Posted in aging, beauty, humor, Learning, Life, People, Uncategorized

Some Days, It Gets To You

Quotes-about-getting-old-middle-age

I’m just going to come right out and say it- I really despise getting older, some days. I would probably despise it every day if I remembered it was happening, but most of the time, I have other stuff going on, and I forget about it. Thank God. Because if I were this acutely aware of my downhill slide all the time, I would probably need Prozac or whatever they give people for depression at the moment. It’s just not a lot of fun, at all. It sucks, quite frankly, and all the time I wasted on being in denial about the aging process ever happening to me would have been better spent panhandling the small fortune necessary to buy those expensive, totally confusing, anti-aging creams and potions lining three aisles of every respectable store in America. The ones I guess I was supposed to start using back in my twenties, when I hadn’t even grasped the concept of face-wash, for Pete’s sake. I was behind before I ever showed up at the race.

Anyway, I know that some women handle this much more gracefully than I am-especially today-and I admire you, I really do, for your ability to adjust. I thought I would definitely be one of your kind. I remember watching my mother moaning at herself in the mirror as she pulled at every bit of skin that wasn’t quite as firm as it’d been…she would say things like “You have no idea how HORRIBLE it is, getting older.” to me, and I would be filled with dread, bleak depression, and…disgust that she cared so much. I swore I would never, ever care that much about my dumb old face. Easy to say when you are a twenty four year old who couldn’t produce a line on her face without a pen if her life depended on it.

Just like in a million other ways, I am the exact same as my mother in this terrible panic over my visible aging. I know how shallow and vain I am sounding right now, and I don’t care- I really fucking liked being pretty, being young, and being confident in my ability to turn heads when I wanted to. I REALLY liked it, like, I had no idea how much. And the sad, stupid thing is, I never truly believed it would be any different! I figured that somehow, I would get older, but not look older. Or I would just be one of those rare, striking, attractive older women you see here and there. Instead, I feel like all the spackle and effort in the world wouldn’t help me much today. All my best tricks aren’t even elevating me from this funky, frumpy swill pit I’m in.

The other issue is that I am FAT right now, and for the foreseeable future as well, if I don’t start doing something to reverse and repair it. But I am too busy moping around, wishing I had my old metabolism, still. Rather than take a walk, I sulk in my room, scowling down at my stomach as if it crawled up my legs and attached itself there while I slept. Nope, months…okay, honestly, years of sore neglect in the fitness area have finally won, outlasting my bodies firmity and taking up residence in a layer of blubber that is spreading as I type this. By the time I get up, another inch will be added to my hips, and I will eat a bag of frito’s and a slice of s’mores cake in despair.

So, I am not having the most fabulous day today, clearly. I am very sorry for being the opposite of motivational- unless of course you are a twenty year old who still has time to start slathering emollients on herself three to five times a day. If that’s the case, good for you. May your chin and your neck be two things forevermore. I will be on damage control from here on out, with this gravity stricken flesh pod of mine. Damn you, nature! Damn it all.

I am somewhat kidding, you know, but not really enough to avoid being sad- I realize that. Like I said, days like today, when I feel gross and my reflection in the mirror looks unfamiliar, are few and far between. Most of the time, I am running through my life completely unaware of how I look, and feeling as young as I always have. I am young, for Pete’s sake! 38 is NOT old. But it truly is the beginning, at least for me, of changes that aren’t all that exciting. Would I want to be twenty again, the way that I was? Hell, no. But I sure do wish I would have appreciated how lovely my ass was, I’ll admit that much.

In closing, I will share with you a thought that came to me earlier, when all of this started- Middle age is WAY worse than the big deal everyone makes over puberty! At least with puberty, there’s a chance you’ll come out the other side better…middle age does not make that promise, friends. This is as good as it gets.

