Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reality Bites... At 60

Have you ever noticed that the passage of time isn't smooth? That days, weeks, months... even years... can unfold but time seems to be standing still? We seem to be standing still? And then all of a sudden, we lurch forward. We're catapulted from one clearly discernible chunk of time into another. At least that's how it seems to me.

I love that word "chunk." I used to use it a lot in teaching, when planning courses with my department, "chunking" up the weeks of a semester, into units, and the units into lessons. It had to be done, no matter how arbitrary it seemed... how arbitrary it was, actually... because otherwise you might get to May and realize with a sinking feeling that you'd only covered one element of the course and the final exam was looming. Time, the days and the weeks, can get away on you when you're talking to kids, and exploring exciting new activities with them. I used to think there was no better lesson I could teach a student-teacher than how to "chunk up" a course.

I look at my life like that too. In chunks of time. There's that whole shadowy, unreal, almost fictional, time in the lives of my family before I was born. Then the chunk that was my early childhood before we moved to the apartment building owned by my grandfather, before my parents separated. To be truthful I don't remember much of that time. And what I do remember I'm pretty sure aren't my memories at all, just stories told by my mum and my older siblings. 

My first clear memory is of my mum and I flying to Newfoundland to visit my uncle and aunt who had just had a new baby. I remember that time vividly. The early rising and driving through the pre-dawn darkness to the airport. Mum reading to me on the plane from my "Little Golden Book" called The New Baby. I gather from her stories that Mum was not as excited as I was to be flying. That, to her chagrin, every time the pilot issued a warning that there would be turbulence, I kept repeating it. "Turbulence, Mumma. We're having turbulence." "Yeee-esss dear. I heard," I imagine her replying through gritted teeth. 


1956 version of "The New Baby."
The 1956 edition of The New Baby... the same one I owned.

I remember that trip in vivid colour. What we had for lunch one day when the wife of a family friend took Mum and me shopping and out for lunch... to an automat. You know, those places where you could see the dishes through the little windows? And you opened the window and put the plate on your tray. Lunch in a restaurant was a rare treat when I was almost six. Apparently I embarrassed Mum by wanting pretty much everything I saw. I mean, it was hard to know when you picked one dish that a few feet down the line there'd be a different one that you just that moment realized you wanted even more than the last one. Sigh. I remember Mrs.Tucker, our host, was very gracious, but I caught hell from Mum afterward. I also remember coming home to my uncle's house that afternoon with a new pink plastic umbrella, which I promptly hid from my two younger boy cousins. Boys were so trying in those days. 

The rest of that time before I started school and Mum went to work is all wrapped up with images of Christmas at my grandparents, books we read, and old movies.  When my older brother and sisters were in school, Mum and I would sometimes watch old movies on "Mid-day Matinee" on television. She'd do the ironing. And I'd ask endless questions about what was going to happen to whom in the film. It seemed to me that Mum knew everything. Took me years to break the habit of asking "What's going to happen now, Mumma?" 

And then I started school, and there were school bus rides, new kittens, playing tether ball at recess, report cards, teachers I loved, and those that scared the pants off me. And then that awkward chunk that was junior high, and the year Mum married my step-father and we moved to the farm. That was wonderful. And then the high school chunk. And onward. And, you see, the funny thing is, that even though I was aware that events might be months or years apart, within each of these chunks, I was unaware of the process that was happening. I was growing up, changing, learning, becoming an independent person. But it seemed to me as if I stayed the same for years until I lurched forward into a different chunk of my life and became an entirely new person. 

And with each lurch into a new phase of "me," I was sure that eventually I would lurch into a "finished" phase where I would be confident, successful, beautiful, and have everything under control. Where I would have all the answers, and life would be smooth sailing and easy peasy. Ha. I stopped waiting for that phase when I turned thirty. But I still experienced my life in chunks. Learning, changing, and inexorably growing older. I welcomed the advent of some of the changes. Like the day I realized that somehow without my realizing it, I had become an experienced teacher. Comfortable in my classroom, able to relax and enjoy myself and not stress so much about whether I was doing a good enough job. That felt great. Other changes, however, were not so welcome.

