Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On Turning 50 (or any other milestone, for that matter)

So as it turns out, I'm turning 50 this year.  I don't know why, but for some reason I've been thinking about it a lot ever since I turned 49 and someone reminded me that I'm now "in my 50th year".  When I turned 30 and 40, I thought in terms of what I was leaving behind.  So, I guess the difference this time is that I'm using a much broader scope.   What have I left behind?  What do I have to look forward to?  How important are milestone birthdays anyway, given the fact that chronological age is essentially inconsequential (or should I say -"it's as consequential as you want to make it" ).

Here are some things that I will never do, even if I reach 100 and my picture is on the Today Show:

- wear "Mom" jeans.  Super uncomfortable and unflattering.  My behind is flat enough already - no help is needed in that department.

- let my hair go grey.  Sorry ladies, but unless your name is Helen Mirren, there is no way that grey hair or "salt and pepper" (Gag...) is your sexiest look.

- Stop listening to Pop radio.  Once I lose touch with what teenagers and 20-somethings are listening to, I can just officially kiss my youth goodbye.  There is a place in my life for every genre of music.

- get the "old lady" haircut.  Unless I am mentally incapacitated, I won't do it.  I don't care how bad my body feels.  That's one thing that my Mom never caved on and I won't either.

- Hole up in my house 24/7.  Even nursing homes have outings.  The past few years have taught me that I am definitely not someone who enjoys sitting alone for any length of time.  I think it would kill me.

- stuff my purse with sugar, salt, pepper and creamer packets when I'm in a restaurant.  I mean,  really ....  if there's a better way to scream "HEY LOOK AT ME - I'M AN OLD FART!!", I don't know what it would be.  Since I'm probably already ordering from the Senior menu, I just don't see the need.

Here are some things that I probably need to start doing.....  soon ......

- get better about exercising and eating right <cue collective groaning noise here>.    If I am decrepit and diabetic by the time I'm 60, then what's the point of anything I've previously listed?  The problem is that I have no discipline and all sorts of excuses.    So...... yes, I need to work on this.

- embrace AARP.   How can Senior discounts be a bad thing?  Never mind the fact that I will probably never really be able to retire.  If someone is offering me a discount just because I reached some magical age, who am I to deny them the gratification of making my cost of living a bit lower?

- stop buying into the stereotypes associated with generations.  "The Greatest Generation", "The Me Generation", "Boomers" "Gen X", "Gen Y", Yuppies, Puppies, Millennials.   It's all a bunch of crap.   An 85 year old is just as likely as a 20 year old to be a crabby jerk (and vice versa), and.... no, I'm sorry Sir or Ma'am, you have not "earned' the right to disrespect me just because of your age.  And vice versa.  And by the way, I now believe that every generation grows up with a distinct set of advantages and hardships.  Nobody really "has is easy" or "had it easy" or whatever.  Collectively, we would be happier if we could get past all of that.

- resist the urge to think that I'm too old to try something new.  No further explanation required on this topic.

What it all boils down to is the ability to perceive myself and others without regard to age.  Ageism pigeonholes all of us and limits our potential -at any stage of life.  This is a particular issue for women more so than men, I think. We women seem to automatically devalue ourselves and each other as we age.  Popular culture trains us to do this with its artificial definition of beauty.   Older women possess a beauty that women in their 20s and 30s are incapable of having, because it comes from life experience and wisdom.  If we could do a better job of focusing on inner beauty and unique beauty, we could really be on to something. Then, maybe George Clooney could spend a few days, months or years with a woman his own age.

Fifty could be fabulous or it could be a disaster.  What it really is the grand scheme of things ..... is simply ....   irrelevant........ 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Say Something

I am tired.  Tired all of the time.   I've been blaming it on poor sleep.  I now feel that a lot of it is psychological tiredness.  

Tired of death.
Tired of being alone.
Tired of losing traditions against my will.
Tired of being ignored
Tired of regrets

I sit, alone, on a day that in the past would have been looked forward to in anticipation of shared time with loved ones.   In today's world, I am resigned to filling the day with "tasks".   

