Best Kept Secret

I may have finally found the secret to how I am going to learn to relax!  I can achieve my personal goal for this summer…one of them, anyway.  In a previous post about not being good at relaxing, I admitted that this isn’t something I do easily.  Actually, I stink at it.  But I had a brainstorm this morning and I think I have found the solution.

I am going to retire.

I know what you are thinking…..Aren’t you only in your forties?  A part-time employee?  Kids to put through college?  Did you win the lottery?  Did you take your meds today?

OK, I will admit that I can’t REALLY retire (start breathing again, hubby).  That would be like throwing a graduation party for a kindergartner (oh wait, people do that).  Like buying a wedding dress after the first date.  Like ordering dentures right after your last adult tooth comes in.

No, MY retirement will be more like a mind-game that I will play.  I will simply convince myself that to relax and have fun IS my job.  Something that HAS to be done!  Like laundry, only less stinky.  It will be at the top of my list each and every day.  Right before “go to work” and “laundry”.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended three wonderful retirement parties for five awesome coworkers.  I’m telling you, these people are on to something!  They are happy (I would even say some are glowing), relaxed, energized, and ready for their next phase of life.  They talk about upcoming trips, club meetings, gardening, hiking, dancing, volunteering, going for walks, sleeping in, spending time with family, and pretty much doing what makes them happy.  Work is not included in their lists.  No, only things that make them laugh, smile, and relax seem to be on the new agenda.

What a concept.

Older retirees often come back for these wonderful parties, and they look even more relaxed. Tan, even.

I’m starting to think there is a secret club, some special supplement they take, or just something they all know that we don’t.  I even watched them at these parties for evidence of a secret handshake.  Didn’t see it.

I can’t quite decide what changes when you retire, other than the obvious loss of a paycheck.  Do people give themselves permission to relax and have fun, since the weight of the working world has been tossed aside?  Or were these particular people always fun and relaxed anyway?  What if we could just bottle their enthusiasm and market a new combination energy/relaxation drink?  Have that Retirement Mindset but still keep the paycheck.

Of course, I want the party too.  If I am going to enter this new phase of my life, a good party would be the best way to start it off.  At retirement parties, there are funny stories told about the retiree, silly songs and skits, wonderful food and wine, and all of the friends you could possibly ask for.  The perfect way to start a new phase.

So I officially announce my retirement, effective NOW.  I will keep my job and continue to hold down the fort at home, but my mindset will be different.  Topics of conversation will change, and there will immediately be more interest in my hips (still my own), my teeth (all original), my comfortable shoes, and the status of my passport.  People will actually EXPECT me to look relaxed.

My party?  I will have to get back to you on that.  I am now officially too busy to worry about such things, as I am planning a vacation, reading a new book, and have plans to sleep in tomorrow.

For Better, For Worse

I got to thinking last week that if I were thrown back into the dating pool at this age, I would most likely just have to become a nun.  Do people do that in their 40’s?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my hubby and have about the same chance of getting a divorce that I have of being the next Sports Illustrated cover model.  But just trying to imagine how I would go about finding someone special at this point in my life is mind-boggling.

When I logged on to the computer this morning, there was a small ad in the lower corner that said “50+ Singles”.  My first thought was “Wow, they sure don’t offer you many possible matches”.  Then my coffee started kicking in and I realized that they were singles OVER THE AGE OF 50.  How much over?  Why do I need to be targeted with this ad?  I can imagine the profiles:

Bob Brown, a young 67, enjoys walks on the beach (slowly, I had a knee replacement), a glass of wine (only one, I am on heart meds), smoothies (I add fiber to mine), and daily naps.  Please call if you have given up all of your youth and are ready for boredom!

Where would I meet men?  Let’s see, I work at elementary schools where 99% of the staff are women.  I go to soccer games with the kids, and there are men there…..but these men are dads, which means they have kids.  That brings a whole new set of dating issues.  The grocery store is a hotbed of men, most of whom are from the nearby senior center.  The way they look at you when they are checking out the melons is creepy.  But younger men?  A bit younger wouldn’t matter at this stage, but throw more than 10 years between us and I would feel like I had to cut his dinner into small bites and ask him to tuck in his shirt.

So now I have one more reason to remain happily married….

What next?

Part of being at this stage of my life involves looking back: a childhood that went way too fast, my young adult life that seems like a distant memory, kids who changed my world but themselves changed too quickly.  Part of being at this stage of my life also involves looking forward: sending our oldest off to college next year, surviving the upcoming years when we will have two teenagers, empty-nest days ahead in the not-so distant future.  But what about right now?

So many moms that I know are in this same boat right now.  Our lives changed completely when our babies were born, and most of us never looked back.  Some quit careers to stay home full-time; some continued working, but maybe not with the same intensity. No matter what our choices were, all of us were changed forever when we became moms.

I left a career in finance and accounting when my son was born almost 16 years ago.  For years, I never looked back.  But once my kids became more self-sufficient I started to need something more.  I fell into my new job about 4 years ago, working with small groups of students at the elementary school level. Who would have thought that a CPA could help little kids with social skills?  This has been the best thing for me at this point in my life, but who knows what’s next?

