Tag Archives: aging

Summer In My Heart

“I question not if thrushes sing,
If roses load the air;
Beyond my
heart, I need not reach
When all is summer there.”
~John Vance Cheney

I wish I could hold on to that summer feeling. A deep contrast to the cold and dark labyrinths in my head full of bleeding pulsing wounds. In my heart, it is always summer, full of life, full of hope full of colors, full of dreams. Sometimes I forget my age or the color of my skin and only aware of the season inside me. I forget about onlookers who always judged the book by its cover and seldom thumb through the pages due to either lack of interest or lack of time. I’ve been on the other end of the spectrum and don’t quite reach the opposite end yet but I’m on the way and can’t help noticing the subtle changes over the landscapes through the seasons. The shifting gravity of time alters a little but at the same time a lot to my liking. Others for sure notice it too. But little they do know that underneath the fading vibrant colors of Autumn and fast setting sun, it is still and will always be summer till the day I die…

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Invisible League

Like Alice plunging down the rabbit hole, I was suddenly not the fun girl at the party but the dotty auntie figure we humor for a moment before moving on. As older women we are no longer desirable, no longer perceived as anything but taking up space a younger person could put to better use in the job, in the relationship, in life. Age, I now realize, doesn’t creep up, it fells you with changes you didn’t see coming. And it happens at 50. You vanish, replaced by an old and forgettable woman.

This is an excerpt from an article written by Tracy Nesdoly for The Star (see the full article here) about At what age do some women begin to feel invisible? I came across this while looking for random things about age on the internet. One click and I was suddenly bombarded with page after page of written stories about women of a certain age who are invisible and no longer seen as important part of society. The titles are demeaning. Not only for us middle age women but for any woman young or old because whether we like it or not we will be in that position sooner or later. What do you think of: Dating: I’m the Invisible woman,  where the writer calling herself a mere plankton in the food chain of sexuality and the marketplace for relationships. A flimflam, a nuisance, an embarrassment of landfill. It hurts, doesn’t it?

In this post, ‘Invisible’ middle-aged women are fighting back English writer Helen Walmsley-Johnson talks about menopause, sexual, currency, dressing up for your age and hormones replacement. She recounted her personal experience with a group of young boys while walking through the park one day.

They made fun of her brisk walk, then began to crudely share their views on which of a group of passing schoolgirls they wanted to have sex with, clearly intending for her to hear. Tired of listening, Walmsley-Johnson asked them to move on — and to consider keeping their sexist remarks to themselves. They reacted with hissing, noxious anger, calling her a “dried up old c***” and suggesting that if a “real woman” were to talk to them about sexism, they might listen.

I have yet to experience this sort of things. Do I have to consider myself lucky?

I have always been younger looking than my real age (thanks to my ethnicity and good genes- the only good I inherited from my ancestors) not only by few years but by more than a decade, let’s say at least fifteen. When I’ve met my current husband I was thirty-seven but he thought I was twenty-two and so were his family and friends. When I was twenty-five they don’t allow me in the discos because the guards thought my ID was fake. I was once banned from accompanying my daughter to sexual orientation class because they thought I was her sister and only parents were allowed. And so the years go on like that, me being used to getting attention (lots of it actually) I don’t care for and wishing I’m invisible.

No, I don’t wear sexy or provocative clothes, figure-hugging attires will not find a home in my closet, I don’t wear makeup, high heels and go to the hair salon only once a year. In short, I am a low maintenance girl. Attracting attention to myself (any kind of attention) was and will never be my purpose in life and it irritates me enormously getting more than I think I deserved. And I thought it will go on like that till the end. Never cross in my naive brain that it will change someday.

The first sign happened when I turned forty- three. I was in the pharmacy and the guy behind the counter referred to me as ‘Madame’ instead of ‘Mademoiselle.’  I was taken aback. Shocked in fact. It hurts. I was always been ‘Mademoiselle’ instead of ‘Madame’ and suddenly it’s the other way around. I thought then that ‘now the process had begun.’

When almost a decade had passed with nothing or little changes to my status as a desirable woman I again thought it will never happen, until this year.

I am still looking at least fifteen years younger than my real age but I’m fifty-one, and forty isn’t twenty. And gradually I noticed subtle changes. The guys who are looking at me now are not the sixteen years old anymore. The twenty-something still glance my way but soon averted their eyes when they realized in which age category I truly belonged. Their gaze never lingers anymore or check more than once, they bestow me an interested glance which quickly fades and then move on without looking back. I can walk now into a restaurant without commanding attention. There was a time that wherever I walk men (women too but with hostility) stop whatever they were doing and look, and keep looking till I was out of sight. I have out of this world experience related to my sensuality and it’s strong effect on men you wouldn’t believe if I tell so I would spare you the details. I was by no means a ‘beauty’ or ‘femme fatale,’ the truth is I never know why I had this such effect on men, my ex once described me as magic but whatever it is, it is soon disappearing.

