Top Ten List of Shit You Don’t Want to Know When Turning Fifty

A friend asked the other day for any useful tips for turning fifty.  I struggled with ‘tips’ as I was unsure as to what infinite wisdom I could bestow.  I’ve been fifty for a few years now and I have some advice, warnings and ‘ohmygawdwatchoutforthisshit’, but not exactly the ‘tips’ I think she was looking for.  In any case, in honour of all of those young ladies turning fifty, here is my Top Ten List of Shit You Don’t Want to Know When Turning Fifty. 

 You. Are. Welcome.

And Happy Birthday!

images

10.  You lose interest in everything except yoga pants, wine and food-  Okay, maybe that blanket statement goes too far.  You lose MOST of the interest you had in leaving the house.  I started wanting to spend more time drinking in my yoga pants than going out or doing something that required me to wear pants or an ‘outfit’.  I still enjoy going out, but I really have to want it.

9.  Impatience is the new virtue since you don’t have time for shit, don’t give a shit and basically you can’t put up with anyone’s shit. True.  My patience is waning for whiners and folks who like to complain simply to hear themselves talk.  NO. TIME.

8.  Crashing Fatigue is actually a ‘thing’ and when it hits, it’s difficult to snap out of it-  You feel exhausted every day all day and you just want to crawl into bed and stay there. It will pass, but you have to summon up some patience.  It usually lasts a few days and I get through it by telling Hubby I’m on strike of mother duties due to the polar vortex and incessant winter.  Even if it’s summer, I can say I’ll be tired for the next few days so just let me be the best version of Greta Garbo and I vant to be alone…. Trust that this is simply an ‘episode’ and it WILL pass.  It IS an actual part of the Big M, so take it day by day.

7.  Opposite of Crashing Fatigue, comes Insomnia AKA Your Brain On Menopausal Meth- Sleep is a distant thing and you stay awake with songs blaring in your brain, a to-do list of epic proportions, the mistakes you made on the Grade 6 Spelling Bee and how you’ve clearly failed as a parent because your child can’t boil and egg. You start to panic realizing you haven’t accomplished ANYTHING and your life has been one big waste of time. Up you get from your bed, start writing out a bucket list of stuff that you WILL NEVER DO because you don’t have boatloads of cash and your Fairy God Mother is on vacation.  Breathe.  This too shall pass…but still write the list because you’ll need something to make you laugh later that day when the Migraine Auras start.  Oh, I didn’t tell you about that, yet?

6.  Migraine Auras are fucktastic – No, you are not having a stroke. You don’t have a brain tumour.  You are having Auras.  Little bits of psychedelic lights dancing in your eyes like you’ve been staring at the sun too long.  They flash, they dance and are squiggly lines pulsing and moving.  It’s a part of having a Migraine.  I don’t actually get the blinding headache pain with migraines, just the auras, but some people get both.  After fifty, you can experience these auras a little bit more frequently.  Awesome.   They usually disappear within 30 minutes with my eyes closed and laying down.  That’s after having a few nights of no sleep thanks to #7.  See how this works?  Fun.  Times.  *having said that, make sure to get your blood work done regularly so you can keep your levels in check.  Your chances of stroke, heart disease and diabetes rise as you age. Know the signs of a stroke so you can differentiate between the two.  If you have any doubts, get thee to a doctor.   Stay healthy.

5.  Breakouts vs Wrinkles, the Epic Battle of your Skin – Around the time when my period used to occur, my body still thought I should endure the effects of one. My skin continues to break out like I’m seventeen, I get all that crampy-bloated-wonderfulness of a tween and I’m crankier more than usual.  AND, I’m over fifty so the fight against aging or simply looking older than I should, is an ongoing battle.  I’m not thinking I should look twenty, because I’m not.  I just don’t want to look ninety, either.  I went on this epic fact finding mission to discover the basic ingredients for fighting wrinkles.  I found a few things:  Serums – I like them and use them daily.  They go on first, then a moisturizer.  Vitamin C and E are your friends.  Vitamin C helps with brightening and tone, Vitamin E helps with repairing the wrinkles and I use that one at night.  Hyaluronic acid plumps up your skin.  Retinol fights wrinkles.  Glycolic Acid exfoliates.  Those are the basics.  I don’t buy anything expensive.  I use all-natural as much as possible.  You really don’t need to buy expensive creams to look good.  Use something that you like and stick with it.

