My mind was in that mysterious surreal space between awake and asleep. I could hear myself breathing and my brain was quietly powering down for the night, but it was still whispering things to me: thoughts and words left unspoken or a review of the days’ events. But nothing stirred me back to full consciousness as the not-so-quiet whisper that said: “YOU’RE GONNA BE 60 YEARS OLD ON YOUR NEXT BIRTHDAY!”
My eyes popped open and I lay there on my pillows, statue-still, unblinking as my heart began to beat quickly. “Holy shit…60?!!,” I said to myself out loud. Was my drowsy, sleepy mind playing tricks on me? Surely I wasn’t going to be 60 on my next birthday! And then as the early interrupted layer of sleep faded away, reality set in. It was true. I’m 59 now and, If the Creator allows, 60 will follow!
I’ve never been a woman concerned about my age. Maybe it’s because I never thought about it much or maybe because, according to some people, I don’t look “my age”. I honestly think it’s a combination of that, along with the fact that I simply don’t “feel” 60. The reality is that this is what 60 looks and feels like in my life and I’m okay with that.
If I were drunk, that realization would have been sobering for sure! In the days and weeks since that night, I’ve come to embrace the start of my sixth decade in this world. After all, what choice do I have? Besides, it’s better than the alternative and I’m too busy living my life to be depressed about it. I’ve reflected on a life filled with love, wins, loss, mistakes, good and bad choices/decisions, adventures, self discovery and, ultimately, the self-love and the ability to rise again and again the way my chest does with every breath I take.
Neither of my sisters lived to be anywhere close to 60. I was the oldest out of three and now the only surviving sibling. My best friend of more than 45 years died a couple of years ago. These losses have left an emptiness in me that will never be filled. I was counting on growing old with these women whom I loved.
Somewhere in these years, I’ve also lost the need to apologize for much. Oh, I still believe that sincere apologies are necessary when owed, but we women apologize for EVERYTHING! “I’m sorry to interrupt,” or, “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in dating you,” or “I’m sorry. I’ll just squeeze in here and try not to take up so much space,” etc… The list goes on and on. My truth is this: I’m not shrinking or apologizing for taking up space in this world. I have a right to be here and I’m boldly present.
Recently, I was approached by a man in a grocery store check out. He was trying to make small talk with me and eventually asked if I would like to go out with him. I wasn’t interested in him – at all. I was barely listening to him talk as I watched my groceries being rang up and bagged and when he asked me out, I looked right at him and said, politely, but firmly, “No.” I offered no additional explanation and certainly no apology. He then asked me if I was afraid to go out on a date with him. I looked back at him and said, “Nope, not afraid, just not interested. Have a good day.” And with that, I picked up my bagged groceries and left the store.
At 40 or maybe even 50, I probably would have said something like, “I’m sorry, but no,” or even lied and said “I got a man.” But 60 – I’m not lying nor am I apologizing for not being interested. I’m not apologizing for not wanting to go someplace or do something that doesn’t interest me. I’m not wasting time on things or people who I’m not interested in or attracted to. I’ve done that in the past and I don’t have that kind of time or desire anymore.
At almost 60, I exercise and do Yoga to keep my body strong, but I don’t do it often enough and I need to do better. I have small lines in my face and neck area that weren’t there a decade ago and I have extra fat in places that I didn’t before. Weight is harder to lose and seems to have found a home on my body, dammit! *Big Sigh* Oh, yeah, middle age and menopause have come to visit! I may fool some folks when they see me and not believe how old I am, but my body is saying, “Awww, that’s nice! But you know how old we are and if you forget, let me remind you!”
I sometimes find myself browsing the anti-aging products on the shelves in the stores. I quickly look around to see who’s looking before I actually pick one up to read about its magical ingredients. I always put it back on the shelf, though, and decide to continue using the expensive (a worthy and smart investment) moisturizer that I already have at home. That and a simple facial cleanser has been working for years. I won’t try to fix what’s not broken.
Despite the occasional aches and pains and the fluctuating weight and gradual loss of elasticity in my skin, I’m grateful to still be alive. I’m thankful for some of the negativity in my life (negative mammograms and other test results.) I’m thankful for memories of my sisters and my friend. I’m grateful for having the gifts of music, wine and laughter in my life. I am so thankful that I’ve been lovingly included and I’m sitting in the front row of my adult children’s lives as I watch them navigate the places I’ve already been. I often seek information, I occasionally seek advice or input, but I’m so grateful that I no longer seek validation or approval.
So, I’ll embrace this new decade and everything it brings. I don’t know why I was trippin’ on turning 60 anyway. Hell, I’ve had my AARP card since I turned 50! But now, approaching my 60’s, things are REALLY gonna get good! I’ll be eligible for REAL Senior discounts. Farewell Fabulous 50’s. Sensuous and sexy 60’s here I come – even if I bring Advil and Tums with me!