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The feisty side of 50

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

The feisty side of 50

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There’s something about turning 50 that makes a woman beautiful, serene, and absolutely confident about her place in the world. Just ask Denise Mongerie-Rogers, who is basking in the glow of her new milestone – the Big 50 – and loving it.
“I just feel like I’ve been blessed to turn 50,” she says beaming. “Lots of people nowadays are not even seeing 50. I’m very happy to be alive.”
Understandably in a world when people are dying at younger ages, one can understand Denise’s gratitude for the gift of life. But for her this rite of passage holds a more intense meaning.
“This time in my life signals an evolution,” Denise says candidly. “In your 20s you’re highly excitable but not really concerned about getting older. As you get into your 30s you become more serious. In your 40s and 50s you’re not as happy-go-lucky as you were when you were younger but you’re more mindful of life and making the most of it.
“Yes, my perspective has changed. When I was in my 20s, 30, and 40s it was all about work and doing the best job possible. It’s not all about work but about taking time out to smell the roses. I’ve gone back into my garden. I can go to the beach and enjoy the beauty of Barbados and spending more time with my family.”
It is her family life that has been at the core of everything Denise has done over the past few years. She and her husband have three children, aged 20, 17 and 11.
“My family is very important to me. I have two girls and a boy. I had my first child at 29 going on 30, so I kind of grew up with my children,” she says, laughing. “They kept me grounded and busy and alive and excited about the things they were excelling in and enjoying.”
She says that she credits the teamwork of both her and her husband in helping them raise such well adjusted children, especially since she travelled a lot during her former days at CLICO.
“My husband and I recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary,” she said. “My husband is a wonderful man, a good father, and strong in spirit. I must say that I am one of the lucky women to have a wonderful husband. He had a busy career, too, but he was always there to support me, and he looked after the children when I travelled. He said when we were first married ‘I will always treat you like a queen and he has kept to his word’.”
Denise attributes the success of her marriage to their shared commitment to the institution. A devout Catholic, she credits her faith in God with bringing them thus far.
“I think young people enter into marriage very quickly and they don’t understand what marriage is all about,” she says. “Marriage is about commitment; it’s about love, dedication to your partner. When Jerry and I were getting married in the Catholic church we went to Engage Encounter. It’s sort of like counselling because you meet with your priest and other couples and you discuss all the things you’d expect of getting married. We had to write about organizing our finances, what our expectations were in terms of children, values and those are the things that ground you. When little things happen in breach of those things you discuss it.”
Denise says she has always encouraged a lot of dialogue with her husband and her children.
“I always encourage a lot of dialogue and communication with my children. I encouraged them to speak, so my children know how to express themselves. As a result of that we have some very fiery discussions at times, but this is how we trained them to have opinions.”
Denise has been a stickler for presentation all her life. Those are qualities that have been reflected in her appearance, her work ethic and beyond.
“I’ve always been very positive. I don’t dwell on negativity,” she said. “Negativity is what will make you elderly. But if you have a positive attitude, if you eat right, drink lots of water, then it works for you. God has put all of us on this earth to be the best that we can for ourselves and others as well. This thing about aging is about looking after yourself and having a positive mental attitude.”
So, while some people would shudder at turning 50, Denise welcomes it.
“I don’t see it as aging,” she says. “When you turn 50 you should now start to savour all the beautiful things in life that you may have been too busy with the children to do. Love life. I do and I want to live to be 100.”