I remember one day in my late thirties, I was "turning my closet" as my friend Margaret says. And I tried on a lovely, royal blue corduroy, full-skirted dress from Laura Ashley, which I loved, and which was several years old. And like a dash of cold water, I knew that I had suddenly, in a moment, become too old to wear the dress. Of course it's not like my face morphed into wrinkles and frown lines that exact moment. Just that I suddenly realized the reality. I was almost forty. And the dress did NOT go with my face anymore. I looked silly in it. Like mutton dressed as lamb. It was a bit of a shock. Not a huge emotional moment or anything, just... surprising. "When did that happen?" I remember thinking.

But I was not so sanguine about another big shift in reality moment. My most traumatic lurch forward, into a new chunk of my life, happened when I was almost fifty-one. I had been going for physio for my back for two months. The young guy who was my physiotherapist was from Australia, a cross-country skier, working in Canada, and training for the World Championships the next year. We bonded over talk of Australia (Hubby and I had been there on an extended trip a couple of years before), and talk of skiing, and cycling. And his assistant, the kinesiologist, was an equally young, equally athletic extrovert. We had lots of laughs as I lay with a heat pack on my back, or tried in my motor-moron way to master the exercises I was supposed to do. Those two kibitzed and ribbed each other and I always chimed in. I want to make very clear that our chat was friendly banter, not flirting. More like the jokey way I interacted with students in the hallway; teasing, laughing, as people who like each other do. 

But one day after I left, I climbed into my car, and adjusted the mirror to fix my hair. Oh. My. God. I was old. Bright sunshine on my face illuminated every single line and furrow. Every single one. It was like a kick in my solar plexus. I was a pathetic, middle-aged, wrinkly old woman. How stupid I must look making jokes and joining in the banter with those two young guys! It seemed as if in that moment I saw who I really was. The reality of being fifty-one. And it literally hurt. It did. I remember I almost cried. Maybe I did cry. The next day I told one person, my friend Marina. "What an idiot, I am," I said. "Who do I think I am going around acting as if I'm still in my twenties, as if I'm the same age as those young guys?" I don't remember what she said. Something sympathetic, I know. But I walked around for days, in mourning for my youth. For the years when I was young, or even young-ish, and attractive and not some sad old git who was only pretending. How had I not noticed that I wasn't me anymore? Or at least the me I thought I was seeing in the mirror. Whew! Talk about an emotional over-reaction. But that's how I felt. And then, in a week or two, it subsided. 

It had been years since I thought about that day, the day I realized I was middle-aged, and the ensuing weeks of self-doubt. Until last May, when I turned sixty, I read in The New York Times an article called I'm Too Old For This by Dominique Browning, who was also sixty. Browning says that turning sixty was "profoundly liberating" for her. She says that she always felt insecure about her looks. Until one day she unearthed a trunk full of old photos, and as she looked at them she thought: "Even when I was in the depths of despair about my looks, I'd been beautiful." And it was a revelation to her. She says that when we get to be sixty, we should consider ourselves "too old" to worry anymore about all that insecurity nonsense. All that torturous, self defeating, I'm not good-looking enough, or smart enough crap. 

That's kind of how I felt when I turned sixty. Sort of liberated. I remember thinking: "Okay, so you're sixty. This is your life. This is your face. This is your body. This is you." And I felt pretty good. Good enough, anyway. I think maybe I've been catapulted into that "finished" chunk that I dreamed about when I was young. Except not in the way that I thought. Not beautiful, but wise enough to realize that beauty ain't everything. Successful, in that I've had a successful career. Certainly confident... most of the time, anyway. I don't have all the answers, but I now know that no one does. And while life is not all smooth sailing, easy peasy... I'm pretty lucky. I'm even beginning to take a more sanguine view of that day when I was almost fifty-one. To feel empathy for myself instead of exasperation. I know, I know... I seriously over-reacted. But I was only fifty-one. I was deep into menopause. I wasn't ready then for reality, not ready then to be the woman I saw in the mirror. 

But I am now. 

And I keep thinking of this bit from Browning's article: "I have no doubt that when I'm eighty I'll look at pictures of myself when I was sixty and think how young I was then, how filled with joy and beauty." 

Well, I don't know if that's what I'll think when I'm eighty. I'll have to get back to you on that. In twenty years.


Me at 3, 13, 38 and 59 years of age.
Visual evidence of  "the whirligig of time"...as Shakespeare says.


How about you my wise readers? How do you fare when reality bites... and you are faced with the evidence of time passing? 






