Monday, February 3

for Susannah, with love and squalor

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all photos in this post were taken 2 february 2014 on my i-phone

This post could also be titled "13 ways of looking at getting old with apologies to Wallace Stevens," but that feels really ambitious to me and the the first thing you need to know about me and old age?  I am all about doing as little as possible.

There.  Your daily wisdom nugget for the day:  do little and then?  do even less.

I am thinking another possible title could be, "for Susannah with truth and digressions."

But I, uh -- you know, digress.

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I am old - 51 this month.* And, I have been asked to share my thoughts, lessons, surprises or anything else relevant to the experience of aging.  This means that this post is likely to veer wildly into the territory of advice.  I know, annoying as hell.

Rest assured, I have very little control about this.

It's what old people do.  We are compelled.  It is a force beyond our reason.

Much like our need to hold the menu out at arm's length in order to read it.

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If I were not here to get all reflective and share my personal belief that time is simply a figment of our imagination, I would be telling you about how Imbolc brought her own ritual to my day yesterday with exactly no help from me, at all.

I did precisely nothing but be conscious
of her day and stay open to when / how
the magic would be revealed.

I share this with you (as I try to keep focused on the aging question) since this is a solid 180 degrees away from how my younger self might have planned the day.  (Note the word "planned" -- an illusion of control was often central to my early life experience).

My friend Noelle and I both celebrate our birthdays at this time of the year.  (She turned 51 on Thursday thus, she is far, far more aged --  days and days older than I am.)  We have a tradition of getting together for play, silliness, epic amounts of gorgeous food and immoderate quantities of red wine.   There may also have been a box of French macaroons that was scarfed in a most unladylike fashion, but you will never find any proof of that.

This my friends, is one way to get old.

I do believe that our long-standing friendship may be due, in part, to a shared belief that rambling conversation + coffee + dogs + bed is an exquisite way to start the day.

The dogs have decided to create a SNUGGERY on Noelle's bed. Good morning!

As part of our slow, impromptu morning we decided to head to the beach for a walk -- without checking the forecast.  Sure.  Why not?  Well, because we are old -- so very, very old -- we failed to account for the extraordinary fog that had rolled in and, more importantly, the fact that we were arriving at high tide.  An exceptionally high, high tide, I must add.

What does this have to do with Imbolc?  Well, I have gone to this very beach hundreds of times and never once experienced anything like this wild, mystical mist.  It was like stepping into another world.  And then?  When we had finished our seaside stroll and went to head back to where we'd left the car?

Oh.  Right.  HIGH TIDE.

The path was knee-deep in sea water.

February 2nd in New England, my friends.  We are both in ski parkas, hats, gloves and um, you know-- boots.  Alas, not the kind of boots a younger person might think to wear given that they were going to the beach in the middle of winter during high tide.

Why no.  We were rocking the short ankle boots -- suede (Noelle) leather (me) -- that would be thoroughly wrecked by a three hundred yard jaunt through a knee-deep frigid tidepool.  But here's where it gets fun.  Here's where I had a lovely conversation with the goddess of Imbolc who had arranged all of this for us.

We took off those boots.  We pulled off our socks.

We plunged into the icy water, barefoot and screaming the whole way.  With every step, I brought to mind all I wanted to leave behind.  I imagined this baptismal as a spiritual wash -- much like someone else might race across hot coals to burn off old karma and land on new ground -- and I knew this was my unplanned, most welcome Imbolc ceremonial cleansing.  

Out with the winter, in with the Spring.

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What has any of this got to do with the experience of aging?

Everything.

1.  No one can prepare you for what it will feel like to get old.  Nobody. It's a deeply personal experience and will be entirely yours-- just like, you know, everything else in your life.
2.  How you are living your life right now is the very best indicator of how you will feel 10 or 20 years from now.
3.  Because guess what?  It's the same damn thing.
4.  SURPRISE!
5.  Do you seek to feel better, to enjoy more, to relax as much as possible right now?  Do you practice gratitude and forgiveness (most especially of yourself)? Do you nurture relationships with fun and silliness?  If yes, chances are you will really love the whole aging thing because in my experience, it's like a rocket as it leaves the stratosphere, you just keep dropping off stuff you don't need as you enter wild, new realms.