I have a very close friend who is expanding her interior design business now that her kids are older.  Another good friend is my age, but has two kids under the age of 7 and runs her own business. A close friend from school is working on her PhD while raising three boys and teaching, and one young empty-nester I know just bought her first Harley!  The “what next?” question cannot be answered with one answer for everyone.

On any given day, I am either thinking of returning to college, pondering raising guide dog puppies, taking up knitting, or writing a novel.  Then, after my coffee kicks in, I really re-think these “what next?” scenarios.  College is a lot of work, and a LOT of money!  It’s enough just to be sending my son off next year.  Guide dogs all start out as puppies, and if the past 6 months with my own puppy is any indication, being a professional puppy raiser is not my forte.  Knitting?  I would expect to be able to knit a sweater worthy of being sold in Macy’s after just a few weeks.  So much for knitting being a relaxing hobby.  And if I’m not patient enough to knit a scarf, I certainly don’t have the patience to write a novel.  I guess my “what next” is usually going to be answered on a daily basis for now.

As for right now, what’s next is another cup of coffee…..

Fountain of Youth?

As I have settled into my forties, I am finding that a simple trip to Target to replace any makeup item or face cream isn’t so simple anymore.  Throw in the body lotions and sunscreens and I can spend the better part of a morning making decisions!

My face is a mess anyway….I have been friendly with the dermatology community since I was 15, and the nasty pimples of my teens have been replaced with what they now call “adult acne”.  Not sure why we need a new name for it, since to me it’s the same old thing I have always had.  Should I be worried that my latest prescription for acne is also recommended for Anthrax exposure?

Park yourself in front of the facial creams for a moment and try to settle on the one cream that will solve all of your current complaints.  Anti-aging?  Deep wrinkle treatment?  Oh, it has to have sunscreen too…..but what SFP?  Do you want to be radiant, or glowing?  Do you want your skin tone to be even, because there’s a cream to help with that.  Now I wonder if my tone IS even, since this isn’t something I have ever worried about or noticed.  Now you also need a different cream for night, which apparently is the time when the DEEP wrinkles can be banished.  I think when I am sleeping is the only time I don’t have deep wrinkles, and nobody notices.

Then there are the eye creams.  Gel, for firming?  Or do you want to fade those dark circles and moisturize?  Do you want to soften lines and wrinkles?  Not really, I just want them gone.  When did those crows put their feet on my face, anyway?

By the time I have chosen one or two products, I am exhausted.  It feels like such a commitment, since I will most likely be using this same bottle of potion for months. How will I really know if it’s working?  So far, I haven’t had anyone come up and tell me I look radiant, youthful, or glowing.  The last time I think I was radiant, I had a fever.

Maybe once the hot flashes hit, I will look radiant every day….

Style, or lack of

I checked out a book from the public library the other day, The Grown-up Girl’s Guide to Style, and now my whole summer wardrobe has been called into question. According to the author, Christine Schwab, once I hit my forties I should have given up on anything sleeveless, never wear shorts of any kind (cropped pants should be my new “shorts”), and should only wear a swimsuit when actually swimming. She makes an exception for Katie Couric’s legs and Sheryl Crow’s arms, which doesn’t help me at all! I am now 5 years into making all of these fashion mistakes. Who knew?

What ever happened to dressing for yourself? Being comfortable in the blazing heat of summer? Where I live, in Northern California, we have days as hot as 115 or higher. Even in a air conditioned house, shorts and sleeveless tops stop being fashion statements and become mandatory. Swimsuits are, in name at least, made for swimming. But what about lounging around on the beach, watching the surf but not jumping in it? Hanging around on a friend’s boat? A few years ago, we went on a week-long houseboating trip to Lake Powell. It is safe to say that everyone on that boat wore swimsuits 24/7. According to these style rules, a light long-sleeved shirt and capri pants will be stylish for summer and prevent the general public from losing their lunch.

Now with summer practically around the corner, I am feeling confused. Do I stick with what I am comfortable in, or start to cover up more? If I feel comfortable and my husband isn’t embarrassed, are shorts still an option? Is it really my job to make sure that other people don’t see anything less than a perfect body? I think most of us are critical enough of our own bodies without having to add this new layer of thought.

Legs? Our older legs sport baggy knees that the general public doesn’t want to see, along with spider veins and bruises. Arms? Even the most fit and trim arms get flappy as we get older. If your arms keep waving when your hand has stopped, you know what I mean. I have been lucky enough to have a fast metabolism and a flat belly up to now, but I know from older friends this won’t last much longer.

Summer will come, and sleeveless tops, swimsuits, and shorts will once again come out of hiding at my house….and I don’t plan to let them go just yet! Maybe I am in denial, maybe it’s a bit of a revolt. My best critic is my middle-school daughter. I have absolutely nothing in my closet that she wants to wear, so that MUST mean I am doing something right……