Posted in escape, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

Dreaming Away a Gray Morning…

courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com
courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com

If you ask me, daydreaming is a pastime that is sorely undervalued. It seems to me I was scolded for it as a child, and as an adult, it is hard to allow yourself to just sit there, gazing off into space as your head just floats off to wherever it does…There is always something else more important you could be doing, right? That vague sort of guilt at your criminal idleness, when, for GOD’s SAKE, there are dishes that need to be done, you deadbeat!

But you know what? I am putting my foot down, and objecting to all of that crap drilled into me throughout my life, by teachers, by parents, by bosses and, eventually, my own inner critic. Daydreaming was one of the most beautiful parts of my childhood- the elaborate, ongoing games of pretend that I played, the worlds and characters assembled from my own imagination, captivated me to no end. I’m not sure how my little neighborhood friends felt about the roles I forced them to play day after day, but if they had any complaints, I certainly don’t remember. Not that it would have mattered- it was my world, my rules. I never said I was the nicest kid on the block, just the bossiest one with the big imagination.

Through the years, my daydreaming evolved organically into writing- you can only facilitate games of pretend for so long, you know. But even apart from the writing, I think these daydreams of mine have served another, very useful, purpose. Way before “The Secret” ever hit the scene, before I knew anything about “visualization” or any of that stuff, I was imagining my life into being. I am not saying that everything I ever dreamed up, I also manifested into being (thank God! My favorite game of pretend was called “adoption”, where I was an orphaned child adopted by people so rich they owned Hawaii…think “Annie”, with an island, and a kitchen sort of like what the Jetson’s had.), but all of that speculating on my life did allow me to take note of the things I really did like the idea of. Some things fell to the wayside, but some became goals.

About a year ago, I was sorting through some old notebooks. One of them lay open on the bed, and Devon and I were talking about all the stuff I had written…he asked me what this particular thing was, so I grabbed it, scanned through it, and laughed, handing it to him. It was a list I had scribbled out several years earlier, when I was still in Nevada. My goals were listed, small but specific- 1) Pass my CCA exam; 2) Get a fabulous, great paying job at a hospital in Monterey; 3) Move back to the coast, near the ocean, in a cute place with two bedrooms…I think there were more things on the list, but you get the idea. The most striking thing about them was that I had put a timeframe at the top, like “By this time next year”. Somehow, three out of the five things, at least, had happened.

Right now, I am picturing myself in that house again- the big old Craftsman in Santa Cruz somewhere, preferably near downtown. I can see the wide, grand looking staircase just past the front door with the glass panels. I can see the polished hardwood floors, and the big, beautiful rugs that lay on top of them, here and there. I know the kitchen is warm and bright and full of light, and the living room is cool and calm and dark when the day is warm. I see my study with it’s big, oversized, gleaming wood surface right in the center of the room, littered with the debris of a writers’ life- reference books and scribbled notes, a cup of coffee, a jar full of pens. The window behind me overlooks a sunny backyard, full of flowers and leafy things, grassy parts for kids, shady parts for grown ups…

If nothing ever comes of this vision, who will it have hurt to have dreamed it? This scene in my head pushes me forward when I feel like doing nothing, but I could be writing. It gives me a purpose, and something big to work towards. It is the closest thing to stillness I can achieve, daydreaming. And I think it’s something that everyone should spend a little more time doing. What would it hurt?

Posted in aging, escape, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, Uncategorized, writing

Shifting Gears, Changing Lanes

takethefirststep-300x225

This will not, contrary to what the title so misleadingly suggests, be a blog about driving. Nope, sorry, no cars will be mentioned beyond this sentence. Besides which, it’s been so long since I’ve driven a stick-shift, I’m not even sure I could shift gears if I needed to. Nope, I’m talking about the internal, metaphorical shifting of gears and changing of lanes that we go through as human beings on the road of our lives- sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes we do it without even noticing (Like when you pull into your driveway and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home whatsoever.), and sometimes we do it because we have no choice- some other “driver” runs you off the road, or you find yourself unable to get around one road block or another. Sometimes you just can’t stand the stretch of highway you are on anymore. So you put on your blinker (although what this would be, metaphorically, I have no idea) and you get the hell out of there.

