life in the land of women

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe that.

I have been really blessed in my lifetime friends. Some of them go as far back as grade school. (Including teachers!)

I have people who have come into my life for various reasons, and over the last 20 or so years a lot of it has to do with community things I am involved in or have been involved in. Or other commonalities. Or even through mutual friends.

And then there are the people who come into your life for a season. Those of the ones that can be the tough and bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t pretend to be perfect but I am a decent person and a loyal friend. Until you hurt someone I care about whether it’s friends or family…. or even me. I have let people into my life who have talked a good game and then used me. I have had people in my life who were just in the end disappointing.

It has been incredibly hard to learn to just walk away from these types of people. But as I get older, I’m getting better at it. Slowly, I am learning it’s life, stuff happens. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Sadly, I have experienced some unexpected negativity that I am choosing to work through by writing it out.

I have written over the past few years since my move to Chester County that although living here in this amazing and beautiful county, it has not been without challenges. Moving to a completely new area after living in one area for literally decades is an adjustment. It has had parts that have been hard.

As an individual when you have lived in one area forever, it’s sort of like Cheers. People recognize you on the street and in the grocery store. You’ve known all of your neighbors for years. When you go somewhere completely new, while a whole new adventure, it’s also when you realize things you may have taken for granted. Like the pleasant simplicity of seeing people you know in the grocery store.

When I first moved here I experienced old friend/neighbor drop off. It was like I had moved to Iowa, not Chester County. Some of them just stopped talking to me. Not because of an argument or disagreement, but merely for the fact that I was no longer geographically convenient.

One of the people who did this used to live around the corner from me and I was in her wedding party. That was very hurtful losss and took a couple of years to process because I was literally grieving a loss.

Other people made it easier. We invited them to get togethers in our home, and they just blew them off. No RSVP, just radio silence. Flat out rudeness. They made it easy to walk away.

But slowly I started to meet new people here in Chester County. That has not been without missteps as well, sadly. I kind of took it for granted that it would be easy. I didn’t honestly expect that it wouldn’t be as easy at this stage in my life as it was when I was say, in my 20s.

Over the past few years I have made the acquaintance and friendship of some truly amazing people. I have also met a few that have ended up not so amazing.

I have made the acquaintance of people running for public office that were all smiles towards me and friendly until they got elected. After they got elected, it is often a differentr story. One in particular told me that she couldn’t possibly be real friends with me because I was…. a blogger. I write, therefore I am walking poison ivy was the take away here.

Then there were the people I was warned about by other Chester County friends that there were these types who collected new people in order to use them, basically. I only really fell into this trap once and it was a lesson learned. Because sometimes with people like this when you don’t give them what they want, they can be quite unpleasant. But again their whole attitude, and treatment of fellow human beings makes it easy to walk away. However, it’s still disappointing.

Sprinkled in between were a few people I knew from before, but came to know again out here. Sadly, they weren’t keepers. Sometimes people whom you knew at a different stage in your life who were a lot of fun “back in the day”, but at this stage in my life were not completely palatable. So I chose to let them go. Not easy, yet not hard, and the right decision.

Recently I had another experience I shall not soon forget. Someone I met, thought was so fabulous and bright. I even had them as a guest in my home. Sadly, twists and turns in this person’s life have also resulted in my perceiving this person quite differently. Surprisingly they have ended up in the sad category of an adult petty mean girl. This one shocked me, truthfully.

It is a real grown-up lesson when you realize that although you know realistically that people come in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime that sometimes you end up quite surprised as to which people end up in which category.

Also recently I have experienced some rather odd types taking me to task over my blogging. Again, women.

One woman declared she was no longer following my blog because of my purported agenda of “liberal propaganda.” I am not sure she actually knows what that phrase means and it’s ludicrous. Those who know me well, know I am not necessarily liberal. My politics have actually evolved from being a life long Republican to becoming an Independent. I am beholden to no political parties. I blog about what interests me, and it doesn’t make me necessarily an internet vacation.

Am I supposed to be an internet vacation?

Another woman declared me a bad person because (if I have it right) I have a nerve to post news items, local issues and so forth while including my opinion. Ok do they know what a blog is? Or what blogging is?

A blog is defined as a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites. So yes a blog is something that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer/blogger.

That makes this first and foremost, my space. My blog has a Facebook page. That has similar rules.

Other things I think about?

I am not some bra burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. What I find astounding at this stage of my life is how awful a lot of women are to one and other. On a regular basis.

