This blog is all about a celebration of midlife and a chronicle of my own midlife journey.
It started out as a place for me to keep a record of the year leading up to my “last” marriage (as opposed to my “first” marriage). I was, and still am, thrilled to be having a second chance at love. My intended was adamant that second marriage (for each of us) would not mean “second class” in terms of celebration, and so we planned the wedding as it it were our first. Thus I ended up in the white dress, and even a veil! (These things were not my personal preference at the time, as I wanted to keep a much lower profile as a second time bride, due to various fears, society’s expectations, and loss of my mojo as described below. However, I did end up going the full game-on bridal route with all the accoutrements and am so happy I did – no regrets, only happy memories!)
Being a bride-to-be at this stage in my life brought out all kinds of emotions in me, including a huge fear of looking ridiculous in my bridal finery, captured forever in the many photographs to be taken that day. And this caused me to delve deeply into the emotions that were causing this fear. Mostly I think I was (for several years already) grieving the loss of certain aspects of my appearance, and the gain of unwanted aspects to the same – grieving the loss of my youth, or the loss of the visual-at-least homeostasis of the past decade of my life.
(For at the same time I was planning my wedding, I was also dealing with the beginnings of perimenopause. I know, I know…the words “perimenopause” and “bride” just don’t go together, but such is/has been my life. (Entering graduate school at age 52, is another such example.)
For instance, I am losing hair where I do want it (on top of my head, first noticed in my 30’s and accelerating lately), skin and muscle tone, skin and hair colour, and…last but never least…my mind. 😉 Mental fogginess is, for me, the most troubling of the symptoms I have been experiencing. I have been gaining weight, hair where I don’t want it (mostly on my face), wrinkles and spots. I like to also think I am gaining wisdom, but it is sometimes hard to see that through the aforementioned mental fog. I am also experiencing the tropical mini-storms of hot flashes.
I jokingly refer to this as me undergoing “reverse puberty”, but for many days in the past couple of years it was no joke. Instead, experiencing these physical and mental changes caused a nagging, underlying feeling of sadness and angst that haunted my everyday existence and was exacerbated every time I looked in the mirror. Although I fully realized aging is a natural process for those lucky enough to get to this point, these changes were for me a constant reminder that my body’s processes were on the downward slide. There was a constant and low-grade humming worry playing as the background music of my foggy brain, as I wondered what diseases might be hatching and mutating in my declining cells. I had most definitely had lost my mojo at this time.
I looked for famous role models. Women to show me the way. Women of my age or older who were being celebrated for their wisdom, brains, wit, and beauty. I wish I could say I found scores of them, but mostly what I found were middle-aged women in a futile chase after the appearance of youth, via starvation diets, plastic surgeries, and/or drugs. (Sadly, many young women are fully engaged in this process of trying to stop or reverse time also, while still enroute to the height of their physical beauty.)
I understand the fear, I really do, that drives these women to put so much energy into fighting tooth and nail, to hang on to (or recreate) the vestiges of a youthful appearance. I felt that fear. I lived that fear, albeit briefly. Current society is not a friendly place for aging people, especially women. A good friend of mine remarked that she feels “invisible” these days, when out and about. Passed over by society, insignificant, no longer valid, no longer a desirable demographic…these are not nice thoughts to be experiencing.
Then something shifted inside of my mind. Although at this point I had found some of the role models I was so desperately seeking (Tosca Reno, Betsey Johnson, Kathy Smith, Helen Mirren et al, I am looking at you!), I felt there were still not enough. I found very few websites or blogs dedicated to celebrating midlife. So, I thought: Mizz D, “be the change you want to see in the world” (thank you Mahatma Ghandi, for this quote).
So, in my small way in my small blog, I am hoping to help inspire other women (and perhaps even men too, though the world is much kinder to older men) to see that aging doesn’t have to be scary, or a time of constantly mourning the loss of youth, and of pouring prodigious energy and resources into the futility of chasing it. That midlife and beyond can be the best of times in one’s life.
It helps that I come from a female line of fearless late bloomers. I still remember seeing a picture of my late grandmother, in her 70’s, astride a camel on one of her jaunts to foreign lands (Morocco that time, I believe).
And my mother, the Energizer Bunny incarnate, passing lifeguard certification at age 54 (after being told by doctors when in her 40’s, that she would be in a wheelchair by her 50’s due to a degenerating spinal condition.) She also became a late-life bride for the second time, after two years of widowhood, at age 63. Currently she is in remission for the second time in her, to-date, 11 year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Still vibrant, inquisitive and beautiful..still volunteering, still learning (teaching herself to play the guitar, currently), and still enjoying the world at 75 years young. Still not in a wheelchair. Obviously, she is my top non-famous role model.
My opinion is, that to have a vibrant, meaningful, and thriving midlife and beyond, means the following:
- taking good care of one’s self (body, mind, and soul)
- remaining vigorous, curious, and engaged in the world
- providing inspiration to those in search of it
This blog will, from now on, reflect this opinion and present a record of my own journey and discoveries along the way. I hope you enjoy it.
December 2013 Update
I lost my love to cancer on November 14, 2013. Now this blog will also be dealing with the challenges of widowhood – my moving forward to create a new and fulfilling life sans my soul mate. I still hope you enjoy it.
December 2015 Update
Mom’s cancer became unmanageable, as it always does, and eventually took over her entire body. She passed away peacefully in my home, surrounded by her family, on December 18, 2015.