Welcome to 50!

Turning 50 is a monumental event. I always imagined that at half a century I would be a wise, strong, balanced, kind, confident and powerful woman who had it all figured out.

As it turns out - I'm the same person I've always been. Getting to 50 is the same as getting to any age of your life. Just trying to be the best person you can be.

Cheers! G

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The self-help gurus - Robert Holden

At almost half a century old, I've read a solid pile of self help books and done my share of navel gazing. I think that each of us has a balance somewhere between looking inward and examining ourselves, and looking outward, and just living the lives we have. Both are necessary, but either one in excess can throw us off balance.

This year, I'm going to have a look at some of the popular self help gurus, and consider what they have to say - and at the same time, I am going to take myself outside, and just live more.

Robert Holden is a happiness guru, and has a 'radical 10 day plan to accept who you really are.' I thought I would give it a look:
Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be, long enough to find out who you really are. Robert Holden has a 10-day plan to help you figure out who this self is that you're supposed to be accepting and how to say yes to your life.
Take a moment right now to assess where you are on the self-acceptance scale. Over the next 10 days, focus on just one main principle and exercise on the pages that follow. At the end, take the test again to see how much you've grown.
The self-acceptance scale can be found here, on Oprah's site if you want to join the party and follow along for ten days.

I scored about 50%, and though I doubt 10 days can change the balance of self esteem, it could be a good place to start.

Monday, December 3, 2012

First Day of the last year of my 40s

Yesterday was my birthday, and to be honest, it ranked up there with the worst birthdays ever. There was no party, no cake, no gifts, no cards, and no singing the birthday song. I know that the horrible birthday is because of my own hermit-behavior, and depression etc, but that doesn't stop my inner self from feeling lost, alone, and sorry for myself. So, I cried myself to sleep and resolved to get on with things.
This is my new year, and I am going to make it a much better one. I would like to be able to read this on my 50th birthday, look back over the year, and see what amazing changes I've been able to make. It's up to me. With that in mind, it's time to start making changes. I have to set some goals, and learn how to make them happen. Here's a start. I want to journal all of this year - I've been having a hard time finding the motivation to do it - but this is the beginning and here we are. I want to lose about 20 lbs and get in shape so I can feel good about my body again. I want to quit smoking this year. I want to get in better financial shape this year. That's a good start for today.
The next step is to build the steps I need to achieve my goals. Today I am cocooning and licking my wounds and building strength.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Getting to 50 Bucket List

I've jotted down the beginnings of bucket lists a few times in my life, but never kept them and never really took the items on the list seriously as life goals.

The BucketList website is a great way to finally build that list and begin to make those things happen. You've got to check it out! It's going to be fun!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fuzzy Wuzzy Wuz a Bear

When I'm struggling with the bad blues, I can't seem to write at all. I tend to hide out in my cave like a wounded bear - but then it's hard to come out and re-join the fray. However, I realized the other day that one positive thing I can say for myself is that I keep trying. Not that I really have any choice in the matter, but I have resolved to teach myself to think more positively. No empty repetition of happy-face phrases, no 'I am good enough!', 'I deserve love!', 'I am special!'. That kind of false silliness only serves to depress me more. But, at this point in my life I believe that our brains really do have the power to run our lives, and I have been running mine down the darkest, scariest paths. 12 days until I turn 49 - and my fondest wish is that this coming year I spend traveling paths with much more light, more laughter and more joy. Think positively and optimistically, and live those thoughts and the resulting actions with consistency and sometimes dogged determination. This is what will make the last year of my forties a good one. See you there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rotten couple of weeks

It's been a rotten couple of weeks, but I am trying to rally. 49th birthday is coming up, and it looms large - I wanted to reach a couple of goals by that time, so that I could start my 49th year at a run, but it doesn't look like I'm going to have much to report. However, there's still a month to go. I could still lose a few pounds, and get some good weeks at my back. It's a constant battle, but this video of Catalina Ferro performing "Anxiety Group" at the NYC Urbana Poetry Slam helped! When I was younger I attacked depression and anxiety in a creative way - and I'd like to get some of that back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting Older

"I'm aging, and I just wish somebody would talk about what that really feels like, even if it's not all good news." Joan Didion

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Virginia Woolf on middle age

“But I don't think of the future, or the past, I feast on the moment. This is the secret of happiness, but only reached now in middle age.” -Virginia Woolf

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why does middle aged long hair bother people so much?

