Retirement Whether You Want It Or Not

Within a couple of months I will officially be retired.

No more worrying about driving to work in snow and slop. No more worrying about punching in late because I cant get my tired butt moving fast enough in the morning. No more scraping off my windows or driving to and from work in the dark. No more getting up at 6 a.m. and force-feeding a shower whether I need it or not.

I should be ecstatic. But somehow, I’m not 100% with that yet.

For there will also be no more beautiful sunrises to see on my way to work. I don’t usually come to my work town, so no more slow rides through the beautiful countryside that inspired two novels and a short story. No more pot lucks and sharing moaning groaning work stories with co-workers. No more chances to actually turn my job into something I love.

Of course, this transition comes to us all. I have worked 50 years to get to this point in my life. It should be — and will be — another turning point. A chance to do the things I really have wanted to do but have never had time to do.

Time to start making Angel Tears™ for art fairs. (more about that another day). More time to write. More time to see my grandkids. More time to actually organize my home. I want to start taking free classes at the University in my hometown. I also want to start freelancing proofreading and editing on the side.  I want to sleep in, stay up until 2 am, and not fear turning off the alarm and falling back asleep.

Yet I can’t help look back at all the years I’ve spent working for someone else. Except for a 7 year stint as a B&B owner, I’ve owed my soul — and paycheck — to the “man.” I try not to look back too much, for it’s easy to see the trials and fails I’ve had. The steps backwards I took to get where I am today.

It’s easy to see the dreams I once had of having a successful career. The steps I took and the steps I should have taken.

But there is no going back. No chance to change decisions, directions, or choices. That’s the payment for a life well lived.

The good thing is that I really believe I have another 20-30-40 years to make a difference. That’s a lot of time. I can encourage my grandkids to be proud of who they are and the contributions they will make to making the world a better place. I can make sparkly things that make people smile when they look out the window. I can contribute to the world in a different way than filing and updating computer records and making beds for visitors.

I can finally find out who I am.

There will be an adjustment period, no doubt. But that is something worth wading through — something worth dancing through.

For there is always a party on the other side.

 

No Woman (or Man) Is An Island

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.   ~John Donne

Contrary to (my) popular belief, my opinion is not the only one on the planet. My way of thinking on a particular subject is not the only way to think about a subject.

As many of you may remember (who wants to?), I wrote a blog a while back about my work title changing to “writer”, and that I was going to do my best to write company blogs and emails and whatever scraps were tossed my way.

Well, months later, and I’m not writing much at all. My company is going through a “transition” (always a great phrase when you don’t know what’s going on), and I often feel that because I’m older I’m being slowly but surely shown the proverbial door. It is a baby boomer point of view.

That’s my island.

Yesterday I read a blog from Blue Settia about the Generation Gap in the Workplace. It is a piece on the problems in the workplace from someone on the other side of the work cycle — someone 40 years younger than me. And she is going through the madness from a millennial point of view.

That is her island.

And it made me realize that corporate America (and other countries) still has a hard time bridging the age gap when it comes to making their employees feel important. Like their contributions matter. And that it’s not just my generation who is feeling the pressure of acceptance and getting along.

I realize a big company cannot cater to the egos of a hundred, a thousand, employees. Everyone has their own needs, their own insecurities, their own drives. And a company’s main thrust has always been, and will always be, making money first.

But when good, hard working people want to contribute, and their ambitions are not heard, what is the point?

Is a paycheck only a means to an end?

The point of today’s blog is to show that you are NOT an island unto yourself. That, unknown to you, there are others going through the frustrations and missed opportunities of becoming more than you are today. The business world is my commuter island today; for others it’s motherhood, their health, finding a job.

Whenever you think the world has passed you by, talk to someone else who is younger, older, or more seasoned. Talk to a stay-at-home mother, a friend who barely makes it living check to check, or someone who is management.

Listen to what each has to say. Really listen. Island hop. You may be surprised how many islands are really connected to yours.

