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.

If writing could change one thing…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Singular Sensation.”

If my writing could change one thing about my life it would be this….that the persistent voice inside my head that keeps telling me I need to write, just quiets down or changes its tune to the effect of “yay you’re writing.”

Yes, I used to overwhelm myself with expectation, I didn’t write because I wasn’t sure what to write about…I never thought to write for the sake of finding my own voice…sort of putting the horse before the carriage as I ought to do.  Many writers discipline themselves to write every day, regardless of whether or not they feel inspired to.  It is that discipline I feel that I must begin to practice consistently. I don’t need to thnk ahead to “what ifs” or “who would publish me” or anything that would come from one writing…I just sort of want to write, for writings sake, and I think that would be change enough, the satisfaction of knowing I am doing what I should do, because something in me wants to. Like right now…. 😉

On Metamorphosis

Ok Metamorphosis might be a bit of an exaggeration. The changing of oneself does not turn one into something other.  If anything it is the evolution of the self that ironicaly brings one “back” to their original selves.  Anyone who is going through attempts at life change or improvements knows this.  Quitting smoking is a return to who you were prior to obtaining that filthy habit, changing our eating practices from processed to whole food, is once again a “return” to ourselves rather than an alteration into something other.

Heres the tricky part…the human condition likes to hang on to what is NOT us.  Something about this life, be it the stress of work, the hardships of relations, or simply the media, the factory farming, the wars…one need not look far to find the things that may cause one to seek vice.  Vices help us (or do they?) cope. Be it bad food, or cigarettes, or heroin, or alcohol….they all offer escape.  The issue with vice is that it creates dependence for escape, the problem with escape is that you become an inactive participant in your life during periods of such escape.  To become dependant on vice takes one further and further away from what a persons original glory is. At 42 I had smoked for more than half my life, I had eaten all the nutra sweet and refined flour that one could lay their hands on, and still I look pretty good.  I often wonder what if….what if I had taken care of myself always…what would I look like? How would I feel? I mean feeling like a Honda aint so bad, until you feel what it feels like to be a Ferrari.

So, getting back to basics looks pretty much like stripping yourself down.  This feels incredibly vulnerable, vulnerability feels scary, and what drives us frantically towards our vices more than fear? Nothing. So, yes, its scary, and its hard…and more than anything its out right frustrating to stick to what you want regardless of “what you want”. Two quotes to mind….one is that you are supposed to strive for what you deserve, regardless of your feelings. Makes sense to me.  Feelings are so very temporary, what you deserve is non negotiable.

If you have to go to the gym, don’t think about it…its not about how you feel…you get up you tie your laces and you walk towards the door…no thought required, just a promise to yourself that your going to be commited to your best self, regardless of how you feel. The next quote I think of has to do with peace…that it is something that happens when your beliefs, your thoughts and your actions are in harmony.  We have a responsibility to self. Its not an easy one, but I need to fight that battle…something tells me that the more I fight it the better I will get at it, and it will seem less like a struggle and more of a blessing. Switching cigarettes up for the treadmill might not feel very good for a while but fast forward 6 mths? Bet it feels pretty good. Im counting on it.

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).

On Quitting Smoking…

I don’t remember how I started, Im sure it was my way to claim some kind of independence as an early teen, thinking I looked cool, thinking I was making some kind of statement about how I felt about my parents (not good), thinking it helped me fit in to a crowd I was perhaps better off not having had fit in with.

I cant say I didn’t enjoy my habit. Throughout my twenties it was my best friend, my me time, my party accessory, my private consoler when times got tough (a break up, a break down, a 20 something period of angst or self created drama)  It wasn’t until my mid thirties that I started to have disdain for the habit.  The world had changed, smoking was no longer allowed in bars and restaurants…or anywhere for that matter.  For a short time businesses scared of losing money built separate rooms, closed off from the people who didn’t want to cut short their lives or reek of the toxins being expelled from the unhealthy lungs of others.  These rooms were, for lack of a better word, repulsive.  They stank.  Badly.  They were enough to make a smoker want to quit (which is not, as every smoker knows, the same thing as being ready to do so).

By my late thirties (a good 20 years into my habit) smoking had begun to take a noticeable toll on me. I was always tired, my skin was not the healthiest of colors, my teeth were yellowing despite a rather committed regimen of whitening toothpaste and various bleaching trays/strips. I also started seeing the toll it took on my fellow smokers, my friends who were just as much in bondage as myself, the strangers outside in the dead of winter, anxiously trying to suck back on their cigarettes just enough to kill the craving before frost bite set in.

