As a young woman I mostly remember feeling too fat, too rubinesque, too tall, too feminine… I was an independent and carefree spirit who didn’t need anyone to be happy on this planet and looking so striking made me nervous.
Looking back at the pictures of my youth, I see a stunning and beautiful smiling face looking at the camera, always laughing and having a good time.
Now that I’m older I feel more vain and aware of my looks, as if what is left of my “beauty” is fading fast.
I cried and cried because here I am, feeling vain about my youthful beauty that I never appreciated, while the women and men who have lost their hair and their carefree existence thanks to cancer, have nothing to look forward too.
And then I cried some more because I’ve recently lost my dear Aunt Ellie to cancer, and Frannie, and Melinda’s mom…and I just have to accept that I need to fall apart once in a while. I like to cry, and have been finding it hard to let go lately.
So I’m drying my eyes and I’m feeling more fragile and more human and more thankful for this gift called life.
Because that is exactly what it is – a present every single day.
Thank You to those at the Mimi Foundation for doing this project.
Getting older is turning out to be more interesting than I thought it would be. I’m even calling myself an old crone sometimes, just for fun, so I can start to realize that I’m not the young Sadhvi that I tend to think I still am! It also makes me feel wise.
If I am going to be alive this long, I will have more things that I’ve seen than someone who is 20. Simple math, I know. And that also means that some things that are around don’t really ring my bell, so to say.
I’m all right if you want to pay lots of money for those things. But if you talk about how much you love your new iPhone, for instance, and that love rant goes on for more than a minute or so, I will probably have to say something like how weird is it to LOVE your new gadget!
We’ve been watching the Tintin cartoon series lately to wind down at the end of our day. The animation is really neat, and they are always exciting to watch.
Tintin is a super hero who goes to different places all over the world to rid the planet of bad people.
And he does it without a computer, a smart phone, texting, having a GPS or being hooked up to social media – my type of hero!
While going through a stack of magazine, I came across an old Vanity Fair magazine from August 2011. While flipping through the pages, a black and white photo of Joseph Heller sitting in his NYC office with his feet on his desk struck me as something that looked funny, like something was out of place.
Then I realized there is no computer, smart phone, iPad, or laptop anywhere around in that photo, just a typewriter with a piece of paper in it, a rotary dial phone, and some pens and pencils in a round holder. Joseph Heller wrote the novel Catch-22 back in 1961, which according to many is one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. Maybe you remember it?
While I was only a small child in 1961, I do remember the movie, mostly because it came out in 1970! I’ve also used a typewriter like the one in the photo a lot, and had a rotary dial phone in the house that I grew up in (where the cord can reach across the room with the phone base not moving an inch!).
I even own one today and it’s in my office 🙂
Looking at that photo made me see how far the whole industry has come. And how expensive these new technologial “wonders” cost to buy, and how the companies who make them have suceeded through colors and marketing that we can’t live without them.
But I’ve started to notice people of all ages say that they are just not into all of it any more. Maybe the pendulum is moving back to simpler times?
I’ve heard young people say that they are going back to a flip-phone, because the smartphones feel too crazy on their heads.
Or that they hate FaceBook, and don’t ever use it.
Or take the woman the chestnut stand the other day — after we chatted briefly, she laughed and said how nice it was to connect, and not with FB. I asked her if she was addicted to FB and she said she used to be, but not anymore; she doesn’t want to “like” of “share” what is going on with her life. She wants to just live it.
You might wonder why I post for this blog, since it is sharing. Good question: the only reason is that I send this out to friends and family, and it’s my way of staying in touch with them.
The idea that Oprah or HuffPost would contact us to be the voices of our generation have long dropped away. We, including me, just like to write!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over again, so I decided to just write about it hoping the answer will come to me. “As I age, and as a woman over fifty, am I becoming more tolerant or less?” That is the question.
I‘ve always considered myself a tolerant person, even compassionate at times. However, I’ve noticed a change in my being when confronted with people (friends, family, colleagues, strangers, cashiers, waiters, etc.) who try my patience. I just don’t want to be terribly inconvenienced any more, and don’t like people wasting my time – or insulting my soul, because both are precious.
For example, if I have a doctor’s appointment at 3:30, I have to leave work early and basically hurry so I’m not late. Then, I end up sitting there for over an hour before anyone acknowledges I’m next. My response? I’m angry (even though I’ve brought a great book to read) because on that particular day, I’ve got tons of work to complete and a major deadline. The doctor and his staff do not seem to care at all. I get annoyed and become intolerant.
Or, I get a call from a friend or client and have to inform them I can’t talk because I’m running off to an appointment and I’ll call them later. And, guess what? They keep talking as if they didn’t’ hear me. So, I get annoyed and become intolerant.
Or, I’m waiting for a plumber at 8 a.m. and at 10:00 I’m still waiting. I call the plumber and get no response. I become intolerant.
It seems to me that I used to be more tolerant. For example, I used to feel compassion for perpetrators of heinous crimes, because after all, aren’t they sick? But, for example, after hearing about that hideous case in Cleveland where one man tortured, abused, and chained several young girls for almost a decade, I no longer feel the least bit of compassion for such criminals. I just feel like they deserve to die. So when that criminal was found dead in his cell, I felt it was a perfect ending for him.