Where is the sisterhood? Where is the mutual support? Where is the basic human decency and tolerance of the difference of others?

Ladies we don’t want to be Stepford Wives….or do we?

But I choose to remain open. I appreciate all of you who accept me for who I am.

And for those for whom it is a virtual experience, I appreciate that you are supportive of how I write and what I chose to explore.

As for those who don’t or can’t ? Or those who are either super judegemental or think it is your job to “school” me? Well the practical reality is I can only control me and my behavior. I can’t control you and I am not responsible for your personal happiness, am I?

It’s one of those sorry not sorry moments.

But ladies, really. We can’t teach our children and grandchildren to be kind and to not bully or be mean if we can’t do it ourselves.

We can’t teach tolerance if we can’t be tolerant at least some of the time ourselves.

We can’t teach the value of individuality and independance if we constantly go after those the least bit different from us.

Maybe our current adult society is in part a reaction to the political climate in which we live? I’m not really sure, as I don’t have all of the answers. But it’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Time for me to garden. Enjoy your Sunday.Thanks for stopping by.

women to women: a puzzle for the ages

Godey-april-1861As I begin this post it has no real form yet.  A quasi flowing stream of consciousness. I figure by the end of the post the title will find me.

I have written many times before about my transition from being a Main Liner to a Chester County gal. And I am going to do it again. So if you don’t want to hear anymore about this or don’t like a flowing stream of consciousness, turn away from the blog now and visit again tomorrow.

Yesterday my friend Alene wrote about in essence adolescence and David Bowie.  She was part of a group of girls I was and am to this day still friends with.  Our 13 and 14 year old selves were quite different from a lot of our classmates at the time. And wow what we were subjected to from a pack of mean girls before they called them mean girls.

godeycovers-featured-270x290I have written about those girls from back in the day before.  And middle age hasn’t changed or softened a lot of them, and at the end of the day they are still just stuck in the 7th grade hallways with their tight jeans, bad perms and crimping irons…sneaking cigarettes and oh yes stumbling in their Candies.

We  (Alene and I) had a bit of a conversation about what she had written on her blog and in part she said

It’s interesting to me that you got a chance to witness what became of those people, whom I have long since forgotten.” I haven’t forgotten how it felt, though. It is sad. Now people talk openly about bullying behavior in the schools and the psychological effects on kids, but it seems to be universal and timeless.”

I had told her that on some level I felt sorry for these people. I actually do.

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These girls affected all of us in different ways but a similarity my friends and I share to this day is those silly girls made us realize what we don’t want in friends. For years after it also affected how I trusted or accepted people, which translated more simply is in a lot of cases I didn’t trust, I didn’t accept.

I worked to change that.  Sometimes I still work at it.

Take my moving to Chester County.  Moving and starting a new life no matter how exciting is very different when you’re an adult and middle-aged woman versus young and single. And this move in particular made me feel once again like that uncertain 12 year old who was thrust into a new and rather large school and area without much in the way of life skills to make the transition easy.

Maybe that sounds silly, but when I first moved to Chester County it is how I felt. Excited to be here yet so uncertain.

I have been lucky with this move that over the first years here I have discovered that many people I was friends with for years and years live not too far from me, and I have met a lot of really nice and genuine an amazing new people.14583203070_afc32dff39_o

But (there is always a but isn’t there?)….some people you take a chance on are just fated to disappoint.  And I have met some disappointing individuals.  Not too many, but a few.

No matter what age you are, you will always meet people who will just be uncomfortable because they can’t fit you into one of their boxes of pre-conceived notions.

But today I was faced with a situation that I not only did not know where to go with but definitely at first hurt then ultimately offended me.  Not disappointed.  Disappointed would have been on the short list of emotions when I was 12 but not now. I was emphatically offended.

Someone I had met over the last year basically told me today we couldn’t be friends because I was…wait for it….a blogger.

Initially I had reached out to her after we met as many of us do today, via social media. Right or wrong it is how we do a lot of our modern connecting. (Maybe we should bring back the calling card?)  But anyway.. I never got anything back. So I wondered if I had said or done something. I wasn’t sure what because this isn’t someone I run into (for example) every time I go to the grocery store. So I sent her a note. And what I got back basically made me just sort of sit back momentarily stunned:

 

Sorry if I offended you. Not my intention. But when I thought about giving a blogger access to my “personal” life, I got concerned…..I thought we got along well, as a public “voice,” you are in a different category.

