Am I too old for this? Should women over X wear Y? Why are we still asking ourselves these questions? [Read more…]
I was filling out a form the other day, and had to select an age category. Here were the choices: [Read more…]
This is the second in a four-part series on your amazing, aging brain.
More good news: midlife crisis and the empty nest syndrome don’t exist. There is no scientific research to support them. [Read more…]
This is the first in a series of four posts celebrating the aging brain.
I’m looking for my glasses, but I can’t find them because they’re on my head. So I find my backups and try to put them on, but discover I’m already wearing a pair. [Read more…]
After the book signing on August 25, a half-dozen of us sat around, drinking wine and BS-ing, the best kind of sisterly gathering. The topic was looks. Specifically, what we do at our age to look good, and what constitutes “good.” The gathering happened in Indio, in the looks- and wealth-obsessed Coachella Valley, home of Palm Desert, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, and La Quinta; those monied resort towns.
We agreed we should try to feel good about how we look. But we’re trained to try to look younger. It seems every other billboard in the Valley is for body work.
We all want to update our thinking, so we can feel satisfied with our looks even if we’re older, and not automatically equate looking good with looking young. My wise friend Dorys said the reason we do this is we’re in competition. I asked for what? One woman laughingly said for men but that wasn’t really true anymore – we’re beyond that now. If the men are smart enough to see how cool we are, far out. If not, hell with it.
In some cases we are competing with younger people in the business world, whether as employees or purveyors of a service or product. In that case, you want to look younger because employers equate that with a better employee. It’s a mindless prejudice , but it’s out there, and like my shrink used to say, if you’re in the game, play to win.
But my friends and I kicked this around: if we’re not trying to get a job or something (i.e. manhunt) that benefits from looking younger, why do we hold that up as our goal? Why don’t we just try to look good for our age?
Dorys said it’s because we have a metro mindset. In the Coachella Valley, we’re competing with Los Angeles and New York. We all agreed we need to change our thinking. That’s where the strength of age comes in – we ‘re strong enough to say, “I don’t need to look young. I’m not competing.”
One of us, Kathryn, lives on an acre of land, in a house built in 1948. She has horses and chickens, and the property borders one of these wealthy, cosmopolitan cities. Although she’s very stylish, she doesn’t try to look like she’s twenty. She said, “I don’t live in that place. I may physically live right next to it, but mentally, I don’t live there.” Kathryn lives wherever she wants, because that place is in her head. She creates that place, that world. She defines that world to her own satisfaction.
I thought that was an enlightened point of view. We can move away from that place in our head. We can live anywhere we want: the land of hyper-competition or the land of mental peace.
Thanks to Tammy Coia, the Memoir Coach, for sponsoring this gathering. Your community of women writers is a loyal and supportive group, and I am honored to be part of it. I’m also excited to be speaking at the Women Inspiring Women Conference on January 26, 2013.
Here’s a bonus for you from Debra Ollivier, who blogs for HuffPost 50: Five Big Misconceptions About Growing Older.
Also, I’m rededicating myself to a passion of mine: I’m going to find good midlife (age forty and up) fiction and publicize it. I want to create a gathering place for books and readers who want to read about the experience of the second half of our lives. If you read or write one, let me know. I’ll add it to my Midlife Fiction – Book Recommendations page. I hope you’ll help me build this into a fun, lively, and awesome resource for all of us.
Like you, I was struck by the death of Nora Ephron. I kept saying to Bill, “I can’t believe it.” Tears surprised me.
Nora spoke to me through her books (Her last one, I Remember Nothing, is reviewed in the left sidebar.) She made me laugh, and I passed her books around to my friends. Like you, I felt as if she and I were friends. I can’t believe such a vibrant, creative, insightful, witty, valuable life is gone.
I’m unhappy now, made so by feelings of disagreement with my old friend. As I reread I Feel Bad About My Neck, I was struck by the negativity in her words. Here are some examples:
Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever’s writing it says it’s great to be old. It’s great to be wise and sage and mellow: it’s great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life. I can’t stand people who say things like this.
That would be me. Here’s another:
Sometimes I go out to lunch with my girlfriends — I got that far into the sentence and caught myself. I suppose I mean my women friends. We are no longer girls and have not been girls for forty years.
Sigh. What a worldview. Lastly:
But the honest truth is that it’s sad to be over sixty. The long shadows are everywhere–friends dying and battling illness. A miasma of melancholy hangs there, forcing you to deal with the fact that your life, however happy and successful, has been full of disappointments and mistakes, little ones and big ones. There are dreams that are never quite going to come true, ambitions that will never quite be realized. There are, in short, regrets.
I Feel Bad About My Neck was published in 2008. We now know that Nora was suffering from leukemia at the time, and I’m flattened by the fact that she could write (at all), write things that were funny, and keep her illness a secret while ensuring that her show went on. What a champ.
But a certain part of me wants to – needs to – live in denial of mortality, so for my mental health, I’m going to keep referring to myself and my friends as girls, or even the hick-ish gals. I’m not “full of regrets” even though I’ve experienced (and caused) great pain in my life. I respect the pain, but I need to sublimate it and move forward with anticipation and excitement.
Nora, I’ll never be half the person you were. Rest in peace, girl.