On being 40

Forty is the dawn of a new age.  Yes, we live in a society where the age forty has been redefined, we are not our mothers forty.  Forty is said to be the new thirty, Forty is when a woman peaks, not just sexually but also mentally.  No longer burdened nor distracted by the shallow pursuits of youth, a woman is now free to pursue greater (more meaningful) things, all while still looking pretty damn good.  This decade proves to be the very best one…looks, intelligence, wisdom, its all ours, for one brief decade.  Now Ive got nothing against 50 or 60 or even the 70’s or 80’s…if anything I hope and pray Im lucky enough to get to experience them all.  Ill be that little old lady in the retirement home making dirty jokes with my friend while we check out the sexy Spanish intern (I wont go to a retirement community that does not have some of those) but those decades will be different, they are…less sexy.  Not saying that a woman cant be sexy in them, Im just saying certain outfits, certain attitudes will have to be adjusted and things other than “sexiness” will become of more importance…as they should, as they will, and with my blessings.  When something has been lived and done, it naturally loses its appeal as we are catapulted into a new way of thinking or being.  Those that try to hold on to what “once was” find no happiness in it and seem a little desperate when it comes to the outside perspective (cue the 50 somethings in mini skirts and hair extensions with all the wrong plastic surgery).  There has to be a time when we are willing to say goodbye….there has to be a time we let go.  Turning 40 for me meant letting go of some of my more youthful dreams, which is fine because they were replaced with newer more relevant ones, but what of the things in my youth that I never got to do? Now that its too late (although for some I know it isn’t, but for me, yes…yes it is) what will I never get to do that I can make peace with? Well here goes:

I will never attend Burning Man…that’s ok by me.  Though in theory I would have loved to be the modern day hippy who dons fairy wings and finds spirituality in some mdma while dancing to the repetitive beats by some current dj all whilst lining up for porta pottys and sleeping in a tent…that was never me, and I make peace with that…power to you, you twenty somethings that don’t care about comfort and just want to party…do it now…because there will come a time (much sooner than you think) that you will choose a weekend at a cottage by the lake and the idea of a music festival will not even cross your mind.

I will never be a cheerleader/professional dancer/model….all the dreams that dance in a little girls mind have been quietly laid to rest…perhaps I can still get a cheerleaders outfit and wear it for my boyfriend…THAT still sounds like fun.  What I have learned is that all those dreams don’t die, they become integrated into who you are, they get lived in little doses every day. I am not a professional dancer but I dance almost every day, I am not a model but I love my make up and my fashion and I will often make an entrance using my best catwalk and yes, sometimes it turns heads, and that’s all a girl can ask for. As for the cheerleader? I am my boyfriends, my friends, and my nephews biggest one…I have learned that the enthusiasm for the success of others translates into my own happiness…and as far as Im concerned I have the best team in the world.

I will never travel the world with a backpack booking rooms in hostels along the way.  I have recently travelled a lot, and I sleep far better and have way more fun in a clean and private hotel room than I think I may have ever in a hostel.  To travel to a new city/country with a strict baggage allowance is not something I would have ever been good at, I tend to bring more hair product than could fit in a knapsack so Im fine with the idea that I have never travelled with one. Also? I like a minibar…

I will never have purple hair…that one hurts, lets move on…

I will never look like I once did at 20.  Im one of the lucky ones, I feel prettier now.  I didn’t know I was pretty at 20, it took me till 40 to figure that out.  It is somewhat tragic in a comical way that I realized my beauty as it reached its fading years, but Im ok with that because my idea of beauty has matured right along with the rest of me and how I define beauty now is health, healthy is beautiful at any age, and I am healthier in terms of lifestyle now than I ever was in my twenties. I assume my ever growing love affair with integrating health into my life will continue to grow and the idea of health playing an ever growing role in my life makes me excited for the passing of a few years, some time to see the effects of what this lifestyle will bring.