I can tell you *hand to god* I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life and it has exactly nothing to do with any goals I set, any objects I own -- it has everything to do with knowing who I am and what I love.

For me, it took a long time to get here-- for you? I hope you can "get old" right now in that smokin' hot bod of yours and enjoy this day and not spend any time thinking about the future.  Just trust it's all gonna be better than you could even imagine.

If you have to embrace anything, be a MISTAKE MAKER!  Yes.  Own it.  Scribble it on a t-shirt.

That, and my absolute favorite litmus test for all questions in my life -- I use it for EVERYTHING, large and small:

::  if it's not a YES, it's a no  ::

See?  I told you this would end up in the advice column-- ick.  Sorry about that.

bisous, e

*do not even try to tell me 51 is the new 40 or some such sh*t. 
51 is colassol, people.  COLASSOL.  And I am ALL IN.  Bring it!



57 comments:

  1. Ohhhhh what a fabulous post. I turn 45 in June and the whole aging shizz is often on my mind these days. And you know what, I ACT damn old. There just isn't enough silliness in my life right now but you know what, thanks to your post booting me firmly up the bum, hell if I'm not going to go out and find me some silly!

    Thank you. Here's to being old but feeling young. Tally go!

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    1. oh Donna-- just so you know, I didn't write this but I LOVE being old. LOVE (or course, ask me in 20 years when I can't touch my toes and maybe it will be different) but I am SO old-- my two favorite things right now are going to bed and waking up-- I kid you not-- LOVE those two times of day most of all. You? YOU are a young kitten ! xoox, e

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    2. Ha! Having a second kid at the age of 42 has made me feel a hundred! I've yet to make peace with the physical signs of aging (I need GLASSES now fgs) but I too love being old in my mind. Cause I'm just so much less ... angsty. And, I think, nicer.

      Why on earth do you like going to bed and waking up? Oh, I know, it must be cause you're a lark. I'm a night owl so I pretty much dislike both of those events. *sigh* Maybe when I grow up ..?

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    3. no no EMBRACE your night owl spirit!!!! My niece Kate is a total Night Owl-- she doesn't even start to come awake until 4pm ish and is on FIRE at 11 - 1am ... me? I'm starting to wilt at 4pm and am in bed by 9 -- 9:30 at the outside .. . another FABULOUS Night Owl? Misty Mawn-- who I ADORE!!!! be true to you-- embrace WHO you are!!!! xoxoox, e

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    4. Oh I try Elizabeth... It's the rest of the world that's out of sync!

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  2. Oh oh oh, what a great tale! Especially liked how you two stepped into frigid discomfort rather than risk damage to a good pair of boots. Now THAT is something I would do. Happy Birthday and enjoy it all.

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    1. thank you Rita-- I love that you would be splashing along with us! xoxo

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  3. you look pretty damn good for 51, just saying. And I love that you said that you love being old. I hear you!!

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    1. sha-ZAM! well, thank you! I feel pretty damn good! and I know-- about enjoying getting old-- how ANNOYING is that? shoot me now, right?

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  4. Truthfully, I can't believe you're 51; I figured you were early 40s or so. I'm 33 and I've tried telling my younger friends in their 20s, but I LOVE my 30s. I know myself so much better & I couldn't care less what other people think of my decisions. Win-win, I say. Happy birthday :)

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    1. whoo hoo-- thank you Candace!! it's all relative for sure! I know 40 year olds who look ready to cash in their medicaid . . .and then there's babyface Bill Gates, right? aging is such a personal thing . . WIN-WIN = yes!

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  5. Advice from you? I'll take that any day! What a great post :) I turned 38 near the end of January, so I'm still in my birthday bubble and totally feel you! Happy birthday!

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    1. Happy Birthday to YOU<--!!! 38 is so awesome-- you will LOVE that year! plus? what's not to love about Year of the Horse, right? xoxoxo

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  6. Yay for you - you ridiculously hot oldie. I can't wait to be 51! It's about exactly when our kids will be finished school and I'll be exploring my place in this life as selfishly as I can. I'm happy that you're so happy. Love you muchly.

