Perspective

Cabernet and Cheaters are my middle age toolsMy breathing is loud.  I can hear my heart pounding in my ears.  I can’t remember if this is the sixth or seventh lap.

Does it even matter how many times I climb this hill, just as long as I get out here and move?

I get to the top and survey the river.  Through the pounding I hear my thoughts:

  • You are reaching for the cheaters more than you used to.
  • Maybe it’s age that keeps you from remembering how many times you’ve walked up the hill.
  • Remember when your ass was below your waist and not behind your knees?
  • You ought to have given more thought to what it would be like to physically keep up with two young kids at the age of 50.
  • When did you get to the age where  Mom Jeans are comfortable?
  • Isn’t it time to  consider coloring your hair?

I head down the hill and wonder if this upcoming birthday could quietly sneak away in the night without anyone in my family doing anything about it.  Through huffs and puffs, I laugh at myself because I know it’s not so much about the day, as it is about my perceptions of what it’s like to be turning 50.

__________

I remember a road trip with grandma and grandpa when I was five.  I can see her wearing a cotton dress, knee high nylons and practical looking orthopedic shoes.  Her hair was always curled and dyed and styled the same exact way.  I can see her gracefully holding a cigarette to her lips between two perfectly painted nails, while squinting one eye when she took a drag.  The creases around her lips and eyes told the tale of years of smoking.

She was 47, and I thought she looked ancient.

She’d no sooner sit on the floor to play dominos than make the radical decision to quit  coloring her hair.  I can’t imagine she’d ever put an album of Perry Como on the stereo and dance around the dusty rose colored naugahyde couch the way we danced to Darius Rucker around the purple dining room table yesterday.

She’d be confused by our purple dining room table.

She’d be amazed that I still wear jeans and that I have yet to color my hair, or figure out how to properly pluck my eyebrows or that I seldom wear makeup.

I marvel at what 50 looked like 40 years ago.  I’d swear that was a different planet where everyone smoked, dyed their hair every six weeks, watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, quietly tended roses, dusted the furniture every Saturday and cooked Jimmy Dean Sausage and eggs at the same time each morning for the man of the house.

__________

Then there are the quotes about age:

Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle. 
~Bob Hope
 
Age is a question of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. 
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? 
~ Satchel Paige
 
Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. 
~Maurice Chevalier
 
I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now. 
~Author Unknown
 
It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen. 
~Brigitte Bardot
 

I like Brigitte’s take on things, Bob’s …   not so much.

__________

I think about my mom and what she was like at 50.  I can only hope to have that much fun.  Of course, her kids were already out of the nest.  There’s something to be said for starting sooner, but I’m not sure I would have had the patience that I do now.  Besides, my young roommates keep me active, challenged, interested and learning.

They prevent me from taking root on the couch.

But what must it be like to be a mom who has a child turning 50?

Ouch.

__________

I climb the hill again, breathing harder and louder than I care to.  Was that the seventh or eighth time now?   I check the view, marvel at the lack of wind and make an uncharacteristically non-INFJ choice to stop and see the neighbors before heading home to tackle more chores.

Life is short.  The dishes can wait.  There’s always laundry to fold.  There ought to be more chatting with friends and less fretting over to-do lists.

I arrive just as she’s rolling enchiladas.  Her husband hands me a dark beer to sip while I watch the show.

She’s layering shredded cooked chicken breast, fresh baby spinach leaves, salsa, green chiles, grated cheddar and onions on flour tortillas.  She’s the kind of cook who makes a Pyrex pan of enchiladas look like an effortless work of art.

She says, “Hon, hand me a spoon, would ya?  They’re in the drawer behind you.”

I hand her a spoon, and take a sip of beer as she says, “You know, I wonder when I’ll ever get my 80 year old body to realize that it’s never gonna catch up to my 50 year old brain.”

 

Related Post

The Only Survival Skill an HSP Will Ever Need Those dear souls flock to your door.  They can't help it.  You draw them in with your counselor/helper/listener magnet.  (Think moth to flame.)  You've probably tried leaving the magnet on the dresser, or stashing it on the top shelf of the closet, t...
Living On The Roof I miss the roof.  There.  I said it.  We camp out on the roof because of the good and the bad.  We are ever-hopeful that the good outweighs the bad.  After awhile, we lose sight of that delicate balance. The good, with John, included that deliciou...
More On High School Reunions "You mean, simply by following my path, I will have complete confidence in everything I say? I’ll spew wise words, funny tidbits, and wow everyone at cocktail parties? All I have to do is be true to myself, show the world who I am, and I’ll never ...
Cat with Hydrangeas She was sitting in the window and I thought, "See that? That looks like one of those photos on Pinterest."  You've seen them.  They're all over the internet.  Those pics seem to promise a serene life with steaming cups of tea, stacks of good books, f...