And with it comes the realization that I don’t want to be invisible. Not only as a woman but as a human being. I’m getting old yes, I’m losing my magic, probably so, but I still have feelings. Feelings never change. Who wants to be irrelevant?

Deborra-Lee-Furness, in her interview with Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, talked about jaw-droppingly insulting titles of stories written about her (and others who are in the same situation) being married to uber hunk Mr. Hugh Jackman who happened to be thirteen years her junior. She said: “People think a 58-year-old woman doesn’t deserve a big-shot, funny, handsome, movie star husband at all. It’s still acceptable for there to be a million internet articles about being a supposedly unattractive middle-aged man and be able to “punch above your weight” and bag yourself a younger, stunning partner.”

What could I say? I am married to someone 11 years my junior. Do I have to be scared? He’s getting old too I know but everyone is aware that getting old is not the same for men and women. I don’t have to list the differences because it is a common knowledge. Damn the double standard.

Marina Benjamin, author of The Middlepause found an essay from a 1903 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in which a woman of 50′ used to be perceived as a person of achievement and grace and was “characterized as having ‘distinctive charm and beauty, ripe views, disciplined intellect, and cultivated manifold gifts’.” That is so clearly not the case nowadays, and for the woman approaching this milestone age, there is a good reason to feel anxious, or sad, or pissed off. She said:

“Fifty feels tarnished as an old coin, and worn — worn down and worn out,” she says. “There is nothing glamorous about 50 that I can see, not even in some retro way.” 

How about you? Do you have Invisible Woman Syndrome?

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Reflection

Where have the years gone? Sometimes I have to stop and think about how old I am. When I wake up in the morning, before I move this tired old body or look in the blasted mirror, I swear I’m still a young woman. It just feels like yesterday. I don’t know how it’s gone so fast.

-Lea Davey, Silkworm Secrets

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Cavity

I wonder if emptiness (of all sorts) is part of growing old. For some people, it is a simple matter of empty nest or retiring from a job or perhaps losing a partner. For others, it is more than that. Having worked near them, I happened to know that the favorite topic of elderly people is discussing who are not around anymore among their peers and family members. The conversation eventually leads and always ends up to the unavoidable examination and exploration of their own mortality and how much time they have left.

Another thing which fascinates me about older people is the interesting phenomenon of seemingly (or actually) falling (madly) in love in their last years of existence. I can tell you with conviction two events which I had observed from close by quite recently. One is about the grandmother of someone who is dear to me. She is well in her eighties already. A no-nonsense woman who doesn’t mince her words, stubborn and argumentative, she is the last person I thought would lose her head over someone who is not only young enough to be her youngest grandson but also sleek and in my eyes fake.

He was her nurse at the beginning but soon escalated to be the center of her universe. His visits were the only thing she was looking forward in her day to day life, so much so that she started cooking dinner for him, buying him gifts, phoning him dozen of times a day, tracking of his whereabouts and she associated his daily tasks of giving her baths with mutual attraction she even bought new sets of lingerie each week and never failed to tell to family members in details how he undressed and held her and how tender and careful he was, how tall, how handsome how kind, you get my drift. 

During family gatherings, she reserved a prominent seat next to her for his apple of the eye she even did it at the “coffee table” after her husband’s funeral to the chagrin of her own children and grandchildren who are by the way opposed and scandalized by her unusual behavior. As it happens, authorities found out that the nurse is guilty of malpractice (together with his mother- talking of apple not falling far from the tree- involving money from his patients) and was sentenced and convicted. Even before it happened and there were already talks of his professional misconducts, she defended his virtue and integrity with her life and she still does even he is proven guilty already. What a love (or obsession) can do.

Another case is my very own mother. When she was alive she fell in love with one of my boyfriends (a very fine example of a tall dark and handsome and a body to die for but for some unknown reasons didn’t work for me) and like the old lady above was thoroughly smitten with the boy in his twenties. She was in her seventies that time, energetic and more alive and more supple than I could ever hope to be. When we broke up my mother cried for two weeks straight and refused to leave her bed. She never cooks again after that and often neglected not only her own personal hygiene and appearance but also of her quarter. I was flabbergasted and still is whenever I think about it.