 

O.k. so right now a certain group of equally disappointing “grown ups” some of whom reside in West Vincent are cheering at this post. Why? Because I have never been a human being to them, just a target to attempt to pummel into the ground. (But I digress.)

1206204introI do not think this woman intended to be deliberately hurtful. But there is no accounting for the accidental ignorance in human beings, especially women.  It was hurtful but mostly it was simply outrageously offensive to hear. I had thought I had made an initial friend connection with this person. But apparently I merely (I guess) had a use for a brief period of time?

But to say essentially you can’t be friends with me because I write?  Wow so very Puritan New England. Is being a blogger like wearing a proverbial scarlet letter or being branded a witch?

I have blogged for I would say about 15 years at this point.  When I first started my blogging was 100% based in political activism. That was deliberate. I had discovered I had a few opinions on politics and things like eminent domain for private gain.

So 15 years ago I would have said o.k. I can understand the fear of knowing a blogger because well blogging was new. But today, in 2016? It’s more like who doesn’t have a blog or online journal?  Lordy people there is even a Friendship Blog  – seriously – it is written by a published off the Internet PhD named Irene S. Levine about friendships. The author welcomes you to her site thusly:

Friendships are among the most complex but meaningful relationships in our lives. These unique bonds often run deeper than family ties, and sometimes last longer than our relationships with spouses or lovers. Yet there are few agreed-upon ground rules or roadmaps…..Dramatic changes in the ways women live, work and communicate have made navigating the terrain of female friendships even more daunting. This website aims to help readers navigate the awkward misunderstandings and disappointments—as well as the long silences and distance—that often crops up among friends.

I read this website once in a while because it’s interesting and not sugary sweetly and fakely cloying.

I was surfing the site just now looking for pearls of wisdom about making new friends after a certain age and I found this post on this site by a blogger (shock and horrors) named Cathy Chester who writes on her own site called “An Empowered Spirit” :

First-Person: Friendship lessons after 50

……Friendships have always been an important part of my life. I tend to them like a cat to her kittens, nurturing each one as best as I can….

Over the years I’ve tried to learn the difference between friends and acquaintances. I’ve been bruised a few times because I’m sensitive and sentimental, and always try to see the best in people.

During adolescence everyone experiences disappointment of one kind or another. When you are an adult, does this continue to happen?

The difference between friends and acquaintances is this: Friends stand by you through good times and bad. Acquaintances keep you at an arms length, remaining casually friendly at a safe distance.

In my fifties, I am trying to better understand human nature, to learn more about people and why they act and behave the way they do….We all think friendships get easier during midlife, and in some ways they do. We are more self-assured, and less likely to tolerate bad behavior. Yet in other ways we are striving to find ourselves….

There may be people you meet and there’s an instant connection. You form a close bond, and if you’re lucky it lasts a lifetime. Hold on tight; this is worth nurturing.

Tend to them. It’s worth the effort.

There are those you meet for a time and, when life moves on, so do they….

It’s time to let go and move on.

There are those you meet, and for some unknown reason they never feel a connection to you……The situation will never change.

Move on. It was never meant to be….

I am no authority on friendship. I am not a relationship expert, nor am I perfect in any way. But I know what I know from years of trying to be all things to all people as a child. As an adult, and after many disappointments, I’ve become more protective of my heart. And I’ve become truer to myself.

I love my friends, I’ve let go of past ones, and I thoroughly enjoy my new ones.

 

O.k. wow. Talk about someone just sort of reaching me where I am feeling today. I am going to pay more attention to An Empowered Spirit and Cathy Chester.

It’s funny but when this crap happens in life, you feel like you are experiencing it all alone.  But thanks to my actual friends and other bloggers in my age group no less I can put this into perspective. And jettison what happened to the invisible list  yet lengthy list of life experience.godey9-1861

But the whole thing about you can’t be friends with a blogger? What is that about? Blogging is something I do, it has never defined who I am. It’s a creative outlet for my voice, my writing, my photography.

And somehow I don’t think that is a bad thing. For the most part, I am happy to walk at the beat of my own drummer.  Now sometimes I doubt all that and wish I could be more like a lot of women my age.  Until I don’t.  Today was one of those times.  I realized the…well limitations of being limited in perspective.

Am I angry? No, but offended, yes.  It will pass and writing about it helps it dissipate in a game of mental catch and release.

In an era when women are corporate leaders and heads of state what does it do to the sisterhood metaphorically when you tell someone you really can’t be friends with them because they are a blogger? Oy vey.   I guess to some blogging is like a communicable disease. That is kind of funny if you think about it. Or sad.

