring article. It hit home with me. I will be 89 next month and two months ago took up the craft of rug hooking with the help of Deanne Fitzpatrick of Nova Scotia, a wonderful source. The feel of the wool going through my fingers is pure joy and love. Next week I look forward to the delivery of a Cheticamp rug hooking frame. I have always said, “They save the best for last.” Blessings and “Happy birthday. The best is yet to come.” Blessings. Pauline Jones

Nancy Brantley February 3, 2023 - 12:30 am

CONGRATULATIONS! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Age is how you feel not a number!!!

Shelly Brummett-Powell February 3, 2023 - 12:35 am

I left nursing after a lifetime of caring for people at 53. I now teach, which is what I always wanted as a child (I grew up teaching classes to my dolls)! I have been so happy with my part time position and now wish I had done it sooner! I just didn’t know how to do anything but nursing, but I was wrong! I have found my happy place, but it took a while!

Gray February 3, 2023 - 1:10 am

I meant to say I commented on Instagram. I also turned 64 in September.
After a string of losses at 54, I finally started my Over 50 blog at 62!
Happy Birthday Sharon!

Charles Spada February 3, 2023 - 1:56 am

Belated Happy Birthday! Sharon. At 81 I’m still
Reinventing and hopefully we both continue to the last. Go girl!

Sharon Santoni February 3, 2023 - 2:36 pm

Charles, you are officially UNSTOPPABLE!!

much love

Kathy February 3, 2023 - 2:24 am

Have a wonderful year ahead Sharon! Thank you for writing such an insightful post, since the New Year I’ve decided I am going to see my Doctor and get PT for my balance and gait. I was in a car accident 5 years ago and it slowly opened up a Pandora’s Box of arthritis. Last summer as much as I love being outside and gardening I caught myself too many times unbalanced and saying “Good thing that post was there to grab…” I’ll be turning 73 next month and I am determined to be stronger physically and mentally by June because by gosh, I’ve got a new garden layout I can’t wait to tackle!
I hope I will join you next year on your wonderful garden tours!! Be well and keep inspiring us….

Nita Hiltner February 3, 2023 - 2:36 am

I would like to be 64 again.

Michelle Harris February 3, 2023 - 2:46 am

Start before you are ready is such great advice!

Michelle Harris February 3, 2023 - 2:47 am

Start before you are ready, such great advice!

marilyn February 3, 2023 - 3:44 am

I will turn 80 in another month and I am continuing to reinvent myself. Most of my friends are much younger than myself and they forget that I am of that certain age. One said just recently that I was a good example to her of reinventing herself and following her dreams.

Kevin February 3, 2023 - 6:06 am

Just a short and sweet HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sharon

Sarah Dela Cena February 3, 2023 - 9:48 am

Belated Happy Birthday Sharon…you are an inspiration ❤️reading everything in My French Country Home!

AFN February 3, 2023 - 3:37 pm

I’ve followed you since the early days. Thank you for this comment…start before you are ready. Such a good plan. Happy Birthday and best to you Sharon.

Shirley Graham February 3, 2023 - 3:46 pm

Happy Birthday!!! I just turned 87 on 12/31 & am still working on me! Love your magazine!! Have a marvelous spring!!

Fiona McKeogh February 3, 2023 - 4:40 pm

This was such an inspiring post Sharon. I started reading you many years ago at my kitchen table in Quebec Canada, and now I continue from my kitchen in SW France. I have loved your blog and your magazine which in a way may have influenced my decision to move! I hope I can also find the courage to reinvent myself too.

Julia February 3, 2023 - 4:55 pm

Happy, happy Birthday, Sharon! Wishing you only the best!

Linda Hovgaard February 3, 2023 - 5:38 pm

Happiest of Birthdays to you! Thank you so much for the wise words and the truly inspiring article on aging, reinvention and following your dreams. I especially love your advice stating “Start before you’re ready.” I started on a dream business project that has been put on hold since Covid. Thanks for giving me the courage to step back into it and keep going on something that I really want to pursue!

Kaycee February 3, 2023 - 6:45 pm

I’m forwarding your spot-on, lovely post to a few people close to me who often tell me things like “Oh! You wouldn’t start that now at your age!”. To stop reinventing onesself is akin to an early grave in my opinion.