4.  You need a hobby – seriously, you have dedicated your time, energy and talents to work and raising a family. Now, take some time and develop something else.  Do something out of your comfort zone or find your creativity.  Paint, write, run, walk, volunteer, sand-down the outside steps…it doesn’t have to be wowtastic, just something you enjoy.  You need time for you to develop your own interests and hidden talents so you don’t go batty.  It’s healthy for you to be busy and enjoy something other than work/kid/husband/partner related.

3.  Brain fog – I’ve noticed that I can’t remember as much as I used to. My short term memory decides to take periodic vacations.  I can’t keep the kids’ schedules straight in my head and I incessantly ask what they are doing every day.   I’ve decided to practice using my brain more.  Crossword puzzles, games with reasoning, reading something other than newspapers or online content and writing are all keeping my brain active and engaged.  Something TV does not do.  Turn off the tv and do something else for your brain.

2.  Exercise- Oh, come on you knew that was coming. Weight training and aerobic exercise are important to keeping you feeling and looking younger.  Weight training builds muscle, and helps your joints.  Aerobic exercise keeps that heart pumping.  Do both.  You’ll feel better.  It may help with #7 and #8 as well.  Kinda.

1. The Fashion Industry Sucks at dressing us – We either end up looking like a wannabe-twenty-something, or like Dorothy’s Auntie Em. It’s disgusting, really.  I don’t do elastic waist band pants and I don’t like being called ma’am.  I also can’t wear a dress up to my bum and a v-neck down to my naval.  Trust me NOBODY WANTS TO SEE THAT.   Finding age-appropriate comfortable clothing is challenging, but I always manage to find something.  I drag daughters with me and find some stuff at Winners on a good day.  Sometimes, online is the best bet, but you are taking a chance on sizing and fit.  It’s a trial and error thing, but know that you are not alone.  That’s why yoga pants will always be in style.

BONUS:  Key to staying young is a positive attitude and finding your tribe.  Having friends and a good support system is vital at any age, especially when journeying through a transition.   Getting through the hard days will be sweeter with some good friends and some hearty laughter.

Enjoy the journey!  xo

Advertisements

Conquering ‘Hoods

I don’t know when it happened.  When the kids grew up and I am now faced with retirement ads that I actually watch.  When we look at the house and say ‘we need to fix this before we move’ or when we look around at the now adults who we once carted and snuggled and fed and loved; who needed bed times and naps; who needed rocking to sleep and lessons in ‘appropriate songs to sing in public’; who were once my babies but somehow morphed into adults, and I hear myself say ‘when y’all fixin’ to move out?’  like I’m suddenly southern and drink lemonade in a rocker on the front porch.  I’ve been so busy raising kids and cleaning houses and buying groceries and making dinners and trekking kids to this and that, then driving lessons and graduations and convocations and first jobs and first dates and first car accidents and first hangovers and generally, just living, that  I missed when I grew up.  I missed my journey into full-fledged adulthood, motherhood and womanhood.  Generally, all of the ‘hoods.  How did that happen?

I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment of ‘missing’ my growth.  It happened when I wasn’t looking.  When I was distracted by a ten pound baby careening out of my vagina.  And by ‘careening’ I mean taking his sweet ass time because who doesn’t love being in labour for fifteen ungodly hours followed by hearing the words “You’ll feel a little discomfort” (HAHAHAHA)   and then seeing a wall of onlookers oohing and ahhing.  Ahh, childbirth.  And that was the last time I did THAT.

I wouldn’t change it.  The three labours.  The three births.  The three babies that are now trying to find their ways into the world and stumbling every now and then.  I’m not missing their journeys into their ‘hoods…I’m paying attention to theirs.  I’ve just been absent in consciousness for mine. 

