Becoming 70 ~ Not over any hill yet

19 02 2016

Recently, for some reason – Could be my upcoming 70th birthday? – I’m surrounded by reminders of age– a topic I’ve not actively entertained since reaching that milestone of official “adulthood” at age 21. (Although I did have a bout of depression when I was 25: quarter of a century. Yikes!)

But now. Approaching 70?! WTF??!! That’s old.

“Fifty is the new thirty.” “Sixty is the new forty.” But seventy??!

Seventy.

Others’ perceptions of aging — or my reality?

One of this year’s many Birth Month Celebrations on Becoming 70. Or, as my daughters put it: Approaching 21° C

At 70, my life is certainly not “over.” I inherited longevity genes. My mom died at 96 – healthy until the week prior to her death. Lucid ‘til the last day, she reminded me to pay her estimated taxes. Her mother died at 98.

I plan to live every day until the day I don’t.

Zipline over Mexico’s Copper Canyon during my five-day solo train trip a few years ago. “I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by fireside and simply look on.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I am, however, noticing disturbing bodily evolutions: in rummaging through family photos – I am my mother – my nose becoming a hook, the errant gray hair on my chin mole, neck wrinkles, crazy knots on my knuckles, thick around the middle…. Not that these are totally bad things – but – for God’s sake – -this was my mother. She was old.

I’ve lived a fulfilled life of joys, a few disasters (lessons), and exceptional adventures and memories. Yet – at 70, I’m not resting on these dubious laurels and contemplating past glories from the comfort of my rocker. I’m busy creating new memories in my glorious Now.

Let’s do another 5K run/walk – ride a river raft through the Grand Canyon – or do another just-for-fun Mud Run. Maybe climb another Colorado 14er.

Takes me a tad longer now, but I can still do it.

I travel. A lot. Maximizing standby flight “mom privileges” through my daughter with American Airlines — and particularly relish the quality time  with my incredible Granddaughters.

“There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

I’m taking language classes, practice yoga and Pilates, and regularly trek up/down the hills of my city.

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I have a younger partner/boyfriend/significant-other. And yes. Peter, my Boy Toy, and I are sexually active. (Shame on Kaiser who stops providing pap smears with annual check-ups at age 60!)

Peter and I plan to fly to England to visit his sister, take a river barge, and explore Europe. We want to visit Viet Nam and Thailand. We’ve driven across magnificent Mexico several times and, this year, we will experience more of its off-the-beaten-track side roads and mountain paths astride his Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

We have intelligent, well-traveled, interesting friends of diverse ages and nationalities with whom we regularly share stimulating conversation as well as travel adventures.

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We laugh. A lot. Every day.

We live on the side of a hill in the vibrant city of Guanajuato in central Mexico. With seven universities and Festival Cervantino, the largest music and arts festival in all of North America, Guanajuato has an abundance of young energy. Yet, my hero is the lady hobbling up the callejón/alley using her walker.

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Ten years ago, to honor my 60th birthday, I got my first (and only) tattoo. Not certain what “act of rebellion” I’ll do at 70. Perhaps I’ll use my travel benefits to circle the globe.

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Tattoo to celebrate Becoming 60.

No. I’m not ignoring the possible physical limitations of the future. I am not, however, defining myself by them.

To date, each of my decades has surpassed the one before. I’m not over any hill yet. I’m just approaching the pinnacle and anticipate exploring the adventures and peaks ahead.

Exploring peaks. Literally. This month, to experience the hundreds-of-thousands of Monarch butterflies in Michoacán, Mexico, friends and I rode horseback up the mountain Cerro Pelón  and then, at around 10,000 feet, hiked the last kilometer which was was too steep for the horse.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Satchel Paige

Inside, I’m the same me I was at age 30, 40, 50.

Or not.

Actually, I’m an ever-improving version of me.

Since I’m in a reflecting mode, I’ll honor a few of the life-altering shifts of recent years. My catalyst for major change originated with a motivational seminar which led to Master Mind groups, introspection, study, and gut-wrenching work to release ridiculous guilt. This allowed me to become the “Inevitable Me” whom I love unconditionally. Then — making the leap to sell my Colorado home and possessions to move to Mexico — enjoying being an unencumbered single woman living in a beachside paradise – then saying “Yes” to sharing the remainder of my life with the man who is truly my joy, inspiration, and soul mate — and moving to Guanajuato, a city snuggled within the Sierra Madre mountains of central Mexico.

And now?

Among the activities, I’m gifting myself time to appreciate each day’s abundance and joy.

Peter and I relish “kitten time” with two little darlings we rescued from the back of an abandoned pick-up truck. Mimi Mews (my Muse?) will snuggle down, mew a bit, pummel my neck with her soft paws, then stretch her little toes. Very endearing. But, even ten years ago, I would probably not have paused to allow this, let alone appreciate it.

Mimi Mews

Mimi Mews

And flowers. We enjoy our Pot Garden on the patio. No, not that kind of pot, although we did have a healthy plant prior to harvest.

Yes. Life is different now than when I was 30.

It’s better. Much better.

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old." George Burns

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass





When Life Flows….

5 12 2014

When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.

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My Love and I are now happily creating lives together in Guanajuato — a delightful 500-year-old city in the mountains of central Mexico. Thus, as delightful as it has been –the time is right to release my beach condo and the life I created in Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo.

So. Following an afternoon of camaraderie on the beach, I’m meeting with my friend and Realtor, Kim Temple, to list my condo-home. Kim looks and is, very Professional. Business-like. Somewhat serious. Explaining procedures — when Jenine, a friend from the beach afternoon, knocks on the open door – “Mary? You here? Robert and I just met these people who are looking for a place to buy in Puerto Morelos. Can we come in?” Of course.

