Hillary, When Do You Stop?

I was going to write something funny today, but with the news about the blood clot in Hillary Clinton’s skull, I think this might be more important.

Many people speculate that Hillary Clinton is planning to run for president.  I don’t think so.

I think the fact that she’s letting her hair grow long is an announcement, conscious or otherwise, that she’s transitioning away from public service. She has plenty of power, plenty of interests. She could have an amazing retirement.

As Secretary of State, Hillary set records for global travel. At any age, that kind of schedule can take a toll on one’s body, not to mention the stress of her job. Now consider the health concerns of running for and perhaps taking on the job of president. Every one has aged visibly in office, disproportionate to the number of years in that role. Why should Hillary throw herself onto that pyre?

As a private citizen, Hillary would have the world at her feet. Reputed to have an IQ of 140, she probably knows she could serve on any board; learn, observe, participate in anything; travel anywhere. Any number of global titans would be happy, I’m sure, to lend her a jet and a vacation home. Wouldn’t you think?

“I am so looking forward to next year,” Hillary told Gail Collins recently. “I just want to sleep and exercise and travel for fun. And relax. It sounds so ordinary, but I haven’t done it for 20 years. I would like to see whether I can get untired. I work out and stuff, but I don’t do it enough and I don’t do it hard enough because I can’t expend that much energy on it.”

If she does return to civilian life, most of us would nod with understanding. Some things are more important than being Leader of the Free World. Like sleeping in, or turning off your phone for a couple days and catching up on the last few years’ worth of movies or books.

Some say that after menopause we’re more like who we were at age eleven. I think we long to return to who we were before all the obligations and transformations were required. Before we started changing ourselves into that nice young lady, that girlfriend, that worker, that wife, that mother, that corporate person. In the case of HRC, that global politician. Wouldn’t it be crazy to explore that path?

We yearn for authenticity. We miss the real us.

I’m reading a book about professional women transitioning into retirement. Many of their essays contain exhaustive lists of the equally high-level, professional accomplishments they expect to achieve in this new phase. It appears they expect to work part-time until they are prevented from doing so by death or disability. I understand remaining active and not turning into a sloth, but at what point will we feel we’ve earned the right to fritter away our time in joyful nothingness?

Perhaps we still feel a need to prove ourselves. Perhaps as older people we’re afraid of being marginalized, so we work hard to earn our keep and deflect criticism.

Yet, getting a blood clot in your skull can force you to reprioritize. You see that it might be okay to simply park your ass in a lawn chair and savor the quiet of mid-day on your own peaceful patio. Sure, it’s good to be productive. But here we are on this good Earth. What are we doing with that privilege?

Hillary is powerful, well-traveled, and accomplished. She’s a warm and loving person with a throw-her-head-back guffaw. I would award her Crone status. I admire the hell out of her, and I wish her the greatest happiness and hopefully, many years of dolce far niente.

The Power of Maturity – Bring It Home, Baby

The late Benazir Bhutto

There’s something about turning 50 or being close to it that allows you to benefit from your hard-won experience. This is a time when our life lessons come home.

Jane Fonda

I remember when I was in my 20s and 30s thinking I had everything figured out. But now at almost 60? No comparison. In our younger years, we’re just gathering data. Then at some point our vision clears, and we’re able to assimilate it. Dr. Christiane Northrup would say that it’s because of our changing levels of hormones.

Olympia Snowe

She believes that these hormones were responsible for keeping us complacent and placid during the years that we’re fertile. Otherwise, we might go crazy and do something bad to our babies or our mate. Then at a certain point your reproductive ability diminishes and the fog clears (again, this is according to her hypothesis).

Hillary Clinton

The woman now has new perspective, and along with it, a new impatience. I selected the pictures of these famous women because they have that face – they know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you or your friends have looked around at the world, even if only your little slice of it, and suddenly felt unable to tolerate the same old, same old. Did you know the divorce rate is highest among women around age 50 – and it’s the women who are instigating them? According to one study, a primary reason for breaking up a long time union is a desire to move to a new city, state, or country, but the husband is unwilling to go.

Sonia Sotomayor

At this time of life, women are freer, no longer responsible for dependent children (at least, theoretically.) At this point we have the strength to handle reality. I recently heard of a middle-aged woman finally giving up and accepting that her birth mother still didn’t want her. This heartbreaking truth was probably evident all along, but it took some time for the adoptive daughter to realize and accept it. I suspect she would not have been able to handle it had she been younger and this is why the realization is now hitting her. And life will go on.

Whoopi Goldberg

I’ve mentioned a million times that I live in a 55+ community. I frequently hear people saying “I’m not going to put up with that anymore.” Or, “I’m too old to take that nonsense.” As much as I think there’s a danger that we might use our age as an excuse to disengage, I really think you do reach a point in life where you are able to gather all of the data that you’ve collected, look at it with a mature eye, draw conclusions, and then act.

This is empowerment.

This is the time for cutting loose, and letting go, and standing up for ourselves, regardless of the price we might have to pay. The strength and power of this demographic – of us – has never been measured, but you know I’m right. You feel it, don’t you? The question is, how are you going to use it?

What Does Wisdom Mean to Me?

One of the greatest benefits of aging is the accumulation of wisdom. My friend Christina Katz gave me the idea to identify the wisdom I’ve gained over the years. Here’s my list, and I hope you’ll add to it with your comments:

  1. I have more clever tactics for getting out of stuff I don’t want to do.
  2. I know how to deliver bad news in a compassionate and positive way.
  3. I’m less likely to be shocked and thrown off kilter by the crappy behavior of fellow humans, because I’ve seen it before.
  4. I know how to get out of a funk (without using drugs!)
  5. I understand how quickly things can change, and to stay light on my feet.
  6. I know more ways to help folks who are hurting, whereas when younger I used to avoid them because I felt awkward.
  7. I understand the humanity that underpins slapstick humor, and now I laugh at it. When I was younger I thought it was childish and superficial.
  8. I understand how to value the present.
  9. I know that I am just as important as the next human being, and thus am less often a doormat.
  10. I know how to tell whether a friendship has run its course.
  11. I know how to bob and weave when necessary.
  12. I understand what Christopher Hitchens means when he says that he doesn’t have a body; he is a body.

I hope you’ll send me your comments and let us learn from you, oh wise ones!