The morning started with big intentions that ended with little results. Lack of motivation, some depression, same old same old. Saying it was a triple bad day is an exaggeration, but it felt that way.
That’s it. I’m done. I’m on my 50s and something has to change. I need to:
Learn how to tap into my creative side (if I have any left)
Boy, that all sounds overwhelming. “Get healthy” is a huge topic (I don’t know if I can use that word anymore.)
I have been pretty healthy, but I can’t help notice subtle changes in the way I move, my stamina, strength and balance. I don’t mind aging (not like I have a lot of choices) and really don’t feel as old as I am. But I know I’ll feel like a new person if I reboot, It’s time to:
We drove our little girl to the airport, watched her enter the terminal, and drove away.
Mind you: That “little girl” is a 20-year-old young woman, and we’ve been doing this now for a couple of years – since she started college 2500 miles away from home, in Chicago. This time, she is flying all the way to England for a two-week program at a university in Manchester. And in a few days, my husband and I will also be flying to the UK for a visit with his family, so we will all be together again in a very short time.
That doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.
Last night, during the news of the attempted military coup on Turkey – and following the awful tragedy of the attack on Bastille Day in Nice – my husband wondered if we should be worried about our daughter’s travels. I shook my head “no.”
But of course, I worry.
We’ve worried about terrorism while flying for most of her young life. I also worry about random shootings at school, in movie theaters, and shopping centers here in the United States. If anything, I worry about her more now because she’s almost entirely autonomous. I have no control. And the truth is, I never really did – it just felt that way. If I’ve learned anything from the waves and waves of surprising violence in this country and around the world, it’s that none of us can ever be 100% certain we’ll be safe. All we can do is play the odds, and fortunately, the odds are still very much in our favor.
But that realization is pretty cold comfort. I am 60 years old and I still call my dad every time I travel to let him know I’ve landed safely – and he says he appreciates it.
We dropped her off at LAX around lunchtime and decided to grab a bite somewhere in town.
“Where would you like to go?” my husband asked.
I wasn’t sure. “Some place very L.A.,” I told him. After all, in a few days we’ll be far away from palm trees and hazy sunshine and the Pacific Ocean. We toyed with the idea of going to the beach, or downtown Los Angeles – and settled with one of my very favorite spots in all of Los Angeles: Monsieur Marcel at the Farmer’s Market.
I had my usual Salad Nicoise and ordered a glass of French Sauvignon Blanc. I don’t usually drink at lunch time, but there had been so much traffic that it was nearly 3:00 PM and besides, my baby was getting on a plane and flying 6,000 miles away WITHOUT US. And I remembered, years ago, when my oldest niece left Los Angeles for a summer college term in Europe, we took my sister out for some wine at the very same place, and it suddenly felt very right.
YOU ON THE PLANE YET? I texted my daughter.
WAITING FOR MY ROW TO BOARD, she answered.
I ordered a second glass of wine. That felt right, too.
ALRIGHT TAKING OFF NOW! SEE YOU IN 2 WEEKS, my daughter texted.
As I left the Farmer’s Market, I was downright relaxed. And I will try to remain that way – at least until I get that text from her to tell me she’s landed.
A couple of months ago, I celebrated my 60th birthday.
[To answer the question everyone has been asking me:] No, it doesn’t feel any different than 59.
But I definitely don’t feel as good as I did the last time I hit a milestone birthday.
At 50, I felt so good about myself that I purchased my first-ever European car, which I jokingly referred to as my mid-life crisis. Ten years later, I still have that car and it’s no longer a joke: Even minor repairs cost a small fortune and my sleek little automobile has peeling paint and a creaky transmission.
We have a lot in common.
Last month, we took a trip to New York with a friend who also was celebrating her 60th, my sister (who was celebrating her 57th) and her husband, my brother-in-law (also 60 that week). I had a great time, but I found myself struggling physically – a problem I that first became noticeable last year, when we traveled together to the UK and Italy.
The only exercise I truly enjoy is walking, so I was looking forward to walking around London, Rome, Florence and Venice. But my feet had other ideas.
You see, I used to care a lot about fashion – and I especially loved wearing pretty shoes. From the time I was 16 until my mid-30s, I wore 4″-heels to work five days a week. And then the pain started.
Or rather, the pains – because there’s more than one issue here: corns from wearing shoes with pointy toes. Callouses on my soles. The loss of padding on the bottom of the feet that occurs naturally with age. A weakness in my ankles that flares up if I dare to wear anything but flats.
I stopped buying pretty shoes a long time ago. In recent years, I started spending good money at places that specialize in shoes that are made for comfort, but even those cause me problems.
When my daughter was a baby, I noticed that kneeling a certain way hurt my knees. As the years have passed, the pain in my knees has become constant. I’m pretty sure it’s just arthritis. No, I have not seen a doctor for it yet (because I HATE doctors). But I did get a referral to a rheumatologist and will be making the call soon – because I don’t LIKE the way I feel.
It doesn’t help that I’m once again overweight. In fact, losing weight would likely solve some of the problems with my feet and my knees. I know I need to move more. Every night, I go to bed telling myself I’m going to get up early and put on workout clothes and get some exercise before I shower and start work… and every morning, the alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed two hours later.
I’m working on that – mainly, by trying to get used to a CPAP machine my doctor swears will result in better slumber and infinitely better energy. So far, all it’s done is stop my apnea-induced snoring enough that my husband can sleep – so that’s something.
I think part of my problem lies in an inability to get to sleep in the first place, something I’ve struggled with since I was a kid and has become worse since I’ve had to deal with the joy of hot flashes. My husband seems to fall asleep the moment his head hits the pillow, while I toss and turn and think about all the things I should have done better and fret about all the things I need to face the following day. I am getting better about turning in earlier, but there are nights when my allergies kick in and I can’t breathe into the machine – and other nights when I simply cannot sleep. When that happens, I stop trying and move to the extra bedroom so I don’t wake my husband. After that, I wake up feeling sleepier than I do when I manage a full night on the machine – so I guess the CPAP is doing something.
“Of course, it’s doing something,” my doctor insists. “It’s preventing you from having a stroke or a heart attack.” These are not things I worried about when I was 40. But it’s at the top of my mind now at 60.
I could go on yet another diet. In fact, I do that nearly every single day – And by evening, I’m done. That’s if I’m lucky. You see, after 45 years of restricting what I eat in some form or another, I have trouble remembering what it is I’ve decided I’m going to forego THIS TIME. The truth is, after I went through the extremely low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb regimen that helped me shed 60 pounds nine years ago, my body doesn’t seem to respond to diets any longer. Believe me, I tried. But I think decades of on-again, off-again dieting have given me the same result that’s happened to all those Biggest Loser contestants who gained everything back.
And the truth is: I’m TIRED. I’m tired of feeling guilty every time I eat a piece of bread. I’m tired of being sober when everyone around me is enjoying a glass of wine. I’m tired of saying “no thank you” to dessert. I actually do prefer to eat a nice salad at lunch with just a teeny bit of dressing – but if I am craving a sandwich, by golly, I’m going to have one. Because I’m tired.
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I’m just trying to navigate the highway to hell – I mean, senior citizenship. As Auntie Mame said, “Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.” Especially if they’re on a diet.