And enjoy that island breeze together.

Saturday Morning Flashback — Am I There Yet?

I have always considered myself a pretzel logic (scratch the logic) kinda girl. I love a little bit of everything, and there is never a straight path from point A to point B for me. I’ve learned to live with that, and so has my linear, straight line hubby.

But I do have a few common sense rules I stick by. My Facebook is only for my family and friends, people I’ve communicated in real time with (even if it’s only been once). I don’t really see the importance of Twitter, although I use it for my blogs. I need to get artists up on Instagram but haven’t really conquered that app. Don’t use Snapchat or other viewer apps (nothing like me first thing in the morning before a shower….)

But I digress. As usual.

What I do like about FB is that they show me memories of past posts, everything from when my grandbabies were born to concerts I’ve attended to blog posts.

This one came across this morning from four years ago. It’s funny how I’m still in the same quandary as I was back then. I know you will say “you are who you are” and all that, but it’s rubble because I still want to be that BoHo Lady. I really do. And I still want to shake that conservationism that is stunting my growth. I”m so much better, but I still have a long way to go.

Anyone else still working on letting go? Changing? How’s it going?

For those who are interested, here’s the blog from 2015….

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

For all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt. Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I know I can’t (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing

The first step is stepping over the conservative barrels our youth set out for us. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism and find a middle ground.

And I really do want to start this today. I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right.

Better start sooner than later.

How about you?

Birthdays

Birthdays are a strange thing.

When you’re young, you can’t wait to have a party. It used to be all your friends at your house with party hats and games; today it’s Chucky Cheese or Rock Climbing parties.

When you’re a teen you often just go to the mall with some friends or hang at someone’s house for your birthday. Big shows of celebration of your day of birth are embarrassing.

When you’re in college, your birthday usually turns into a bender, with loud music and laughing, drunk friends playing beer pong or beer bags.

When you’re in your 20s and 30s you often have kids, so your idea of celebrating your birthday is having your parents babysit while you get a night out for dinner and/or a movie.

When you celebrate your birthday in your 40s or 50s, you’ve usually got a good group of friends around you, so you enjoy throwing a big bash at your house or at a friend’s house. You drink chocolate martinis and eat hors d’oeuvres. You play music from your teens and dance around the living room with a beer or a glass of wine.

When you head into your 60s, celebrating your birthday takes a different turn. Your birthday parties entail taking the family out to dinner for something “different” like hot wings or Thai, and you try not to think of how many years you’ve got left to sing “Happy Birthday.”

I’m not in my 70s yet, so I don’t know how I’ll spend them. I try and be a glass half full kinda girl, but when there are more years behind you than in front of you, that’s a hard task to keep.

Yet these birthdays are the most important. Because I’ll tell you one thing.

Another birthday means you’ve survived.

I’ve survived Cabbage Patch Kids, 8-Tracks, The Freddie, and Howdy Doody. I’ve survived 9/11, the impeachment of Nixon, and the death of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I celebrate being alive and full of love and hope, even in the face of runaway Twitter or bashing poor Charlie Brown tv shows.

I celebrate because I’m alive. Looking around me, that’s not always an easy thing to be.

So what does a 66-year-old do for their birthday?

How about sushi with my family then the grandkids over night then go to see Wreck It Ralph Wrecks the Internet tomorrow? That’s love, no matter how you celebrate it.

Celebrate YOUR birthday every year. Every day.

Make your heart happy.

My Life is on TV

I enjoy the new television season.in the fall. Dozens of shows try their best to make it to the evening line up. Most of the new crop is stinky. Some are merely okay. And some are pretty good.

Now and then there are some that hit pretty close to your life. And it’s creepy.

I just watched two sessions of Cool Kids.

For those who don’t know, Cool Kids is a new show about four “seniors” living in a retirement community who are sassy and a little troublesome. The most recent show was about one of the main stars (Vicki Lawrence) turning 65 and how she didn’t want to even acknowledge it. The foursome went out to a dance club and had a great time embarassing themselves before they went out drinking and met for breakfast the next morning in sunglasses.