I look at the pictures and see the outward changes.  The weight gain, then loss, then gain.  The progression of one baby, then another baby and then the last chunky kid who threw Cheerios on the floor in great bunches.  The relocations.  The new friends.  The old friends.  The new neighbourhood.  The hair gets lighter, then lighter then *gasp* grey!  The glory of discovering ‘the perfect shade of red’….

Maybe I haven’t missed my growing up, but have simply participated in less mindful way.  That’s a new term I’m learning.  Mindfulness.  Maybe I haven’t been so much AWARE of my growth, as I have actually grown.  That could be it.  I must have matured and grown emotionally after all of these twenty five years of being Mommy, Mom, Maaaaaammmmmm!!!   It isn’t possible to stay stagnant without some semblance of inward enlightenment from all of the nights of illness, worry, fights, battles and dolls thrown down the hall in outward defiance of ‘get to your room’.  (That was D1 in all of her 7 year old will) There has to be some sage, some wisdom from raising three children while working and staying married.  There has to be something other than grey hair and osteoarthritis awarded for all of this middle-agedness.  For all of this Motherdom.  Wifedom.  Womandom. 

Please tell me, there is.  

There must be some spec of intelligent advice, some all-out magical power that is awarded to us moms, dads and upbringersof the generations that carries us to that moment in our lives when we fold our hands on our laps and say ‘we did it’.  

What if I’m at that moment?  What if I’m there now and I don’t know it?  What if I’m missing it? That would be a tragedy.  

I don’t think I am.  There yet, I mean.  I’m hoping in a new mindful way, I can acknowledge when I’ve reached the point where I can say I truly feel grown up enough.  Grown up enough to say that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do.  Grown up enough to let go of those babies and watch them move on without the dramatic doll-throwing.  Grown up enough to take ma damn lemonade and sit on the porch in my rocking chair, saying ‘have a nice day, y’all.’    

Until then, I’ll just be over here while you conquer your ‘hoods.  I’m not quite finished conquering mine.  I’m still growing up.  

 

Falling for Spring

March breezes are upon us with the promise of Spring.  It’s so close, I almost believe in its careless whispers and its falsepromises of sunshine, trees with sprouts of green buds and the ground giving birth to colourful tulips.  Then I walk outside and I am almost blown to my knees from hurricane force windswhile wrapped in a one hundred pound down filled parka with mittens and boots cemented to my appendages.  Spring!  Let me make it through winter without frost bite, or hospitalizations from injuries sustained in slippages or needing to be thawed by an open flame for hours.  

It’s a little much and I’m tired.  I want to go outside and feel the sun. Instead, I’m still waiting for some semblance of warmth.  Some sign from the Weather Gods that I am not just waiting for nothing.  That they’re not up in the sky looking down at me laughing at me for even THINKING about Spring while they plan the next ice extravaganza.  “Hey, Thor.  Throw that hammer on THIS THREE FEET THICK SHEET OF ICE!  The humans will be SO SCREWED! HAHAHAHA!”

Ice is terrifying for me and my reasons should be very self-explanatory.  The whole fall-down-on-my-arse thing.  Or the dreaded Face-Plant of 2012, the Sequel.  The slip in Toronto a week ago.   It could happen even without the presence of slippery-when-wet or when-icy conditions.   Gravity is not my friend.  THE MINUTE I think spring could be wrapping me in warmth, I dare to be too brave and saunter outside without grippy boots and immediately fall on my ass.  It’s a given.  I need a bodyguard or five to walk me gently down the driveway to my car, then gently down the stairs from the parking lot to the door of my work.  I need them to repeat this exercise from October right up until July.  Or maybe I could get my hands on a hover board and hover my way to EVERYWHERE during the winter.  THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

Who has a hover board they’re not currently using??  Is that even a thing?

I need to research this.  It could be my answer to NEVER FALLING AGAIN.  I could market it like the Acorn Stair Lift for old people.   HOVER YOUR WAY TO EVERYWHERE.   

DON’T WALK.  HOVER.

DON’T FALL EVER AGAIN. 

Wow.  The possibilities are endless!  