Oh well!

Live and learn and let go. (And my post title just came to me as I predicted it would!)

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again

You don’t know what it means to win
Come down and see me again

~ Fleetwood Mac

 

P.S. If you want to read a really funny blog post  check out  What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say by Michelle Combs.

Godey-1880

 

 

the curiousness of women as we age

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Human beings are a strange bunch. One thing that fascinates me endlessly is how some women, who as adults are still controlled by their parents, eventually come to mimic them. In both appearance and behavioral patterns.

Social media gives us a look inside of the lives of those we know. Sometimes it also gives us a look inside the lives of people used to know but no longer are in contact with or really connected to. I had one of those experiences recently. Outside looking in. Being a couple steps removed changes your perception, and often you see things that you wouldn’t have noticed before or didn’t want to acknowledge you noticed before.

Recently I saw photos containing someone I used to be quite close to, and very fond of. But when I moved to Chester County it became too much of an effort for them to stay connected, so the relationship fizzled away. I wish this person nothing but the best, but after just catching them in someone’s photos from the holidays, wow, do we as adult women always run the risk of becoming doppelgängers of our mothers? In this case it almost made me sad to see.

This person I used to know at one time was extraordinarily vivacious and alive. And in all the photos I’ve seen for the past couple of years she smiling but it’s like there’s nothing going on behind the smile any longer. Truthfully, she’s looking more and more like her mother. Also, much like her mother she seems to have one friend she takes everywhere, and that friend looks enough like HER mother’s friend in photos I saw that it could be the daughter that woman never had separated at birth.

Someone said to me recently as they overheard a conversation I was having with someone that I had morphed momentarily into my mother. That kind of freaked me out. It’s not that I don’t love my mother, but I want to remain my own person. Not become a mini me of her.

Some women I know I do indeed resemble their mothers in their looks, but not the personalities and behavioral patterns. Perhaps men are like this as well, but this is a thing I have observed more so in women.

My mother has a very strong personality and so do I. But I would like to think and hope I am my own person. Not that I don’t love my mother but I just wasn’t put on earth to be her mini me.

And then there are the women I know that are all mostly chameleons, ever-changing. It’s like they can’t decide who they are even as adults.

And there are some women I know who seem to want to almost compete with their teenage daughters, something I completely don’t understand.

What happens to women as we approach and enter middle-age? Do we fight the aging process tooth and nail, or do we accept who we are? Or are we the balance somewhere in between those two things? And is this struggle which causes some women to head down paths already in place courtesy of their mothers?

What happens to female individuality as we age? Do we just get tired and in some cases give it up to Stepford? Or do we become more fiercely protective of our individuality?

Does who we are continually evolve or are we always basically the same person? I know there’s a lot about me that is considered constant, but I like to hope I am continually evolving to be the best person I can be. In the end I might fall short of the mark, but I at least want to remain my own person.

Thoughts?

women and social media

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One of my mother’s favorite expressions is “never complain, never explain”. As I flip through Facebook this morning while having my coffee, I thought I would pass it on. Some people might actually need it cross stitched and framed. Do you sense sarcasm here? Just a little bit? Sorry, I just find women and social media an oddity at times.

There is a lot of glass half empty and what the world owes people going on online. But maybe that is just social media: our own personal platforms for way too much grexing. (“Grexing” is Pennsylvania German for whining, complaining, or brutzing.)

I understand that everyone has troubles at different points in their lives and I totally get feeling the need to vent now and then, but there are some who are always seeming to be this way. I don’t know if they are this way in person all the time at this point or if this is just their online persona. But it’s like they are constantly negative and chronically angry and how is that healthy?

Trust me, I can whine with the best of them. But when you seem to be barraged with it from certain people all the time it gives you pause for thought. Is the glass really always half-empty? Why isn’t it ever half-full?

None of us are perfect, but do some of us simply expect too much of other people without looking to see what we can do by standing on our own two feet? It’s just that when I see some of what some people are putting “out there” for the world to see versus friends I have who lives with horrible diseases every single day and are among the most positive people I’ve ever met, it just makes me stop and think. I know women who are living with diseases like multiple sclerosis and metastatic breast cancer. Truthfully, these are the women that inspire me. They have every right to complain, but they don’t. They live. And they live positively and with love.

Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why is the world responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives? We are all capable of free will, so unless we are being dangerously coerced or abused, aren’t we the ones making those decisions? From businesses to kids to life to men it’s giant gripe-fest some mornings. In some cases I can’t help but wonder if it’s karma, and I feel bad even thinking that, but when you treat other people poorly or rudely for long enough, what happens? Is it the old adage of everything that goes around eventually comes around?

A dear friend’s husband said to me that I need new people in my sphere, and I don’t think I necessarily that but I think some need a new outlook. And I’m not Pollyanna every day, so don’t misunderstand me, it’s just sometimes I am left silently asking these people a question. That question is how are we responsible for your personal happiness? And I am not silently asking that question to be mean. I want to know how it is we are supposed to be responsible for own lives and our families and their happiness? And yet we are called disloyal and worse if we don’t jump on the online bandwagon of support, which I don’t get. Do these people want true friends or sychophants?

Personally, I am someone who can be extraordinarily hard on myself. I am probably harder on myself than anyone else ever is. But when I see other people’s negativity head on it gives me pause, and makes me look inward at myself and my attitude too for that matter.

And then there are the women I see in groups who ask questions of total strangers that I don’t know that I would even voice out loud to people I know. Some of the questions range from the “lady you need boundaries that’s very personal” to “say what did she really just say that?”

And in group forums, there are some women who seem to view everyone else as the Shell Answer Man for lack of a better description. Sometimes I wonder if these people can get out of bed in the morning without seeking consensus first. Looking for referrals for a doctor, hair salon, restaurant, service provider I get those questions. But what I don’t get is when people post things like they have a cheating spouse and spouse was a cheating person before they married them and they just caught them at it again and what should they do should they just stay or should they leave? Really??? This is something you ask a thousand strangers ??

Another another favorite topic in the group forums is what to pay the babysitter. I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of cheap women out there.

And then there are the women who seek actual medical advice from a thousand strangers they don’t know and who definitely aren’t medical professionals- yes, that consensus seeking syndrome again. And I’m not talking about their asking medical related questions in a group that is geared specifically towards a disease or disorder. I’m talking about the women who should be filed under the category of “there are no boundaries on this bus”. And really, I don’t need to read what color your kid’s poop is either. (Yes seriously I have seen people post things about that.)

The thing that amuses me about some of these women when I see what they’re writing in public (and if it’s on Facebook or Twitter or other social media, it’s in public) is that these are often the type of women that I would run into a few short years ago who would say “I don’t know how you can blog. It’s so public.” And the tone of voice and face that would accompany comments like this was like I was doing something well, dirty.

Yes, to an extent, the Internet is like a giant bathroom wall. Which means what exactly? A society we are changing how we share? Or it’s just nice to have a place to vent? Or we should learn to once again to occasionally curb the streams of flowing consciousness?

Another amusing thing about women and social media are the ones who try to develop a particular persona that’s really not who they are in real time. I’m talking about the ones who are all so sickly sweet and posting cute little phrases often with photos constantly while they God bless everyone and thank God for blessings everything. And I am not speaking of the people I know who are truly good and Christian women, I’m talking about the ones that think we don’t know how they treat other people in real time and how viciously they gossip when they’re off their social media pages.

I really respect women who are who real and true online and off.

One of my favorite things hands-down still about connecting with women I know on social media is it’s a way to keep up with relatives and friends who are spread out and scattered to the four winds. It’s really nice to see pictures of their kids, and hear about what everyone is doing. One of the sad things however, is you can also see those who are starting to self-destruct and disintegrate. It makes you wonder why their families don’t see it too at times.

And then we all know people who seem unable to have actual conversations any longer, yet you can read all about it on social media. Maybe I am showing my age that I lament the lost art of conversation and even thank you notes. But I do think people don’t talk to each other enough any longer. Texting and tweeting and Facebooking are not talking. They might be a form of communication, but it is not the same nor a substitute for speaking and having conversations. And this doesn’t just occur with adults, it occurs with the young – our kids. And I think our kids need to be able to communicate and express how they’re feeling traditionally not just via social media and texting. And a lot of times they can’t.

I know some people I know are going to be annoyed or almost paranoid by this post I’ve written. Ladies, rest easy, the one thing that has never changed with me in all these years is telling you exactly how I am feeling person to person. If I had an issue with you I wouldn’t allude to it vaguely on a social media feed or in a blog post, I would tell you. In other words I’m not gonna play whisper down the lane behind your back yet in front of your face like a lot of people do on social media, this is just something I was thinking about as I was drinking my coffee this morning.

