http://www.nextavenue.org re-posted this piece once again, originally written in 2015 in honor of Mother’s Day and my mom.
Their title: My Mother, My Inspiration…
You remember the phrase our parents used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Here are some “Do as I say” edicts spoken by my Mother:
-Sit up straight.
-Walk looking up, not down at your feet. (My sister Linda stepped on a nail when she tried that!)
-Your face is going to freeze like that.
-Don’t talk to strangers.
-Yes you are going with me to so and so’s house. Why? Because I said so.
-Go to school. If you still feel sick in a few hours, call me.
-Play nice with others. Treat them as you want to be treated.
-Put on lipstick. You never know who you are going to meet.
There were 25 people at Mom’s 95th birthday February 2nd. It was a joyous, energized and eclectic occasion filled with relatives and friends, old and young, gay and straight, black and white. People couldn’t wait to hug and kiss her and tell stories about where they met and how she inspires them.
Linda and I are in the most enviable position of being able to focus, and change, the second half of the phrase ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ We now tell ourselves, as we navigate through our lives, ‘do as she does’ .
I bet some people look at Mom’s wonderful smile and her ‘in the moment’ energy and think, “Wow, this woman has had an easy, happy life.” From loosing both her parents by the age of 12, raising three children with no child support, to the loss of one of her daughters, how wrong they would be.
Author Vivian Greene wrote: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
This is how Mom chooses to dance:
-By not putting herself down, beating herself up or saying negative things that demean who she is.
-By never saying, ‘why me?’
-By accepting that “this is the way life is.”
-By recognizing the good in others and treating everyone as an individual. She still tells Linda and me not to speak to strangers, but she never meets a stranger. It doesn’t matter if it is a clerk in a store or the person in the auto detailing shop, the first thing she’ll ask is their name.
-By never forgetting about the little girl who lives within her. She brings her out to play. When I called the other night, she told me she was watching a ‘penguin movie’ and could not talk. She failed to hang up the phone properly so I was able to listen to her laugh, all by herself, while watching Happy Feet on TV.
-By repeating daily, “Some one up there is watching out for us and I’m so GRATEFUL.” Grateful being the optimum word.
-By getting out of her house and engaging in life. “I have to see people every day.”
-By saying, “Exercise. I notice one of the first things to go are your legs.” Mom rides a stationary bike at a gym almost every day.
-By carrying herself with dignity and grace with her head held high. And I don’t remember her ever stepping on a nail!
-By putting her lipstick on before she walks out of the house!
Do what she does? You bet. I’m learning how to dance in the rain.
One of my goals is to celebrate my 95th birthday, happy and healthy, with family and a group of eclectic friends, while wearing a brilliant shade of red lipstick!
How about you?
Age Perfect. What it is and Isn’t:
Madge Hardcastle played by Celia Imrie in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel said:
“…I don’t want to grow older. I don’t want to be the first person they let off the plane in a hostage crisis.”
Well one thing age perfect isn’t is wishing we were younger. That seems quite obvious but is it? Often we find ourselves in situations where the notion of wishing we were younger pops up. I totally get there are things about being younger that many of us wish for and with good reason! I asked my husband what he wished aging wasn’t. Among other things, it was getting out of bed with the aches and pains! Very honestly for me, I wish that after the kids are gone and the job is over your libido came roaring back!!
The whole idea of wishing to be younger is not a comfortable one. It isn’t for me. I think to myself, “Knowing what I know now, wouldn’t it be fun to go back?” Then the reality hits, if I went back, I wouldn’t know what I know now!! DUH! It doesn’t work that way.
A baby shower was held for the owner of the gym my friend attends. The conversation was about jobs, having children and material things. My friend felt like she was back in high school being left out. It was then she had an ‘aha’ moment: jobs, having children and things are not that important to her anymore. She gravitated to a woman who was closer to her age. Consequently they had a lot in common. No more feeling left out.
Age Perfect. What it is:
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says:
Age Perfect. What it is:
The following article written by Jordi Lippe-McGraw, a millennial, recognized ‘age perfect’ when she saw it! Don’t let the title fool you! It’s an empowering piece. Please read it.