Yes, yes, yes, I'm supposed to be creating new traditions and counting my blessings .....  and yes, I know that I have a lot to be thankful for.   All of these blessings are like flowers gathered in a basket, but there are large rocks on top of the flowers, crushing them.  How to lift the rocks and throw them away...

I don't know the answer.  With no children in my house anymore, it should be clean enough to eat off the floor.    But..... I'm tired,  and I sit.....  and five days a week, I go to work and sit at a desk.    When I look back at the last ten years of my mother's life, I don't even know how she stood it alone in a house.    The more I reflect on her, the more similarities I see between she and I ......... but sitting alone in a house....... not one of them!  

OK... time to get moving.  Move or die ..... who said that?  Probably the President's Council on Physical Fitness.   I wonder what President Kennedy would think about video games.......

There's this song that's on the radio a lot these days that I identify with.  I have no idea why, because I think it's supposed to be about a failed relationship and youth ........   Here I am, almost 50 years old, and I'm still trying to get it right, wondering if I ever will.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'll be the one, if you want me to.
Anywhere I would've followed you.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I am feeling so small.
It was over my head
I know nothing at all.

And I will stumble and fall.
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What is Christmas?

I am long overdue with my annual "I hate Christmas" blog, I know.   Here it is, because I'm not sure I can continue forward in 2014 another minute until I do this.

So much has happened to me in 2013, and - I must admit - most of it was bad.  By the time the holiday season rolled around, I was as much in the mood for Christmas as a dog is in the mood for a trip to the vet.  Yes, this was the worst I have ever been.   I procrastinated with my decorations to the point where I thought I was turning into one of those people who does everything on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed.   When the news of my 10 year old nephew's death came, I just knew that none of those decorations were going up.  And that includes the tree.  We did pull out the stockings - not sure why.  I guess my hubby felt the need to make some sort of gesture.

When we arrived back in Buffalo from my nephew's funeral, I felt like someone had tied a 20 pound weight around my heart.  It's the kind of sadness that sinks into your chest and your bones until every movement, every effort, every thought, is a struggle and is painful.  I couldn't help but wonder what sort of company I would be on Christmas Eve, and would I be able to put on my game face?

Beautifully decorated homes, decorated in all manner of Christmas finery, can make anyone smile just a tiny bit. So, then, I was already feeling better.   But it was a vision in red tulle that began the upward spiral of my spirit.  She danced up to greet me in all of her two year old splendor.  She was in rare form.  I'm guessing that this was her first Christmas of truly comprehending what was going on, and she was clearly loving every minute of it.  Whenever I observe her older brother, he seems to exhibit a patience with her that is really beyond his years.  No small feat.  This young lady is the embodiment of exuberance in everything she does - like the little girl with the little curl.  I'm not saying that they didn't have their terse sibling moments, but by and large, they were the embodiment of Christmas joy.  The youngest player in this story contented himself with being adorable for anyone and everyone who approached him, held him, or merely glanced in his general direction.  I wonder what he thinks when we are all ooo'ing and ahhhing .....  I think that he somehow has learned already, in his infancy, that he can catch more flies with honey than he can with vinegar.   And, believe me - this child seems to have been delivered right from the honeycomb!

This group is rounded out with the older children.  Like mine, their year has been pretty bleak.  There wasn't too much evidence of that on this evening.  It seemed as though they had allowed themselves to let go of their worries and fears for a while.  She was bubbly and enthusiastic.  He exhibited his typical pre-teen male sense of humor, tempered by his enthusiasm for the holiday.  Maybe subconsciously I released that stone on my heart - at least temporarily - because of them.  How often do we say that, as adults, we can sometimes learn things from children?   Like their adaptability, their capacity for forgiveness, their ability to trust, and their ability to immerse themselves in magic, even if it's only for a day or two.

I'm not going to say that I now love all things Christmas, or that next year won't be another challenge.  But, I am happy that I was able to leave the other 11 months of 2013 behind for one evening.  And I am reminded that I really am lucky to have such amazing friends that make it possible for me to do so.  So... perhaps not the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year", but definitely the most wonderful evening of the year.  I'll take it!