Ahh…but many may say “But what about your health?” I say what about it? As long as the desire to reinvent still burns strong in our hearts, we will find something dear to our hearts that we can accomplish, no matter with excellent or failing health. While I’m a wee bit older than you Sharon, I still envision someday embarking on a long-ago business dream. 🙂

The old saying “It ain’t over till it’s over!” is so true!

Martha Vera February 3, 2023 - 7:46 pm

Dear Sharon, a very happy birthday to you! What a heartwarming story. Yes, I too just reinvented myself by getting a Master’s degree in International Law from Sapin. I am working on a Fellowship now and find my work very interesting. Thank you for reinventing yourself to bring all of us the beauty of France to our homes. You are an inspiration!

Here is to yur continued success,
Martha Vera, MIL, MS

Carol Guess February 3, 2023 - 7:56 pm

Enjoy your Birthday, Sharon ! Each one will give you a new perspective !!
This year I will turn EIGHTY, and to celebrate I am joining you on your Normandy Gardens Tour !!!
I have been a single mother of FIVE amazing children more than 30 years. My reward is my nine incredible grand children. Life can give you rewards you don’t expect !!! Happy Birthday !! See you soon !

Liz Shivel February 3, 2023 - 9:15 pm

Hello and belated Happy 64th Birthday! I’m 74, turning 75 this May! I don’t feel my age and I’m almost positive that my driver’s license info is wrong! I subscribed to your magazine recently, and the January 2023 issue just arrived yesterday, and I’ll read it very soon! You live in France and I’d love to be there! My retirement celebration trip in 2017 was a Viking river boat trip, Avignon, Arle, Provence areas, all was amazing! My home contains many antiques, many furnishings, dishes, glassware, all from France, and everything French appeals to me! So your life and your home are all inspiring! I reinvented myself a bit 3 years ago when I offered to make small fleece blankets for pet adoptions, mainly cats, and I’ve been making & donating them ever since. A cat gets adopted and goes home with a fleece blanket. I then designed a “fleece wrap” for people, basically the size of a beach towel, and I’ve been making and donating those to a cancer treatment center for patients for the last two years. Patients ask when more blankets are coming, so I’m told! Something soft, warm, nice design, can hopefully make someone think of more pleasant things for a moment, than what they might be going through. I’m still trying to get to France again – 3 years I’ve been trying to go – so maybe next year. I wish you all the best with everything you’ve done! I’m looking forward to enjoying every page of your magazine!

Jane February 3, 2023 - 11:04 pm

Happy Birthday, Sharon.
I just celebrated my seventy second year of life this past Christmas.
My energy remains steady. Too many projects loom ahead. There is
always things to accomplish, no matter your age.
Yes, bones ache a little bit more after a hectic day of yardwork; meal prep and house work, but I am thrilled at my ability to continue maintaining my fieldstone home in the Pennsylvania countryside.
Enjoy my sunrises and sunsets across the open fields. I love hunting for local antiques, too.
There are so many beautiful birds to watch every day….bald eagles flying the highest in the sky.
I can identify the constellations on a clear dark winter night, too.
Looking forward to planting some dahlia bulbs in Springtime!
So many things to do…and so many things yet to learn, especially about mushrooms!
Enjoy and live to your fullest.

Elizabeth February 4, 2023 - 6:11 am

Sharon, Happy Birthday. I hav been following you and commenting since 2010. You are amazing and an inspiration. Cannot wait to see what comes next.

Elizabeth (Perreault) Young February 4, 2023 - 9:39 am

Very inspiring Sharon. Happy Belated Birthday. Such an interesting site to me. I have French roots through my paternal grandfather but know so little about them. Mother had me take French in school and I chose to continue a little in college. Our daughter has been to France a few times. Best wishes!

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Mona Turner March 9, 2023 - 6:03 pm

“Happy Birthday Sharon!” You are an inspiring woman! I love all things French and your blog and magazine have so much that inspires me. The delightful recipes , home decor and scenic pictures have encouraged my own creativity.
I pick up your magazine, “My French Country Home,'” with such excitement at “Oak and Linen” in Arva, Ontario when visiting my daughter. Thank-you for your gracious encouragement! You truly live a life of joie de vivre!

Judith March 14, 2023 - 10:21 pm

I am 84 years young and sweetly boy husband will be 90 next month. Still hanging in there we have 2 homes one in Florida and one in Michigan . We are blessed with Wonderful adult children and grandchildren and friends . You inspire us. Thank you

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