Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trying to Grow Old Gracefully

My List of Things to Do Before I Turn One Year Older!

1. Take care of my health - It is easy to forget yourself with two children. They come into this world with so many things to learn and many demands, and they grow so fast that time is not tangible. You can’t capture time, you can’t slow it down, it just disappears during those early years as a mother giving birth and raising two children. Through the midst of those wonderful years: changing diapers; making baby food; going to the park, swim class, soccer practice; taking them to preschool and then kindergarten; making sure the screen door is locked; the cupboards are stocked; and the laundry is done, it is easy to forget oneself. It was years since I had been to the dentist, but my kids go regularly. Somehow I run outside with no sun protection, but I made sure my kids have spf 45 smothered all over their bodies. When I stepped on the scales I discovered I had gained 11 pounds in one year. How did that happen? My mind was so focused on serving the family that I forgot to take care of myself. There was no time to wait. These phone calls to the doctors to set up appointments and my exercise schedule were necessary to my health.

2. Visit New York - Since 1991 I have wanted to go to New York. Living in San Diego was supposed to be temporary and I was going to be a big time career woman living in New York someday. But now over a decade has come and gone, and I still live on the west coast taking care of my kids and working part time. No career and no New York lifestyle. It was also so un-American to not have seen the city that dictates our fashion, produces talk shows and movies, a place where romance blooms, and theater abounds. Living here in America not having gone to New York was like living in France and never visiting Paris, or in England and never venturing to London. I was also sure I had the makeup to live there in the city and that New York life was just for me. I’ve wanted to find out. Maybe, just maybe, I will discover that living here is right where I need to be.

3. Get a Tattoo – Yes, you read that correctly. Get a Tattoo. Not a big one. I just envision a small one on my lower back. But if I am going to get one it MUST be in the next twelve months. Anybody who has a story to tell of the artwork on their body includes that they got it while they were young and maybe not thinking rationally. Maybe you know someone who marked up their body when they were older, but they don’t have much of a story to tell. Have you seen the printed anti-theft advertisement for a national bank with an elderly woman sitting peacefully in a chair in this room filled with colorful drawings and a young artist drawing a dragon on her arm? The ad is saying how odd that an older women is getting a tattoo. It must mean that someone stole her credit card and the bank can quickly identify irregular spending. Well, I might also be getting a call from my credit card company reporting that someone stole my card because the young person on the other end of the line can not comprehend a forty-year-old getting a tattoo. I think I will pay with cash.

4. Learn how to drive a stick shift – It is way past time that I learn. When I was sixteen, my father took me out in this little, blue car to teach me how to drive stick shift. “You feel it in your butt,” he kept saying indicating when to change gears. “You feel it in your butt.” I honestly couldn’t feel anything in my butt except the car’s engine shut off. He got so frustrated with me he never brought the subject up again. My girlfriends in college took me to a parking lot to teach me how to drive stick. I didn’t learn a thing. Later, a co-worker took me in front of where we work and tried to teach me. Nothing. My husband now owns a little, green stick-shift car that I can’t even back out of the driveway to save my life. It has become so impractical not to know how to drive a stick. I’ve had several opportunities to learn, but never caught on. My goodness, even sixteen year olds are driving stick shifts around why can’t I learn? I’m determined to try again.

5. Get my first pedicure – Yes, it’s true. I have never had a pedicure, and I certainly have needed one for a long time. I’ve prettied my toe nails myself for this long and have made due. I just thought it would be fun to have a pedicure, and it just seemed odd to me to wait and have a first pedicure when I was in my forties. It seems like something someone would do for the first time as a young adult. It was just last year that I colored my hair for the first time, and by the way, I love it. I’ve never had a wax job, and frankly I’m okay without it. I have no intentions of putting that one on my list.

6. Start back on my career – When I quit my job after the birth of my second child, I had every intention to go back to work full-time and pick up where I left off. I didn’t quite achieve my career goals before leaving and was very determined to do whatever I needed to accomplish them when I returned to the workforce. I left my job four years ago, and I picked up a part-time job a year later just to keep my foot in the career door (and help pay off some of our bills). But every time I plan for the date to launch my future career and start back on full-time employment, the date keeps getting pushed back, so I finally resolved I needed to make a plan before I was 40. The more I considered a career move the more I questioned how I would do it: Who will pick up my preschooler from class or my older son from school located across town? Who will do my grocery shopping and clean my house and make the dinners every week day? I know women out there who do it all, but I’m not so sure I’m ready. Time is ticking and I need to set some goals towards my career.

