Archive for Aging Posts

Purge, Toss, Recycle, Reflect: Is This What Happens At 50?

 

“I hope you will remove the clutter that prevents more from coming into your life.”

– Suze Orman

Purge, Toss, Recycle

As I ever so slowly continue to unpack my 200+ boxes from the move, I am purging, tossing and recycling like a mad-woman…not crazy-mad (although some would argue that) but a MAD WOMAN. As in, I am furious with myself for accumulating so much damn stuff over the years, never mind holding on to it for so long.

Upon reflection, here’s what I’m noticing…

The actual decisions as to what to keep and what to toss are easy. As I enter my sixth decade on the planet, I know what I want, need and love. As Marie Kondo would say, I know what “sparks joy.”

Making the decision is simple. Executing the decision is fast (put the item in the recycling bin, the thrift store box, the garbage or place it where it needs to go in the house). Where I am struggling is dealing with the psychological fall-out of purging all the old files in my office.

For it’s not just papers I’m getting rid of. I am also having to let go of an awful lot of goals, hopes and expectations I had set for myself as a writer. Not that I’m dying…I’m sure I still have plenty of time left to write. But I AM having to face the fact fact that despite my best intentions, I have not achieved anywhere near what I had hoped to, in the writing-department, by this point in my life.

Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that it’s not like I’ve been sitting around for the past 20 years, thinking about writing instead of actually writing (like the old days, before John’s death when I was 32 and got the wake-up call of all wake-up calls about the importance of working towards our dreams instead of just talking about them).

No. I have been writing…like a mad-woman. And yet I have not accomplished anywhere near what I had set out to. This is an extremely uncomfortable conclusion to arrive at.

And yet, I think it’s healthy. As such, I am trying to embrace this discomfort (rather like hugging a cactus) instead of denying it or running from it.

The fact of the matter is: time IS passing very quickly. And I’m hoping that the sooner I can shed that which I no longer want or need (or is no longer serving me), the more time and energy I will have to focus on what really matters to me – the relationships, projects, causes & activities – in the years that remains.

Is this what happens in our 50’s? We reach some sort of…point of reckoning? 

I would love to hear your perspective!

In the meantime, here are some photos from the past few weeks of purging, tossing & recycling:

Boxes of stuff headed to the thrift store 🙂

 

My wood nymph dress from ballet, complete with adorable cat pin (this did NOT get tossed)

 

My Nan Nan’s telephone table fits perfectly in the foyer

 

A cozy nook by the fire a.k.a. the reflection chair

 

My assistant on yet another backyard break

And here comes the new…

Of course, now that I am shedding stuff left, right & center, this is creating a vacuum in which to receive new stuff – but believe me, I am being VERY selective as to what new items make their way into my home and life.

Case in point is a BBQ.

I had left my old, rusted, beast of a BBQ behind in Sidney so was going to have to get a new one. But I looked out my living room window a few weeks ago and low and behold, right across the street a BBQ had appeared on the curb overnight – with with a big FREE sign stuck to it.

I raced out my front door lickity-split, dashed across the street and pounced on that BBQ like a fat kid on a Smartie. I had just opened the lid to inspect inside when the home owner came out her front door and greeted me with a big smile.

“It’s older but it’s barely been used,” she said. “Can you use it?”

Beaming, I rolled that puppy back across the street, parked it in my backyard and have been using it almost daily every since 🙂

Slow Motion Multi-Tasking

Interestingly, shortly after beating myself up about not getting enough writing projects completed yet, I heard on the radio about a concept called “Slow Motion Multi-Tasking.” Apparently it is a creative process that many geniuses (such as Einstein) have utilized to their advantage over the years.

Basically slow motion multi-tasking refers to the practice of working for a significant period of time on a single project then putting it aside, working on another large project then putting that aside and returning to the first project with a fresh perspective. I have been doing this for years with multiple projects and I DO see the benefit. I just get freaked out sometimes that nothing will ever get finished and sent out into the world.

Apparently, however, I am in good company with this practice of slow motion multi tasking, so I shall continue to persevere with patience and passion!