What a liberating concept, huh? That at any time in our lives, when the way things are leave a little (or a lot) to be desired…we can do something else. This applies to pretty much any situation, at any point in time, period. Even as I write these words, I feel the part of me that has been molded by the polite and acceptable rules of society going into a panic.  If it had more control over me (and it sometimes does) it would be destroying all evidence of this entire thought process- that’s how nervous the notion of change makes this predictable, safe, facet of my personality. But that doesn’t make my statement any less true. I know that I can change nearly any aspect of my life, anytime I want to, to any degree I want to, just BECAUSE I want to.

I used to know this well, and take full advantage of it, often, when I was younger. Then I got a little more grown up and realized that I wanted my life to look more like other people’s lives. I wanted a better job, a credit card so that I could rent a car if I needed to, cable TV, and more money. So I did what most people do when they wait what they feel is “too long” to settle down- I panicked, and went after the life I thought I could fit myself into rather than the life that fit me. I chose stability, safety, financial security and the chance to finally make my mother happy over the much riskier, less certain life of pursuing my dreams. Most people would see nothing at all wrong with that- as a matter of fact, it’s probably the norm for about eighty percent of the employed population. We put our dreams in the backseat, the closet, or tucked in a drawer somewhere, and we tend to our families, our bank accounts, our dental appointments, and…everything else, first. We intend to get back to those dreams, once things mellow out, or the kids get a little older, or just as soon as this happens or that stops happening. We may realize, one day, that we have been better at keeping our promises to everyone else then we have to ourselves. Some people dismiss their most cherished hopes for themselves as “kid stuff”, and toss them out.

I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to give up, or finally have the right set of circumstances to start being who I really am…only to find that it would have been easier, better, more enjoyable, if only I had started way back when.

I don’t really know how to do it. I mean, I know that what I want to do is write, I know that I am a writer, whether I am known to millions of people, or only to myself- I was a writer the first time I scribbled out a horrible poem at the age of seven or eight. I have been enchanted by words, by the amazing, magical way their arrangement on a page could make the most incredible adventure begin, or bring the hidden, inner life of someone to beautiful light, nearly all of my life. But I am very uncertain about how to navigate the path from here to the best-sellers list. No matter how many books and articles I read on the subject of queries and revision, on genre and agents and submission guidelines, platforms and outlines, I still feel unprepared to take the next step. I am starting to suspect that I will continue to feel this way no matter what.

SO! I’ve decided to just go ahead anyway. I am thirty eight years old, and I don’t want to wait any longer to “feel ready”. Yes, I am not brimming with the confidence of someone either totally prepared or completely, blissfully, ignorant, but I doubt I am the only one who has ever felt this way. I am just not willing to let my fear stop me anymore. I am making some very big changes, and all of them are geared towards helping me get to where I want to be. Because I don’t want to live a pretty okay life anymore, and the strain it is causing me, this weird, pervasive unhappiness that makes me feel like such an ass (oh, poor you, with your incredible job, boo-hoo) is heading me straight for consequences I definitely don’t want.

I have mapped out a plan. Part of that plan is to commit to a minimum of two, but a goal of three, blogs per week. I would also like to get back to my original purpose, at least in part, which was to write about navigating the treacherous waters of being a (gulp!) middle aged woman and learning how young middle age really is. Because it really, really, is. So expect to be hearing a lot more from me. And at least a little more of that particular subject, although I reserve the right to also go off on tangents in totally unrelated subjects.

Change can be alarming, and make you lose your sense of equilibrium. Change can be unwanted and painful, hard to get through. But change can also be an absolute necessity, something you might be willing to give up everything- your job, your money, every comfort in your life- for. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for change to come close enough to you to grab. Sometimes you get up off your ass and start creating change right in the middle of your own kitchen. Which is what I have decided to do. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared half to death of what might happen…I’m just more afraid of what can NEVER happen if I don’t try.