I’m adding to Jordi’s list of reasons we are a pretty great group of “old people”…
- Acceptance of things we can not change frees us to ‘be where we are’
- We honor the value of our experiences
- Our focus on what is important changes from ‘things’ to relationships
- Gratitude increases
- We just don’t care that much what other people think of us
What does age perfect mean to you? Let me know!
Originally posted 2016-07-04 18:21:02.
I am writing 5 reasons to believe in love after 50 in response to an article I read recently: http://gateway-women.com/but-what-if-i-dont-want-to-wear-purple-when-im-old/. Although Jody Day’s blog was started in 2011 to support women who are childless (not by choice), which I also relate to, this particular post talks mainly about her having to grieve once again. This time the grief is related to feeling invisible to men after 50.
I will go a step further and say that after a certain age, the whole lot of us become invisible. The awareness of that feeling can leave a person with such a sense of ‘ugh’ in the pit of their stomach. I’ve been there.
While I can relate to Jody’s sense of grief, a day came when I thought, “Hey, wait a minute, how rich and diverse and multi-layered I have become precisely due to the years I’ve been on this earth. No-one or anything can take that away from me, except me!!” Hence, a major shift occurred. It’s one of the main reasons I began this blog.
It’s noteworthy that there are people over 50 that relish their lives without a partner. I get that. There are also people who read my blog that have been married for 20, 30, even 50 years, that are probably saying, ‘What the heck are you all thinking?’ HA! Kidding…!
5 reasons to believe in love after 50:
Me, Mom, Cindy, Beverly and one who shall remain anonymous!
ME– Once that ‘ugh’ left the pit of my tummy, my smile returned and so did my zest for living my best life. I took care of me first then everything else seemed to fall into place. Soon after joining a dating site (after 12 years of being single) I met Jake. I was 55. He was only 2 years my junior and was looking for someone he could relate to. The rest is history.
MOM–“I’m done cooking! The kitchen is closed!” That’s what my 96-year-old Mom said when at age 80 she lost her husband. She was done with marriage. She was married over 30 years the second time around. Not that her marriage was bad. It wasn’t. Three years later, while walking out of a restaurant, she stopped to say hello to friends who were dining with a friend of theirs. As she walked away from their table, Bern, the friend, got up and followed Mom out the door. They were together for over 10 years. The dynamics were different this time around. Mom called him her “SO” (significant other). Mom asked Bern what made him run after her. He said he was captivated by her smile. He lived in his home and Mom lived in hers. They were in love until he passed away. And by the way, her kitchen remained closed!!
CINDY–I put Cindy in the category of women who for many years relished being single. She has travelled and continues to travel all over the world. She is a cyclist, avid reader, takes classes at a nearby college and has friends all over the place. I know she wasn’t looking for a relationship. It found her. Bruce cycles with her and others. Over a period of time something drew them to each other and BOOM…they are having a wonderful time.
BEVERLY–Dr. Beverly Nelson has a Ph.D in clinical psychology. She is the founder and director of www.lifepathretreats.com in San Miguel de Allende Mexico. Like Cindy, I have known Beverly for over 30 years. What a rich, textured, interesting life she leads. Another exquisite woman who relished her single life until falling in love with Michael. They were married in our home last year.
ONE WHO SHALL REMAIN ANONYMOUS–A friend who has never married, content with her life, her home, her community and her job found love and relationship after 50 with a man she had a crush on years ago. They are having a wonderful adventure.
5 (more) reasons to believe in love after 50:
- Never say never.
- It can happen to you if you want it to.
- Realize men and women have the same desire to find someone they can relate to.
- Be proud of the years of experience that make you you.
- There is nothing more attractive than a smile. Find yours first, everything else will follow.
Most of all Jody, I hope these stories help inspire you. You are an amazing writer and motivator. You also live a textured, interesting life. Grieve a little, then continue living your best life. I guarantee you the feeling of being invisible will become a thing of the past.