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    1. shhh, don't tell anyone but it's all because of the big block of magic voodoo vagina wood you found in the woods at Squam and the wild dance you taught me to do with it that's keeping me young .. .HA. LOVE you SO SO SO much! maybe I will get old enough to take a plane all the way to Australia to see YOU! I miss you so much! xooxoxo

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  7. Had to smile. I'm 50 this year and I feel the most like me I've ever felt. I love this age. I'm intent on quietly owning everything about myself. No one is telling me about me. Oh yes, I love it. Beautiful post, but then again, beautiful post as always.

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    1. yep-- YOU own it! great feeling! and love the quiet confidence you have-- love. xoox

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  8. I love this. I love it so much, I can't even comment on it articulately (or maybe that's my 46 year old brain at 6 am). xo

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  9. Ancient one! Nearly your birthday? May it be as fabulous as ever a day was xxx

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    1. soooooo ANCIENT! heeeeeeee xoxoxooxox skype this weekend, yes?

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  10. I read this post while allowing myself extra time in bed this morning (because I no longer have a "rule" about that!) This post says it all - it is where I am heading and working toward and can feel myself just on the edge of. Just love it. Thank you Elizabeth, and Happy Birthday!

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    1. no rules!!!! you get to be QUEEN of you YOUR OWN DAMNED LIFE! yes! huzzah! xoxoxoxo

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  11. At 52 I need to take your words to heart. The last few months have been hell and I need to get to a better place in my life. I need to stop FEELING old.

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    1. yes yes yes it is ALL in our minds. . . oxxoox

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  12. I cannot tell you how much I love this post! Especially your Imbolc experience! And I have to tell you, (as I am a decade older than you) if you love yourself the way you do? the wisdom of aging is pretty much the same. It just keeps getting better.

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    1. Ahhh Joanna!! that is GOOD to know--- I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be so! xoox, e

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  13. love, love, love everything about this post and I think I need a t-shirt that says "mistake maker". How wonderful it would be if we weren't afraid to just show up, make mistakes, and keep on going.

    This running through the cold water screaming, oh how I can picture this scene in my head so vividly and it is beautiful! What a renewal!

    love, love, love!!

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    1. oh YES RENEWAL -- that is the word exactly! xoxooxox

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  14. this is my favourite post of yours. You're so sweet talking yourself down like that, but what are we here for except to imbibe the teachings of the old wise one ;) I must go gushy now and say how unreal it seems that I have met you and will be meeting your beautiful self again. And my toes are now cold!!

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    1. oh no! cold toes!!! put them by the fire and get all toasty warm!!! so so so SO thrilled I get to see you in June-- what a wild adventure you are going to have!! xoxoxo, e

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  15. I loved this post. There is something so calming about it! Your photos are gorgeous!!

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    1. hi Vanessa!!! thank you! I have to say, that morning was utter sweet calm-- the mist and the quiet and the light--- it was like stepping into a hush -- so glad some of that came through in the photos . .. xoxo,e

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  16. OMG. I totally laughed & nodded my head at taking your boots off & doing the mad dash through the freezing water in barefeet. Save the footwear! Holy cats that was hilarious & sounds like something I would do. I'm starting to get 'old' now too, 42 coming up in April & I freaking love it. I never thought I would, but stuff seems to be falling away that I don't need & that I'm becoming the most me I've ever been. And, oohhh yes, the absolute delight of crawling into a bed with fresh sheets is heaven.

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    1. oh Cherie!! we are total fresh sheet KINDRED!!! you just described it exactly---- after a full out day, to drop in to a great bed with fresh sheets--- I do, I love it. and 42 is SO YOUNG!!!! you have no idea. So glad it feels good to you! xoxox, e

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  17. Okay girl this is where I step in and say you. are. not. old. Cause if you are then I am too and I've never thought myself old. I'm 57. I remember 51. I remember 50 and calling my mother 3 times in one day to tell her I was 50. She kept saying "I know". I will say, out of the decades I have lived, my 50's have been rockin! Best ever. So comfortable in my own skin and sure of who I am. That confidence feels amazing. To me life got started in my 50's and I rolled up my sleeves to take it on, and I ain't done yet. Like you said, bring it on.