Thanks for stopping by and please, try to see the bright spots in life. It’s really easy to be negative, it’s much more work to be positive but so worth it. Life, every day, is a gift.

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what is beauty?

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What is beauty? When it comes to nature as in flora and fauna, it’s easy to point out a beautiful bird or a flower. But when it comes to humans, can it be said it is not only more subjective, but societally subjective?

Yes this may indeed be a post that some consider a flowing stream of female consciousness and that’s ok. No one is after all, holding a gun to their heads and say read this, right? And yes, it is all the chatter about actress Renée Zellweger which made me think about this.

I will start with this article I read this morning:

Are we hypocrites over Renee Zellweger? By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014

(CNN) — Renee Zellweger looks different than she did 10 years ago.
Big deal—who doesn’t?
Maybe she had plastic surgery. Maybe a little lipo, too. Or maybe her new look, at 45, is truly courtesy of her living a healthier, happier life away from the constant media glare, as she reportedly told People Magazine.

Considering how mean-spirited some of the response has been since Zellweger showed up at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards much slimmer than we remembered, who could question the effect time away from the vitriol can have on a person?

….The face and body we associated with her for all these years was, in her words, a byproduct of having “a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself.” Makes sense to me. I can’t tell you how many former NFL players I have come across who look nothing like the men I saw on the field—significant weight loss, clean-shaven, hell, just being clean for a change. And dare I say healthier.

I then read something on someone’s Facebook page (also this morning):

Can we leave Renee Zellweger alone, please? As a woman, I’m offended by the criticism she has received for doing something personal and private. Do the talking heads have nothing better to discuss? And seriously, if we should fault anyone, shouldn’t it be the entertainment and fashion industries for harping on their own standards of beauty? Sorry, I don’t usually take public stands, but this issue hits home.

So this is true…..but I am tired of what the media and Hollywood puts out there as far as women and aging, aren’t you? Renée Zellweger is a victim of that cycle I believe, but unfortunately she is also in the public eye. Why are people talking about Renée Zellweger? Because she did the all-American mid-life woman thing and apparently got some nipping and tucking and filling.

Why do women have such a hard time aging? Or admitting they are getting older?

Maybe we all play a part in this?

As women, we need to stand up for what the definition of beauty actually is. I don’t know a single female from 15 to 70 plus who doesn’t fight with self body image at times. And how many women just want people to notice sometimes when they look nice and not that they have a few more wrinkles than last year?

As a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor who did not have breast reconstruction when I look in the mirror I often only see a lopsided me. I have to remind myself how blessed I am to be alive. But how hyper-focused are we often as a society and the concept of the perfect female form and does that perfection even exist naturally?

In that vein, after seven weeks of radiation coursing through my body there were a lot of things about chemicals that I decided to shed from my life. That included hair coloring. I decided I was going to let my hair color change naturally to what it was meant to be, versus trying to cover it up every few weeks.

Truthfully I am very slow to gray up and in three years there is little difference. Yet if you look around all you see is advertising aimed at women which subliminally tells us day after day that aging naturally is BAD. We are bombarded with hair color and cosmetics ads, ads for injectibles like Botox and Juvaderm, ads for plastic surgeons, commentary on what unnaturally thin actress with unnaturally large and upstanding boobs are wearing.

And of course there are our more local influences. Our mothers, siblings, friends, spouses, and so on. For example, I adore my mother but you can ask anyone and they will tell you she is obsessed with appearance. The flip side is that is probably why she looks so good for her age, but you can’t wear sweat pants and a t-shirt around her! However, in her defense, as opposed to many of her contemporaries and my own contemporaries she is not someone who has been nipped, tucked, or injected. Which I am glad about because there have been some older ladies I have seen in society photos recently who look downright scary they have had so much work done. They don’t look attractive, they look freakish.

Most of the time I am good with me at 50, but there are days where I look in the mirror and wonder where I’ve gone. And then I have to remind myself that I’m not 24 anymore I’m 50 and that’s ok.

But societally in this country it seems to be the exception rather than the rule as far as aging naturally versus not aging naturally. The funny thing is when I was about 22 I wasn’t sure if I was going to like myself as a 50 year old. But that was a 22 year old looking at what was then, older than dirt.

Now that I am 50, it doesn’t seem so bad or so old. Yet because of what I see put out there some days I struggle. But when I lay it all out I would truly rather be a more authentic me and I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be that woman….and that is what women forget.