Linking up with Thursday Favourite Things Blog Hop at Katherine's Corner, Fabulous Friday at Pocketful of Polkadots, and Saturday Share Link-up at Not Dressed As Lamb

53 comments:

  1. I'm sure this erudite , poignant post will touch a nerve with many of your readers . I can certainly remember some of these time chunk moments in my own life . Last year at the end of a big family wedding there were hundreds of twenty year olds still having a whale of a time partying . We older ones were on the edge watching by then , as I remember my aunts did years ago . I could have stayed in the fray but it didn't appeal . It wasn't exactly sadness I felt , more awareness & acceptance of the changes in me . Which was a little bit poignant I must admit .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Same for me Wendy at my niece's wedding in 2012. Stu and I danced up a storm, then sat on the sidelines, then left the youngin's to their own devices and decamped for home and a nice cup of tea:)

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  2. Having just turned 55, and having a mirror moment of my own, this was just what I needed to read. Thank you, beautiful lady.

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  3. What a wonderful post. I know exactly the feelings you have experienced.

    I've experienced more "small" moments than the huge one you had at 51 ... and occasionally I still have them. It's always a surprise, but not upsetting.

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    1. Thanks, Bridget. That's the only one that really felt like a punch in the gut. Not sure why I reacted so strongly. I put some of it down to the fact that I was emotionally fraught all the time that year.

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  4. This is beautifully expressed, Sue. And very poignant for those of us who have been there, whether at 45 or 50 or 55 or 60... in fact, Stacy Morrison, who is an amazing author, wrote a post on her blog very recently that touches on some of these issues from a different angle. Really from the place of feeling so unsettled and uncertain after thinking that one would land at a place of confidence and certainty at last. Stacy is 48, so she has yet to experience some of the visual impacts of that mirror when the spots and furrows and other marks of times passage simply won't step back. But she does know the pain and disillusionment of feeling as though her career has disappeared somehow, that safe and meaningful place where you feel as if you are contributing. By the way, her blog is called filling in the blanks.. She is an exquisite writer.

    That is where I am as well, and the sense of uselessness and lack of value in any tangible (not to mention financial) way, the erodes something inside. And the fact that the outside seems to be reflecting that erosion makes everything worse. I find myself increasingly frightened of the invisibility, and at the same time, comforted by it. I simply don't want to be seen. Not in the "real world" in which women have to compete - and how small I sound for even admitting that.

    As for Dominique Browning, and believe it or not I remember her from her freshman year in college ( she was stunningly beautiful), I simply don't feel the same way. Much as I try, I am no more able to toss off the opinions of everyone around me and narrow down those whose opinions I care about to a smaller group, I fail to do so. Or rather, I failed to do so to any large extent, something I thought that I would be able to do. What I am able to do however, is to speak my mind more clearly and without regret. I do feel good about that.

    Still, I can't help but care about how I look, though I seem to have less control over it, which is very frightening, particularly when one is single. Particularly in a society such as the one in which we live in the US, where the currency of a woman remains her appearance. Certainly, her confidence matters. Certainly, her ability to contribute matters. But in a country where we are marginalized the older we get and pushed out of the job market the older we get, and yes pushed out of our marriages and the dating pool the older we get, the harder it is.

    God, how I wish we could have done more to change this. Or perhaps we have done more than I think, and I'm simply not myself living it.

    These days, I feel as if I have to prop myself up every morning just to manage through the day. Or I have to re-prop myself up every few hours just to manage through another few hours. And I avoid the mirror at all cost. I am unable to face the face that I see. And then I feel like a coward, like someone who lacks substance and perspective, and frankly, common sense.

    I have often wondered if growing old is harder for women who spent their lives beautiful than for those who did not. I always felt relieved that I was one of the "plain" women, one of the overweight women, a woman so short I was quite literally overlooked; one of the women who were invisible most of the time except for those occasions when I truly wanted to be noticed. As for beauty, I may well have come to appreciate a measure of my own inner beauty as the years went on, but there were really only a few years, ironically in my late 40s and early 50s, when I felt any true sense of comfort in my appearance. And of course, those years were about financial survival and finishing the job of raising my kids solo. And those years now seem very short-lived. Still, I'm grateful that I had them at all, that I had a taste. It is something I can look back on and smile.

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    1. You are well spoken and have deep, clearly expressed thoughts. Your game isn't up, you are needed. Someone who can express herself as you do needs to be speaking up about the skewed value system that hurts women, both older and young. No young thing can say it because she hasn't lived it yet. This message will have to come from veterans. The next years could be among the best.