Wait…is there balance involved in these hover boards?  ‘Causethat may be the Dragon’s Den rejection of the year if I have to actually use balance to operate it.  

I need to research this and get back.  My solution may have fallen into the abyss of Bad Ideas not to be resurrected anytime soon.  

I could be back to just plain old walking and hoping I don’t fall.  That’s okay, since that’s what I’ve been doing forever, but it would be nice to have an alternate solution that looks way cooler than a scooter or moped thingy. Or ending up looking like I volunteered to spar with Rocky sans protective gear.  

And cooler than being called Jay Leno.  

Friends…. emmiright?!    

My future…

Drunk Humans

 

Today has been a weird day.  From beginning to mid-afternoon the fleeting ramblings of the select few have left the innocuous bumbling around looking for alcohol.  Or, we have already succumbed, hence the drunk burpees at bootcamp and the falling into desks at work.  I should  just go ahead and take a nip or five before jumping into a TRX move or diving into mid-term exams to see how that all plays out for me.  I’m thinking a whole lot of bruising and maybe a broken finger or toe, at the very least.  

Nobody likes a giddy drunkard as much as me, hell I’ve BEEN that giddy drunkard, but the Universe has decided to crank it up a notch.  Oh, she has decided to put the people who are TOTALLY STONE COLD SOBER in charge of shit and just rearrange the furniture while she’s at it.  Seriously?  The drunks are falling off boxes and bumping into shit, saying ‘who the hell put that there?’ and telling others to move out of the way.  We are all now completely hammered thanks to the ire of oneMenopausal Universe who is pissed that humans are shitty at being human.  

People are reacting to the volatility of the economy, the evil of politics and the cost of humanity at the hands of invalids who refuse to consider the other side.  No wonder everyone is a little drunk and a little fed up with life.  We need a break.  The Universe has decided she’s had it with your crap and is throwing her hands up in the air in Motherly exasperation.  She’s now made a deal with the Weather Gods. In exchange for some Polar Vortex Air, or what she refers to as ‘Watch While We Freeze The Shit Out of This’, SHE gets to ram as much fool-hearted stupidity in the way of the logical few to see how we like that!    

Now the total gambit of weather-related-crap is about to descend upon us.  I’m not just talking a bit o’ snow, which for us elicits a response of  “OH YEAH, WHAT ELSE YA GOT?!”, but now it’s freezing rain for HOURS, followed by snow, then rain and eventually something calmer like 100km/h winds which should couple elegantly with a nice Merlot. 

Should one choose to remain sober and NOT drink through the next few years, I suggest perhaps assisting a friend through the difficulties of tying her shoes and brushing her hair.  Maybe offer a hand while she’s cooking dinner simultaneously wiping a snotty nose and throwing the laundry into the washer?  No?  How about some kindness for the kid who totally ignored the basic golden rule of  STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE IN PUBLIC by passing him a tissue, or for the person who just can’t deal by offering a hand.  It’s a tough gig being a human.  Let’s try to move along the slow lane and keep all of the drunk people happy and upright.  Let’s share a smile and a positive thought on the way to the job that sucks or for the guy that’s annoying as hell.  

It’s our job.  If you’re not up for that, then just pass the bottle and keep it coming.  Humanity depends on it.

And The Universe?  SHE’S JUST TOO BUSY FOR YOUR SHIT.

Dinner With February

Christmas is over and packed away.  January is winding down and the dreaded month of February is rearing its ugly head.  NO ONE likes February.  There is nothing magical or lovely about it.  Oh sure, there’s Valentine’s Day but that’s brief and fleeting and overly annoying.  February is fraught with unpredictable weather (at least here) and blue moods, and muddy porches and dirty windows and bone chilling cold.  What exactly is there to like?  Even the dog can’t stand February.  It’s too cold to go outside to pee, she is cranky that she can’t get in her walks and she gives me that sidelong look when I try to get her to play.  At all.  It’s like she’s too tired to even lift her head from a pillow and why would I even suggest she chase that stupid ball?!  

DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST FEBRUARY?!  

It’s like I’m being ridiculous for even mentioning life goes on and it’s worth trying to make the best of it, isn’t it?  