There was a commonality amongst smokers over the age of 40….we looked unhealthy, we smelled unhealthy, we sounded unhealthy (with our raspy voices and our speech often interrupted by unexpected bits of phlegm expulsion from our weary lungs).  I don’t want to overgeneralize, but we were also out of shape (it is almost impossible to be a person who loves themselves enough to adhere to a consistent workout schedule and put efforts into eating well and living right and also be a smoker, it is simply inconsistent with a self-love state of mind)

Over the years I have managed to overcome many things, some quite naturally as the obsessive nature of youth fell away. I have kicked my addiction to love (being a hopeless romantic is not as pretty as it sounds),  I have gotten past a pretty detrimental eating disorder (though I would think twice before leaving your cinnamon bun unattended with me in the room) and I have championed over other addictions that Im not quite ready to reveal to anyone but my therapist yet…smoking seemed to be my final frontier….

Heres the thing….the thing smokers don’t know, the thing I didn’t know until one day I just knew it…and it changed everything. We are who we decide to be.  Yes quitting smoking is hard…but it is so much easier than thinking yourself so weak that you cannot end it.  Whatever pleasure is derived from smoking, the bottom line, is it is an abusive relationship.  It has you believing you are too weak to leave, it has you believing your life will not be the same without it.  No one smokes anymore because they love smoking, they smoke because they  fear what their lives will be without it.  Smokers have decided they are smokers.  They have decided that they cannot picture their lives without it.  They believe that without cigarettes there will be nothing to comfort them, nothing to calm them, no joy in coffee, or wine for that matter….and whatever is there to do after sex?  Some people wont quit smoking because they don’t want to gain weight, others because they don’t want to crave for a moment something they cant have…it seems cruel.

Lets “clear the smoke”  so that we can see things clearly…yes, you might gain some weight , I did, I also lost it, and will continue to get even more fit now that I can run, now that I can breathe.  Coffee and wine…will ALWAYS be good, actually better as you can relax while enjoying it rather than feel the anxiety of fitting a cigarette into the equation (for the record, I don’t know a worse smell than coffee/cigarette breath). Waking up becomes a delightful experience, no sore throat, no dreariness, a clarity of mind I did not have as a smoker, and an excitement to begin a day free of any addiction.  I did not have to rummage to find my cigarettes, did not have to curse as I get into my car and start driving to realize their not in my purse. I am in control of me, and I am beaming…because I know, I am taking care of myself.  There is no better feeling than knowing you are your own best friend, that to the best of your ability you are treating yourself kindly, you are honouring your health, you are actively participating in your own health and well being.

I boil it down to this….once upon a time I made a decision to smoke, I was uninformed, rebellious, full of the false immortality of youth. Today, I decide NOT to smoke (because I can) because Im an adult now, and I am informed, and I don’t want rebellion I want love, and I know Im not immortal, and I want to be, choose to be, healthy.  I realized smoking was a selfish choice, that I owed it to my nephew, my sister, my friends, hell… my dog, to put out that cigarette…to not be the person whose risky behaviour could inadvertently bring sadness into the lives of those who love me.  I don’t want my dreams cut short because I believed a lie that I could not choose otherwise.  I cant in good faith hear stories of women fighting breast cancer, children with Lukemia, etc…and then be so unaffected, so ungrateful for my own health that I light a cigarette.

This is my journey, and these are my reasons and I do not judge anyone for their habits or addictions. I am frustrated by the ones I love who still do take to their cigarettes, I see their lives so ill affected by an inability to see how easily they could end  their addiction just by believing that they can…but then….there I was, not long ago, inhaling like that nicotine was more precious than air….and I don’t know what changed, I don’t know why I suddenly understood, but I have never been more grateful, I have never felt so free, or proud. I pray daily all my loved ones do the same. I hope something I may have written here can help. Nothing good comes easy, quitting smoking is no exception, but my God, if we only knew the power we had, if we only tapped into it, we would see smoking for what it is, the biggest lie weve ever been sold (which is worse than “told” as we pay for the privilege of making ourselves sick). “If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” -Thomas Edison

The Elegant Odyssey…

I started a blog because my facebook friends were dropping like flies, apparently people not wanting to read blogs don’t appreciate them sneaking into their newsfeed disguised as status updates.

I called my blog The Elegant Odyssey because “odyssey” is defined as “a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc…” such is our lives, no?

“Elegant” on the other hand is defined as being “pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance or manner” or in the more scientific definition “pleasingly ingenious and simple”.

The two words together contrast as much as they compliment, and in and of themselves tell the story of our souls journey through this human experience. We are so simple yet complex…learning how to be/know/love ourselves, while loving/knowing/being with others. Sometimes we fail miserably at both, but can also surprise ourselves by how much we can accomplish, how deeply we can love, how capable we are at healing (ourselves, others, this world) when we put our minds to it, put our hearts in it, and let ourselves live out all our perfect imperfections while giving this life our very best try…we’re all in it together…how elegant is that? 🙂