Tags: , , , , , ,

16 comments

  1. Here’s what I feel about my oldest child turning 50: Anxiously awaiting the wondrous events you’ll experience in your fifth decade.

    My advice: Relax and enjoy it!

  2. Mom,

    Oh goodie.

    Me, too.

    p.s. No big party please. Pinky swear? ;)

  3. I have a niece who’s turning 50 soon. How the hell did THAT happen?! I have to say, though, you’d never know it to look at her or to see her interactions with her kids. She’s amazing!!

  4. Pat,

    Thank you…. ahem… on behalf of your niece. ;)

  5. I recently re read Jane Fonda’s biography “My Life So Far”. It is an amazing journey into a life well lived. In her book she discusses aging and how most people fear it. Instead of fearing age, Jane highlights with aging comes the ability to gain wisdom and ultimately come into oneself. She divides life into three acts, each act filled with different experiences, some good and bad, but all life lessons.

    I personally feel as we age we definitely get a new perspective. I reflect on what each year has taught me, and I come closer to knowing my true self. You will so rock 50 my dear!!!

    These are some notes from Jane’s master class on aging & life

    Picture perfect on the outside is not always picture perfect on the inside. Appreciate your OWN life.

    “If you allow yourself, you can become stronger in the very places you were broken.”

    Don’t strive to be perfect. Instead, strive to be whole.

    According to Jane, life comes in acts. The first 30 year – 1st Act. Second 30 years – 2nd Act. Last 30 years – 3rd Act.

    “I wasn’t afraid of getting to the end of life. What I was really scared of was getting to the end of life with a lot of regrets…when it was too late to do anything about them.”

    Take the time now to reflect back to see who you really are. Take the time to research yourself and get to know the real you. It just might change your life.

    Allow your vulnerabilities to show.

    “In order to know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve been. And to know where we’ve been, we have to understand who our parents were. Not who you think they were, but who they really were as free standing individuals and people.”

    Be who you are. That is enough.

    Don’t go through life with guilt. Don’t own others actions as yours. It has nothing to do with you…it is their life…it is them

    Notice the people in your life. Engage with them at every chance that you can! DO NOT be cut off. Notice them. It matters.

    Sometimes when you feel nothing…it’s says everything. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and feel how you feel.

    “When you’re little you adopt survival mechanisms … but then they last too long and become impediments to growth.”

    Learn to forgive yourself.

    Remember…when you think “it’s all about you,” it’s really NOT all about you. Life is bigger than you.

    Addiction to perfection is toxic.

    Open your eyes…and see the wonderful people around you and the lessons of your life.

    See the beloved people in the world and know…everyone is human and nobody’s perfect.

    We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be whole.

    Find your focus. Find something that gives you JOY.

    What you say to someone can change their lives. Know that and give your words and love to the world.

    Find that thing that you go to bed thinking of and you wake up thinking of. Find your passion.

    You can always make a difference. Listen to others and understand them.

    Know what you are fighting against. Understand what you are dealing with.

    Take the time and get to know your enemy.

    Empathy is revolutionary. “We have to listen to each other even when we don’t agree. Open our hearts and listen with empathy.”

    “Look what stares you in the face and try to understand it.”

    Just go for it! Challenge yourself in life. If you fear it, go toward it. Become a master of it! You’ll feel terrific.

    “Conquer your fears…We have to teach our children that. You have to face your fears or else you’ll get soggy.” – Katherine Hepburn to Jane Fonda while filming “On Golden Pond.”

    “When I’m afraid of something, I embrace it. I become it’s best friend. I know everything I can about it. And my fear dissipates.”

    “Breaking the wall of silence…that’s what happens when you face your fears.”

    “We are all part of everything. We are energy.”

    Grow from your pain. Know your strength.

    Pay attention. Be present enough to feel yourself moving back into yourself.
    “Whatever is in front of you, you are able to do it.”

    Be a woman in charge of yourself.
    It is never too late to begin again.

    The goal is to be whole….to be peace….to reside inside your skin.”

    “My best legacy is my life and the lesson is, it’s never too late. Everything came late for me…my voice, my becoming whole, my learning intimacy…all those things happened after I turned 60 and I think it’s a very hopeful lesson. It is never too late. Never give up.”

    I know this comment was incredibly long, but wanted to share :). Sending you upcoming birthday wishes!! 50 & fabulous!!

  6. Kira,

    Bless your heart for taking the time to type this out and share it here!