I wonder if this strange phenomenon is unique only to these two cases I know or happens to most if not everyone and what are the factors, the reasons behind these incidents. It is the void, the cavity, the emptiness of growing old and being alone realizing it is their last chance they are trying to fill or it simply happens? Are they trying to create a focal point in their otherwise bleak existence to brighten their darkening days and have reasons to wake and stand up every morning? A last effort to feel and experience what was to take to their deathbeds? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I hope it will not happen to me. But in this life, you never know… 

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Age

Does age matters? 

Yes, it certainly does.

No matter what others might say or want you to believe.

It matters in all sorts of ways.

I married someone eleven years my junior and my first husband was eleven years older than me. Though it doesn’t/didn’t matter to us it matters to the outside world and to the family. It matters physically in the sense of I/he was approaching middle age and starting to show and feel the telltale signs that belong to that age while he/I was barely out of his/my twenties. It matters psychologically/mentally as well. People constantly evolve and their preferences and mindset are constantly changing through the years. The differences are so apparent sometimes it can’t be ignored. It matters emotionally as well. How people react sometimes is a great deal depends on their age and the level of maturity. So is the way they handle problems and situations. Someone has to take responsibility and often times if not always, it falls to the shoulders of the one who is older and more experienced partner. 

Socially it matters as well. Your circle of friends don’t belong to the same generation and it can pose quite some problems especially in the beginning. Like with my ex-husband for example, I was still in my teens while he was already in his thirties and going out wasn’t a straightforward matter. We didn’t even have the same taste in music. We ended up leading separate lives.

It matters financially too. Not only career wise but the actual earnings as well. You can’t compare a salary of someone who is barely out of school to somebody who is more experienced and already has a long work history behind him. Try to imagine this: Your spouse is already on a pension while you still have a decade or more before you can take yours, or vice versa. I think it is not easy for both dealing with this situation. I have seen problems arise between couples once they reached this stage whereas before they didn’t have any problems at all regarding age differences. 

Deciding to have children when there is more than a generation gap between a couple is another matter to consider. I know someone personally who in his fifties married someone who was still in mid-thirties and had a five-year-old kid. See what I mean? No one wants to be a parent anymore at that advanced age. People might think it’s your grandchild instead. There is nothing wrong with that but going through with that stage (again) when all you want is to be peaceful and relax enjoying the fruit of your hard work instead of waking up in the middle of the night to feed a crying infant or dealing with teenager tantrums and late night escapades. No, thank you.

Age matters. It really does. Especially when the theories put suddenly to practice. And I don’t even talk about balding/thinning hair and sagging skin, gaining weight and declining libido and all that jazz.

So, next time you think/say age doesn’t matter; think again…

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Faded

I wonder if when Nature’s pen has sketched and lined my face,
Into a survey map reflective of some mountainous place,
With artful shading rendering the passing of each year:
My frame a faded ivory chart of well-explored frontier…

Will you still scale my mountains, will my valleys still amaze,
With all their once new secrets- and will you still spend your days,
Exploring hidden places like each time there is your first,
And dip your mouth into my drying ponds to slake your thirst?

When verdant fields grow sparser with the coming of the frost,
Will you forsake my landscape and despair for what is lost?
Or will you rediscover sheltered on a calm plateau,
My wildflower blooming beneath a blanket of soft snow.

With all the quirks of gravity and shifting sands of time-
I wonder, will I always be your most exciting climb?

~ A Question of Geography by Belladagio

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Fifty

That would be me next year.

An age I thought I will never reach. I still can’t believe it. Is it that long already since I made my first step? There was a time I thought thirty was old. That was when through my naivety and honesty the couple I was working for as a nanny found out that the thirty year old brother of the wife was having an affair with the nineteen year old housemaid.

I needed her for something and came looking for her upstairs. They always disappear there after lunch. Applying lotion on some skin disease they told me. I even heard her shouting sometimes. From the pain I thought. The master bedroom was locked and they didn’t want to open the door even though I was almost close to breaking it down. When they finally admitted me in I saw him on the front of the electric fan sweating and half naked. She was dressed and was sitting on the bed with the bath towel (of the wife) under her looking disheveled and strange.

I think nothing of it. The thoughts that normally accompany such situations were then still unknown to me. I grew up in the middle of nowhere isolated and secluded with only my family around me. Five sisters and one brother- the youngest. My father was hardly around. We had no close friends. I had no one to draw on carnal knowledge and everything surrounding it.

