Almost 50. What Have I (Not) done?
I have not made peace with my body, but I have learned to care less about appearance and
more about health.
I have not taken up sewing or crafting or house cleaning. I have not become any more
interested in any of these things over time.
I have tried to keep a few plants alive. No real success yet but the desire to try again is still
I have not made a bucket list. I have determined there is no need to wait for things. Do them as the opportunity arises. There is no better time.
I have forgiven those who hurt me. Forgiveness heals. Now, to extend this towards me. I'm
inching towards this.
It turns out I have a special power. I can split myself into two people, the see-er and the be-er.
See-er: “Oh look...you are not well. Take care, sweet pea. Rest.”
Be-er: ”Here I am, remembering my medicine, seeking out comfort in people who love me.”
Or, “My skin is prickly. My stomach is turning. Something feels off. What should I do next?”
It’s so good to remember I have both of these skills. I have magic!
I have noticed my son’s voice after I tell him to have a good day and that I love him. There is
usually a slight pause and then, “I love you too, mom.” It is not exactly uncertain, but it is also not loud and sure. It is a kid saying what he knows is true while being self-conscious.
He is 15 and love feels weird, even for your mom. But it is true. Our love is true.
I have not been a gunner. I have not raced to the top to be the best at anything. I remember when Bob was in medical school he played Gunner Bingo with the riffraff in the back row.
He and the riffraff made a Bingo card out of people who would answer questions first, those
who would race to jut their hands up, shout out with great certainty the answer though often they were terribly wrong. What did it matter as long as they were confident in their errors?
It took a semester for the names to shift- a whole 18 weeks to finally understanding shouting out answers
willy-nilly isn’t an education. How long does it take to understand it's ok to not know?
to just listen, to not race towards answers instead of letting them reveal themselves to you?
I have always wondered why I wasn’t competitive. What, I have asked too many times over
the years, is wrong with me? But lately, I have laid down this particular sword which has been
extended towards myself. It was simple, really. I stopped wondering, digging into this question
and just let myself be. There are other far more interesting things to get into- such as how the light changes with the seasons or which book to read next or searching out funny jokes
to make my teens roll their eyes at me. Pointing swords at my perceived failures. Not fun.
I have determined I want more fun.
I have found holy spaces. Here is one. Nine women in a room writing, intent and focused on
the telling of her story. There is space and energy and light and there are sighs of letting go,
of holding on, of breaking free. They seem trapped sometimes and then escape of their own
free will. The sighs travel to the pen and the words come out and then there is another
freedom. It was said. That thing you thought, buried, ruminated on, wondered about,
explored. You put it down and now it’s out. And then the telling. You read what you wrote
and space and energy and light shifts again. You see the words and hear the words and
they now cannot be unsaid. Freedom. The words have set you free. Holy.
I have lost children. I have thought long and hard about that time in my life. The time of
losing babies. I don’t think I really was a be-er at that time. I saw it but could not be it. To be
loss is too much. One and then another and another and another. So much blood. How can
a person be blood? And so I just watched it and didn’t let it become me. I didn’t let it be me.
My feelings now for that woman during that time- I can see her and I wonder if I did
something wrong to not be her? I do know I feel great empathy towards her- the girl who
could not be. Poor dear heart. She did the best she could. I see that.
I have not succumbed to despair. Every day the news blasts another atrocity. I feel my skin
prickle with fear when I think of my daughter going away to college. I want to insert a
disclaimer- as if the place she chooses will determine whether or not she is not safe. My
daughter will not be safe anywhere. My daughter is not safe now. No one is safe
anymore. Not in a church or a synagogue or a hospital or a nightclub or a concert or train
or a bus or in the woods or in a city. This is true. So how to explain my lack of despair?
Because I just have to turn towards the light. I have to. I must to do my part, my little tiny
part and keep pointing this part towards the light. So despair, I see you. There are times
when I feel you. You want to rob me of breath, force my eyes shut, root me to the ground.
But no! Sometimes I shout that to you, “NO!” I cannot let despair BE me.
I have, against all odds, hope.
My hope is that as I keep inching closer towards my truest self, the gifts I do have will grow. I
cannot grow with despair. I can grow with medicine and sunshine and words and cats and words and
saying yes and no exactly when I mean them. I can do this with the people who see me being me.
I have met those people and I am those people or others. Despair doesn’t fit in with us.
I have no grand conclusions about turning 5O.
I have not given it all away. I have not discussed marriage and all the work it is.
I have not shared with you all of my hopes and dreams and plans for the next 50 because this is another
thing I have learned. Some things are JUST for me.
thing I have learned. Some things are JUST for me.
I have great excitement because I see who I am becoming and I will share one more thing: I like who I see.
I have gratitude for not being done yet.
I chose this photo of me taken in New Orleans last year because I like it.
That's the only reason. This is my 50's mantra. Because I like it.