    BTW Happy Birthday.
    Bridgemor

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    1. YOU are not old--- age is all in our own minds--- so we are the age we believe--- I am definitely OLD and loving it-- so far. We'll see what song I am singing when the body starts to go on me .. but I love knowing the 50s are being so good to you!! that bodes well for me, I think! xoox

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  18. The other day I read an article that said that the elderly were over 60. Egad, I'm 65. Well in my way to 66. Elderly is a grey haired woman in a house dress in a rocking chair, knitting. Okay, so I have gray hair and I knit, but I am not elderly. And you, my beautiful Elizabeth, are definitely not old. Older, but not old.

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    1. Hi Patricia!! yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean--- there are "ideas" and images and other people's experiences of aging and then? we do it OUR way! I definitely believe at the end of the day, it is always the SPIRIT that shines through-- and how you feel on the inside is all that genuinely matters. BIG hugs to YOU!!! xoxoxo, e

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  19. You make me see how much we have to GAIN in this journey!, and it far outweighs the losses. I am grateful for your post filled with deep wisdom and beauty! Rockets are definitely my theme for today, and beyond! "And I think it's gonna be a long, long time ‘til touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the (wo)man they think I am at home. Oh no, no, no, I'm a rocket (wo)man" XO

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    1. ha ha oh you have me SO singing Elton John!!!!!! love it! xooxox

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  20. With every word i loved you even more -- how is that even POSSIBLE?! But it is true. You = kindred, through and through xxxxx

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    1. it is TRUE -- through and through -- how lucky LUCKY I am!!! xooxoxox

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  21. and don't forget.......it takes a long time to get young.
    Diane

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    1. yes yes-- it takes a long time to get young!! so true

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  22. LOVED. THIS. My, oh my. It is so good to come here after a LONG day and feel just perfect for taking some time for me before the "have to"s start again. I hope your piggies are warmed up by now. Mine are unthawing as we speak. xoxoxxoox

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    1. oh my toes were warm and happy the minute we got to the car that Sunday . .. it was an EXHILARATING experience to be sure! so glad you got some DEEP rest last night!! hang in there-- only 6 weeks til SPRING! xooxo

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  23. Hilarious and glorious post! Now I feel that I am *only* 49 and am longing to be 51....huzzah!
    And Happy Birthday!

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    1. hello Kata !!! so glad you stopped by--- and you ARE only 49 . .. light years in youth!!! enjoy enjoy enjoy it all-- xoox, e

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  24. You & Noelle joining the polar bear waders club is gonna be a sparkling gold reminiscence for decades to come!

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    1. yes yes yes!!!!! could only have been better if YOU were there!

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  25. i absolutely love this post - your words - your wisdom, elizabeth! went straight to my heart

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    1. oh Suzanne!!! thank you! that means so much to me--- oxoxoox

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  26. Damn, just...DAMN.

    For all I joke that I'm an old lady (see: fuzzy socks, lap full of knitting, intense dislike for clubs/loud music/parties), I never thought about the pureness of "old", the wisdom and truth and experience and heritage it conveys, and how it should be revered, rather than dismissed. I always said it in a self-deprecating way to describe myself, but from now on, I'm owning it! I like what I like and it doesn't mean that I need to be compared to an "old lady" (where old means grumpy and sourpuss-y). My new response: I'm a lady that knows what I like and want and what will make me happy and going out to this fool club definitely does not fit the bill!

    ( And, I don't mean this to disavow everything good and true and wonderful you shared above, but I would never have guessed a number anywhere near your true age if someone had asked me. You treat yourself well, you make time for what matters, and you gulp in so much fresh air, sunlight and doggy kisses that you're positively radiant!)

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    1. oh my dear lady genJ !!! flattery will get you everywhere-- ha ha--- I know you are sincere, thought-- don't worry-- and I LOVE that you see me radiant! and? you are SO wise to own what you love and and celebrate it NOW--- you have a wild and free heart that does not follow the crowd and this will serve you well --it's the core to knowing YOUR path. OXOXOXOX e

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  27. I loved this and also have to tell you that I genuinely thought you were 47 but then was always no I must be wrong that just cannot be right, cos you emanate such youthful joie de vivre and look so flippin amazing. Happy belated birthday, Yours, the already brittle and crumbling 38 year old. xxx

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    1. oh my gosh Claire!! I only just read this now--- and THANK you for seeing me in such youthful light--- I LOVE that and will pretend to be 47 all day tomorrow .. .heee!!

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thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me-- I love that you stopped by and hope something I shared was what you needed today. xo, e