But I reckon a little self-reflection now and then is not a bad thing.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

 

published in Aging, Book Reviews, Change, Inspiration by Maryanne | September 27, 2017 | 2 Comments

Unravelling Midlife – Collection of Essays Explore the Middle Years

 

 

“I believe we have two lives…the life we learn with and the life we live after that.”

– Glenn Close to Robert Redford in the film, The Natural

And perhaps what we call the “midlife crisis” is the dividing line between the two?

I recently had the pleasure of reading an excellent collection of essays in the book, Unravelling; Discovering Our True Selves in Midlife, compiled by Camilla Joubert. All the essays were written by women and the diversity of experiences – and perspectives – reveal there is no one way of navigating the middle years.

However, in my observation, there was one common thread that ran throughout the entire collection: the need to feel some degree of happiness on a regular basis and have a sense of purpose with how one spends one’s days – and if neither of these needs are being met, we have two choices: keep on the same path or change it in some way.

Joubert was inspired to compile this collection after experiencing an “unravelling” of sorts herself…a rather spectacular midlife crisis. After picking herself up off the floor – literally – and beginning the process of weaving together the threads of her old life (and self) along with her new life (and self), she realized she was not alone in hitting a sort of half-way point on her life path and having to accept the uncomfortable fact that to take a single step more in the direction she was heading was not an option.

Here is a passage from her essay, aptly titled “Unravelling”:

“Who had I become? I was completely lost…I would walk around having snippets of conversation, shopping, washing, feeding, cleaning but I wasn’t present. I had managed to ‘exit’ my body. It felt like my soul had decided it didn’t like being inside me! There was a massive void in my life and nothing could fill it…For a long time before feeling lost, I’d felt stuck. Stuck in a life I felt I had little say or control over. That feeling of being trapped inside my head had been as visceral as the feeling of being lost and outside my mind and body.”

I was one of the women who contributed an essay to Camilla’s collection.

My essay was entitled, “The Path with a Heart.” Here are two snippets:

“Throughout all the heartache and the hurt, the hard work and the challenges, the pain and the setbacks, the sorrow and the roadblocks, I think we are on the path when we know that at the end of it all – whenever that may be – we will die a happy and fulfilled person who has achieved what we set out to do. And if we avail ourselves of the opportunities around, a heck of a lot more.”

“So where did I go to find the peace and quiet to begin to find my path? Where my heart rested, of course: John’s grave. Except that it wasn’t just his grave; it was also mine – literally. While John’s destiny was now physically carved into that stone, mine was still a blank. At thirty-two, I knew exactly where I was going to end up – I just didn’t know when. And despite the horrific hurt that comes with ‘hanging out’ with my husband’s headstone, instead of him, it was very conducive to helping me face my own mortality and what that meant for my journey.”

I love this passage from Kathi Cameron in her essay, “The Gen-Ager”:

“I was starting to feel like things were on track; I had a great career, a great man friend, and a great social network. Then, at forty-three, I heard it for the first time, that well-meaning punchline that feels like a kick in the proverbial muffin-top: “You sure look great for your age.”

And then there’s this candid insight from L. Fletcher in her essay, “The Great Skate”:

“I remember clearly a bright summer morning when I woke up, at thirty-nine years of age, and asked myself in a blur of semi-consciousness: “What am I doing? Who am I? Is this what I wanted for myself? Is this happiness?” I knew that I had, in that instant, opened the Pandora’s Box of great existential queries of midlifers the world-over. And now that the box had been opened, it had released a gnawing little gremlin that would not go away. I managed to stall the gremlin by keeping myself busy with my social life and doing everything I could to support everyone around me…Because as long as I was doing everything for everyone else, I wouldn’t have to face my own life.”

And check out this thought-provoking first stanza of the poem, “The Invitation,” that was printed in full within the essay by Casey Ross:

“It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.”

– From “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

In the second part of our lives – the life we are living after the one we’ve learned with – meeting our heart’s longing (whatever or whoever that may be) is certainly a worthy goal to continue to work towards. In my experience, however, the learning never ends – regardless of our age…but the learning curve does tend to be significantly steeper in the younger years.

