Feeling good about being in her fifties

 
Sometimes someone needs to hit us over the head with a frying pan and say, You’re not as young as you used to be. Lorie Eber gets reminders every day. But she has figured out how to convert the half-empty glass to half-full: she just stops and thinks that even if she’s aging, it’s a far sight better than when she was a teenager!

We baby boomers don’t like to admit that we’re getting old. Botox, face lifts, cellulite removal, and tummy tucks; they all sell. So far, I’ve resisted the lure of the age-denying fix. Good genetics and living a disgustingly healthy lifestyle have insulated me somewhat from the ravages of aging. My aging complaints, by any objective standard, are relatively minor.

Lorie Eber

Nonetheless, I notice an accumulation of unsettling, creepy things happening to my body. It threw me for a loop when I had to replace my Imelda Marcos-worthy shoe collection and get my wedding ring re-sized, due to bunions and arthritis. Nor am I happy seeing scalp where there once was a thick crop of hair. I get no thrill out of suddenly realizing that everyone in the room is younger than I and probably calls me an old lady behind my back.

Even more disturbing, I’ve turned into something of a scatterbrain, misplacing items and religiously relying on To-Do lists. This new persona, which I have often derogatorily referred to as being a “space cadet,” stands in stark contrast to my earlier ability to maintain a Tiger Woods-like laser focus (that’s pre-scandal Tiger, of course.) In my law practice days, my secretary could come into my office, remove something from my desk and I was none thewiser. Now I’m none the more aware.

As a glass-half-full person, I can’t let this planned obsolescence of body and brain get me down. Experience tells me that things are only good or bad by comparison. Recently I hit on a technique I want to share with you. I was racking my brain to think of a phase in my life that trumped aging as an even bigger downer, and it hit me: being a teenager.
I now delight in recalling the bygone days when the zit monster took over my face, my emotions went from deliriously happy to suicidal in 2 seconds flat, and I felt totally confused and befuddled by almost everything in life.

When I really need to cheer myself up, I find joy in reflecting upon some of the crazy, reckless things I did in my youth. A few examples will suffice. I routinely hitchhiked and would jump into any car that stopped, no matter how drug-addled the driver. I had unprotected sex in the time of illegal abortions, and happily experimented with a variety of illegal substances. Somehow I survived all that and hopefully my judgment is a little better now.

All in all, when I think back to my life at 16, which I now make a point of doing on a regular basis because it makes me feel good, it’s no contest: I’ll take 56 over 16.

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20 Comments

  1. I truly enjoy reading what Lorie has to say. I’m a GenXr – in my mid-40’s – but I see myself starting to relate to what she’s saying here, especially about the hair and being more scatterbrained. I also notice that I seem to be one of the older parents in my 7-year old’s class. But that’s okay, at least right now. I might say something different when I turn 50! Along the way to this milestone I can enjoy and learn from Lorie.

  2. Hi Lorie;

    What a great article! I think this is the best stage of my life yet! And I’m glad you agree and are telling others how fortunate we are to be this age in this age!

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I think we need to stop being negative about aging and look at the upsides. We are so much more grounded than younger people, we can roll with the punches.

  3. I wish I could reflect back on the bygone days of zits! Mine have returned with a vengeance as I continue toward menopause (I’m 53, for God’s sakes, could I at least stop menstruating???).

    Still, I absolutely love my 50s. I had a rough year at 49 when my thyroid went south, especially because I feared that I wouldn’t feel good ever again. Since then, I’m having the best time of my life. I have a lot of good health and energy, for which I’m grateful. Yeah, I have some wrinkles, and gravity is…interesting. But I wouldn’t go back to being young again for the world!

  4. No, I wouldn’t want to relive my teen years either. Those were some pretty crazy years. I’ll take now over then any day. But it makes me wonder ….

    At age 60 I feel almost exactly the same as I did at 30 or 35. I have absolutely zero aches, pains, arthritis, or any of the other ailments I keep reading about that supposedly afflict people my age. Cholesterol, blood pressure, what-have-you are perfect. I still wear the same size jeans as I did in college and have not noticed my body parts shifting around at all. I’m still approaching the top of my career, not on the downside. My business continues to grow, I’ve never even considered retirement. I’m not any more forgetful than I’ve ever been at any age. My children are in elementary school, not grown. My energy level is the same as it’s always been. I still surf, run marathons, listen to loud music, play guitar, sing, and do almost anything and everything I’ve always done. I feel young, vibrant, upwardly mobile, & great! Surely I am not the only Boomer feeling this way?