I am getting all ready to turn 50, as you may have guessed already.
I'd like to stand up and say to everyone in the group, I have long hair, and I like it.

Like Dominique in her NYT article previous - I have had a fair amount of crap from people about my hair and my age.

My mother, gone now for six years, so at the time I was only early 40s, used the direct approach to remind me frequently that she disapproved of the length of my hair at my age. She also used the time honored passive aggressive mom approach when it presented itself. We were once watching Ann Coulter on Tv, and I said something like, God, she looks freaking good. My mom's reply was to sigh regretfully, "yes, she would look nice if her hair wasn't so inappropriate."

My sister started commenting on my hair in my early 40s as well. She does tend to lean to the direct side of the fence. "Are you EVER going to cut your hair?" Or, after I actually styled it to go out with her inlaws: "Here's a scarf, let's get that mess out of the way." Or, the sisterly, "don't you think you'd look better if you cut your hair?"

My sister-in-law joined the fray as well - and caused me to think about hard - because she rarely criticizes or offers unsolicited opinions. "You looked so good when you had that bob." "Your hair doesn't really say, professional." She was sweet enough to pay for an appointment at our favorite salon, but was irritated with the stylist because he didn't cut it shorter. I looked like freaking Farrah Fawcett when I came out of there -and I loved it!

If you are middle aged, with long tresses, then you've heard all this and more I'm sure. And we've all probably responded to criticisms with various 'reasons' that we keep our hair the way it is. I know I have 2 or 3 stock responses.

The question is - why do people have this idea that middle age dictates cutting off the long locks for shorter ones, and why the hell does it bother them so much?

I have some thoughts and ideas on this whole question, and they are to come - but I so very much want to hear your thoughts, experiences and ideas. Please! let me know what you think.

cheers! (hair toss)

Stephen King's 11/22/63: A Novel

Just finished reading Stephen King's latest: 11/22/63: A Novel.
I have been a Stephen King reader for a long time, so I restlessly anticipated getting this one in my hot little hands.

Like so many of his, it's a big one - close to 1,000 pages, and it never fails to amaze me how he can keep me essentially riveted from the first page to the last.

All I can say is that I loved it as much as I'd hoped to -and I completely bailed on my responsibilities while I read the whole thing in 2 days.

What a great read - what a great escape. He is truly the consumate storyteller.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why can't middle aged women have long hair?

By Dominique Browning from the Style section of the New York Times

I was excited to see an article in the venerable NYT on a subject I've thought a lot about - but after reading it, I was sorely disappointed. The title of the article suggests some thoughtful discussion and perhaps insight into the general disapproval of middle aged women with long hair - but it turns out to be a peppy, fluffy piece about Dominique's undoubtedly lovely mane, and what the people she knows think about it. She never even addresses the title of her piece. Boo to you Dominique.

Read it though - it's cute, and is a good appetizer for more on this discussion to come.

Why Can't Middle Aged Women Have Long Hair?

MY mother hates it. My sister worries about it. My agent thinks I’m hiding behind it. A concerned friend suggests that it undermines my professional credibility. But in the middle of my life, I’m happy with it. Which is saying a lot about anything happening to my 55-year-old body.

I feel great about my hair.

I have long hair. I’m not talking about long enough to brush gently on my shoulder — when I tilt my head. I’m not talking about being a couple of weeks late to the hairdresser. I’m talking long. Long enough for a ponytail with swing to it. Long enough to sit against when I’m in a chair. Long enough to have to lift it up out of the sweater I’m pulling over my head. Long enough to braid.

What’s worse (to my critics) is that my hair is graying. Of course it is. Everyone’s hair is graying. But some of us aren’t ready to go there. That’s fine with me — I’m not judgmental about dyes. In fact, I find the range and variety of synthetic hair color to be an impressive testament to our unending chemical creativity. I’m particularly fascinated by that streaky kaleidoscopic thing some blondes do that looks kind of like Hair of Fawn. For my own head, I’m a tad paranoid about smelly, itchy potions.

