Living Your Best Life at Any Age

Archive for March, 2011

OMG I’ve Been Outed

Feel the fear and do it anyway.  So they say.  What do they know anyway? It usually takes a good friend to push you into the water, or off the couch.  I have just had a friend give me that push.  I have been outed.

For some time I have been tinkering around with having a blog that was just about me and my rambling thoughts.  For months this blog only lived in my mind.  Some evenings with the help of a nice glass of red wine, I would actually write something merely as a Word document with the intent of doing something with it.  But I never did.  In Vino Veritas.  But it never got any further than that.

Mind you I have been writing professionally as a lawyer.  (Divorce, if you didn’t know)   A few years ago I wrote a column for a small local newspaper. It was pretty much oriented around getting the attention of prospective clients.  It did actually attract clients but also got a lot of comments.  My columns were about divorce and how to do it with dignity and respect.  Once at a party a man told me he wished he were married so he could get divorced and use my services.  Really?  He wasn’t flirting.   I’m too old to be flirted with.

The newspaper stopped publishing so with the help of my webmaster I began writing a blog that was attached to my web site.  It was all designed and formatted for me.   I just had to add content.  And I did.  For a while.  Then I got lazy and had “guest bloggers”, people I know who have a service to offer people getting a divorce.  Even more lazy, I merely copied other blogs and reposted them.  Folks appreciated the extra visibility.  But I wasn’t writing.  The most I did was recycle old articles and blogs.  Hey, they were my most popular, it had been five years and they were still relevant.   After all, the important thing is to freshen the content, isn’t it?

I then joined a bloggers support group, took a writing class, and another writers’ support group.  I wrote in class and I loved it.  I still wasn’t blogging.  I did spend several days writing copy for my web site blog.  I now have a back log of several articles.  I will add them to the blog.  I will right after I post all the guest blogs I’ve received.  I don’t want to compete with my guest bloggers, after all.

What was really coming through for me was that I wanted to write something personal about me.  My random thoughts.  My views on life and especially the prospect of getting older without having very many role models of how to do that.  Everything I was reading about aging was either women having a crisis about turning 40 for god’s sake, or dry articles that belonged in the AARP’s Modern Maturity.   You know, the importance of having long term insurance or why you should take glucosomine for your arthritis.  If I were going to truly be authentic, I would have to go public with my age, which, as a woman, I was societally trained never to do.  Tell them I’m almost 70?  Could I do that?  Maybe when I am way beyond seventy.  After all, I was barely admitting that I was on Medicare.

The writer’s support group was a big help.  In addition to encouragement, I was getting lots of technical advice. I learned that the best platform for me is WordPress.  Took me about a month to look for the site and another month to actually sign up.  Then in another month I realized that the original URL and title were all wrong.  One day my support group led me to “Not Your Grandmother’s 70”.  Wow.  That clicked.  I could really do this.

Now the next impediment, was that I needed a writing room.  Of course I did.  My office PC, the iPad on the couch and the laptop on the dining room table just wouldn’t do.  I needed a real desk and writing room.

So my friend Deborah volunteered to help me clean up the upstairs den I called the “room of horrors”.  It contained boxes of every hobby I had ever started — photography, sewing, hand stamped cards and a bone yard of dead electronic equipment.  Deborah was ruthless.  Out it went.  My great IT guy, Neal, excitedly took away the electronics.  (I’m kind of an electronics junkie and I had years of old music systems, printers and even Direct TV boxes I was no longer using).  A little rearranging, a few cute boxes for remaining clutter, and rearranging the layout of the room for feng shui purposes, and I had a writing room.  Now would I write?  Oh, and a new keyboard and monitor.  Need a BIG monitor to actually write.  Don’t you?

Finally late in the evening I found the right “theme” on WordPress that had a look I liked and seemed technically manageable and I wrote.  And wrote.  I then discovered I could add pictures and found a picture of me at about a year old.  Cute.  Gives it a certain charm.  I previewed the post and thought it was at least a good start.

