Despair Through The Decades or Live Like You Mean It

Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Sunflowers websiteRecently, I’ve been having a bit of a discussion via comments on my post It’s Good To Be Invisible,  which celebrates the innate pleasure of asserting yourself through the invisible years between “some old lady” and “cute little old lady.”  (You can read that post if you click here.)

So, I thought I’d bring the topic of aging and happiness up to the surface to see what you think.

Sometimes, these two topics – aging and happiness – don’t quite coexist.  Some folks don’t age very well, getting weak, grouchy, and generally unhappy.  Some folks move through the decades with great style and aplomb.  And, some folks have ups and downs.  Most of my readers have described their lives to me as a series of “fits and starts.”

My daughter was asked recently if she realized how much of my youthful pursuits I had to sacrifice to raise her.  She would tearfully answer “yes” because she knows what I missed out on.  She knows how her father and I struggled as folks will when they marry young with a baby on the way.  She witnessed my sadness at times, but she also knows how much joy she’s given me and I wouldn’t trade any youthful pursuits for a minute of my life with her.  Besides, many of those youthful pursuits are being experienced now… I ain’t dead yet!  wink wink  Anyway, back to my story.

When my daughter went off to college, her father and I divorced.  The divorce was hard on me, but I soon re-gained my sense of humor and my sense of self, and moved on with my life.  I lived alone happily, then met a wonderful man, married him some years later, and am still happily married.  I was thrilled to have a mature daughter, a sense of my freedom and my independence, and finally a loving man in my life.  I had a great job, great family, great home, and great life.  I approached my 40’s with hopeful anticipation and happiness.  Of course, our family suffered through heartbreaking losses, seemingly intolerable pain, but we suffered through the pain together.  Even with the sorrow, the joy was there.

I was asked if I suffered through an “empty nest” despair after my daughter left for college.  No, not in the way some folks do.  I enjoyed my “empty nest” because it gave me freedom that I hadn’t felt for almost 20 years, a freedom that my daughter understands, being a rather independent person herself.  So, no, the empty nest didn’t send me into despair.  I was happier in my 40’s than I ever imagined I’d be.

Oh, and how I loved turning 50!  I was enamored with being smarter and wiser than I’d been in my younger years.  It didn’t hurt any either that I had a fabulous surprise party thrown by my family in Chicago!  Even going so far as surprising me with the arrival of my much loved, but seldom seen, cousins.  I was in heaven!  Life was good!  Even lamenting the age spots and wrinklies that started to show up, I laughed and thought “This is good.  I like this new age I’m coming into.”  So, turning 50 was a happy time for me… I looked around and gave thanks for all the wonderful people in my life and all the joy to come.  So, no, when I turned 50 I didn’t despair.  I was celebrating like mad!  Turning 50 gave me no pause… just another excuse to have a good time and a great party.

Then Mom died.

Very suddenly, without even the time to say goodbye, I lost my biggest fan, my most ardent supporter.  Probably the strongest, most remarkable person I know was gone from my life.  It would take some time to crawl out of that dark hole.  Now, by sharing our stories, I can laugh with my siblings right through our tears.  She is, in fact, My Inspiration.

You see, that is why it is important to me to share my little world now with women my age who are moving into and through their 50’s, and beyond.  For this is the age when most women start to lose people in their lives very rapidly.  And, because, even in the best of times when everything is going well, something can crush you and leave you feeling broken.

These are also the years that most women are going through menopause, which can be a real trip through hell!  That process can sometimes leave a woman sleepless, confused, angry, unhappy, sexless, lifeless, and fat.  If you get through the decade or so of peri-menopause and menopause itself, without a serious disintegration of body and soul, you are one of the lucky ones.  Throw a few devastating losses into this physical and emotional whirlpool, and I guarantee a few words of encouragement and some self-deprecating humor can be a much needed distraction, a distraction that can’t wait another 20 years.

To top it all off, smack dab in the middle of this hormonal roller-coaster, some women find themselves on new paths, either chosen or unchosen.  Maybe they are finding their voice for the first time after suffering a joyless marriage, or worse.  Some women may feel stuck in a career they don’t want to be in and making a nervous attempt to get out and try something new.  Some women begin caring for their parents, maybe while they still have children of their own at home, and maybe even with grandchildren, too.  And, some women find themselves on a path they didn’t want – they find themselves burying their parents instead of caring for them.  Chosen or unchosen, our paths can be very frightening.

Certainly, the unchosen paths in our 50’s can be very, very scary, indeed.  As Billy Crystal’s character in City Slickers puts it so acerbically…“Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery.”  Even our humor gets a bit gruesome for a while!