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    2. Thanks for the wonderful comment, DA. Your blog provides such a great service for all of us; like Alice Jo says above... you ARE needed. But I think that even the most confident of us has periods of self doubt and low self esteem. How could we not? I imagine that your recent move and your ongoing health challenges have not helped. I'm going to check out Stacy Morrison's blog. High praise from you is high praise indeed:)

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  5. To me it's ironic that as my looks fade my confidence grows. I don't feel that I've become invisible, because I'm more useful and have more to offer now than I ever have. At 54 my art is better than ever, my voice is stronger when I speak out and I find that while my looks don't turn heads like they used to, my confidence does. In a world where looks are valued above anything else a young woman can offer, this is surprising to me to learn. As the youth fades, it allows the earned value to shine. We seasoned women have an attractiveness that didn't show from behind our young skin and smooth shapes. We are by no means diminished by age, I believe we are enhanced by it.

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    1. I agree, Alice Jo, we are enhanced by age and experience. Still... sometimes when we least expect it..as they used to say on that old TV show... the old bugaboo, insecurity, rears its ugly head.

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  6. I am experiencing the feeling of time having "chunked" in a major way as I anticipate the birth of my first grandchild in a few weeks. The thirty-year block of time since my daughter was a babe in arms, I was the fresh-faced new mom, and my mother was the fifty-something first-time grandmother seems to have evaporated. We are all shifting positions in the generational photograph, the good news being that my 86-year-old mother is still around to make it four generations instead of three.

    There is a feeling of vulnerability in realizing that the next similar chunk, should I live to see it, will feature me as the octogenarian. I am trying to savour my 54-year-old youthfulness in the meantime! -- Denise L.

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    1. Evaporated is a good word to use, Denise. Like poof... and here we are... I'm sixty, my mum is 89, my nieces and nephews have kids of their own. When the heck did that happen? Congratulations on impending grandmother-hood. Lovely for you to have your mum to share it with.

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  7. Hi Susan. One strong feeling I have had regarding the passing of time also involved aunts, as in Wendy's comment. When my husband and I first got together and were visiting and then living in Canada, we often stayed with his aunts and uncles when we were passing through their cities. Now we are the ones who offer accommodation and meals to nephews and nieces passing through, and I love it! Also, I love dealing with younger people, for example in stores etc. - I feel quite maternal towards them and that makes it easy to joke around etc. Of course, I have also had those moments when I've looked in the mirror and realised the passage of time is quite clearly marked on my face; it is upsetting, but I try not to dwell on it.

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    1. Me too, Patricia. I loved working with kids when I taught, and still yak away to store clerks...especially the young ones. I don't feel motherly towards them... more like teacherly:)

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  8. Great post, Sue, one that deserves a better response from me than what I can manage at the moment. Honestly, I'd have to say that the physical changes of age are hitting me harder this decade than ever before, and I can't say I feel the "liberation" Browning experienced. I do feel as if I've bolstered my intellectual and emotional buttressing against the mirror's reality -- six decades goes a long way to demonstrating what's really important! Still, these two weeks of 'flu have revealed some truths about age's effects, and I'd be lying if I said those truths didn't pinch a little . . . ;-) Still, I'm hoping for that moment Derek Walcott promises in "Love After Love":
    the time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other's welcome,

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    1. What a lovely poem, Frances. Thanks for sharing it. Amazing isn't it how the vestiges of years of reading and researching and teaching have lodged in our brains. And burble to the surface. When I was a young teacher I was sooo impressed with older ones who could quote so effortlessly. I thought they were brilliant, and that I'd never be able to do that. Ha. Thirty years of Macbeth, and 12th Night and King Lear etc etc.... I'm surprised I have an original thought in my head!
      Hope you're feeling much better soon.

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    2. Wow, love that poem. And it is quite true. I've been in the 60s now for 6 years and I'm happy to say I'm actually approaching that smile.

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  9. What a poignant post. I remember the moment when I realized I was aging. It was probably about 10 years ago, right before I started blogging. I hadn't been paying much attention to how I'd looked in the years since our son was born. One day after a shower I looked in the mirror and saw...my mother's face. Her middle-aged face. It was a shock. When I dream, I'm always physically about 30 years old.