Then the fateful step.  I wanted to send the post to Deborah for her review.  But not just content, the whole look.   I took the drastic step of actually hitting “publish”.  There it was!  My first blog post.  The technical doohickies were still missing but it was an actual post with an actual web address.  At 1:30 a.m. without further thought, I sent the link to Deborah.

She outed me!  The next morning I was mortified to see my post, with the picture of the petulant one year old, right there on Facebook.  Going to 500 of Deborah’s nearest and dearest.  Suddenly others were commenting on it.  OMG, I am a blogger now.

I put my toe in the water, got pushed into the deep end and now I have to actually swim on my own.

Yup.  You may feel the fear but it takes a friend to actually push you off the dock.  Thank you Deborah.

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Not Your Grandmother’s 70

"My financial plan only needs to go to seventy because that's all the longer I plan to live"  A financial planner quoting a client

 

I was quite taken by this comment from a financial planner sitting on a panel with me on retirement planning.  It was a week before my sixty ninth birthday and I didn’t think I was THAT old.

What does 70 look like?  People look a little surprised when I tell them my age.   I’m not 70 yet, you understand?  I am only 69 1/2.  But I’m getting ready.  There will be celebrations and a major physical challenge. More about that later.

Do you notice that we count babies’ ages in months?  I  think we do that until 24 months.  Then we go to 2 1/2, etc.  I remember my grandson announcing he was 4 3/4.  At some point we get more vague.  We are 20 something or 40ish.  Then the even more general “middle age”.  I once heard the definition of middle age is ten years older than you are.   I am always amused at a 60 year old refering herself as middle age.  I guess if you are going to be 120 that would be true.  At some point we go back to being more specific.  Betty White described herself as 84 1/2.  We go full circle.  Although I have never heard someone describe himself as 960 months old.  And then we have our descriptive names:  infant, toddler, pre-schooler, kid, tween, teen, young adult, and then we have the gap until the indeterminable middle age and the dreaded “senior citizen”.

I would rather eat ground glass than call myself a senior citizen.  (unless it is for movie tickets or a very deep discount or the lifetime pass to National Parks)  Middle age for obvious reasons just doesn’t work anymore.  At my last birthday I took a big gulp and announced to the world that I was entering my 70th year.  On September 22 I turned 69.  Please don’t tell me I am only as old as I feel.  Some days that would make me 120.  Some days I look in the mirror and don’t recognize that old person.  Other days I look pretty good and on top of the world.

I am slightly ahead of the baby boomers, the first of whom are turning 65 this year.  They are exploring new territory and I seem to be the forward scout.  There are no role models for me.  What is your image of 70?  I am guessing it is not me.  Some things about me I am guessing are not typical:

I went to law school in my 50s and I continue to build my own solo legal practice, and not just show up a couple times a week

I Twitter

I am active on Facebook

I just traded my Blackberry for an iPhone  (I have had an iPad for several months already)

I’m an avid fan of Bikram Yoga

I  purchased and read “How Not To Act Old” and “How Not to Look Old”.  This means I am learning to avoid skin colored hose, text with my thumbs and not my index fingers, and never ever wear dark lipstick.

I have found, however, that I prefer my own company most Saturday nights, rarely hit the latest happy hour, and have eschewed on line dating as just not having the patience to do the getting-to-know-you dance.  I don’t consider that a sign of old age but merely a sense of being discriminating with my time and energy.  I don’t suffer fools gladly.

This is not to say I don’t have an active social life.  I am very active in several community organizations and attend many “networking” events.  I have a small group of female attorneys we call the Law Ladies.  We meet once a month and the members are my daughter’s age or younger.  It seems most of my friends are my daughters age.  They have started asking me about menopause and, frankly, I don’t remember.

This is just some background to explain the premise of this blog.  I know there are fitter, more active, more attractive 70 year olds or older.  Think Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Gloria Steinem.  And that  is just the point.  I am not an outlier.  I am what 70 is now.  I hope to offer a template for my baby boomer sisters (and brothers) who are entering these so-called golden years.

It really is not your grandmother’s 70.

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