No one seems to have any problems when a woman of a certain age cuts her hair off. It is considered the appropriate thing to do, as if being shorn is a way of releasing oneself from the locks of the past. I can see the appeal, and have, at times in my life, gone that route. Some women want to wash the men (or jobs) right out of their hair. Others of us have to have at them with scissors. Again, I do not judge. Go right ahead, be a 60-year-old pixie.

So why do people judge middle-aged long hair so harshly? I’ve heard enough, by now, to catalog the multitudinous complaints into several broad categories.

YOU’RE ACTING OUT. Long hair is not the appropriate choice of grown-ups. It says rebellion. Hillary Rodham Clinton softens her do, and sets off a bizarre Howl of Angry Inches, as if she had betrayed some social compact. Well, my long hair is indeed a declaration of independence. I am rebelling, variously, against Procter & Gamble, my mother, CondĂ© Nast and, undoubtedly, corporate America in general. Whereas it used to be short hair that was a hallmark of being a liberated woman — remember the feminist chop? I do; I did it — these days, long hair is a mark of liberation.

My mother has a lot to say about my looks: Where did you find that shirt? Did you forget your makeup? She recently suggested, fluttering her hands in the vicinity of her ears, that I get just a very little trim. As if she thought she could still trick me into the barber’s chair to re-enact one of the central traumas of my childhood, when I was marched into a hair salon (so that’s where mothers went?) with hair to my waist and came out an outraged, stunned, ravaged 7-year-old with a stylish, hateful pageboy.

My mother’s favorite expression to me is “Make an Effort.” What she doesn’t understand, of course, is that just because things don’t turn out the way she thinks they should doesn’t mean an effort wasn’t made. It is incredible how parents and children never let go of old habits of relating. My mother still makes me feel like a 15-year-old. However, that no longer feels like a bad thing, if you see what I mean.

YOU’RE STILL LIVING IN THE ’70S. And why not? I like being 55 going on 15. As far as I’m concerned, we never did get better role models than that gang of girls who sang their hearts out for us through lusty days and yearning nights: Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Cher. Emmylou Harris is still a goddess in my book, with that nimbus of silver hair floating past her shoulders. Next thing you know, we’ll take to wearing beaded leather headbands across our foreheads. And, I might add, that was a good look.

If you want to throw Princess Grace, Brigitte Bardot, Ingrid Bergman, Pussy Galore,Sophia Loren, Charlotte Rampling, Isabelle Huppert, Julie Christie and Catherine Deneuve into the mix, who am I to complain? While those sexy sisters are hovering, I might note, with a sense of wonder, that Europeans are much more comfortable with long hair on women of a certain age. But then again, they’re more comfortable with women of a certain age in general. Perhaps I should move to Paris. Come to think of it, this would be making the kind of effort that would make my mother happy.

LONG HAIR IS HIGH MAINTENANCE. Yes, I’ll admit that it is a look that requires tender loving care. It is impossible to body surf without getting seaweed tangled up in it. It is impossible to get it completely dry when one is in a rush to get to a job interview or a blind date. It is impossible to forget one’s hairbrush when one travels. It is impossible to garden or farm or weave or cook without one’s hair getting in the way. I have knitted many a gray strand into many a scarf. Which, by the way, I consider a nice touch. Anyone who disagrees can send me back his Christmas present. It is impossible to let the vacuuming go for too long, lest the bezoars (new vocabulary word) become large enough to choke a tiger.

You would think that having long hair means you are spending a lot of money on hair products. I won’t even tell you what my Madison Avenue hairdresser, Joseph — the consummate high-end hair professional! — told me about how we shouldn’t even be using all those chemically laden shampoos. O.K., I will tell you: Those shampoos strip out the hair’s protective oils, and then you have to replace them with other chemical brews. He recommends regular hot water rinses and massaging of the scalp with fingertips. A little patience is required while the scalp’s natural oils rebalance themselves and — voilĂ  — glossy, thick tresses, for free.

Is it not wonderfully sexy the way our grandmothers, those women of the prairie, or concrete canyons, would braid their hair up in the morning and let their cowboys unravel them at night? Is there not a variety of excellent looks for taming long hair in high winds? What is cooler than stopping to wrap a silk scarf around your mane before you step into a zippy convertible?