    I turn 60 in a few weeks. I've probably never felt more comfortable with my physical self. That comfort may not last as some of the effects of age (not just the ones I can see in the mirror) set in, but for now, I'm enjoying this age, this freedom. But I'm still religious about my sunscreen. ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I'm enjoying being sixty too... most days. You look amazing... Happy soon to be Birthday!

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  10. This was so beautifully written and touching.

    I'm sitting on the cusp of this realization and it scares me. I feel as though a valuable currency is leaking out of my body daily and soon there will be nothing left but a dried up shell of a person I no longer know or recognize. I'm not ready for it. Of course that makes no difference. If only there was another choice.

    Acceptance is a journey and I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Definitely acceptance is a journey. And it's hard to tell sometimes if we're gracefully accepting or we're giving up. Like my husband says with his fitness, if he feels like scaling back his work-outs... "thin edge of the wedge." So I don't want to give up or give in, but also I don't want to look like I'm in denial. Sheesh. It's complicated!

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  11. Such an honest and beautifully written post Sue ...I've read it a couple of times and as always such insightful comments from your readers and "friends" Perhaps,in this case it's better not to reflect upon how others see us but just to be the "best" we can be in every way. Especially our interaction with others ... as others have mentioned I love to chat and joke with younger people ..In coffee shops, stores, my children's friends family etc. Like you, I've lately reflected on how they may see me ...old ? boring? to chatty? or someone who always smiles, doesn't moan and remembers things we've discussed previously! as well as being genuinely interested in what they have to say.
    What in find most difficult at the moment is knowing that the future is must shorter than the past ..I'm 58. I want to remain as fit as I can be for myself as well as for the grandchildren I hope to have in the future ...energy to play and have fun!
    Thank you Sue for being so honest and discussing this.
    Hope you're having a good week..I'm having an early relaxing coffee in town..surrounded by teenagers who call in to meet with friends before school!

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    1. Thanks, Rosie. The topic is just one of those things that's been on my mind lately. As you probably know from all my listing and counting on the blog, I am a numbers person. Something that would probably surprise my fellow English teachers who all want to run a mile when it comes to numbers and stats:) And the future being shorter than the past is also something I've thought about in the last while. Especially since Stu is a decade older than me. But "musn't grumble" as you guys say in the UK... or someone says in the UK... not sure who. We're both healthy, active and heading for South America...what's there to grumble about?

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  12. Hi ..having mentioned grandchildren in my future! I feel the need to explain I'm not one of these mums who constantly asks and wonders when and if it's going to happen! :) no pressure at all from me ..But I love children and if I am blessed with grandchildren I want to be able to look after them as babies ..play games have sleepovers etc as they get older!
    Rosie

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  13. Sorry, this is a really banal comment bearing in mind everyone else's responses. I'm 67 and yes, starting to creak from time to time, but still working and feeling more fulfilled in my career than ever before. The alternative is less agreeable: my mother died at 60 ...
    Elizabeth

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    1. Your comment is not banal at all, Elizabeth. You are right...the alternative is not appealing:)

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    2. Hello from a 66 year old with a similar story. My mother died at 58. Her family had great youthful looks so I said goodbye to a very young looking mum. Maybe that shapes my opinion (our opinion) of aging. If you're lucky enough than you'll be old someday.

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  14. I know what you mean, Sue. I think I look pretty good but I when saw my face really close up (when being fitted for new glasses) it definitely was a sobering moment. There's a lovely movie out starring Isabelle Huppert that touches on many aspects of your post. In the US it's called Things to Come but in French it's L'Avenir. if it plays near you...

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    1. I will look for that movie, Phoebe. Thanks. That check in the mirror when we're blithely going about our day...always startles me. Hoping I get used to it one day, but since my 89 year old mum feels the same...I'm not hopeful!

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  15. Sue, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this interesting topic. I think I'm with you on the chunking of our lives. Sometimes I reminisce about something in the past and it will hit me...yikes, I was only 20, 30, 40 etc. when that happened. I'm lucky that I come from a family that never talked or gave too much thought to aging. They rolled with it and never once did I hear any of my aunts mention wistfully that they were "getting old". They slid into each phase of life enthusiastic about what they could do rather than what they couldn't. They stayed active and stylish right to the end. In fact I just lost my last aunt in December at the age of 100. At 95 she was still dressing up for church or lunch out and making sure the hairdresser got the color right. Her sister, my mom, died at 58. My memory, of course, is a really youthful mom, and a very youthful me when we last talked. But your post digs into deeper feelings and realizations of our own mortality and place in the scheme of things. Along those lines, I think my first glimpse into the future came at 35. I went for my first physical and when the nurse asked me my age, I remember a slight hesitation and furrowed brow when I whispered, thirty-five. It sounded strange to me and I remember thinking at the time that doctors called 70 the life expectancy and I was halfway there!
    There are many of my friends who wrestle with the aging process and all its implications. I'm just glad that since that day I whispered thirty-five I've never really felt that way again. But I do chuckle when I look at pictures like the ones you posted and struggle to remember seeing my young countenance in the mirror!

