Recently, I have taken some training classes, and much to my relief, I was not the oldest lady in the room. It is never too late to expand your mind, or in the case of many, myself included, to increase your earning (or learning) potential.
Also, a wave of pleasure ran through these almost fifty year old veins, when shock filled the room ( no really!!) as I admitted to being 49. At most, I was thought to be 36. They were not being kind; I actually hear that all the time. I do not look my age.
My second husband who sported a grey goatee and Jerry Garcia air about him ( without the money or talent, of course), was often thought to be my father. I looked younger than my age, and he looked considerably older and colorless. I smirk inside now, as that relationship ended poorly with blood on my face, dripping from my mouth.
Stress and life have aged me, but truth be told, I am thankful to be able to skim a few years from my bottom line. It a gift that is allowing me to re-invent some challenges in my life. Self reflection has become a time consuming partner in crime. Currently, self reflection is a building block. I no longer blame anyone. I understand that every relationship is a dance, and we are solely responsible for our own behaviors.
While I have not always been treated well, these days, my self reflection concerns what I can learn from my own response to every situation. I don’t think in terms of what I did to CAUSE someone to behave in a certain way. Nope. Unpacking relationships is a pointless and draining activity. With regards to every relationship that I have ever been in, I have tried to do my best.I have loved, and been willing to accept love, and that is all that matters after the fact. I don’t play “he said, she said”. At almost half a century, I only want to know if there is something in my response that is a lesson better happiness for the rest of my life.
Here is my current, seemingly random, serious and silly work in progress. This list is becoming my “to do” list in the creation of the kind of life I want to have as my children are beginning to build their own lives.
Days from the big event, where am I in my list of reflections? What am I learning to help me build my second act? Here goes:
1. I am a people pleaser. Left unchecked in my life, that horrid trait has caused people to walk all over me. Fear ensued…. what if I don’t please someone… oh no! They won’t like me. Who the F**k cares? I no longer seek to make the world like me. I have learned to channel that need to please people into a great realization that I am a care-giver. I get a great sense of satisfaction from providing relief and making others feel good…. not random “others” whose approval I seek, but those who are in need of a sincere ear, or a hand to hold.
2. I hate food. WHAT??? No, really, I hate the shopping, the preparation, the planning and the cleaning up. I have spent my life cooking for others, which is fine. But IN ALL HONESTY, I really do not enjoy it. I do not seek to be Martha Stewart. I do not plan on Pinterest-ing my meals, I am just as happy with a big salad, and a piece of garlic bread, as I am with most time consuming meals. I honor the traditional, and make the specific meals that coincide with certain times of the year. What has this taught me? Short cuts are OK. A salad makes a great dinner, and most of all, cooking is not a path to my happiness. I CAN cook; I just do it a lot less. I cringe at the time wasted, trying to make people happy with food.
3. I need very little “stuff” to be happy. I am seeking simplicity. I have no need for fifty lipsticks; I wear the same one all the time anyway. That 12 inch hair cut from a few months ago? Has caused me much stress. Yes, it seemed like a great idea at the time, but searing honesty has caused me to admit that I gave in to the constant bashing from my hair dresser who asked me when I was going to try something new. A few inches and fresh color would have made me a lot happier. NO MORE trying to please others. I like the predictability of long hair, sorry hair dresser. I am boring. Give me some eyeliner, my precious lipstick color and leave my hair alone.
4. I am who I am. See #s 1-3. What is missing from my life? I lost the artist in me. More to come on this… my birthday present to myself will be an enormous box of the finest colored pencils I can afford. It makes me happy.
5. I no longer finish a book because I started it. You got 50 pages writer person. Grab me or I am gone. Same for Netflix binge watching. You have 2 episodes, or hasta la vista baby.
6. My dog barked at you, and you don’t like it? DON’T RUN ON MY LAWN. ( OK, so there is a little anger at turning 50) I will not scold him for doing his job. Go run across the street on the lawn of the little white dog that does not bark. If you run here, I will continue to laugh as he scares you. It’s the new me who does not seek approval of strangers.
7. Every day is a gift. BFF said a while ago, that she chooses her mood when she gets out of bed in the morning. Whether or not I ever told her, it made a huge impact on me. It is very difficult on some days, but on the most difficult of days, I know that it has helped me to choose to get out of bed, and put a smile on my face. No matter what is going on, I try to face the day with a smile. Thanks BFF, as always, my friend.
8. I am an introvert. I used to fight the label. Now, I honor it. I know my needs and my limitations.
9. On the eve before my birthday, I make my pilgrimage to the settings section on my Facebook Profile. In honor of my birthday, I make my profile disappear. **poof**, I am gone. If you love me, call me. I no longer seek to define myself by my social media birthday wishes. Those who matter find me, and I refuse to hold my online friends accountable to wish me a good day. I will also NOT beat myself up for not getting “enough” birthday wishes.
10. I am a survivor. I have survived cancer, divorce, abuse and poverty. I live with chronic pain. Life is not on the way to being over; it is just a new chapter that I am writing as I go along.