My New Normal

I think I’m finally getting the hang of being middle aged.  True, I’m 57, so that means I’ve been middle aged for quite some time now (some would say I’m too old to be called middle aged, and I treat that suggestion with the contempt it deserves), but I can be both stubborn and resistant to change.  So it has taken me a long time to come to grips with the fact that I now have what it often referred to as a “new normal.”

Gone are the days when a late night meant staying out with my friends until three in the morning.  Now a late night is eleven o’clock, midnight at the very most, and even staying up that late means I spend most of the next day puffy-eyed, sluggish, and complaining bitterly about how tired I am.  Genuine late nights, and especially the late-night snacks (often from Taco Bell or White Castle) I used to indulge in are a thing of the past. And considering the delicate state of my digestive system these days, that’s probably a good thing.  For everyone.

The slim waist I enjoyed for most of my life has been replaced with a rather soft “muffin top” that refuses to leave, despite my attempts to exercise it away.  You would think that doing ten crunches or a thirty-second plank once every week or two would do the trick, but sadly, it has not.  So I have given away all my long, slim tops that used to look so good when tucked in, and replaced them with tops that are meant to be worn over my pants and are wide enough to hide back fat.  In short, I have come to embrace middle-aged fashion.

Previously, packing for a trip meant simply making sure I had enough clothes and toiletries for however long I was going to be away.  Now I have a large list of additional “must have” items which I absolutely can’t do without: two pairs of reading glasses (I always have a back-up pair), a make up mirror so that I can make sure I’m getting my eye shadow on my actual eyelids, a custom-made mouthpiece that I have to wear every night to stop me from grinding my teeth (as a friend once commented when she saw me pop it in, “your husband is a lucky man”), my allergy medications, and most important of all, my tweezers.  Because being middle aged means having hair where hair does not belong.

I have always been a little bit compulsive, but I no longer worry about having an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Yes, I never walk out my back door without backtracking through the house to my front door to double check that I’ve locked it, but I don’t do that because I’m compulsive.  I do that because by the time I’ve reached the back door, I can no longer remember whether or not I actually locked the front door.  And after I pull out of our driveway, I circle back around the block to make sure that I’ve closed the garage door for the same reason.  My memory has never been great, but these days it’s almost non-existent.

Grandma GreenPlease don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not.  For one thing, I understand that complaining isn’t gong to make me young again, and I also recognize that there are many advantages to being middle aged.  Honestly, I not only accept my “new normal,” I have come to appreciate it.  Because I know that it won’t be so very long before I’ll hit the age when I have yet another “new normal” to deal with, and something tells me it’s not going to be as nice as this one.

Dressing Room Depression

You’d think I’d know better by now.  Even before I was middle aged, shopping for a special occasion was something I dreaded, because none of the stores ever seemed to carry exactly what I needed.  If I was looking for a dress to be worn at an outdoor event on a hot summer day, all I found were long-sleeve dresses, usually made out of wool.  Sure, there might have been one or two sleeveless, summery dresses hanging on the clearance rack, but they were always a size two, which I haven’t been since…well, ever.  But now that I am middle-aged, shopping of any kind has become a chore, and shopping for a special event has become almost impossible.

Even so, yesterday I headed off to the nearby mall in high hopes of quickly and easily finding an appropriate outfit to wear to a wedding I’m attending next weekend.  I don’t know why I was so optimistic about the whole thing, but I cheerfully told my husband I’d be back in a couple of hours.  Maybe the problem is my memory seems to be going the way of my eyesight, but for some strange reason, I really thought I’d find something that I’d like without wasting my whole day shopping.

Needless to say, I was wrong.  It took me quite some time to find any dresses that were even worth trying on, but eventually I grabbed a few and ducked into the nearest dressing room to see if they fit.  The less said about what I looked like in those dresses, the better.  I came out of the dressing room without anything I actually wanted to buy, but with the firm belief that I needed three things as quickly as possible:  a new diet, a gym membership, and an appointment with a really good plastic surgeon.

IMG_1057I tried a few other stores with no more success at  finding a dress, but I did spot a nice blue jacket (on sale, thank goodness) that I thought just might work over an eight-year old, sleeveless black dress I already owned.  At that point, I was far too depressed to keep on shopping, so I bought the jacket, went home and tried it on with my black dress, and decided to believe my husband when he told me it looked just fine.  I know he wouldn’t have told me otherwise no matter how bad it looked, but it still helped to hear him actually say the words.