MEN LIKE LONG HAIR. Wait. You say that like it’s a bad thing? Long hair is archetypal. And everyone knows that archetypes are all tangled up with desire. There’s a reason mermaids, Selkies and witches have long hair. Ballerinas, too. We all know Rapunzel’s tale, how she sat at the top of her lonely tower, her long hair hanging out the window, until finally, a prince climbed its ropy length to rescue her. Or impregnate her, depending on which version you read. Either way, it worked.

Men like to play with women’s long hair. They like to run their fingers through heavy tresses. They like to loosen tight braids. They like it when long hair tents over their faces during soulful kisses. The long of it is that long hair is sexy. (So is short hair, of course, but in a different way, and we’re not making that case — yet.) The short of it is that long hair means there is always, at least, hope.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday night on the deck!

Such a gorgeous friday evening on the deck. Productive week and tired tonight! Getting to 50 is exhausting!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Andy Rooney on Women Over 50

From Andy Rooney on CBS's 60 minutes:

As I grow in age, I value women over 50 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over 50 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, ‘What are you thinking?’ She doesn’t care what you think.

If a woman over 50 doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it’s usually more interesting.

Women over 50 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age.

You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 50. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 50 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
Older women are forthright and honest.. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one. You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 50 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 50, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?Here’s an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage.Why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Scare Yourself

I just recently read an article by Jay McDonald writing for Bankrate of all places, but it is a great list of his
10 Things to Do Before Turning 50.
My favorite is number 8 - Scare Yourself.

I am finding that as I get older, I have less and less courage for things that scare me. When I was younger I always thought that old people (meaning everyone over about 35) were timid and unspontaneous and over-cautious and just plan boring. I always wondered what happens to people? What makes them way? Will it happen to me? How can I stop it from happening?

At nearly 50, I know that avoiding things that scare me happens in tiny increments over the years. It happens because of life experience - seeing bad things happen makes them more real. It happens when you have children because you want to protect them - and protect yourself so that you can take care of them. It happens because over time we learn our limitations - and often the hard way. And for me, it has happened because I have less confidence that I can rebound from setbacks and failures than I did when I was younger.

I think that being willing to scare yourself means different things for everyone - and for me, it's not as much about jumping off high things (though I find that pretty terrifying), but more about taking personal risks. Taking the risk to try, when it is so often easy not to. Taking the risk to care, to forgive, to hope, to yearn, and mostly - to feel.

It's something to think about. Scary.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Turning 50 Bucket List

I've been carefully considering the goals that I'd like to set for myself for turning 50. Looking around the web, I did find a few people who wrote about their '50 things to do before turning 50,' and I like that idea, but 50 things seems like a lot.

Then I got sidetracked by the idea of the bucket list - and I've always wanted to make one of those too! I guess there would be a lot of overlap on the two lists - the things I'd like to do before I turn 50, and the things I'd like to do before I'm dead. Of course, there's always that possibility that they will coincide... but I'm hoping not.

I decided that a bucket list is a good place to start - to get thinking and get the ideas out there.
Here are a couple of the websites I found which not only facilitate getting your bucket list created - but allow you to interact with other people doing the same thing!

Day Zero Project.com

I'd love to hear what you think of the sites - and about your own bucket list ideas!

The Kite Runner

I picked up The Kite Runner in our building library, and finally read it this weekend. What a glorious read! It was one of those books that I'd heard mentioned a hundred times, but I didn't know anything about it - just opened and started to read.

I didn't stop until I was finished, and though it was rife with dramatic ups and downs, I felt good when I turned the last page. I have been avoiding books that I fear may be too depressing - I am too afraid that I can't handle the emotional weight - but maybe The Kite Runner has changed my mind.

A perfect rainy afternoon book - if you are a fiction lover, don't miss it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dreams of Travel

Known as "the summer cave," this is a restaurant which is part of a boutique hotel called Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare - a town in the province of Bari, Apulia, southern Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea. Let's do lunch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can't always be fabulous

It's been a low energy day - so much so that I couldn't even work up the enthusiasm to go out and get my brand new iPhone 4 for zero dollars down and a thousand dollars a month for three whole years.