NO. NO IT ISN’T.  IT’S FEBRUARY.

The least favourite of the more popular months, February is like the annoying relative that nobody likes and dreads him arriving to any family gathering.  It’s like the other 11 months are sitting around the dinner table all reveling in their own positive energy, and then HE walks in. 

 There’s December holidaying it up and drinking eggnog.  January is still recovering from ringing in a new year with December who steadily hands him water and Ibuprofen, not to mention January trying to keep up with all the resolutions he said he was going to make, but didn’t bother because there was just. Too. Much. Wine.  March is sitting stoicly playing with his grean beans because he is both feared and loved.  The older generation is adhering to the “Beware the Ides of March” bullshit and the younger ones are readying the beer kegs for March break.  Duuudddde.   Then April is laughing hysterically at the other end of the table about the first day for all the foolish pranks, the rain that will undoubtedly ensue and the whole Easter Bunny charade that brings CHOCOLATE.  Then he turns to May and starts talking smack about how one affects the other.  “There would be no flowers without my showers, you idiotic twat!”   May sits and laughs because there’s Queen Victoria’s birthday and the traditional May 2-4 weekend which brings yetanother camping extravaganza.  Duuuude.  June is warming up to July and August who all sit glowing in their inner warmth and bestowing happiness and rainbows to September, who has hit menopause.  Her hot flashes give way to cold snaps.  One minute she’s too hot and the next she needs a sweater.  October is chillin’ it and scaring the crap out of November with a Jack-o’-lantern he just carved and November resumes her knitting of a beautifully multi-coloured blanket of red, gold and orange.   There they are, all sitting waiting for HIM to walk in.  Finally, the door swings open and in strides February, soaked with freezing icicles dripping from his nose, his face blue with depression and a random red cinnamon heart stuck to his chest.  He takes a seat and his hands shake from the cold.  

Everyone stops what they are doing and stares.  “Oh.  You’re here” they say.  “Yeah.  What’s for dinner?” says February.  And then he starts, “Hey, January are you STILL hungover?!  HAHAHA!!   Pass the beans, March, don’t hog them.  Hey, October that’s one ugly whattya-callit?  Geezuz, JuneJulyAugust, can’t you three stop all the happiness and sunshine and rainbows bullshit?!   IT’S A BIT MUCH DON’T YOU THINK?”  

They all roll their eyes and continue with their dinner.  When it comes right down to it, as annoying as he is, he’s family.  “Gaawwwdd, did you guys SEE the amount of ICE I brought to the partay??!!  It’s EPIC!”  

All I Need For Christmas Is A Goblet of Wine and A Comfy Pillow

 

Christmas is around the corner and the anxiety and stress has hit full frontal without even the tiniest iota of grace.  All the joy and heavenly peace of the season flies out the window when shopping and baking and cleaning and wrapping takes precedence.  I’ve decided to not give two fucks and buy stuff that they ‘better absolutely love with the totality of their beings’ and not hear ‘any itty bitty words of shit’ on Christmas Day, or my life as a parent and woman of quiet dignity and strength would be shattered along with my mimosa glass.   Be warned, adults of mine.  

I think the more-than-fifty-year-old me, has taken the whole meaning of peace and love at Christmas to mean it better be peaceful and lovely around ME.  All of the damned time.  Mags has even gotten fed up with humanity and taken to growling at the air. I hear ya, girl.  She’s middle-aged, too so I’m thinking we are now miserable together.  Nice to have company.  Growling at the air has its merits.  The adults decide you have had enough stress for one day and pat you on the head and put you on a comfy pillow. They wrap you in a cozy blanket by the fire and sit silently beside you while you close your eyes.  Or, they back away and leave you to yourself.  If it was me, wrap me up, pour the wine and walk away.    Next time I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll be more like Mags and growl at the air.  I’m thinking an ambulance would be called and people will be asking if I need any medication.  Yes.  Yes please.  Or maybe, just some chocolate?  Wine?   A little Aretha Franklin singing Natural Woman?  Any and all of these things.