65 and wanting to believe 65 is not old. And going out and doing crazy things to prove to themselves they are indeed as young as they feel. Which, in the end, was strained back muscles when they stood up and headaches in the morning.

Does that sound familiar or what?

I’m afraid I identify too closely with these oldsters. They say and believe the things I say and believe. They laugh and pick on each other and get sassy and throw parties they’re not supposed to throw. They fear getting old and being forgotten once they pass. The show didn’t get into grandkids or working past retirement age. Perhaps those will be touched in future episodes.

But what they did talk about and complained about sounded a lot like me.

Vicki Lawrence is 69 playing 65. The other actors are 62, 63, and 75 respectively. All within my age sphere. Their characters — and probably the actors themselves — have been there, done that. And so have a lot of us.

At this point in my life it’s great to see someone else portray my ups and downs on the screen. It’s great to see seniors being proud to be seniors. They may ache a little more and get tired a little more, but their memories of once being young and agile are every senior’s memories.

Of course, my life on the big screen will come crashing down once the show is cancelled.

But for now it’s fun watching the female lead talking about having a Peanut Booze and Jelly sandwich for lunch.

 

I’m Turning Into My Mother

I’m turning into my mother.

Well, really, my sweet Irish mother passed away at 54, so I don’t know what she would have been like as an old lady.

I’m turning into everyone else’s mother.

And I don’t think I like it. But I can’t do anything about it.

I always used to wonder why my father-in-law was such a bastard when he got older. He hated everything (except his grandkids), enjoyed trash talking everything from politics to ethnicities. And he enjoyed it.

Now I’m not a bear like he was, but I find that more and more things are just bugging the heck out of me. Like I’ve constantly got an itch that I can’t scratch.

Like politics. Not getting into ANY discussions, but damn, someone should take Twitter away from that man. The news about his son, his staff, all just makes me sick.

Or traffic. I went into the city a few weeks ago and it bugged the heck out of me. Drivers are ignorant. They wander where they want to when they want to. And forget about signals. That’s as foreign as Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings).

I love old time rock and roll music (thanks, Bob Seeger), but not screamy high pitched or eternal guitar solos, especially at 7 am when I’m going to work or 4 pm when I’m headed home. Its the same old songs on the same old radio stations…no wonder I’m beginning to hate Styx.

See what I mean? I’m turning into one of those old crabby ass people.

My idea of a summer evening is sitting on the deck, listening to the birds and all, feeling the breeze on my cheeks. No parties, no barbeques…just peace and quiet.

That’s an old person’s favorite thing to do.

My idea of music at work is upbeat classical or smooth jazz. Who can listen to Metallica or Green Day while you’re typing figures?

That’s an old person’s view of music.

I really try not to fall into the black hole of old peoplehood. I run around with my grandkids, go to Gaelic Storm concerts, go for walks for exercise a couple of times a week. I love reading, writing, and doodling. I try new food and don’t care for most of it.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve had a lifetime of politics where nothing has changed. Friends of mine went to the Peace Corps after high school. They are still bombing where they visited. People are bringing guns into schools and shooting anything that moves.

The names have changed but the situations haven’t.

That’s why I’d rather sit and watch grass grow. I’m not afraid that it’s going to come to my house and murder me in my sleep or steal my car or bomb my apartment.

Maybe that’s not being old after all. Maybe it’s just being smart.

65 Is Not Just A Number

It’s Monday evening;  it is quiet around the house, which is good, seeing as I threw my own birthday party Saturday.

I have a hard time saying I’m 65…there are so many memories strung out behind me, three-quarters worth I can’t remember. I am in the second half of my  life, making memories  every day, forgetting memories every day.