When the couple came home and the wife reached for the towel to take a bath I reacted strongly. When she asked why I said it was dirty. I didn’t know why I said that. Maybe because I believe even then that personal items are personal. If others used them, they automatically become dirty. One thing lead to another and all the hell broke lose. The maid had been sent away and the brother saw me as a replacement or potential victim. But that was for another blog post.

I remember thinking then that thirty was old. He was old. He had no business having sex. I thought when people are that old, they are palliative. Waiting for the inevitable. I realized later that we are all terminal since birth. There is only one sure thing for us sooner or later- the graves. No one can avoid death. Rich poor, ugly beautiful, famous and unknown. We will all die.

I was fifteen then. I will be fifty next year. This Friday I’m going to reach my forty-nine years of walking on this planet. Do I feel old? Emotionally, no. Physically… we will not go there. Too much to talk about.

Woman looking out of window.

Youth

Oh, youth… I envy their youth-ness.

I am not a jealous person but I wish I knew then what I know now. I will take better care of my physical being. I will broaden my horizons even farther, greater. I will wear my mistakes with pride and commit sins more often. I will taste life with more gusto, drink deeply and enjoy with abandon. I will live to the fullest.

Oh, youth… I envy them their future. The amount of time left to do what their hearts desire, to be what they want to be. I envy their courage, their enthusiasm, their energy. Why it is that we realize what matters the most when it’s (almost) already too late?

Oh, youth… I envy their smooth skin, tight little bodies and radiant smiles. I envy their ability to process everything quickly, to absorb and learn naturally. I envy their carelessness and total abandonment. The nonchalant manner they deal with the world. Their confidence and dreams.

I wish I can bring back the time.

I wish I can be young again.

 

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WHY WOMEN SHOULDN’T FEAR MENOPAUSE

Every age can be enchanting, provided you live within it.
– Brigitte Bardot

Can a woman still find love in her fifties or sixties? Does age determine what path shall we take in our lives or is it as said just a number? Should women fear the menopause or should they on the contrary embrace it? When do you think life ends, when you stop breathing or when you stop having a dream for which you would long to breathe?

All these questions and more cross my mind almost daily and I know that their answers differ from one woman to another, certainly that’s what I see at least from women I encounter, and I as well see how women’s lives change majorly from one to another according to those beliefs and from the different experiences one have seen I’ve managed to compose my own answers that led me to one thing, we, women, should never fear menopause, at least don’t give it more than it deserves. Read the rest of the article here.

Here is another helpful article on beating menopausal weight gain. I like how the author make the topic short, simple and relatable.

When you’re stressed, you release the stress hormone cortisol, which puts the body into an emergency mode and it holds onto fat for dear life!

Do check it out. It is worthy of your time.

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Art: Svyatogor_Masha-04

Things to Look Forward to About Growing Older

Ego

I watch myself getting uglier and uglier with each passing day, and I am not even beautiful to begin with.

The other day I tried to photoshop one of my pictures, I don’t like the result. It didn’t look right. Devoid of all the imperfections and the tell-tale signs of the passing of time, it wasn’t me anymore. So, I restored the photograph to its original state. I rather be ugly than be someone else. 

Photography by Nigel Tomm

Empty Nest

My nest has been empty for over ten years now. Before that I’ve been away from the nest most of the time. The chicks had grown big without me having to do with it. I used to feel guilty about that. Not anymore.

Now, sitting on the loo with the midday sun beating down on my back (I kind of like it. A luxury. My own infrared sauna right there in the toilet) I suddenly feel alone and lonely. Too much freedom and nothing to do. Nothing new I mean. Will I take up bungee jumping again? I can join one of those women’s (auxiliary) clubs and learn flower arranging while soaking up the latest gossips. But I can arrange flowers and I care nothing much about women. I have nothing in common with them (aside from the love for  shoes, and there is nothing much to go on from there) and men…

I still get looks from those who could be my grandchildren. Okay, I probably exaggerating but in any way younger than my children. Creepy. I should have been taller so, I look older not looking like an aging Pia Zadora or Sally Field. 

But I like men. I love hanging out with them. They are less complicated and more honest. They play open cards. No bitchiness and no jealousy. The only problem is: they don’t get much the idea of friendship between opposite sex. Sooner or later, they will try to elevate the relationship into something more complex. I don’t like that.

Back to empty nest again. 

I never thought there will come a time that I will long for company. Me who love solitude, quiet and peace. Me who is happy being alone and free. They say people tend to mellow when they age. That must be it. I’m mellowing. Sucks!

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