I have no idea why the people who design clothes insist in believing that all women are tall, thin, and twenty-something, but they do. And its more than a little discouraging to keep trying to stuff my not tall, thin and twenty-something body into the available merchandise.  It’s hard enough to have hit the time in my life when everything’s sagging and bagging without having to try on clothes that seemed designed to emphasize each and every single imperfection.

One of my favorite authors is Rick Bragg, and he wrote a very funny essay regarding his hatred for shopping (good to know it’s not just a female thing), stating that he has decided he’s never going to shop for clothes again. After evaluating his wardrobe and his remaining expected life span, he concluded that he can “be dead and naked at about the same time.”  I don’t think I can quite pull that one off, but I have an awful feeling that I will be wearing that black dress of mine to every special event I am invited to for at least another ten years, with our without a new jacket to go with it.

How Old Am I?

No matter how much I’d like to believe (or pretend) that I’m still young, I really do consider myself to be a middle aged woman.  I’ve thought of myself as middle aged for at least the past fifteen years or so.  And when I finally decided to start my blog, I made it all about being middle aged and coping with all the changes that middle age brings.  One way or another, being middle aged is a big part of my identity right now.

But then I started reading other people’s blogs about middle age, and realized that there are many different ways to define middle age.  I had always considered middle age to be the huge chunk of life between younger adulthood and senior citizen, and I sort of resented people who suggested that it starts and ends much earlier than that. (I even wrote a post about it called Don’t Take Away My Middle Age.)  Others believe middle age literally means the exact middle of our life, so that even if we live to be one hundred, our middle age ends when we are fifty.  Middle age is, at best, a rather fluid concept.

IMG_0393I think the problem for those of us on the upper end of middle age is that we don’t have any real term for what comes next other than “senior citizen.”  And while I have the utmost respect for senior citizens (my 85 year-old mother truly rocks the whole “cute little old lady” thing), I know that it will be many more years before I am ready to be one.  So that creates the whole question of, if I’m too old to be middle aged, but still too young to be a senior citizen, then what exactly am I?

At 57, I’m fast reaching the age when, even with the most generous definition, I can’t all myself middle aged anymore.  This will be the first time in my life when I don’t really know what age group I fall into.  So far, I’ve been a baby, child, tween, teenager, young adult, just a regular adult, and middle ager.  All that’s left, as far as I know, is senior citizen.  But it seems a bit odd to me to lump people who are in their early sixties with people who are in their late nineties.  I think that span is too long, and that the people on the opposite ends of it don’t really have that much in common.

Maybe I need to just go back to just considering myself simply as an adult, the way I did in my thirties, at least until somebody comes up with a good term for this particular time in our lives.  Or maybe it’s time I just stopped thinking in terms of age categories all together, because my age is really nobody’s business but mine.  Whatever I decide, I’m going to keep the name of my blog the same. I’d like to think that by doing so I’m making some sort of bold stand against aging and age classifications, but the truth is that figuring out how to change the name is just too much work.

 

Poker Night

IMG_0905I have to admit that when my neighbor asked me to join the new poker group she was starting, I had my doubts.  The group was going to meet one Friday night a month, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to add another standing commitment to our already too-full calendar.  Even more concerning, I was going to be the only member of the group who actually knew how to play poker, which meant it would be my job to teach everyone else how to play.

My first inclination was to say no.  My second inclination was to say yes, and then explain that poker always has to be played for money, and that it was a good idea for everyone to bring their valuable jewelry and car titles so that they would have something to bet if their money ran out.  (Did I mention I was the only one who knew how to play?)  Luckily, I went with the third option, which was to agree to join the group and teach everyone how to play, and to play only for the little plastic chips that are handed out before each session.  I do have a few finer instincts left.

My father taught me to play poker when I was five years old, and my in-laws play poker at almost every family gathering, so I am very comfortable with the game.  But I quickly found out that teaching other people how to play is not always so easy.  A typical exchange goes something like this:

Me:  “Okay, now that I’ve dealt the cards, you can either bet, fold (quit that hand) or check the bet (wait to see what the bet is without quitting the hand).  We start with the person to the left of the dealer and go around the table.”

Debby:  “I check the bet.”

Sandra:  “I bet one.”

Paula:  “I check the bet.”

Me: “You can’t check the bet, because Sandra bet one.  So now you have to either bet one, raise, or fold.”