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    1. My mum's family is the same, Jill. When Mum turned 88 a year or so ago, I wrote a post about her birthday and she and my grandmother's energy and youthful demeanor in old age. I called it "Aging Disgracefully." Here's hoping I do the same.

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  16. Thank you for this thoughtful and wise post, Susan. I've followed your blog for a long time and so enjoy it. I'm sixty-four, and I've made peace with most of the changes in my physical appearance...except for the awful turkey wattle that hangs from my chin to to the base of my neck, inherited from Mom, grandma, and beyond (it's not a weight thing, we're all thin). If I could show only my face-forward view to the world (less obvious), I might be able to accept more gracefully. But, oh, that profile view is beastly. Most of the wonderful over-50 style bloggers I read seem to be blessed with the bones/musculature that afford them still-defined jawlines and still-lovely necks. At my age, I'm ashamed remain so envious. I wish I were more evolved. I keep trying.

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    1. Thank-you. And thanks for following. You should know that this over-50-almost-61 blogger NEVER posts a profile shot! And never will. Ha. I can't do anything about how I look in profile so I choose to ignore it. I try not to think about what others see that I can't. And like you I try to not be envious of the perfect chins of others. Love that line about being "more evolved." On a good day I am very gracious, and evolved...on bad ones...well... let's not go there:)

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  17. Yes,thoughtful,sincere and poignant post with so many beautiful comments here
    We all have our ups and downs-you were working with a lot of young people (same with me),I don't think that your physiotherapists were not enjoying witty and interesting conversation with you,some young people really need and enjoy to talk with someone like you (or me),that's my experience (and they feel we have experience and are wise,could listen to them without judging-rare these days-,offer some advice.....or not!)
    Not the topic,ok :-) and it was just a trigger,I know
    When one is healthful,everything from the broken nail to a few(or more) wrinkles could be a great problem and sorrow. When one has serious health issues-everything gets another perspective (but,yes,I still care about broken nails and flawless skin)
    I had a lot of blessings....one of them was that I was not quite aware of them :-)-it has saved me in a way- and the second one was MS. 29 years ago I've got a rubella from a patient,I developed rubella encephalitis and all this became the trigger for MS
    So,my mileatones have changed a lot :-).
    After I had my son,in 1991. started the war,after that my husband started to work abroad,my father got a stroke-I had so much to deal with,it was a kind of rollercoaster....and,as une femme said:"...one day I really looked in my mirror and saw....not my mother's but my grannys face :-) ( my mother looks very youthful but granny was nice,too)- it was just a glimpse and it went away
    I am 58 and feel great ("under circumstances" :-)),I've realised that my today would be yesterday tomorrow and I have to enjoy it completely,because it is good,better than the future. I learned a lot ( about life in general,me,people around me.....)
    During all those years in the past,and now-it WAS important to me to look the best I could,to take care (maybe even more),to be well dressed,well groomed,to be curious,to learn a lot....
    I don't care a lot about wrinkles ( I really earned them and they are mine-and well,I have really good genetics in this department) ,but the shape of my face is changing and I'm sorry for that.
    You look so cute in your old photos,so you! You didn't change a lot!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing that, Dottotessa. The nineties must have been a very difficult time for you, a "roller coaster" for sure. We none of us get through life unscathed.
      Hearing what others have experienced always helps puts things in perspective for me. When I have back problems and am in pain I always try to think about my brother who had back issues for years that turned out to be a tumor, which lead to surgery and his life for many years in a wheelchair. Now he struggles with circulation issues, has had amputations as a result, and still soldiers on. A couple of slipped discs, a few weeks of physiotherapy...that's a gift compared to his situation
      Thanks for your on-going participation and wise comments here on my little blog. Much appreciated.

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    2. Thank you! My pleasure
      So sorry to hear about your brother-life is not fair...
      D.