The short time I spent in that dark hole after Mom died taught me something.  First, before all else, have a few laughs.  Then, get strong, stay healthy, and spend time with people you love.  Go ahead and cry when you feel like it, but above all else…  Live Like You Mean It!

Okay, I couldn’t resist putting this little video in for you to enjoy.  Click on play, sit back, and smile, then play it again.  I guarantee a feel-good moment or two.

p.s. Before I go, I wanted to give a shout out to some wonderful people in my life, people who have supported this website, and more importantly, me.  Susanne of The Hillbilly Housewife, Arika of They Call Me Wahmmy, Scott Tousignant of Fat Loss Quickie, and Tracy of Love Impossible, have given me their time and have pushed me in so many ways… shall we mention the 350 squats I was forced to do?! Besides physically, they have been invaluable with their encouragement to focus on my writing and to do better. Lyle of LRGuitar has given me more inspiration than he might expect because his mission in life is clear in his writing – live freely, without the burdens of consuming for the sake of consuming.

I, of course, thank you to my daughter, Nicole of Show Mom The Money, for being patient with me as I learn this thing called The Internets. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know what a Blog was. Ha! Nicole has walked me, patiently, through it all, keeping her sense of humor all the while, which wasn’t very easy sometimes, yes, requiring the occasional bottle of wine.  I love her and appreciate her more and more every day as she deals with the ramblings of her ol’ Mom. Thank you Honey!

Outside the internet world, I thank my hubby and all my family and my good friends for being so cool! I am so thankful for them and their support and the way they make me laugh, and cry. Like my Gramma always said, “It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken.” What she forgot to do was finish the quote for us… “and it’s a bad one if you do.”  I get it now.  So, stay strong everybody! Love ya!

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20 Responses to
“Despair Through The Decades or Live Like You Mean It”

  • OSS says: October 5th, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Well said as usual. I would add my mother and aunt’s saying I always heard as a child, “It takes guts to get old”. I always wondered what that meant. As a 50-somethinger, I now get it!

  • Patti says: October 5th, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Hey there OSS! Oh yeah… I remember that saying. 😉 And, yes, I get it now all too well. Ha!

  • Maxi Malone says: October 6th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    There are no words

  • Patti says: October 6th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Hi Arika,
    I’m so glad I made you laugh and cry! It feels so dang good, doesn’t it?!
    Thanks for the compliments and thanks for stopping right in the middle of your busy day to read and comment. You’re too sweet!
    😉

  • Patti says: October 6th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks, Maxi, for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. I sure appreciate it!

  • Arika says: October 6th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Oh my Patti you made me laugh and cry all at the same time! Thank YOU for being so incredible. I love ya!

    And as for being a young mother – OH how I (and my mother) can relate. I felt a lot like you did turning 50 when I turned 30. Honestly, the last year and a half or so since turning 30 have been the best yet and to quote I don’t know who…some movie or something…

    “Things are going great…and they’re only gettin’ better!”

    Live it up lady – you more than deserve it! (SMOOCHES)

  • Tracy Roberts says: October 6th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Heck, I can’t wait until I’m 50. These are the best years of my life and they can only get better. My parents are an example of that as are you, Patti.

    Your spunk and joy for life is so apparent and what a wonderful job you did with that girl of yours. Isn’t she something? I can only hope mine turn out as well. 😉

    Thanks for giving me a lot to think about & be thankful for.

    Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Patti says: October 6th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    awwww… that’s sweet, Tracy. 😉 Thanks for the compliments and thanks for stopping by to read! Yeah, that daughter of mine is something alright! But, I’m not taking credit… although the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Ha! Thanks again Tracy and by the way… LOVE your site! LoveImpossible is a hoot!

  • Scott Tousignant says: October 6th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Live like you mean it! I love it!

    I’ll be doing a post this week about a new client of mine. She’s 87 years young and was referred my other two clients who are 89.

    She takes good care of herself through healthy nutrition and water aerobics, but she’s never done any weight training and wanted to begin.

    Her reason… She wants to live the best quality life possible. Although I haven’t taken on new personal training clients in a few years I could not turn her down with that kind of attitude.

    It’s pretty wild to see the differences in the people who take care of themselves and those who choose to merely exist.

    I look at my parents who are 57 and 58 and their quality of life ROCKS. I look at some of their friends and other people in their 50’s who don’t take care of their health and they look like they could drop dead any minute. Good thing they’ve got their lazy boy recliners to hold them up.

    I admire your openness and have a great deal of respect for your drive to be the best You that You can be.