So, to all the Italian men you referenced in your blog…Look out!
Originally posted 2016-06-22 13:09:33.
Connection-How to Find it. I’m grateful Mom is a 96-year-old happy woman who still inspires so many. Grateful because if I read the article below, not knowing it doesn’t have to be that way, I’d be breathing in a bag right now:
The most dramatic change in social engagement was observed in 55- to 64-year-olds. This cohort, which is nearing retirement, is not only engaging less with their communities, but they have fewer meaningful interactions with their spouses or partners and weaker ties to family and friends.
Mom grabs life any way she can. Sister Linda and I live in Virginia and all of her friends and family are gone. Connection is extremely important to her. Whether it be eating breakfast at the same deli every morning because, “I have to see people every day” to walking around the common area at her condo to “be in touch with a little nature ” or knocking on a neighbor’s door to introduce herself. She said hello to a family next door who had a little boy. She supported his school by buying wrapping paper and chocolate over the years. The last time I was there, that ‘little boy’ was 19 and home from his first year of college. He saw Mom as we walked to our car, ran out of his house and gave her the biggest hug. They talked for 15 minutes about college and his life. As I watched the two of them, I couldn’t help getting teary eyed. Mom was in heaven. When we got in the car she said to me, “See, it doesn’t take much.”
Connection is risky but at this point in our lives, we probably have taken a few risks along the way. That’s why the article from http://www.nextavenue.org was jaw dropping. Really? People disengage? YIKES! A good friend said, “Risk taking is a conscious decision.” I agree. When we were younger, most of us thought less about the consequences associated with taking a risk. As time goes by, we tend to forget how elated and proud we were when something we jumped into worked out. It seems now we concentrate more on the “I think I’ll remain in my comfort zone because I don’t need to prove anything anymore” mode.
The questions we ask, before taking on something new or getting out of our comfort zones, change. 10 or 20 years ago we might have said, “What do I have to lose?” Now the questions become, What do I really want? What am I missing? Am I happy? If the answer, especially to the last question, is no, take a deep breath and dive right in.
(This portion taken from a previous blog dated March, 2014)
Keeps you in touch with you
Keeps you interesting
Keeps you involved in life
Keeps you healthy
Keeps you engaged with others
Keeps you excited
How to find connection:
Volunteer. There are so many people in our age groups that are volunteering. Even if you are an introvert, it’s a great way to connect with others of like mind.
Take a trip. Day trips, overnights, cruises, educational…So many trips out there. I know people who have made life long friends from all over the world.
Go for a walk. Nature is a wonderful feeling of connection.
Learn something new. Everyone in a class is there because they want to learn something new, too. Takes the scary out of trying it when you realize that.
Sample working with your hands. A friend of mine started knitting. She’s in the knit shop all the time getting mistakes corrected and meeting others in her same situation.
Learn to dance. Everyone is a novice.
Smile a lot. People will be drawn to you. I see it with Mom all the time.
Get a pet if you can. Nothing like walking a dog to meet other people.
Knock on a neighbor’s door. I moved to Dallas Texas not knowing anyone. My girlfriend, who drove to Texas with me said she was going next door to meet my neighbor so I would at least know someone. NOOOOOOO, I said. Believe it or not, I was quite the introvert and very shy. I practically tackled her! Well, she did it anyway and it’s a good thing she did. He knew everyone in the apartment complex and included me in all that was going on. I learned right then if she had not made that move, I would have been so very lonely. That lesson has served me well.
Join a team sport: After reading this post the day I published, a rowing buddy and my good friend Eleanor reminded me that 3 out of the 4 of us that rowed the Head of the Charles (a premier rowing regatta in Boston) had all begun rowing in our 50’s! How could I forget that!! When we started in our respective novice programs none of us knew what we were doing, but we have stuck with it. The camaraderie and team spirit we have developed between the four us as well as the rest of the team will last us a lifetime.
Please, please, please stay connected! What ever that looks like for you. It will prolong your life.
Just look at Mom!
Originally posted 2016-06-14 20:35:38.