Lessons Learned by a Woman of a Certain Age

imageHeavy D and me in days gone by…
It seems like only yesterday I was gazing at myself in the mirror of our bathroom in the old house on Westwood lane, the green and gray/purple tiles reflecting in the background. I was sixteen, and wondering what I would look like when I was thirty. What would change? Now I don’t even remember being thirty. It’s just like my mother said- all of the sudden you are “older” (Mom said you had to say “older” and not “old”), and you have no idea where the time went. Where did those wrinkles come from? The gray hair (God bless you, Alan of Sanctuary Salon). Where did my memory go? My usually renowned patience and calm?

As I navigate what my friend Lisa Dingle calls “Mental-pause,” I am learning so many lessons. Now if I can just remember them…that short-term memory malfunction of this time in my life is a bear. I can’t tell you how many times I go upstairs to get something, and then can’t remember what that ‘something’ is. At least it makes my Fitbit happy. I got to the gym yesterday with what I thought was my carefully packed gym bag and found that I’d forgotten to include my tennis shoes and the ever-important running bra. I looked like a calendar girl for the ‘Women of Walmart’ with my bra straps prominently displayed under my tank top, and striped yoga socks sticking out of my Walkfit shoes. Sigh.    

  Besides the rampant forgetfulness, I am finding that my irritation level has hit DEFCON 5. I have always been an incredibly patient person (with others if not with myself), but yesterday when the man on the treadmill next to me started burping loudly and randomly yelling along with whatever he was listening to on his headphones, and then another man walked in and got on the machine on the other side of me having a very loud and long conversation on speaker phone….well, I thought I would lose it. I cranked up My Fair Lady on my iPod (What? Julie Andrews is a great workout partner!), and tried to breathe. I was getting ready to go to Dan’s yoga class, and I didn’t think it would look good to pop a vein beforehand. I may or may not have muttered  Jesus!, giving my best Mary Poppins glare while looking at the loudest offender. It made me feel better. 

Yoga has become essential to my sense of calm, though I have to breathe deeply when someone’s cell phone goes off during savasana, or when someone puts their mat too close to mine and invades my personal space. Sometimes I think that maybe I should become a hermit for a few years until this madness passes. The world would be a safer place. 

Sleeping is a challenge- when I can sleep. I go to bed freezing, and wake up throughout the night alternately roasting, freezing, roasting…Poor Dan and the dogs. Sophie, who acts as my canine hot water bottle, has become accustomed to having my half of the comforter thrown on her and then ripped off later all through the night. She accepts me no matter what- and when she doesn’t, she just goes to lay on Dan’s feet. 

This time of my life isn’t all bad, though, because I’ve learned other lessons, too. I have learned to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously. I’ve learned to become more comfortable in my skin, wrinkled or not. I’ve learned what is really important to me, and it has nothing to do with age, but everything to do with love, with family, with enjoying whatever time I have left on this planet. That helping others and doing your best to be a good human means so much more than what clothes you wear or how fancy your house is.  I love the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 

When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, your’re the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.

The only change I’d make? I hope that everyone else is smiling and laughing, too. And I hope it’s because I made them laugh on my deathbed because of something goofy I said or did. What an exit that would be! Crossing my fingers. 

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