7. Get Published – if you are reading this article in a published venue, that means I can scratch this one off my list. I’ve been writing stories since I was a child, then I wrote a lot of articles for my job and then I just never got around to finishing any of the numerous stories I had already started much less took efforts to get published. It was about time that I finally complete an article and see if anyone was interested in reading it. I will be so relieved to finally cross this one off the list.

What is the urgency in checking these items off the list? What is the rush? We can moan that we have too many wrinkles for our age or that we don’t have as much money that we hoped for or we haven’t advanced in our careers as anticipated or that we can’t run the block as many times around as before, or we can look about us and be thankful for the lessons that we have learned over time, and we can take this opportunity to love and embrace the people around us. I choose to live life today and live victoriously. ~ Excerpt from an article I wrote in 2007.

Since I have written the above article, my friend took me to get a pedicure (and have never had one since - and I don't color my hair any more) and another friend took me to get a tattoo the day before my birthday. I was published in a paper (for one year) soon after and I still don't know how to drive a stick shift. And most of all, I don't feel the need to get back into the career I started even though I currently work full-time hours). Now I just want to write and be available for my kids.

What is on your list of (one or more) things to do before you grow one to five year(s) older or even before the end of your decade?


  1. On my to do list before the end of the decade is to publish two books and be writing a third. Doing my best to get the first one going.

  2. I can't wait to see the tatoo!!! :)

  3. Loved your blog, as always! This one made me think as I keep thinking I should make such a list but, as yet, have not done so. I did recently decide that it's time I cut out the amount of sugar in my diet and start eating healthier. I've been buying more whole grains, using agave nectar or honey in place of refined sugar and trying to incorporate more veggies and fruit into my daily diet. I think as I approach 50, it's only 3.5 yrs. away (gulp), I realize that this body is aging and it needs help from me. Right now, my primary focus, is to raise Claire. I know from experience (I have a 23 yr. old, 20 yr. old and 10 yr. old)just how fast this time goes! So...until Claire is 18 or so, I have decided to put my career on hold. I am quite happy and fulfilled being a wife, mom, cook, gardener, decorator, school volunteer and friend at this point in my life. That said, I have never been the type to become a "career" woman. In my dreams one day I'd love to be a well-respected and sought after kitchen and bath designer. It is truly my passion to design and decorate and I have to say that the feeling of euphoria that I get when something I've designed in my home turns out just like I wanted it to is amazing! I also would love to travel. Some places I've longed to visit are England (again), Hawaii, Greece, the East Coast of America and Australia.
    And about that tatoo...Sharon, sometimes you surprise me! Loved that line in Marley and Me when he said that he often surprised himself! A great movie and yes, very real, as you said. Because of your posting I decided to see it as I don't particularly care for sad movies. So glad I did. ~Suzy

  4. Thanks, Suzy, for sharing your goals. That is awesome about being a bathroom/kitchen designer. I wish you could help us on our house! Ha ha. As we grow older, it is always a good time to set goals - it keeps us growing in many ways, even if we discover when we get there that we just don't want to do such and such but discoveed something else important to us in life.

  5. Learning to drive a stick is easy, just sit behind the school bus drive, cause you get motion sick, for years going to school and listen to the engine and feel the changes in intertia as he uses the gas and the clutch and be part of the movements of the buss. Then grind a few gears the first time you drive and then a few more the first time in Seattle or SF. Of course C and A have tried to school me on doing the heal and toe, and drifting around pilons but that is way out of my league.

    NY is a nice place to visit. First time there i couldn't deal with the driving but was better prepared the second time. best bet let the driving to others. Most any place is a good place to visit when prepared and all placed are worth visiting at least once.

  6. Interesting . . .

    I've had to reduce myself to only one pedicure per year. I like full body massages better.

    I am going to get my hair colored for the first time in a few days--just some highlights to camoflage the grey. I've always loved my natural hair color.

    I have no desire to see New York at all. It seems to me the antithesis of everything I love about America.

  7. Just please tell me its not a Butterfly tatoo.

  8. No, it is not a butterfly tatoo. Too many people getting butterfly tatoos or something?