Paula:  “But you let Debby check the bet.”

Me:  “That’s because nobody had bet yet.”

Paula:  “But I want to check the bet.”

Me:  “You can’t check the bet.”

Paula:  “Why do you hate me?”

And so it goes….  But we muddle along, with me slowly learning to be a better teacher and the others slowly mastering the game.  I suppose we might give up if the whole point of the evening was just to play poker, but of course, it isn’t. Between arguments about who is and isn’t allowed to “check the bet” we spend a lot of time talking and laughing, catching up on each other’s lives and just plain enjoying each other’s company.

With every gathering, we are getting to know each other a little better.  We feel comfortable telling the truth about our families, both the proud moments and the painful ones, knowing that we will get nothing but support in return.  We talk about the things we’re happy we’ve accomplished, and the dreams that we are still hoping will come true some day.   And in between the friendly banter, the serious talk, the eating and the drinking, and the occasional hand of poker, the evenings just fly by.

I’m so glad that my neighbor started this group and invited me to be a part of it.  I’m even happier that I didn’t decide I was too busy to join.  Sometimes being middle aged means feeling that we are already doing all that we can do, and don’t have room to add more friends, more commitments, more new anything, and that’s a shame.  Because there is always something new that is worth the time, if we are just willing to give it a chance.  I took the risk on poker night, and that’s a bet that paid off, big time.

Second Chances

Last night, my husband and I went back to a restaurant we had visited a few months ago, where we had a great meal and a nice waitress, but where we also had what seemed to be a rude encounter with the chef/owner as we were leaving. I wrote about it in my blog post, Be Nice, and some readers suggested that I needed to give the restaurant another try.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to, because I thought the owner had insulted my husband and I, and I wasn’t quite ready to forgive that.  But some close friends were anxious to try the restaurant (its fairly new and getting great reviews), so we agreed to meet them there last night.  And I’m so glad we did.

The restaurant was definitely more crowded than it was on our previous visit, but we had a reservation and were seated immediately.  Once again, our waitress was friendly and helpful, the food was delicious, and I did spot the chef/owner walking through the dining room a few times, scowling a bit. But as we were leaving after our meal, he approached my husband, asked how his meal was and thanked us for coming.  My husband assured him the meal was fabulous and told him we would be back, and we will.

The thing was, he deserved a second chance.  Because now I realize that maybe what I took for a scowl on our first visit could just be his natural expression.  (I know when I get a sinus headache, as I frequently do during allergy season, I tend to walk around looking rather crabby.)  And maybe when he walked by us on that first visit, rolled his eyes and muttered something unpleasant, he wasn’t directing it at us.  I tend to take the actions of people around me personally, but maybe he had just burned someone’s dinner or spotted something near us that upset him.  Because, although I have a hard time believing this, it’s not always about me.  Go figure.

One of the good things about reaching middle age is the opportunity to look back on our lives and see some definite patterns.  And one pattern I have noticed is that when I forgive someone who I think has insulted me or hurt my feelings, I am almost always glad I did.  Honestly, I can’t think of a single person in my life who hasn’t said or done something that has caused me emotional pain at some point, and I’m quite sure every one of them could say the same thing about me.  I  think that’s just the nature of human relationships.  We sometimes say or do the wrong thing and hurt the feelings of the people we know, even those we care about the most, and usually without even realizing we’ve done it.

0516 2Which means that we have a choice:  we can either hang on to the hurt, nurse the grudge, and distance ourselves from the people who have hurt us, or we can choose to forgive them, and let our relationship with them grow and mature.  Sometimes there are just too many emotionally painful instances to forgive, and then it probably is best to move on.  But most often, when we are strong enough to forgive and give someone a second chance, we’re rewarded with the kind of deep, honest relationships that are real gifts in our lives.  Or in the case of this particular restaurant and its owner, the chance to enjoy another great dinner……

True Victory

There are many times when I wish life was more like the movies, where there’s almost always a happy ending.  I wish that I could know for sure that no matter how bleak things look, if I just keep on trying hard enough and don’t give up, that I will triumph in the end.  That I will have that moment of victory, usually accompanied by lots of applause and inspiring music.  Sadly, real life seldom works that way.

