This issue marks my first as the official age of the magazine so I thought it would be fun for our readers to learn more about me and my journey. What does being 55 mean to me? 55+ Living is your partner in navigating aging to live your best life and I’m excited to be on this journey with you.

Alison Michael on turning 55What did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no idea, but as far back as I can remember I had an entrepreneurial spirit and drive. From an early age, I was imaginative, independent, and ambitious. 

As a young girl, I used to set up my version of a retail store in our upstairs bathroom. I would price the products my mom had lying around and pretend customers would shop. My first real job, as a teenager, was working in a local bakery. As I got older, I moved onto working at Lord & Taylor, Chess King, and CVS. I grew up in Northern New Jersey in proximity to New York City, which I frequented growing up and where I later attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, to study textiles and began to find my career path.

Upon graduating, I moved into my first apartment in the city and launched a career selling woven Italian textiles to women’s apparel manufacturers in the garment district which I did for many years. I’ve always thrived on learning new businesses, so it wasn’t surprising that I found myself with an opportunity to own my own publishing business. It felt natural to me, like a place I always belonged 

Is being 55 anything like you thought it might be?

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t something I thought a lot about. I have always been a late bloomer. I got married at almost 40, had our son at 42, got into a completely different career in my late 40s and bought a business at 54. I believe age is just a number. It doesn’t define you; you define you. Hearing someone saying she’s 55 doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t fit how I feel. I think at this time in my life I reflect on how far I have come and how I got to where I am and how I want to live out my life. 

What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?

Don’t worry so much about what others think. Be you and strive to be the best version of you, not what you think you’re expected to be or become. Learn from your mistakes along the way. I believe this is what gets you closer to where you’re supposed to be. If you love what you do, success will follow. Work hard, love what you do and find purpose in it and success will follow. 

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Where don’t I want to go would be an easier question. I have always loved to travel. I got my first taste of exploring islands in the Caribbean as a young girl because my mom was in the travel industry. I feel at home in Jamaica where I have been several times and even got married there. During my work in the fashion business, I got to visit Paris, Italy, and Germany. I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and the beauty of visiting new places. The Polynesian Islands are definitely high on my list if I can get beyond the many hours in flight. Provence, France for the wine lover in me and exploring the Greek Isles with friends. 

What’s the best part of being 55?

Being comfortable with who I have become, yet excited about where I’m still going. I have the self-awareness to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. The work we do on ourselves is continual, it’s a journey. Being 55 means a new freedom. A self-acceptance. An appreciation. A contentment. Happiness. 

It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.