Clearly, a little breather during this hectic time of year is warranted. Hence, I have exercise classes where Coach dances and demands we bow to her will during fast feet (ugh).  Then there’s binge drinking Saturday nights and I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit-Fridays which entitles one to eat chips and chocolate chip cookies simultaneously, whilst binge watching crappy Christmas movies on the W channel. I do believe these are actual days on the calendar during this time of year.  Look it up.    I FUCKING LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

So, for all of you pre-stressed and already stressed anxiety-ridden folks who just want A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!  I give you a celebratory toast from my goblet of wine and happily share my chips and cookies with you.  May you go forward with kindness in your hearts, wine in your glass and crappy Christmas movies on the TV to numb the nerves.   Oh, and try intermittently growling, if for nothing else but to make them all think twice about asking to be driven downtown or looking for dinner.    

ITS CHRISTMAS DAMMIT!  ENJOY! 

*GRRRRR…*

Strength Through Adversity

Our knee jerk reaction as parents is to rescue our struggling children.  It’s hard to take a breath and a step back and lay witness to the battles, all the while feeling helpless and useless.  That’s not what we are conditioned to do.  We are the parents and as such, are responsible for the well-being and care of those innocent little beings that we brought here. The urge to protect, shield them from harm and difficulty is innate in all mothers and fathers.   We’re not supposed to throw them to the wolves knowing full well they’ll be hounded and forced to fight back; made to stand up and withstand the baring teeth and the all out assaults of those that wish them harm.   It’s hard to listen to them cry and shout in frustration, fear and anguish.  Fear of failure, fear of hurt, fear of losing.  All valid and all the more reason for us to retreat into the shadows and wave our flag of support.  

The adults in this world are nodding their heads, knowing the struggles are real and totally worth it in the end.  It’s enduring the struggles and watching them unfold that’s hard.  It’s the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and fighting one’s way to theend is the only way to finish, that holds us back from donning our Superman capes and flying to their aid.  “Sorry, kid it’s in the wash” I said in an email to D2.  The email to inspire her to move onwards and upwards despite the late night crying and homesickness and the “I hate I can’t…”   Me too.  But, it’s your attitude through this difficult patch that will make or break you.  It’s your positive keep-that-chin-up and soldiering-ondespitewearingthatbootonyourleg-that-youhate; despite not being able to do what you innately feel you must do.  Be the bad-ass I know you can.  Lead the damn parade anyways.  March in drill class like you own it.  Remember, hard work and dedication gets you winning regattas and your name in a history book.  That same hard work will get you through this, too.  

I can do nothing but sit here, several provinces away, and hope you hear us cheering you on.  I hope you know you have the guts to do it.  You are strong enough, brave enough and smart enough.  Feeling sorry for your current predicament does nothing but waste precious time.  

Parents are put in the unique position of witnessing progression, triumphs and failures simultaneously.  Struggle is a part of being alive.  It’s through adversity that we truly learn how strong we are.  Taking away that struggle, or trying to diminish it in any way from our children, leaves them with nothing to gain; upon which nothing to build character.  I hate being a spectator to battles and I hate being here, not taking on my Sheldon-like traitof patting her back with a sympathetic ‘there, there’ and offering her a hot beverage.  Of course, I want to hold her hand and tell her it’ll be fine and to just come home.  But what purpose would that serve, if only to make myself feel better?  None.  She learns nothing.  

Struggle on, little bird and kick some ass.  Show your character by fighting through this with your wit, sarcasm and smarts.  If that doesn’t work, march, yell and lift the heavy weights.  Do all the push-ups, do all the chin-ups and do all the rowing.  This whole battle can be won or lost depending solely on how you respond.  This has nothing to do with me or your father; this is your war.  Your struggle.  Your life.  So win it.  

I’ll be over here in the shadows intently watching, laying out my Superman cape to dry knowing we’ve done everything we can, waving my flag of support and cheering you on.  Now, it’s your turn to fight for what you want.   Struggle on, my darling.  

Good luck parents.  Staying in the shadows is the hardest part, but will make the successes that much sweeter.  Let me know if you need a fellow spectator, I have LOTS of coffee….

Easy to watch when they are winning…