Women forget that we do have the right to be whomever it is we want to be. Societally we are often judged if we don’t wear makeup, don’t color out hair, haven’t been augmented and injected, and wear more age appropriate clothes rather than looking like the teenage daughter’s closet was raided.

Can it be said the obsession with appearance versus the inability to deal with aging is pervasive and damaging? And have you ever noticed the men who will sit and judge a woman like she is someone’s prize cow? My ex was one of those kinds of men and I think individuals like this need to take a long, hard look in the mirror before they judge another human being. Yet, it is often through eyes like those that women judge themselves. And yes, we are our own harshest critics

Getting older is a challenge. Of course it is. But it is part of the cycle of life, right? So what if societally we were a little more accepting?

Thanks for stopping by today.

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who are we now?

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Do you remember when you were little or even a teenager, you thought fifty was old? But I also remember a lot of fifty and almost fifty year olds looking much older then versus now. Or maybe it is a case of everything is relative.

For me being fifty is sort of at this point full circle meets “Wow, where did all the years go?” But for the most part I don’t feel fifty, or whatever it is our pre-conceived notion of being and feeling fifty is supposed to be. Fifty can be vastly different even depending on what television show you watch and what magazine you look at.

Face it, fifty has gotten younger as we have gotten older. The fifty of the 1950s for example is very different than today. But then the roles of women have evolved too, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe the fear of aging is just that much more pronounced now?

I found the image above and it cracks me up because I remember women’s household magazines in the 1970s showing women how to make duvet covers, curtains, and clothes out of sheet sets. I was born in the mid 1960s and when I first remember women that were “old” to me as a kid, i.e. middle-aged would have been the early 1970s. That was when I noticed how much more hip city women at the time seemed from suburban women and then there was a remarkable difference.

Today, women to an extent are more assimilated in some regards, but not all. But back then (for example) you might see hip city women in boho chic for summer and suburban women all Lily Pullitzer and Vera. The city gals were more free flowing and the suburban women more seriously buttoned up.

What defined fifty in my mother’s time of fifty was so different than what we see today. But also what I am noticing today to an extent fascinates me. And so many take themselves so seriously. They still don’t realize it is ok to color outside of the lines.

I have no issue with women who “take care of themselves”. But sometimes I think my friends and I are in the majority of not having “work done.”

To each their own, but after undergoing a couple non-elective and fairly major surgeries, I can’t imagine elective surgeries for new boobs, face, and so on. I also don’t get filling your face full of chemical fillers and well, botulism (well that is what Botox is).

I see women whose faces are shiny and other worldly luminous from chemical peels. It just doesn’t look normal to me, and some look like they could glow in the dark. I always wonder what they would look like if they just aged normally?

There are some women who I thought were among the most naturally beautiful when they were younger who are to an extent unrecognizable at times because of all the surgical augmentation and chemical additives to stay young. It baffles me. But I opted to stop coloring my hair and although it will take years for me to grey completely, I know I baffle a lot of women my age for choosing to do this.

And that is the key: how do we define aging today? Is it we are only as old as we feel, or we are controlled and conditioned by what we see around us on television, in magazines and on the Internet?

I see women basically my age trying to dress like their teenage and early twenties daughters. It doesn’t matter to me if they have the bodies or not, sometimes it makes me wince. They look silly at times, and cute is what they are going for. But then I think who am I to judge if it makes them happy? But it’s the whole be who you are thing, and how do they know if they have never seemed to try?

But I guess I don’t get at the end of the day wanting to look eighteen again. I mean eighteen was fun, but in a sense I am having more fun now than then. And why is that? Because at fifty I know who I am for the most part and at eighteen a teenage girl is still trying to figure it all out no matter how self confident they appear to be. It seems that at fifty I give myself more permission than I have in years to be myself.

I haven’t figured it all out and am definitely a work in progress. And I am trying to figure out what being fifty is exactly. So far it’s just another year, and not so bad!

Thanks for stopping by.

april fools’

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April Fools’ on me is it is so nice outside and I am still recovering from recent surgery. So I have been restoring a quilt and reading. I hate to say I am tired, but wow I am tired.

Reading is a delightful luxury. Novels, back issues of The New Yorker (which I apparently first picked up as a small child for the cartoons according to my parents), and a newspaper column I have read some of online from Maine I find fascinating because I think parts of it would make great skits for Saturday Night Live….or a series of New Yorker cartoons.

I have a bunch of friends who are a combination of native New Englanders and transplants. A few are in Maine. So the “Mainers” talk about a columnist in The Portland Daily Sun named Natalie Ladd. Not because her writing is so fabulous but because ( and I marvel at this) that she has apparently turned being a master kvetcher into a column. It’s like if Erma Bombeck was a whiner, and was kind of sort of humor-free.