The truth is, sometimes my best just isn’t good enough.  I tried for years to become a commercially successful children’s book writer, but it never happened.  Instead of a shelf full of my published books, I have a file cabinet stuffed full of rejection letters.  I have taken aerobics classes, yoga classes, pilate classes, and spent hours on my exercise bike and walking around the neighborhood, but my chubby upper thighs are still with me.  (I strongly suspect that even if I starved to death, they would still be there.  They are that resilient.)

IMG_0411I head down to the local humane society three times a week to walk the shelter dogs, but no matter how many I walk, no matter how many frightened dogs I comfort, or how many rowdy dogs I work with to teach the most basic of manners, there are always more dogs that I don’t have time to help.  My husband and I work hard to take care of our house and my mother’s house, but no matter how much time and money we spend on them, there is always something else that needs to be done.

Real life rarely comes with a sense of closure, never mind triumph.  The older I get, the less I believe in the whole concept of winning.  I think I am one of the few people who approves of coaches giving the young children on their team a trophy at at the end of the season, just for being on the team.  Those trophies aren’t rewards for winning, but they do acknowledge the perseverance of showing up for every practice and game and always giving your best effort, even when you don’t win.  Which, if you think about it, is probably a better preparation for real life than playing on a team that wins every game.

The only thing I can ever offer is my best effort.  I don’t know whether or not my best effort is going to fix a situation or guarantee that I reach my goal, because the truth is that sometimes it will, and other times it won’t.  But I think the important thing is that I don’t get discouraged and quit trying, because that will guarantee that I never accomplish a thing, and I don’t want to live like that.  I want the courage to keep trying, the wisdom to change strategies when necessary, and the perseverance to never stop trying to make the little bit of the world that I touch a better place.

So I’ll keep writing, because I love to write and I’m not a happy person when I’m not writing.  I’ll get back on that exercise bike and head off to my yoga class because I’m a healthier person when I exercise, even if my chubby thighs insist on staying with me.  And I’ll keep heading down to the humane society to help shelter dogs, even with the terrible knowledge that I won’t be able to save them all.  Because I’m finally realizing that the real victory is not giving up.

Halloween Memories

Lea and I halloweenThere’s something about Halloween that almost makes me wish I was a kid again.  I remember when I was very young, and Halloween meant a trip to the local Woolworth’s to pick out my costume, back in the days when they came in a cardboard box with a clear cellophane top so you could see what you were getting.  Later, I’d help carve the family pumpkin, and then we’d head out to trick our treat in the neighborhood.  The best part was after trick or treating, when I’d come home and sort through my haul, eating as much candy as I could before my mom noticed what I was up to.

When I got a bit older, my friends and I would piece together our own costumes from whatever we could find around the house.  None of us had fancy costumes, either store bought or hand made, but we didn’t care.  My favorite was when I put a black cape over a white sheet, and went trick or treating as Dracula’s ghost.  By then the chief attraction of the holiday wasn’t so much the candy as it was a fun night out with my friends, telling jokes and trying to scare each other as we walked down the dark streets toward the next house.


Later, when I had my own kids, I could revive a little bit of that Halloween excitement through them.  I helped pick out or make their costumes (I wasn’t very good at sewing, but they didn’t seem to notice), enjoyed watching them in the school Halloween parade, helped with the class parties and took them trick or treating.  But eventually my kids got old enough to trick or treat without me, and then stopped going altogether.

Martha and Daniel HalloweenNow I am middle aged, and I think I have just outgrown Halloween.  I still put real pumpkins on my porch and set out a couple of ceramic pumpkins in my living room, but I can’t be bothered to string orange lights, stretch fake spider webs across my bushes or place crime scene tape across the steps.  And I certainly don’t want to turn my front yard into a fake cemetery or put zombie figures on my lawn.  I don’t believe that Halloween decorations should ever be graphic enough to scare small children, the way the the barbecue pit with a bloody Santa Claus head on it I once saw on someone’s porch most certainly would.

I know there are lots of adults who still enjoy Halloween, and love the elaborate decorations and the Halloween parties that require costumes, and that’s fine.  I’m just not one of them. My husband and I did go to several costume parties when we were newly married, and I thought they were fun, although my husband didn’t like dressing up.  (One year he went as an Accountant, which he is, so that meant he didn’t have to wear a costume.  And that was the only year he didn’t whine about having to go to a Halloween party.) But it’s been many years since I’ve dressed up on Halloween, and I honestly don’t miss it.