So, I guess I’m just becoming less tolerant after all? What about you?
Over the years coaching clients, (including many women over fifty) have often asked for my permission to sayNo. For example, a No to the belligerent boss or rancorous relative; a NO to others when you are feeling overwhelmed may be necessary to clear the way to the bigger Yes to self-care and self-love.
Many of us would love to say No more often than we do, but deny ourselves because we’re afraid of what others will think.
“I can’t say no! If I said no, it would mean I’m not a good person, I’m selfish, not a team player”, etc. But these are limiting beliefs that keep us feeling trapped and resentful, which in the long term will cause more harm to ourselves and others.
Saying No also creates space for something bigger and grandeur to enter our life, for nature abhors a vacuum. Saying No is taking a stand. We’re drawing the line in the sand. It’s empowering.
“No, I won’t tolerate that treatment any longer”.
“No, I won’t work overtime without compensation anymore”.
“No, it’s your turn to watch the kids while I take a bubble bath”.
To start the shift to more No’s, imagine the possibilities with the Yes’s that will surely follow. Imagine you’ve said No to whatever situation or person you want to. What’s your bigger Yes? Imagine that Yes. Speak that Yes. Really allow yourself to feel the feeling of Yesthat would be possible because of your prior No.
Make a list of everything you get to say Yes to because you said No. Things like fun activities, more R&R, new and healthier relationships; happier feelings, like freedom, peace, or empowerment; improved health, more energy, etc.
Take some time out to listen to No. Practice. Get to your bigger “Yes” sooner versus later.
Barbara’s experience includes more than 12 years coaching individuals and groups on transition issues in life and work, along with helping people release grief that can arise through loss due to any change.
You think the 50’s and 60’s will be a time for us women over fifty to refocus on our own hopes and dreams. As baby boomers, the children are raised, and hopefully, financially independent. It’s time to question the need of the big house with the big yard, a time to reassess, revamp everything from daily life to long-term plans.
But, for so many of us, tragedy shows up and wrenches our lives apart — heart attacks, breast cancer, the stark realization that your finances are not in the state they should be for pending retirement, or worse: an out-of-the- blue death or divorce.
We’ve read much about recovering from a death, or divorce or cancer, but when it strikes in the 50-60’s, you’re more vulnerable, for you are no longer young, and less flexible because you are no longer young, but neither are you old enough to expect death and, divorce after thirty years of marriage seems as unlikely as losing an arm. It’s hard to go home to Mom and Dad at this age, although I’ve seen it done under the guise of caring for them.
There are paths back to wholeness and life. The following techniques will vary in appeal depending on your beliefs and personality, but those who have traversed a personal crisis successfully have utilized them, not necessarily in this order, not really in any order, and sometimes, all in the same day. And, remember — time is the ultimate healer.
1 .) Meditation- People who don’t meditate often say it’s because they don’t have time. But when you go through a trauma, time seems to lag unbearably. This is a good opportunity to start or build your practice. Start with five or ten minutes and work up to half an hour. Sit up comfortably (if you lie down you may fall asleep) and watch your breath go in and out. If thoughts intrude, gently push them away and continue watching your breath. Sounds too simple to matter, but this practice will center and calm you. For more about meditation, Google Deepak Chopra. Also, pilates and yoga offer a moving form of meditation.
2.) Spiritual – There is nothing like a trauma to make you wonder about God. If you open yourself at this time, you will likely find God in whatever guise you perceive him. Suffering seems to open the channel in a way that being happy or content just doesn’t.
3.) Nothing– There seems to be a whole lot of what feels like “unproductive” time, time that you can’t account for. Daydreaming? Crying? Moping? Whatever — do it. Allow yourself to be unproductive.
4.) Gardening – There is something about promoting life in any form that gives a primitive knock on the soul and mind that not only yes, life goes on but that life is a magnificent, driving force that will not be thwarted. For me, the visual for this is the daffodil or tulip that forces through the asphalt.
5.) Walking– Exercise and endorphins, yes, but walking offers a means to wake up to the world, the neighborhood and what’s going on, the beauty of nature, the feeling of the breeze on your cheek.
6.) Reading – The self-help books do help, so do spiritual ones, but the best are probably the laugh-out-loud ones. For me, that’s Carl Hiaasen.
7.) Be with Friends and Family– You’ll think they don’t understand what you’re going through even though they try, and you’ll be right. But they want to be there for you. When I went through my particular trauma, my closest friends started Sunday Supper, a time where we all got together for a couple of hours, to sip wine, cook and chat. It turned out to be a comfort to them as well.
8.) Change of Scenery – Get out of town. Go somewhere far from your usual haunts, somewhere out of your comfort zone. Everything will feel so unfamiliar that your pain will take a break due to shock.
9.) Routine – And, conversely, find solace in your daily routine. Filling the bird feeder, sweeping the front porch, feeding the dog, and, if you don’t have a job, volunteer somewhere where you can leave your own troubles behind.
10.) Moving forward – Without realizing it, you’ll eventually begin to feel some forward movement. You may continue to relapse into sadness or dismay from time to time, but the push forward towards life is a natural given, if you just let it happen.
From the forthcoming book, Breakdown in Swannanoa, available as an e-book in June of 2014.