Posted in friendship, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Judgement, Jabs, and Other Rude Behavior.

judgement

When I was quite young and had absolutely no life experience, I was overflowing with opinions on things about which I knew nothing about. I was not confused in the least about what was right or wrong, and I was not shy about letting people know my thoughts about things, either. Looking back, I realize that my opinions and beliefs weren’t even really MINE at all, but just the ones I’d borrowed from the adults I’d been raised by…which is pretty amusing to me, now, when I see how incredibly different my thinking wound up being from where I believed it to be. I was so confident in my own superior knowledge that I was totally closed off from consideration of any other possibilities. This is the first indication that you aren’t as smart as you think you are- when you are so convinced of your own correctness you can’t even hear another person’s point of view.

Because I was so smart and so much less confused than everyone around me, it was quite natural and easy for me to judge people unkindly for their mistakes, their lifestyles, or their bad decisions. I didn’t try to hide what I thought about people anymore than I did my thoughts about anything else. I grew up hearing “you are better than that” quite a bit, and this was applied both to my behavior and to who I was in relation to others- I was told that I was better than the folks I ran around with, and I believed it, for the most part. Rather than find new friends, though, I chose to stick around and lord my snotty better-ness over everyone. Except the ones who were better than me, of course. Even I knew that if I were better than some, some were better than me.

Do you have any idea how damaging this thought process can be, especially over the course of many years? I was constantly sizing people up, trying to figure out which group they belonged in so that I knew how to behave. I had no idea who I was when there was no one else around to measure myself against. I hurt good people simply because I deemed them “less” than me, and looked up to total assholes because they appeared to be “more”. I was mean, unkind, rude and ugly, all because I believed a weird version of what I’d been told and had no thoughts of my own.

The universe must get a special thrill when they come across an idiot like me. I got the opportunity to experience 99% of the issues I had so vocally, adamantly judged others for. You name it, I went through it- from unwanted pregnancy to welfare to homelessness and horrible choices, I eventually had my own story to tell about it. Not surprisingly, my mind had changed greatly about things by the time all was said and done, and I was better for having learned it.

Along the way, I began to notice my hesitation to agree with someone when they were spouting off about another person’s behavior, actions, or motives, especially when it was harsh. My first thoughts were selfish- every time I had judged someone, it seemed to wind up happening to me, and I didn’t want that. Eventually, though, it just didn’t feel good to be mean, even behind the back, of someone who was already struggling with stuff. It felt better to present other possible, more generous reasons on the person’s behalf…which really didn’t please whoever was tearing them down at the time, let me tell you.

As this change was happening inside of me, I also began to notice how much less black and white there was in my thinking, and how much more gray, how many variations there were to the spaces between the lines I had once seen as clear and distinct. As unsettling as this was, it was also amazing, because now there were endless possibilities where right and wrong had been before. The more allowances there were for differences, the less I could form an opinion about someone else, which meant I was far more open to knowing them, and hearing them, and finding the good in them. When I stopped judging others constantly, I changed into someone better.

I’m not saying I am perfect- far from it! Everyday, depending on my mood, I think shitty thoughts about some clueless stranger, for the way they look, or the way they drive, or whatever. It is human nature, and a habit that isn’t easy to break. But when I catch myself, I stop, and find something nice to say. I know how dumb that sounds, but it’s true. I also have to accept that not everyone is working on the same stuff as me, and I notice lots of people who make no effort at all to curb their opinions or judgements. As crappy as this can be, I know that they will keep on until they get it, and they’ll get it when they have to. No sooner. It doesn’t have to change my behavior- I don’t need to slap back just to be even.

It was the sound of my own voice echoing back at me as I struggled that convinced me, more than anything else, to change; not the cruelest words anyone else had ever used to cut me down. I have to believe I am not alone in this. So, I hold my tongue, knowing in that silence their own words are loud and clear in the air between us, ready for whatever journey they are on.