These days my Halloween celebration consists of carving a jack-o-lantern, maybe making a few pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and handing out candy to the kids who ring our doorbell on Halloween night.  It’s true I don’t get the same feelings of anticipation and excitement that Halloween used to bring, but that’s okay.  I  believe that Halloween is for the young, and I’m no longer young.   And I know I’m lucky to have a lot of great memories from when I was.

A Prince Of A Horse

Prince in St. JamesPrince is not a name I would ever have chosen for my horse.  Having grown up watching “Fury” and reading books like “Midnight” and “Black Beauty,” I had always dreamed of having a horse that was spirited and beautiful, and I wanted it to be named accordingly.  But Prince was eight years old when I got him and already knew his name, so I had no choice but to let him keep it.

He was handsome, with a copper-colored coat, a black mane and tail, and a white stripe down the middle of his face.  He was a calm, easy-going horse rather than a spirited one, and since I was fourteen and inexperienced when I got him, that was a good thing.  My first horse, Gypsy, had been very spirited, and after she had bitten, kicked, and bucked me off, I was more than ready to appreciate a horse who actually seemed to like people.

Honestly, Prince liked people more than any horse I have ever known.  I got him a couple years after my family had moved to a small town in Kansas, and kept him at a small stable where he had access to a large pasture.  Everyone else at the stable had to spend some time catching their horses when they wanted to ride them.  I simply called Prince and he came trotting right over, eager to see if I had some food for him, which I always did.  He was easy to ride as long as I made it clear that he wasn’t allowed to stop and graze along the way.  Even when I wasn’t feeding or riding him, Prince always stayed near me when I was at at stable, occasionally  resting his head on my shoulder or nudging me hopefully to see if I would give him a treat.

His only real vice was that he was a pig about food, and the only way he would ever hurt anyone is if they made the mistake of standing between him and something he wanted to eat.  Prince believed that the shortest distance between him and his next meal was a straight line, and if someone was standing in his way, he would not hesitate to plow right into them.  But other than that, he was so calm and friendly that just about anybody could ride him, and I had more than one friend get over their fear of horses just by being around him.

Prince in MarionI admit I spoiled him a little, at least by the standards of some people.  He loved apples, but would only eat one if I “started” it for him.  That meant I had to bite a chunk of it off first, give him the chunk, then hold the apple while he took a bite himself, and then finally he would take what was left of the apple and eat that.  He also expected me to swat away the giant horse flies that sometimes landed on him and bit him when we were riding, even if that meant dismounting to swat one off of his leg.  I would be lying if I said the more experienced horsemen I sometimes rode with were impressed with the way I handled my horse.

Prince came into my life when I was fourteen and he was eight, and he stayed a part of it for seventeen years.  When my family moved to southern Illinois, we took him with us, even though I was heading off to college in  Iowa.  When I married and moved to St. Louis, I moved Prince to a nearby farm in Missouri.  By that time it was sometimes hard to pay all the expenses that come with owning a horse, but I never once considered selling him.

We had been through so much together.  When my teenage years got a bit painful or confusing, I could always find peace by going to the stable and spending time with Prince.  Riding him on my breaks home from college was always something to look forward to, and later, when I moved back to the large city of St. Louis, I treasured my weekend rides on Prince out in the country.  He was a constant in my life during a time when almost everything else was changing so quickly.

I had to say goodbye to Prince when he as twenty five years old and his arthritis made it impossible for him to move around freely anymore.  I knew it was time to let him go when just walking across his stall caused him real pain.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and I still miss him, all these years later.  And even though I didn’t realize it when I first got him, his name fit him perfectly.  He really was a prince of a horse.

Dropping Shopping

I’ll be the first to admit that my tastes have changed as I’ve aged.  I no longer think that green shag carpeting is the coolest floor covering ever, the way I did back in the early seventies.  As a child, I craved candy and would only eat green beans if they were covered in ketchup, but I’m happy to say my taste in food has improved a lot since then.  And as the photo of the outfit I wore to my high school prom shows, my taste in clothing and hairstyles has also, thankfully, improved.

Prom dressStill, last weekend when I went to the local mall to do a little shopping, I was surprised to realize how very much I hated being there.  I used to love going to the mall, and have fond memories of happy Saturday afternoons spent at the mall with my teen-aged friends as we shopped for the latest fashions, stopping only for an ice cream and a soft drink when we needed an energy boost.  Even after I grew up and had my own kids, a trip to the mall was still a good time.   Shopping was a little bit of time to myself, checking out the available goods and occasionally scoring that perfect piece of clothing that fit, looked good on me, and was also on sale. When did that all change, and a trip to the mall became as much fun as going to the dentist?