With great flair, enter Robert, Jenine, their two new friends Sandra and Tony – originally from Belize and now from Washington state – along with their taxi driver Cesar – all enjoying beers. Being out of beer, we break out wine. Jenine is enthusiastic and animated — showing, describing, sales-pitching my condo – ousting our friends Steve and Nelly from the guest bedroom. They join the party.

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Admist the pandemonium, washing machine repairmen arrive.

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Noisy, joyful, chaos ensues.

Poor Kim.

We decide to meet tomorrow – papers so far unsigned. Kim leaves.

The party continues. More wine. The taxi driver does a Beer Run. Music with Peter on guitar, Robert on harmonica. Stories. Laughter.

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As our new friends get up to leave, Tony collapses.

Oh my.

Too much partying throughout the day?

He’s dragged/carried to the couch for TLC, ice pack, and water.

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The party continues. Tony recovers.

The party morphs to El Bistro for homemade Italian.

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Did the condo sell?

Not yet.

But it will — with joy, ease, and grace.

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When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.





My Past. It Lives in a Tuff Shed.

10 08 2013

Monsters under the bed.

Skeletons in the closet.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

I’ve come to believe that at a certain point, life creates a dichotomy.

A dilemma.

Do I maintain my safe, comfortable, familiar life — remain with status quo?

Or.

Experience the life I dream of?

Things I’ve enjoyed throughout my life: Linens. Shiny baubles. Rusty gadgets. Christmas ornaments. Funky hats. Books. The unique, the no-longer-produced, the weird and the wonderful. Hand-crocheted nut cups from the 1940s. Rosebud Haviland china. Depression glass. Silver-plated pewter. Rosepoint crystal. Ginny dolls (predecessor to Barbie). Headboard beneath which my great-grandmother was born. The round 54” claw-foot table that expands to seat 21 at which my grandmother fed a multitude of harvest hands at Threshing Time — at which I fed a multitude of Fab Fam and friends for numerous Thanksgivings. A lovely home nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

I also enjoy travel and new experiences. Meeting people. Mountain vistas. Deserted beaches. Sunrises over marshes.  Sunsets on the desert. Undulating fields of wheat. Neighborhood bars in foreign countries. Adventure.  My family and life in Colorado. Friends and lifestyle in Puerto Morelos.  An easy to lock-and-leave, uncluttered, condo near the beach of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

Precipitated by many of the changes that take place when one proceeds to fifty and beyond, I thoroughly examined and re-invented myself. Actually, with the help of a kick-ass Life Coach, I created the Me I was destined to be.  (Wow. That sounds weighty. )

Growth? Definitely.

Scary? Certainly.

Exciting? Unquestionably.

Worth it? Absolutely.

I sold my business. Bought a condo in Mexico. My husband became ill, then Transitioned. Our family home in Colorado found new owners.

My mother also Transitioned, and my brother (who hadn’t spoken to her in over 40 years) protested her “Irrevocable Trust,” and attacked my integrity as the executor and as her daughter.

All this is now resolved. I am stronger for having had these challenging experiences. I have learned to put things into perspective — to lighten the load — to let go of hurt and anger – to forgive.

During these – and other — upheavals of life, I consciously set a direction:  Simplify my life – release what no longer serves me.

Sounds easy enough. The actual logistics, however, were practically overwhelming.

Take a deep breath. Believe in the Outcome. One step at a time.

Making the decision to release my house – my home for over 20 years – and all the wonderful Stuff in it — was major.

The basement den was delegated for Stuff To Release.

Staring at shelves holding more than 60 years of book acquisitions, here’s a sample conversation with Self:

“I can’t get rid of this book. I love this book.

Mary. Seriously. Will you ever read this book again?

Well. Probably not. Actually. No.

Ever heard of a library?”

Many similar conversations followed by enough trips to Tradesmart, which pays 25-cents to a dollar per book, netted nearly $1000 and a barely a tad of freed-up space.  A beginning.

My daughter Leslie provided the best mantra, “Does this item bring me joy?”

Things that truly bring me joy – into boxes to stash and store.

Gifts to family and friends. Load after load to Salvation Army and women’s shelters. An auction house took two giant truck-loads. Several months later I received an itemized sales list with a not-fat-enough check. Cashed the check, never looked at the list.

And then I inherit my mother’s three-bedroom home with a packed-full-of-stuff two-car garage.

“Children. The time is Now. Take what you want.”

“Mom. We don’t want it.”

I come from a long line of Savers. I have been the repository for All Family Stuff. Thus, in the past year, I have reduced my lifetime of Stuff (No. More accurately: five generations of lifetimes) from two large homes to two 10’x20’storage units. Throughout this time, more sales and give-aways.

Down to only one of these units.

And I still have Stuff.

But as of last month, I’d down-sized to (#1) Stuff That Gives Me Joy and (#2) Stuff I Must Keep, such as tax records, photos, 35-mm slides of family (having discarded thousands of scenic slides early-on).  For me, family photos and slides are “Must Keeps.”

Again and again, I asked myself: Does this item give me joy? Yes.

However. Do I have a place to display, use, or enjoy it? No.

Am I ready to release it? No.

Sigh.

So. Fed up with paying storage rental fees, I invested in a Tuff Shed. Surely my Stuff will fit into 8’x14’.  It does. Barely.

Simplify and Release.

My Stuff has become a metaphor for my life.

I consciously choose:

What to keep.

What to discard.

Stuff.

Ways of Thinking.

Ways of Being.

The Past, of course, is part of Me.

I can bring it out at will.

Rely on it when necessary.

Love it.

Cherish it.

And lovingly tuck it away.

I am neither controlled nor defined by it.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

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