Thank goodness 😊

What are your thoughts and/or experience with navigating midlife?

For further information on Unravelling and/or to purchase the book, here is the link

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

 

published in Aging, Caregiving, Change, Family, Fatherhood by Maryanne | June 13, 2017 | 6 Comments

A Few Laughs for Father’s Day – Funny Sayings from the Alex Pope Quote Collection

 

Carleton, Dad, MA

“These hot nights cause a lot of sweat and stickiness in my unventilated areas.”

– Alex Pope

In honour of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share with you some funny sayings of my Dad’s.

Over the past few years, when my Dad lived in the care home, whenever my younger brother, Carleton, heard him make a cute (or comically inappropriate) comment, he would jot it down. Not surprisingly, Carleton collected some real gems of “Dadisms” over the years.

Although my Dad had dementia, thankfully his sense of humour, spectacular vocabulary, exquisite grammar, extensive knowledge and astute observation skills still surfaced on occasion.

In life, my Dad wasn’t a Cheerful Charlie, easy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow, positive kind of guy.

He was more like Spock from Star Trek: logical, intelligent, rational…with an encyclopedia for a mind. In the early days of dementia, his memory loss caused him to be extremely anxious – and understandably so. And yet his wry sense of humour and unrelenting candour still shone through – often with rather comedic results 😊

Here are a few Dadisms:

“Her name is Dr Besterd? I would have changed my name.”

“The girls are REALLY nice to me in here. Probably because there’s no competition. There are a lot of really ancient people in here. They’re like statues. They just lie in bed and don’t move. I feel like I’m in a mausoleum.”

“I’m not going to see Dr Besterd anymore? But she’s gorgeous! I’m going to have to have a heart attack.”

“It’s been a pretty pulchritudinous bunch of girls who’ve been taking care of me!”

“I’m fine for the moment but I’m a walking bundle of anxieties, large and small…but strokes of genius just come to me.”

While pointing finger into empty glass of red wine at Thanksgiving in care home: “Oh, wine steward……might I have a little more?”

“All these little demons are driving me around the bend…I’m getting to the point that I don’t want to do anything. I just want to worry about it, then go to sleep, and try not to wet the bed.”

“One of the great dangers around here is getting nailed by commentarists…certain types of talkers who get hold of you and hold on indefinitely. I’m deathly afraid of these clingers.”

 “This really is a nice walk…I just hope that I don’t pass out and die on you.”

On aging: “The almighty should have thought this all out better…he’s just created a lot of shit and trouble for everyone!”

“I would prefer to live with relatives, but I’d just be a nuisance…I’m an expert at complaining.”

To a caregiver: “Sorry, I just had my pants down and was powdering my behind.”

“It appears that I’m lost…but I’ve found the bar!”

“After 8 o’clock, this place is just like a tomb!”

On a picnic day trip: “This outhouse is only suitable for corpse disposal…it has this gaping maw that is waiting to swallow you whole.”

“I feel like there’s a big black sheet of rolling doom & gloom…with superficial flashes of humour that don’t last long.”

“When you push that plate towards me, my vomit reflex starts to churn.”

Farts while walking: “That was a dry one…but I think there’s a wet one coming.”

“I think I’m going to lose consciousness…should I do it here? Or somewhere else?”

“I’ve got enough misery of my own to be able to deal with other people’s follies.”

After man finishes saying grace, Dad immediately stands up and exclaims: “I feel kind of sick!”

“It’s true…we are temporary artifacts…sometimes temporary accidents.”

“I’ve dirtied a lot of diapers this way. Sorry…Pull-Ups!”

Have a fantastic Father’s Day!

I shall be raising a glass of red in memory of my Dadio 🙂 

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Tempus Fugit – Bahamas Reflections on my Dad

My Dad is Off on his Next Big Adventure

Pussies and Erection Day – Hard of Hearing Humour

When the Engine Light is Red

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.