I think part of the problem is my age, because most of the smaller stores in the mall are geared toward teenagers and people in their twenties and early thirties.  There are some shops that seem to target “women of a certain age,” but they also labor under the mistaken belief that all women my age want to wears lots of leopard print, fringe, and sequins. (I don’t.)

For a while, I could count on the large department stores to be places I could shop in relative comfort, but no more.  Now most of the department stores seem to be having a contest to see which store can cram the most racks filled with random assortments of clothes in their space, forcing shoppers to paw through the goods as though we were at one of K-Mart’s old “blue light specials.”  And even if I do find something that I want to try on, I have to first find an empty dressing room, remove the mound of clothes that someone else left in there, and then prop a chair against the door before stripping down to my underwear, since none of the locks ever work.

Finding something I want to buy means even more fun at the check out, where I’m asked (repeatedly) if I want to sign up for their new rewards program, which entails filling out a lengthy form or verbally giving my email address, phone number, birthday and any other information which is routinely used in identity theft in front of the thirty or so other people who are within earshot.  A friend once recommended trying the “high end” department stores for better quality merchandise and better service, but that didn’t go well.  I did find a belt that I liked, for what I thought was $35.  Then I put on my reading glasses and looked at the label a bit more closely.  It was $350.  Which is considerably more than I will ever spend on a piece of leather whose chief purpose in life is to hold my pants up, and why I no longer browse the “high end” stores.

I’m not sure why I was so surprised to realize that I no longer enjoy shopping at the mall, since my tastes have changed in so many other areas of my life.  Maybe it was because I want to support brick-and-mortar retail establishments and the people they employ, rather than just shopping online and hoping that whatever I order actually fits.  (They never say “perfect for the aging, pear-shaped body” in the description.)  But I think it’s time for me to give up my trips to the mall.  And the chances are that I probably won’t miss them any more than I do eating green beans drowned in ketchup.

Happy Birthday

IMG_0823Today is my husband’s sixtieth birthday.  I can remember so clearly when I first met him in college and decided that he might be someone I would like to date, even though we seemed to have almost nothing in common.  He was a gifted athlete, and an active member of a fraternity.  He liked to spend time fishing and golfing, and had a special talent for playing pool.  I was a klutz who was completely uninterested in sports, and had lasted a mere three months in the sorority I joined my sophomore year. I played only miniature golf, was terrible at pool, and thought fishing was a bit cruel, to both the fish and the worms.  But still, something clicked, and we married shortly after I graduated.

It just doesn’t seem so long ago that we moved into our first apartment together, then later bought our first house and brought our first baby home from the hospital.  How can that baby now be a twenty-nine year old woman, and how can we possibly have lived in this, our third house, for twenty-one years?  How can my husband, the young man who searched so eagerly for his first accounting job, carefully typing out his resumes and letters on my electric typewriter, be just five years away from retirement?

Dave at typewriterWhen did we make the shift from the young, clueless couple trying to find our way in the world, to a couple that is fast approaching (if we aren’t there already) the years where we can’t even call ourselves middle aged anymore, and actually qualify for those “senior citizen discounts?”  Next year will actually be the fortieth reunion of my high school graduating class.  And I still believe someone added wrong to come up with that number, but I’m not sure who to speak to about it.

I remember when we were young (a very long time ago, apparently), people kept telling us that the years would just fly by.  And like all young people, we didn’t really believe them.  We knew we were at the beginning stages of our lives, and our attention was focused on acquiring all the stuff we thought we needed, establishing our careers, and starting our family.  But now, with my husband turning sixty, there is no denying that we have many more years behind us that we do ahead of us.  And that we are no longer young anywhere except in our own minds.

Now our focus has changed.  We are certainly not wealthy, but we have most of what we want and all of what we truly need.  We treasure our time with family and friends more, because we now understand what a gift time spent with people we love really is.  We aren’t always happy with our aging bodies, but we accept them and do our best to stay healthy.  We may not have as many years left as we would like, but we do intend to spend those years wisely.

A friend once told me that the beauty of long-term marriage is that each partner knew the other one when they were still young, so that when they look at their spouse, they still see the young person they once were.  And that, I have found, is true.  My husband may be turning sixty today, but to me, he will always be that somewhat shy, sweet, college boy I thought I might like to date…..