Part of me marvels at that because in my Walter Mitty dreams a newspaper or magazine offers me a column some day because they love my writing style. It’s not that far-fetched because when I first began my transition out to Chester County, for a while I was writing online articles for The Philadelphia Inquirer’s now defunct online Neighbors blog. It was so fun and I loved it. I would pick my topics and pitch them. And of course my other dream is to have a one woman photography show in some super cool Chester County gallery.

So I think “maybe some day” and keep honing my crafts.

But I marvel at this Natalie Ladd. She has made herself a career of sorts via her column which seems to basically journal her midlife crisis meets empty nester. There she is in her “headshot” for the paper a woman of a certain age and definitely older than I. She has the worst glasses seen since Sally Jesse Rafael left television. And she is clutching a baby bottle in one hand and a mortar board in the other. You are almost embarrassed for her until you read a few of her columns and then it hits you: she’s the woman you avoid in the grocery store.

Because blogging is a personal writing journey, I hope I never morph into the woman who can’t deal with the empty nest (or anything else) like I see in these columns.

I could see being a columnist and writing a few columns about being an empty nester, but not making it as a variation on the theme of your personal aging and your main kvetch.

I asked some friends who are almost and total “empty nesters” what it is like. My one friend loves it until the dirty laundry mountain comes home to visit …..and she has quality time with piles of dirty clothes and not the kids. Another friend said it was hard at first but then you have to view it as an accomplishment because you have raised these amazing human beings who are your children to be fine individuals in their own right and this is the natural progression.

I never asked my mother how she felt. My parents just seemed to go about their lives and my sister and I developed our adult lives. I wonder how I will be when my stepson hits the road for college. I think that I know I will miss him because he is a very cool kid and I love him, but the reality is I want him to spread his wings and explore the world. It will be his time.

So this to me, after reading this woman’s columns (not all, because I just don’t have the stamina or interest) this stems from not necessarily just the proverbial empty nest, but the fact that she is not one with aging.

Maybe I look at life overly simplistically in some regards now. I look in the mirror and yes, basically a 50 year old woman stares back at me and some days I am literally thinking “when did 50 happen?”

But what am I supposed to do here? Act like a teenager, dress like a teenager, and avoid aging and be generally embarrassing ? But then I step back and well ….there will always be someone older than me, younger than me, poorer than me, richer than me, bigger house, smaller house, and so on. That is like the balance of life. So why not just be more accepting and move on?

Another friend and I were talking this morning about how we have stayed together as friends and love our lives, our homes, our families. Nothing is perfect, it doesn’t have to be. We are grateful for what we have and for each other. We were once part of a larger circle, and the circle has shrunk as other women we know have changed and spread out into different circles that fit their lives.

We have seen some morph into cliques of mean girls in rather strange places like church groups. Who knew Sunday school meant mean mommy time? I find that sad. People using the church lady cloak to just be bitchy is so 1960s and the era of drunken cocktail parties.

We also marvel at the ones who worked really hard to get their goals (for lack of a better description) and who are so malcontented that they still can’t be happy. Ever. We all have those moments, but what happened that these people let it drive the bus? Life isn’t a Real Housewife franchise even if we like to watch that sometimes on television.

And then there are the friends who are just lost. There is a sadness when we discuss them, because we miss the people they used to be.

Life and relationships are work. And maintenance and selflessness. Life and relationships are fabulous and messy and wonderful. And we age. Like it or not as someone in my house likes to remind me, we aren’t 18 anymore.

Good, because I don’t need to be 18 again. It was fun, but that teenage girl is not the me of today. Parts of her still live within me I suppose, but I kind of like where I am. I am happy and I am loved….and I have a big garden all my own that I can create and a house that is perfect for my family.

Does that sound simplistic ? Maybe it does or maybe through life experience and my aging I have learned what is important. Part of my life experience has been breast cancer. That is why I also write a breast cancer blog. But the odd thing about having breast cancer is in a lot of ways it has freed me. Maybe why I don’t fear turning 50 and beyond is because I know I could have also NOT been that lucky to attain 50.

In closing today I share New Yorker cartoons. One from their March 17th edition and one from their March 24th edition. Although the grown up in me reads the New Yorker for the fabulous articles and solid writing, the child I once was still loves the cartoons.

Thanks for stopping by today.

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