You can say 65 is just a number, but so is 21. 49. 1,204. In theory, that is correct. But that’s over 520 million breaths. 65 birthday parties. Over 268,000 hugs. 500,000 bites of chocolate. Its that and so much more.

I threw myself a party because I wanted to…dare I say I was afraid that no one would remember this momentous occasion? That my day of turning old enough to retire would be brushed over like an ant on the table?

It’s hard to admit your own insecurities…especially when they sound stupid in your ears.

I wanted to celebrate making 65 years of life. Good and bad. Up and Down. Two kids, 2-1/2 grandkids. Friends. Traveling. Camping. Working. So much has been packed into these 65 years — how I wish I could remember them all. My kids as babies. My kids as teens. My mindset at 30. 40. 50. Different from where I am today, no doubt different from where I’m going.

I’ve outlived my mother by 11 years, and am aiming at my father’s ripe old age of 86, and adding 10 to that. I don’t want the memories to end. The friendships to end. The dreams to end. I’ve got so much to do that there’s no time to feel bad about what has been.

So throw your own party. Celebrate your life. Every day of it.  Don’t wait for someone to come along and validate all the years you’ve given to mother earth. Do it yourself.

Even if you can’t remember half of it.

Retirement Comes For Us All

A good friend of mine retired today, with a little pomp and circumstance and an overly-sweet retirement cake.

Cal is my work friend. He was the director of our Science catalogs, I was his coordinator for 11 years, meaning I put his product numbers into Filemaker, proofread his catalog pages,  and generally helped keep his p’s and q’s in order.

Somewhere between the p and the q we started talking about writing. Not many people at work know I have a blog, nor do they know about all the writing I’ve done. But somehow Cal and I found a common ground outside of work and started talking about writing, then shared our stories and writings.

As you all know, it’s hard to find someone who shares your passion. Whether it’s fishing or golf or writing, not everybody is in tune to what you’re tuned into. So to find another writer within the vanilla cubicle confines of my daily abode was a gem in the making.

Like any company, mine is in flux. Growing, expanding, taking new directions. The old guard is leaving and a younger, fresher version is moving in. What worked 5, 10 years ago doesn’t work today. So the prospect of retirement is sweeter for many of us over the age of 60.

We are not getting squeezed out as much as slowing down. I am as bright, as creative, as I was 20 years ago. But I must admit that at 64 my processing computer isn’t quite as fast as it used to be. So by the time I retire I will be so glad to let corporate America pass me by.

You don’t always think about retirement — hell, until recently for me it was something that was far, far away. But since I can’t fight time, I might as well embrace it.

That’s what my friend Cal will be doing. I’m sure he’s had plenty of ups and downs in his life. But finally things are coming together and the doors have opened to his “next” career. Maybe it will be writing. Maybe he will travel and become a professional traveler.

Maybe he will just enjoy the next 30 years of his life.

In the end, that’s what we all hope will happen to us. Isn’t it? A chance to spend another quarter of our life waking up when we want to.  A chance to spoil grand kids, work in your garden, paint paintings, meet friends for lunch. Eating breakfast at noon and lunch at 5. Finally doing whatever it is you’ve always wanted to do.

Cal, I wish you open roads, low scoring golf games, and a writing career that rivals J.K. Rowlings. There’s no doubt your stories will rival those of Asimov. After all — you are the Science Guy —

Hot Moms at the Playground

The first thing I have to say is the truth. I am Jealous. Envious. Covetous. Wanton. Wistful.

Okay. Now that that’s over…I took my grand kids to the park Saturday morning to encourage their Adrenalin dispersion. So here is granny, an average-looking 64-year-old, scrubbed, puffed, a touch of makeup, a decent pair of Capri’s and fun t-shirt, feeling good, feelin’ hip, keepin’ up with swings and slides and Jungle Jims. There were two baseball games going on in the background, middle-school types, lots of cheering and hoho’s. Then I looked around at the other mothers.