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  18. Great read! And yes, chunking in teaching ... and in life! I am surprised by my reflection in the mirror sometimes. It's so odd. Who's that old lady? I like to think I look like my blog photos, but sometimes I catch my reflection in bad lighting, a bad angle, after a long day ... & eek! ;)

    OXOX
    Dawn Lucy
    http://fashionshouldbefun.com

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    1. It's the catching a glimpse when we're not ready that always jars me. Akkk...who is that?

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  19. I have popped back to say how much I have enjoyed reading all these comments Sue . Such a lot of wisdom here . Such a lot of women learning to cope with this aging business & helping others to do the same . What shines through is that it is normal to regret lost youth at times but don't let it spoil what you have today .
    Wendy in York

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    1. I know...the comments are great, aren't they? Including yours. And you're right...that's the lesson learned...momentary regret and moving on.

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  20. I've always wondered why we feel grief over the evidence of our age on our faces, our bodies. I suspect it's tied to the fact of our mortality. But that is different than feeling shame about our wrinkles or shifting figures. (That shame or disgust is deliberately exploited by advertisers: make women insecure so they buy something.) Every age has its beauty, though sometimes it does take a mental shift and a wardrobe retool. Whenever I feel mournful I need only think of the wonderful women friends, gone too soon, who died in their 50s and 50s and would have given anything to still be here. So, what is a wrinkle or wobble compared to that?

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    1. "Wardrobe retool" ...great line, Duchesse. Most of the time I like my wrinkles...I like to think they make me look like I've done things and know stuff. Now the wobbles... hate those. Not sure I'll ever change. As I said above...my mum is the same at 89.

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  21. Firstly, that 1971 photo is a corker. And I had identical tartan trousers when I was little! To business...I genuinely do not mind getting older EXCEPT that it means I am getting nearer to end of this life. That does make me sad because time has flown so quickly. I will be 60 in a few months and I do feel that it is just a given number but I am not stupid enough to think that doors have not closed. With regard to my physical appearance, I would say I feel generally jaunty because if I was still trying to live up to mad expectations it would prove I had learned nothing along the way. Regrets are something I acknowledge but now actively put behind me as ruminating will change nothing. I only wish I had felt this way when I was younger; too much time was spent feeling unacceptable. Unacceptable for what? Still no idea!

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    1. Thanks. Yep...feeling unacceptable for... what? I think attending my twentieth high school reunion put things in perspective for me. I had a blast, and all the kids who had intimidated me when we were 16, 17 and 18...well.. they weren't so intimidating after all at 38. Realizing that gave me such a boost. Of course despite gaining that perspective I slipped backwards every now and again. But it usually wore off after a while. I'm enjoying being sixty...most days.

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  22. This was such a fun read! My life's been chunked out, too, and that's how I'll always think of it now. I think you've always looked great and still do, and even more important than that, you're an interesting and intelligent person. Thanks for this one, Sue!

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  23. Great honesty and thoughtfulness. Since I've been 60 for a few years, I know it's not that bad. However, I do feel this sense of urgency because there are go many things I want to do and places I want to go and experiences I want to have. When you are 30, you think you have all the time in the world. At 60, you know that's not true anymore. It's not that you might not live long enough to do those things, but that you won't be able to do them (Carrying your luggage through an airport or climb the Acropolis or walk all day through Pompeii or Paris.) Thanks for sharing your story.

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  24. What a beautiful and interesting read. I'm trying hard to accept the person I am know, and I do try to tell myself the same thing, when I look back at myself in 10 years time I'll like what I see, and probably wish I was 'that fat'! lol

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  25. Thank you to DA and to you, Susan. This age thing is difficult. I found a picture of myself this past week when I was
    18 and saw my daughter very clearly in that image. Everyone said she looked like me and I didn't see it until that one picture I just found. My daughter will be 33 in March. I try not to dwell on my age, 63, as I find it depressing. How much time is left? I still have so many things I want to do and see. My mother is still with us at 83 so I hope to make it to that age. Your thoughts help me realize I have friends like me all around!

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    1. Vicki, we are nearly the same age, with daughters nearly the same ages. I also find it depressing--sometimes even panic-inducing--to look at that "64" number and think of how much I would still like to do. My mother is also still alive, but I've already had greater health problems than she. I'm currently trying to look for ways to alleviate the anxiety I feel. I agree that reading through this thread has been a help! All thanks to Susan.

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.