I will never be the girl with a million dates.  I never was that girl, and now I never will be.  I take solace in knowing that the few times I did try to date like a single, young and pretty girl about town, I hated most of it.  I found being on a date the equivalent to watching bad acting, uncomfortable, awkward, and a whole lotta show without substance.  Well, now I have a boyfriend and the days of me checking out other men are over….thank God.  I find myself lucky to be with the one man who I always want to date for the rest of my life…

I will never be at the clubs on the weekends again…unless its a friends birthday, or new years I cant foresee myself involved in the nightlife the way I once was (and loved). A night of a few drinks and dancing used to make me very happy.  I think…I don’t really remember…I was drunk.  This one was maybe the most difficult…because no one told me it would end.  I didn’t think it would…it didn’t necessarily have to.  It ended when the nights became less fun.  When getting hit on by drunk guys seemed a juvenile way to spend ones time, when the dance floor started to seem uncomfortably crowded, and the crowd seemed to get either uncomfortably younger, or worse, uncomfortably older. Nights at the club started to become nights that I would wait for my friends to be ready to leave, eager to get home to my dog, angry about the waste of money the whole evening was.  I grew out of clubs before I was in a relationship so I don’t blame my relationship for that. I will say that a night of netflicks, a homemade dinner, and a glass of wine at home on a Saturday night makes me really happy, The kind of happy I remember in the morning.

Theres no doubt about it, age settles a person, some see that as a bad thing, I do not.  I see the ability to settle into the very things that make my life wonderful a wonderful release from the years where I had to actively search for the very things that I am blessed enough to be settling in now. There is great freedom in age, there is great revelation, evolution, and enlightenment.  I would not trade my forties for any other decade.  I do not dream of reliving any part of my past (though I do wonder what I might have made of myself if I had had this wisdom then…but we all wonder that don’t we)?  There were many mistakes made, but theres no going back to fix them…I picked the wrong men, but ended up with the right one, I didn’t know my beauty, and have never felt more beautiful. I lived a lot wrong to end up with so much right, and for the parts I didn’t live? Well…. they now rest in peace.

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On Being in Love

I was Forty yrs old when I finally fell in love.  Real love…not highschool love, or that one guy you couldn’t get over because he was so full of passion (aka crazy) that you held on regardless that he was really just an awful person (we have the ability to sustain drama, even seek it, in our 20’s, that we seriously lose the patience for in our 30’s and 40’s).

I didn’t want to wait that long for love, I was sure I was missing out, even began to feel like this was simply my lot in life…perpetually single girl.  When I began internet dating I did so to have a fling.  I was tired of the club scene and I was tired of leaving up to chance what I could supply for myself.  I did not suspect I would meet someone to love, I thought Id meet someone to kiss, and that was close enough for me at the time.

Well…I did meet, and I did kiss….and from that first kiss, I knew something, I don’t know what, but something clicked…he was all wrong for me (typical) and we both knew it.  We decided to let a good thing play out, literally agreeing to continue seeing each other until we both found more appropriate people to be with.  Its now 2 yrs later and we’ll be moving in at the end of next month.  Perpetually single girl is single no more.

Here’s the thing…I spent over a decade single prior to this relationship, save a fling or two that barely counted for much.  I never thought Id say this in my life, but…Thank God.  Thank God for all the time I took to know me.  To dream of love and what that might look like.  Not someone to lose myself in, but someone to find myself in.  Someone that would make me stronger, healthier, more the “me” I liked. I know, I know…love is an inside job…and believe me, I get that, but no man (or woman) is an island, we get better sometimes by the refinement provided by the people we hold close to us.

Love is a dangerous thing in the hands of those who misunderstand it (as I so often did). Your partners eyes are often a filter that we see ourselves through.  When I see myself through the eyes of my boyfriend, I see a funny, pretty girl, with unlimited potential.  I also see my insecurities reflected back at me…which can be a good thing, because it gives me the awareness that I need to address them.  Just recently I became hurt because my boyfriend stopped touching me in a way that made me feel desired, it wasn’t until further introspection that I realized the hurt lay in my own frustration that I would not allow myself to be touched like that.  I would tense up if his hands would wander to a place on my body that I deemed to soft to be attractive.  This was MY issue to fix, he just shone a light on it. (Lets face it there’s only so many times you can push someones hand away before they stop trying).  Love makes you accountable.

I am so grateful that at this stage in my life I have found a partner, when I am mature enough to have a real responsible, mature, evolving, meaningful relationship based on LOVE…not lust, not passion, not shared dysfunction that feels like love turned addiction…that’s not to say that there is a lack of lust or passion, its just not what binds us.  What binds us is a deep respect for each others minds and life path, the love we have for the kindness which lives in both our hearts, the potential we see in each other, and the beauty we see in the present day that we share, aware of the added beauty that the other person has brought to it.  What binds us, quite simply, is a great friendship (and yeah, a little lust).