    You ROCK!

    Scott Tousignant

  • Patti says: October 6th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Thank you, Scott! Your kind words mean a lot to me. 😀

    Nicole has this great thing she says about folks like the ones you mentioned being held up by their Lazy Boy recliners… “They died at 40, just haven’t been buried yet.” Yikes! So true for way too many people, eh?

    I appreciate the fact that you took time out of your busy day to read my little ol’ website and comment. Very kind of you, indeed!

    I love that you are working with the lovely 80+ year olds. It’s great to see, and it sure gives me something to strive for!

    Thanks for all your support and for your positive attitude. It helps me get through my day and those dang exercises! Ha!

  • Deanna Walker says: December 15th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I’m 44 so not quite in my 50’s yet (I know it’s a blink away). You talk about being broken, that is me, as a matter of fact, my favorite book ever is “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser, it has helped me through these times. I lost my 20 year marriage, my mom to cancer suddenly and almost my 14 yo son to brain cancer (suddenly) last year all in a 2 year time frame…..so in the swoop of a small time period, everything changed drastically….I am a pretty strong person, but my strength has and continues to be tested….it can be exhausting. Life is hard, I now get that. I hope to one day get back on my feet and find a good relationship and my two kids find happiness in their lives, I don’t want to lay down, I want to live large until my end! Love your blog.

  • Patti says: December 15th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you, Deanna, for sharing your touching story with me. Going through life like you were forced to does test even the strongest person. I’m glad you’ve dug in your heels and won’t lay down. Live Large and Live Remarkably… Thank you again for sharing. And keep that fighting attitude of yours.

  • Scott Irv says: January 19th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    My first post after checking out your blog, after your very kind words over at: I remember JFK .com. You would seem to be a reflective person who likes to ponder life. I like that. To steal a line from Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” On the other hand, how interesting and exciting it is to ponder our lives and try to make some sense of life. For if life really is meaningful, it must makes sense and deserves sense or otherwise we render live meaningless. I refuse to do that.

  • Patti says: January 19th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Scott
    Thanks so much for commenting! You sure said it there. We all know a few people who have failed to examine their lives and just keep spewing the same nonsense and making the same mistakes over and over again. Which leads me to another favorite quote, since we’re sharing (I’m sure you’ve seen this) – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. – Albert Einstein. Folks who never examine their lives tend to repeat the same things/ideas/habits/paths over and over again. That’s part of the “live like you mean it” sentiment, eh?

    Anyway, glad you took time to read and comment. It warms my heart that people actually enjoy some of my ramblings. Thanks again and I’ll be sure to meet you again over at IRememberJFK. It was just so funny that in my Top Stories of 2009 I used the old “they don’t even remember when Kennedy was shot” remark and then ran across that site.

    Thanks again and peace to you and yours!
    Patti

  • Scott Irv says: January 26th, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Yeah, the old stuck in the rut autopilot – following same old tired path and script seems so tragic and senseless. We are said to be intelligent, thereby separating ourselves from the animals. But honestly, if we never bother to examine ourselves and we just follow a program, are we truly any different that the animals who also follow their program? Meaningful life deserves a little bit of thought and will. Sites like yours only help the cause and it needs all the help it can get. See you around.

  • Patti says: January 26th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks, Scott, for commenting. Yeah, the unexamined life… etc. etc. Autopilot seems to happen to all of us at one time or another, especially in times of extreme stress. I guess we all need to hit the reset button once in a while throughout our lives.

  • Carol Bremner says: November 27th, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Patti, I loved what you wrote. When I touch someone’s heart like that, it makes them very dear to me. Thanks for allowing me that close to you. Your mother must have been a very special lady.

  • Patti says: November 28th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you so much, Carol. It was nice of you to take time to read my personal trip down memory lane.

    Yes, despair and delight… it’s all a part of what makes life spin, eh? And, yes, my Mom was a huge part of the delight in my life. You would have liked her. She was a good-hearted nut! I miss her every day and suspect I will until the day I join her. Thanks again.

  • Lyle Robinson says: April 29th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Patti and thanks for the mention…:) I turned 50 in November and while it felt like just another day, I realized that it was quite momentous…at least in my mind!! However, I’m still waiting for the wisdom part of the aging process and hoping that that happens soon so I can live smart for the next 50 years…:) Thanks again for the kind words and take care.

    Lyle

    ps: Keep on rockin’…:)

  • Patti says: April 30th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    You’re welcome, Lyle. Yeah, I know what you mean… that wisdom thingy doesn’t always take right away. 😉

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