These women were knockouts. I figured these moms were leftovers from the games, watching their toddlers on the swings and slides and Jungle Jims. Now, I live in a small town. A college town. I’m not saying we don’t have attractive people here, but to have the playground filled with them is an eye-opening experience.

They hung out in pairs and trios, the same short-shorts, long hair, small waistlines, all tossing their hair as they bowed their heads down to read their cellphones, watching their precocious kids talk about their magic beads or ninja moves or playing zombie tag.  One of the moms was pregnant, and even her awkward bundle looked great in her top and Capri’s.

Now you must wonder why I chose the word ‘jealous’ to describe my feelings at the time. I mean, there was a time when ~I~ was a young mom taking my kids to the park with ~my~ girlfriends. My friends and I laughed and talked about the kids, our husbands, going out on Saturday night. We’d party at each other’s houses, spend a weekend shopping and stay the night in a hotel, drinking and eating and confessing our secrets to each other. Our kids played together, our husbands told stories together. It was a wonderful circle.

But that seems so long ago.

I think I’m jealous because I remember looking like that. Thinner, thicker hair, clearer complexion. I’m also jealous because these girls have theirwhole life ahead of them. They still can be executives and fashion designers and doctors. Their kids are still little, with soccer and baseball games and field trips and prom still to come. Their children still worship them, still love sharing snuggles and hugs and cuddles.

I know the best medicine for this unreasonable bout of jealousy is to share the snuggles and hugs and cuddles of my own kids and grand kids. To go watch their baseball and soccer games and take them camping and shopping and stay up late. I can touch the memories of days gone by by making new memories today.

I’ll always wonder, though, how I made it through all those younger days without a cell phone.

 

The Direction of Choice

There was a time
The universe expanded before me
Choice was a luxury
Youth my companion
Direction meaningless
Lost in the sparkle of the stars

Lately the vastness of that universe
Has shrunk before my eyes
The galaxies of choice
Have turned to
Cold hollow moons
Planets of necessity

Funny how small
My world has become
The luxury of time
Exists on fewer and fewer
Planes of existence
In this world and the next

The choices are not the same
As in the days of
Gauzed-wrapped visions
Candy-sweet dreams
Jobs and friends and goals
Now have razor edges

Options have narrowed
Doors once open
Now request verification
Of paths followed
And stars wished upon
In duplicate form

I can no longer shuffle the cards of
Destiny and Delusion
The games have been chosen
Hands have been dealt
Bets are hedged
The world is keeping score

I must play the hand dealt
Watch the glow of dawn
Twist into curls of dusk
Time no longer my friend
Its shadow the scent of musk
Choice is mine no more

My vision has become blurred
Memories have faded
My heart has been broken
By limitations of my body
And the changing of the guard
As they march into the fog

I never forget my heart
The journey that brought me here
I love and I cherish
I live and I learn
But cannot go back
To the land of never was

Even though hope fades
In the emptiness of dawn
And space of my soul
Reality bounds from the sky
Our star’s blinding glare
Reminding me of the truth

All I need to do is breathe
The universe, the stars
Will point the way
And the world of choice
Will open its doors
Once again.

                   Claudia Anderson, 2013

You’re Never Too Old (or Out of Shape) To Start

thI don’t know if it was climbing the cliffs at Devil’s Lake or swimming laps at the local pool or wild sex on the beach, but I’ve been knocked out the last few days with one granddaddy of a pain across the small of my back that’s gone from explosive shots  to a single shooting pain up one gluteus maximus.

Actually, it wasn’t mountain climbing or Olympic swimming or wild anything. I don’t really know how I threw my back out of wack. But now that I’m older, it takes longer to get it back into shape.

And that scares me.

It scares me because it shows that I’ve got less and less time to make my body right. That at any time a bad back can turn into sciatica or spinal compression fractures or ankylosing spondylitis.

I know that there are people who live with pain all their lives. I suppose most of what I’ve lived with I’ve lived with. You know? But when you introduce something new into your spectrum of experience it opens the door to more possibilities. Possibilities of more pain, uncomfortableness, sleeplessness, and more.