I used to envy the people who married their first loves, I used to wish Id met someone and had a family earlier on in life.  I used to wish Id marry rich and travel the world.  Well My boyfriend was not my first boyfriend, and he is not rich enough so that we can travel the world, but he makes my life richer, so my world is more beautiful and that is enough.  Love is everything its cracked up to be, says I, the once hopeless romantic. Don’t let anyone tell you its not, they say that because they themselves have settled, you don’t have to.  You can meet and marry and love your best friend. You can be made better by sharing your life.  Pick the right one…and the key to that? Wait until you are ready, if you are in a relationship where you are too scared to voice your opinion, your not ready.  If you fear younger or more beautiful women, your not ready.  If your desperate, your not ready. If you are willing to change a fundamental part of who you are for their sake…your not ready.  You will not be ready for what a relationship has to teach you if you have not yet learned the lessons you need to by being in one with yourself first. (I know because I lived it) I was not ready till I was 40…and if that was what it took, it was worth it, more than worth it.  Wait until its everything you thought it would be…and even more….and then…work at it, because the work that you will put into your relationship, will be work that shows up in your own life and makes you better. That’s the power of love…and its worth waiting for.

On being Imperfect….

There isn’t always a perfect way to handle imperfect situations.  Those of us who try to always “come from love” can sometimes find our heads hung in shame and disappointment in ourselves when we recognize that we (despite our best efforts) can react as poorly as those who pay no mind at all.  Anger can be a very powerful emotion, disappointment or sadness can have us reacting in ways that we thought we had left behind, before we had accumulated the little wisdom that we have worked so hard to gain.

Exhale. We are human. Its unfortunate that in this “human state” we find ourselves susceptible to emotions that can over power, challenges that leave us tired, and circumstances that roll over us like a hot iron, flat lining our resolve to be the bigger person, the better human, the purer soul.  We can, at times, just freak out and lose our cool. what can I say….it happens.  Sometimes? It happens in dealing with those we love. This is the hardest.  This is when we feel deflated and depleted…when the very bonds we’ve tied with love, we cut with hurt.  Its also, understandable.

I have, in the past few weeks, hurt ties with two people very close to me.  One, my best friend,  just finished surgery on her ankle and came out smoking cigarettes like it aint no thing.  Smoking, on its best day, is a dangerous and ugly habit…coming out of surgery…its just irresponsible and, in my humble opinion, cruel to ones self, and anyone that cares for that same self.  Considering this friend is already a somewhat unhealthy person with more than one bad habit to break, I became filled with worry, and disappointment, and, something that felt very much like…anger.  Yes….I came from THAT place. Sometimes, anger is born from love, would not otherwise exist if you did not love to begin with. I have to be ok with that.  That was my imperfect situation that I handled less than perfectly.  Love means forgiving yourself first.  So I do, still working on forgiving her…

The second person was family, my very best friend in the world, my older sister.  We are both going through a high stress time for reasons that require a whole different blog entry. She asked me to do her a favor.  I didn’t want to do it.  I struggled.  I reviewed the reasons over and over why it seemed more than I was capable of.  I had to say no.  Could I have done it? Yes. I could have. I also would have taken on more stress than I could handle while still remaining balanced or happy.  I asked her to understand.  She couldn’t.  She is now not talking to me. That is something that hurt a lot.  Her last words to me were “Go live your beautiful life”…THAT hurt…I thought that’s what we aimed for, for ourselves, and for each other.  I thought that was the goal “a beautiful life” why was I now being condemned for trying to have one? Was I in the wrong? Was I supposed to try to help her at a high cost to myself, or was it my job to not hurt myself so that I could continue to help others? Imperfect circumstances at their most imperfect.

I am two people down at the end of two weeks…two of my closest people.  Maybe this is what happens when we start to set boundaries. Maybe selfishness, to some degree, is a necessary ingredient in the makings of a good and healthy life. Maybe we cant always stand behind our choices 100% because we are imperfect people just trying to figure this life out.  I have to believe that the more we continue to TRY, the better we’ll become at it.  The more we can try to understand ourselves instead of judge ourselves, then the more compassion we will have for ourselves.  Compassion cannot be extended beyond ourselves if we haven’t first mastered it FOR ourselves.

I am not sure that ‘Ive played my cards right (in either case), I’m not sure if how I’ve handled things made any of the angels sing or made this world a better place.  Ive hurt two people that have also hurt me and all I can do is forgive, first myself, and then them…and now I can say that whatever may come, Im starting fresh again from a place of love….and will continue to, until I get this right.  After all, this is how we get wisdom…this is how its born, from the labor pains of imperfect circumstance. This is how we learn.  Be love (imperfect, glorious love).