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Life in My 50s: wisdom’s slow burn

Every once in a while, something happens that gives me pause and makes me take note of the ways I am aging. I attempt to open a bottle of apple juice and find myself struggling to budge the screw cap that used to loosen without effort. I bend down to put away dishes and a shooting pain in my knee makes me straighten up, except that it’s not as easy as it used to be. Whenever one of these age jolts occurs, I think of my grandmother, who lived independently until she was closing in on 101. I wonder what it was like for her to notice the subtle changes in her abilities and strength as the years passed, and I wonder if I’ll be able to manage those same kinds of changes with anything close to the grace and chutzpah that marked her century of life. Read more

The truth hurts, but do I have to pay for it too?

So I went to get my hair cut yesterday and, as is becoming more frequent these days, have a little color dabbed on those grays that are starting to spring up in greater numbers. As I sat in the chair, my stylist said she wanted to darken all of my hair, and I said, NO!” And then she said: “Well, you can’t leave it like this! This color just doesn’t work with your skin tone.” To which I replied: “I was born like this.” She was unimpressed by this fact and told me without question that I could not continue to wander the streets in such a state. Okay she didn’t say it exactly like that, but it was implied. So apparently for 50 years (I was bald for my whole first year before the springs sprung up) I have been walking around with hair that didn’t match my skin tone. Like I was wearing mismatched socks but on my head.  Read more

Proving that age really is a state of mind

“It’s all about having a purpose, and that’s why I think to retire is dangerous,” says one woman featured in the Fabulous Fashionistas documentary about older women who still have a sense of style and a sense of purpose. “…The minute you give an inch, life or illness or something else will take a mile.”

And this from the narrator:

“For all six women, their style and attitude was not just about the clothes they wore. They all have the same steely determination. They all share a quality, a spirit that keeps them going regardless.”

Can I get an Amen? Read more

The taste of a memory

When I went to visit my grandmother at the nursing home yesterday, I packed a little cooler bag with my lunch, thinking it might be nice to eat with her. I just threw some random stuff in the bag as I ran out the door — yogurt and water, an apple and a cheese stick. Much healthier than my normal lunch, truth be told.

I got to her room, parked myself on the edge of her bed and took out my blueberry yogurt, and as I sat there, stirring up the blue-purple concoction, a memory came flooding back like a tidal wave. Read more

Life in My 50s: The Adventure Begins

I hit the half-century mark today. I have to admit, this birthday feels different but not for the usual reasons. Dennis wanted to get me a fabulous “milestone” gift — an iPhone, a supercharged juicer for my green juicing, some sort of gizmo or gadget befitting a major birthday event. Much to his chagrin, I kept saying, “No.” Nothing seemed right, or necessary. There is no material thing I want or need, certainly nothing I equate with reaching 50 years old.

I think it’s because this birthday calls for something much harder to grasp and impossible to buy, a new perspective, perhaps, rather than a new phone. In the not-so-distant past, my birthdays were cause for what I called the “Birthday Triduum,” not one but three full days of celebration. If my birthday fell on a Friday or Monday, even better because the Triduum could include an entire weekend. Now I’m not sure I need even one day to mark the event. And it’s not an age thing. I long ago came to terms with the fact that it’s downhill from here in most departments. Maybe it’s the notion of turning point. It seems as though 50 years presents a nice, self-contained package of sorts, something to be archived in the basement. And today I’m unwrapping a new, empty box just waiting to be filled, but with what?

My grandmother, who still lives on her own, will soon mark her 100th birthday. As I have said time and again in recent months, if I’ve inherited her genes and determination and strength, I get to live my entire life over again from start to finish. What would I do with another half-century of living?

I don’t want the rest of my life — however long I get — to be only a time of fading, even though part of me welcomes that idea. (I’m continually threatening to live like a hermit in my basement office, but then I have to lead a Girl Scout meeting or drive one of the girls to dance or speak at a Catholic gathering and that idea goes out the window.) I think whatever comes next should be a time of growing in the important areas of my life, as a spiritual seeker, as a wife and mother, as a human being, and maybe in some of the less serious and more fun areas as well, things I haven’t yet had a chance to try but have always wanted to tackle.

 

I’ll see how post-50 life begins to develop in the months ahead, and you can come along for the ride. In between, I’ll share bits of half-century wisdom about everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Okay, mostly the ridiculous since sublime is way above my pay grade. Just watch for posts tagged with the “Life in My 50s” headline.

Now I’m off to blow out some candles. Anyone have a fire extinguisher?