Month: September 2011

A Simple Frame House

A Simple Frame House

As I have probably mentioned before, I have a furry grandchild. Every morning he whines and fusses and stalks me until I take him for a walk. He is the bane of my existence, but he has made sure I exercise every day and for that I am grateful.

This morning’s walk was a lovely one. It’s still a tad bit warm for my northern blood but the weekend promises to dispense with summer, at least temporarily, when the lows drop in the 40’s and the highs will be a clear and beautiful 60. My heart skips a beat in anticipation.

Today the sky is beautiful Carolina blue (unless you’re a Duke fan like me and then it’s just breathtakingly blue) and it felt good to be outside breathing the air and gazing upon the Loblolly pines, stretched tall against the sky, the dark green needles a vivid contrast, glistening in the sun. Gets me every time.

In spite of Rowdy’s (no, he couldn’t have a more appropriate name) less than diplomatic persuasions each morning, I do appreciate the structure he imposes on my life. It takes away one decision I would otherwise have to make. Putting in place certain rituals to frame our day, our months and our lives has a value that goes beyond sheer self-discipline.

In fact, the word “discipline” makes me shudder. It feels external. Controlling. Angry even. But, “structure” feels like something I’ve decided in advance to do, or accept into my life, that reins in my wild spirit just enough to keep me moving in some sane direction.

In my experience, women are too hard on themselves with regard to sticking to programs and diets and exercise routines. We are among the most creative, free-spirited beings on earth with gifts that are easily suffocated by too many controls. Structure brings order to the chaos but it doesn’t prevent more important issues from taking precedence.

I know, this is mostly semantics. Or is it? I like to think of my life as a framed out house without walls. As long as the wind doesn’t blow I can stay within the framing. Chances are good that the wind will blow sooner or later and I will find myself, at least partially, outside of the walls I’ve built. Should I get completely outside the framework, I know I will have to drag myself back in or look to a friend to help me find my way home.  I will most certainly have discovered something about myself and life in the process, including the value of structure that shelters me on sunny days.

Sixty IS the new Sixty!

Sixty IS the new Sixty!

I'm just plain sixty!

Now that I am sixty I can say with absolute sincerity:

“I’m not the new fifty. I’m also not the old fifty. I’m not next year’s seventy or last year’s thirty-five. I’m just plain sixty!”  

I don’t really  know whether or not I look or feel any older or younger than I should or than my mother did at sixty. She was pretty spry right up until the time she was 95. What I do know is I sure like our styles and attitudes better than hers! I like the emotional and practical freedom we’ve obtained that has allowed us the luxury of sitting around discussing whether or not we feel like our age.

A generation ago, sixty year old women were pretty gosh darn busy just living.  It makes me wonder if  we might benefit from adopting just one or two of their archaic beliefs and remember the value of living in the skin we have, at just the age we are.  Ours seems a fruitless exercise and frankly, I’m tired of the conversation.  Like all clichés, it misses the point.

It is really not about how old, or how young, we look. It’s not even about how old or young we feel. It’s not about whether or not we get the recognition we think we deserve or whether we feel invisible because we have gray hair. The real issues is: Are we happy?

The real reason we are hung up on this old and new age thing is that we are trying to reassure ourselves that there is still enough time to find happiness and because we are terrified that there is not.

What I know to be true is this: It’s time to get the show on the road. It’s time to quit hiding behind our fears. It’s time to quit peeking out from behind our protective masks and just throw them into the wind.  It’s time to be the wonderful, wise women we were intended to be, no matter what our age or hair color. Only then will we be able to answer the question “am I happy” and like the answer.