    1. Hi Mike,

      Good for you! I feel almost the same as when I was young, but since I have educated myself on “normal aging” through my Gerontological studies, I look for every little change.

      You either eat a good diet and exercise or you have the best genes on the planet. Which is it??

  5. Hi Lorie. I don’t know about the genes part … but as for diet, if you are what you eat (as the old saying goes), then I’m pretty much half Italian/half Mexican. lol I love to eat! But do it in moderation.

    I don’t belong to a gym and don’t exercise for exercise sake, but most of the activities I enjoy involve a lot of exercise in and of themselves. Any given day you’ll find me surfing, kayaking, running, biking, hiking, sailing, playing tennis, or swimming. A day seldom goes by that I don’t partake in at least one of these activities. And my job as a lawyer and a writer hopefully helps keep the gray cells in shape.

    I’ve not studied aging as you have, but as far as I’m concerned, the primary reason I don’t ever feel a day over 30 is my kids. My wife was in her 40s & I in my 50s when our twins were born, and I’m convinced they are the true fountain of youth for both of us. Chasing after them, picking up after them, playing with them, etc. involves all the cardio training and stretching needed to stay limber and fit. One recent 2 day excursion with my kids to Disneyland put more miles on my feet than running a marathon!

    1. Hi Mike,

      A lawyer who stayed in shape! That’s an oddity. I was able to pull it off, but not many of my colleagues did likewise. You exercise a lot; you just don’t consider it “exercise.” Good for you. Keep it up!!

  6. BTW, my next blogpost will be on the topic of discrimination against fit people. I really think the world is now attuned to the overweight and out-of-shape. Do you agree?

    1. Re: discrimination against the fit … personally I’ve never noticed any such discrimination against fitness. But then, most of the guys I hang with surfing, sailing, playing tennis, etc. are pretty fit themselves.

      There is one incident, however, that a friend told me about a couple years ago. Single at age 57, he was interested in a woman he’d found on a dating site. They emailed back & forth a few times, but she declined to go out with him. So he finally came right out and asked her why. Her reply, if memory serves me, went something like this: “I’m just not interested in men who claim to be so active and physically fit. I’m not interested in being out on the ocean, bike riding, hiking or any of those sorts of things and cannot understand why a man over 50 would still be doing such things. I just want to meet a nice gentleman who likes being a couch potato. I want to snuggle together on the couch and watch old movies on TV.”

      So, there you have it. Perhaps that meets your criteria of discrimination? lol

      1. Mike,

        That works, although I was thinking more about not being able to find clothes that fit me anymore, paying more for heath insurance and snide remarks about looking like I need to eat a burger ;-)

        1. Ok, I get it now … but not sure you’ll get much of a sympathy vote with that sort of “discrimination.” I’m sure my wife — who is quite fit, but always concerned about her weight — and 99% of the women in America WISH they had your problem — not to mention half the men, too. To actually be encouraged to eat a burger with impunity sounds like an enviable position to be in. My advice, Enjoy it!

  7. Inspiring post, Lorie :-) Thank you, this is just what I need. I’m still in my 30s but somehow I have felt little hints of sadness when I celebrated my 30 plus birthdays, knowing that I’m over the hill already and I’m not as young and active as before. But I have realized that this is how we grow in life, physically and emotionally, and we can never become better persons if we don’t grow old. Never mind the age. We grow old, but our hearts don’t.

    1. Hi Shelon,
      Don’t be sad about birthdays! Look forward to more challenges and more growing. Each year I feel better equipped to deal with whatever comes my way.
      Take care!

  8. Very positive about aging, that’s what you are, and admirable, too. I have similar reflections nowadays, and I think ahead, plan for the not too distant future when I leave this world. I prepare all the documents in one place, hoping these will be easily found in the event something happens to me. I’m not morbid, just a trifle advanced in preparing for any eventuality.

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