    I want to print it and put it on my kitchen cupboard.

    One of my favorites is the comment shared between Kate Hepburn and Jane. Love that.

    Essentially, what I take away from this is that we ought to embrace ourselves – literally rejoice in who we are and share ourselves with the world. It sounds simple, but it takes time to get to the point where we can comfortably say, “Hello, this is who I am. I’m good with that… finally. And I’m good with you, too.”

    Thanks, again, Kira. I so appreciate you for sharing this here.

  7. One of my favorite quotes is “Do not regret getting older. It’s a privilege denied so many.” I think too often we get fixated on the number, the aging and forget the journey. Each year I’ve learned something new about myself & have become all the more stronger and wiser. I am so excited about how much more I will learn & discover about myself as the years go on. Aging is such a beautiful & natural thing. I often find it funny how some will go to great lengths to halt its process. To me it’s my personal scrapbook. A way to chronicle where I’ve been & where I’m yet to go. We must embrace the journey. It’s a trip we all must take. The key is to not let age be defined by a number but as another opportunity to gain more perspective of you as a person. Take the time to look at what that new year has taught you.

  8. Meka,

    Nice to see you here!

    So true… It’s the accumulation of years, lessons and experiences that make us unique.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective – a good one, indeed. ;)

  9. The quote between Katherine Hepburn & Jane Fonda is my fav as well :). You are right that embracing ourselves is a hard thing to do. I’ve realized that once you do embrace yourself you feel incredibly free, free from worrying that you are not good enough. Ultimately I do feel we are meant to share ourselves with the world in some way. For example sharing our narratives as a means to connect & support one another.

    I wouldn’t say that I am completely accepting of myself, but I am learning each day to be more comfortable in my own skin. I am learning more about myself each day. I guess you can say I am gaining perspective :).

    I am so glad to share here always :). Happy Weekend to you and your troop !!

  10. Kira,

    Was just having a convo with a friend last night about being enough and being good with that. It’s a process, that’s for sure.

    I notice that the closer I get to really being good with that, the less issues I have with others. Interesting how being comfortable with who we are makes us more comfortable with others as well.

    Happy Weekend to you, too. ;)

  11. Hey ladies, I have missed you all, so sorry for being absent. Such an interesting topic. I turned 37 at Christmas and I clearly remember my mom talking about a friend of hers when I was a kid. She said (and I’m sure it was because she did not care for the woman, since my mom isn’t one to attack appearances of others;) but she said “At 37 that Mary is too old to have such long hair!” It’s just such a different world then. My Grandma was 52 when I was born; and she has (in a photo from right after I was born) a white bouffant hairdo that has changed very little in my entire life! Think (or maybe wishful thinking?) that people are staying young longer? I work out, I had long hair a little over a year ago, and am thinking I’ll go there again soon! ;)

    Beautiful list, Kira! I have been spending the week at my Grammas nursing home this week. She’s gone into hospice care this week, it’s sad. But the thing that struck me was she’s still smiling! She has always been a cheerful person, and she can’t remember my name but she remembers to smile. The other thing that was so inspiring, she’s always got someone, or 2 or 3 someones, sitting with her, soothing her, and holding her hand, her favorite is having her hand held. So inspiring, because she’s taking the love she made, you know? She always was so caring to others. I’ll never forget her showing up at my jr. High in permanent rollers because I had the chicken pox. Then she kept me at her house for the following 2 weeks until I was finally over it. So, she won’t be alone. She will get what she gave. :)

    Had much drama, attempts from my N to force herself down my throat this week. Then tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants (no contact works for me & I’m sticking to it!) Being with my Gramma reminds me of what I want my deathbed to look like, how I don’t want to be distracted by drama and games, I don’t want to have regrets at that moment in my life.

    Hugs to all!!!
    NM

  12. NM,

    So sorry about your grandma, but thanks so much for sharing here. I have to think she’s surrounded by so many because she always had such a cheery disposition.

    There’s a lesson in that for all of us. I loved your line… “She will get what she gave.”

    I have to wonder if your N “friend” isn’t trying to annex the situation with your grandma.

    Sending hugs and strength.

  13. Thanks, Jesse. My grandma is a good example of a life well lived. It’s been an interesting comparison of “that which really matters” (grandma) and “that which is false & does not require any energy.” It’s been tough, because I do feel I’m being harassed and stalked by my N. but, it’s a good reminder, that I dont need to invest myself in the drama and games. I need to save my energy for what (and who!) is really important. Grow and go, grow and go….

    Big hugs, NM

  14. NM,

    You set a fantastic example for your boys.

Leave a comment