Back to the back pain.

This is a real eye-opener for me. I know my front carries extra baggage that pulls on my back, and I’m starting to take care of that. I’m starting to walk more, but I say that every year, and peter our about a month in. I am at the age where anything can and will happen if I don’t start paying attention to what I eat and drink and how I move.

And that’s the fact, Jack.

I know I can’t turn back the hands of time, but I can certainly strengthen the hands I have. It’s never too late to start stretching more, walking more, slowing down more. Maybe that’s an old-lady thing, but it’s a smart thing, too. It’s one thing to fight cancer. Been there, done that. But it’s another to let your body fall down the weakness well and not do a thing to pull yourself back up.

Like some kind of commercial, I am here to tell you to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY. No matter what age. It’s so easy for a rash to turn into psoriasis, a scar into an infection, a limp into arthritis. It may be that one will turn into the other anyway, but it’s much smarter to take care of these things up front. Stretch before you pull a muscle. Clean before it gets infected. Eat healthy instead of fatty.

I have always been one to put off taking care of myself last. Kids, husband, my cat — everyone but me. Now that I’m older I’m starting to feel the effects of everyone else first. And it’s time to pay attention to the only one who is going to be with me through the very end.

The good thing is that getting in shape now will enable me to climb those cliffs or swim those laps or…

Well, you know all the things you can do when you’re not achin’ and painin’….

Old Age = Fine Wine = Pfffffttt!!

This beginning-of-the-week blog is mainly for those of us getting up in years. Not really UP there yet, but holding onto those clock hands, trying to slow down the pace to the future. OUR future.

I have been having a few “feeble” moments lately, and, frankly, my dear, I do give a damn. I don’t like it. I catch myself groaning and moaning and rolling my eyes whenever something needs a little extra effort. Now, I know I’m not in my 20s…or 30s…my energy level has changed through the years. But I catch glimpses of this little old granny, bent over, shuffling, mumbling, into the future. And I can’t go there. Not for 20 years at least.

How do you train yourself to pick up the pace, so to speak? I don’t mean jogging around the block or acing a calculus test. I mean — how do you find your bearings, your confidence, when you’re short and round?

I have seen many women who have aged gracefully. Hair, eyes, shape, all have held up pretty well through the years. I have never been one for beautiful anything, but I have managed to stay married for 35 years, so I must be doing something right. But it’s those same connections that seem to pat me on the head now and then and say “Don’t worry. We’ll slow down/simplify/avoid confusion for you.” Which does nothing but piss me off.

I understand that if I were physically encumbered, others would (hopefully) want to simplify my world. I may hold a grudge against everyone healthier than me, but I would understand. If you can’t do it you can’t do it.

But at this moment I CAN.

Maybe my knees creak and I get weird pains in my shoulder and forget to turn the lights off when I leave or can’t hear someone because they’re mumbling, but I’m not on my way to the glue factory. I am still a viable part of my community, my family. I hold a fairly decent job, I am a writer, a blogger, and artist. I can keep up with the best of them when it comes to grand kids, dogs, friends, and grammar. I’m not ready to take the back seat to the future.

I think the older you get, the harder it is to garner respect. We are older and wiser, yes, but we are also the “older” generation. We don’t always have the keen insight and quick reflexes of the younger generation, hence encouraging condescending nods and smiles from the quicker-picker-upper crowd.

Is this an age thing? A woman thing? Or not a thing at all? Do you second guess your abilities? Your alertness? Your ability to reason or figure things out? Have you given up on your looks? Your style? Your ability to swing?

I always thought those concerns would be less and less as I got older. Seems like the old insecurities never go away. They just change color and hue.

The point of life is to not give in, not give up. To live your life with a bit of caution and a little grace and a lot of humor. It took 40-50 years for this hair to thin, for this writing career to take off — and I’m not done yet.

I’m aging like fine wine.

Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!