So I've decided to give in to the mood of the day and get into my fuzzy jammies, make salmon sandwiches with pickles (those ones that are already cut up into perfect slices by some thoughtful factory worker) and watch Game of Thrones until it's time to reasonably go to bed.

Can't always be fabulous, and sometimes you just have to accept those things you cannot change. 

Must have iphone

I really do want an iphone. I really do. Really bad.
I used to have one, but I gave it up because the monthly fees were too high when I had to add on phones for both my kidlets.
But I want it back!
I can get the iPhone 4 for free with a new service, and the iPhone 4s for $99, and of course, the new one is supposed to launch sometime this fall.

What to do? Save the hundred dollars? Gotta find out what the difference is between the two.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunset in west van

What a gorgeous evening, wine, salmon and friends on the deck.

New York Times: Significance of becoming 50

The Significance of Becoming 50 from the NYT

When I was in my 30's, a 50-year-old friend told me that you don't know anything until you are 50. I reach 50, and what does he tell me? ''You really don't know anything until you are 60.'' 
At 50, time is on fast-forward. A friend calls from London; we realize we have not spoken for a year. It seems like last week. 
Our culture is intent on taking the lines out of people's faces - surgically, with costly creams and with fear and trembling - when, in fact, the opposite should be the case. As artists know, if there is anything behind a face, that face improves with age. Lines show distinction and character: They show that one has lived, that one may know something.
At 20 and 30, we are like travelers in a foreign country, reading the guide book to learn how to behave, to learn when the post office is open. Trivia looms important; critical issues fade into a pastel background, unrecognized. 
Although both women and men suffer from the Cult of Youth, it is women who have adopted ''looking younger'' as the organizing principle of life. We women desperately mutilate ourselves: We bob our noses, pin back our ears, reshape our jaws, sandpaper our skin, enlarge or reduce our breasts, smooth out our necks, lift our faces and fannies and suction the flesh from our thighs. 
The irony is that the more we fight age, the more it shows. Paint on a 50-year-old face brings to mind a Gilbert and Sullivan comic figure. Smooth the cheeks, and suddenly the ear lobes and hands look out of place. Do we run around in October, painting the gold leaves green? 
It is crucial to be healthy, for pain wipes out the possibility for pleasure and severe pain removes the possibility of turning to the world outside the body. So we must establish the idea that it is important to look well, not to look young. It is no more a compliment to say you don't look your age than to say you don't look Jewish or you don't look like an American. 
Athletes decline with age, but doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors and musicians can only improve. Why would I be pleased to have the brains of a 35-year-old lawyer - to have lost 15 years of legal wisdom? 
The feminist movement - the glorious perception that women can be valued for our brains and not just for our faces - makes it possible for a woman to become 50 and not to grieve. It has enabled some lucky women of my generation to do meaningful work. At 50, one knows what was vague at 30: You will not have time to do everything, so you must do what is important. 
Although wide experience can be interesting, it is deep experience that gives the most pleasure and satisfaction. Seeking adventures in a wide variety of matters avoids the real issue - that of becoming highly skilled at a few. 
At 50, you know that if everything did not turn out as you had planned, it is not the fault of your parents. There are market forces at work. 
At 50, one realizes that many people will go to any extreme to avoid significant intellectual work. They lapse into the occult, search out dangerous and uncomfortable sports, turn to the soap opera of personal battles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Everything starts somewhere

And so here I start. One year and about three months still I turn 50, and I wanted to make the half century birthday feeling much closer to the woman I want to be than I feel today.

Most of my birthdays have gone by without much introspection - I had a great party when I turned 40, but I didn't think about the age much.

I have started to feel some of the effects of getting older - the physical effects certainly do make me sit up and take notice. I am also noticing changes in how I think, how I feel about things, and what I want in life. I'm in the midst of life stage changes to do with kids growing up, to do with work and what it means, and what I want from it.

Then there's the whole menopause thing which I have just begun to explore - and I find myself shocked by how little information or talk there is out there about something that half of the world experiences.

My main goal for this blog is to connect with other women who are in a similar stage of life, not just the half century birthday, but the thoughts and feelings that come with having lived a while and seen some life.

Let's talk and laugh and maybe even help each other.