Female, age 54– (click on image to enlarge)
I am told I have a youthful face and still get carded for alcohol on occasion! I feel fine about how I look. I still see the 26 year old in the mirror! I think I feel content. There are certain things that I wonder about. If I was born into a body that was predestined to be a size 8, what that would feel like? I don’t question that daily, but I kinda go, “Gee, wouldn’t be nice to go shopping and go, ‘Size 8…I don’t even need to try it on. I’ll just buy it.’” No, as my father said, “You know, in the Italian culture where you were raised…you’ve got curves. You’ve got bumps. You’ve got bulges.” But that’s what we love about the Renaissance and art and that’s what we celebrate about being Italian. So we have to embrace that. So I’m content with it and I think part of it is that my partner doesn’t want me to change in any way. He’s OK if I’m alright with it, but I think part of it is that I am constantly being affirmed by him. He loves the way I look and says, “Oh you’re so pretty and oh you’re so cute.” And I’m just like, “Really? OK. As long as you think so that’s all that matters.” Or just catching him looking at me. And it’s like, “Oh, OK…” It’ll be 20 years that we’ve been married in March. And you know, we sit together, always next to each other…it’s always as much time as we can spend together, but then sometimes it can be too much like during the summer, when he wasn’t working. We just have to find creative ways to have space throughout the day and then come together later. As my father used to say, “Too much togetherness is not necessarily a good thing.” So I had to deal with that, but now that he’s taken two part time jobs…
Some of the way I feel about myself is reflected in the way others compliment me, so some of it is affirmed by others. My son said to me the other day, “Why do you wear make-up?” And I wonder why I wear make-up every day, but I know that I like the way I look with make-up on, but FOR WORK or if I’m going out. But if I’m at home and it’s the weekend or the two weeks at Christmas, it’s all natural. It’s me, this is who it is. To that extent, I don’t care about my appearance. I really don’t care what people think. He still thinks I look pretty. That’s a good thing. I’m not too bad without make-up, but…don’t wear a bra. As soon as I get home, that thing comes off. I feel really restricted by it, but I have really big boobs so…but if I’m at home and I’m going out for a quick trip to the store, I just put on my heavy jacket. I find though that as I do spend a lot of time not wearing it, the muscles there aren’t very strong – and I breast-fed two kids…but I love being at a point where I don’t care. My sister, who’s in a very different relationship, has to be “on” all the time. That’s a lot of pressure. So I’m very grateful that I have somebody who likes my “natural” look. And he likes it the other way too, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not an issue.
I’m 54 which is interesting because I remember just turning 50! One thing about turning 50 that was really dynamic for me was that was when my periods stopped. So that was that stage of my life and having that done was wonderful. Anti-aging products don’t have an impact on me because I don’t feel the pressure to look younger or get rid of lines I may have. I believe women who succumb to these products are unhappy about how they look. I look at those women who advertise for those products and I really feel bad for them.
I am a wife-partner, mother, sister, friend, co-worker and the only part that has changed since my 20’s is the wife-partner role. I have always felt I was a mother to others, whether I gave birth to them or not! Giving others that sense of someone who cares for them unconditionally. I am most proud of my children and my career. My children are healthy, successful in their path so far and open to others. I’m also proud of my career in that I love what I do every day of my life. I view the aging process as inevitable, but I am afraid of getting old because it is closer to the end…I still have life I want to live and things to do.
I feel I have accomplished much so far, what I am experiencing now I did not have a vision for earlier in my life. I feel I am in the place I need to be at this point in my life, I move with the universe and I believe in positive thought and you are where you are supposed to be. But my greatest accomplishment? What does that even really mean? To me that means, this is my ONE greatest accomplishment. I just don’t feel like I have ONE GREAT accomplishment. I have a lot of little, mini accomplishments, but I just don’t feel like I have ONE GREAT accomplishment. I have two wonderful children. I married a wonderful and spirited man who is truly my partner…but I’m thinking great accomplishment…what does that mean? I went to college and I paid for that all on my own and I went to dream school. That was an accomplishment, but was it a great accomplishment? Then I thought, well I moved out to California and I did it all on my own and that’s quite an accomplishment, but I don’t see it as a great accomplishment. But is that part of aging, that we tend to minimize? Are we waiting for the great thing to happen? Because that’s my concern. OK we have X amount of time, we don’t know when the ending time is – which is fine. I don’t really need to know, but maybe a great accomplishment is doing things that I want to do, before I…but how do you know that, THAT is a great accomplishment?
I knew this was one of the questions, so I kept thinking. I asked my husband and my children and they said, “Well this, this and this. That’s what we see as your great accomplishment.” But I don’t know… There are things I’m proud of, very proud of. I am proud of the fact that I allowed myself to say, “Ya know what, I’m 31 and if I don’t meet the man of dreams or a partner, it’s OK to be single. It’s OK if I don’t have children. I’m alright with that.” And it was only when I relaxed – they always say it’s gonna be when you least expect it – that I met my husband. But here he comes into my life…am I really ready to deal with this? I’m almost ready to be single for the rest of my life. But that was what my mother always said, “Be open to it. Ya never know…” We had a conversation and it was just weird coincidences…he was from Michigan, I was from Michigan…so that whole kind of spiritual, soul mate kind of thing. Once I got rid of all this, “Do I really need all of this? No, I don’t really need it. Do I really want it? Well yeah, I do want it.”
So that’s what I think is really kind of exciting about life and especially for middle aged women…when I see people not taking advantage of these opportunities…when they don’t want to go around that corner…go around that corner. I mean it couldn’t be just blue and pink and lovely. Or it could be dark and dismal, but give yourself the opportunity to experience it. So I think I’m most proud of that I have taken advantage of my opportunities…see what happens. Does it feel natural? Does it feel right? So I’m not afraid of opportunities or taking chances. That’s what I think of when I think of what I’m most proud of. Like my brother saying, “Come out to California. You’re done with school. What are you gonna do, stay in Michigan, go to grad school?” “I donno…hmm OK” “Come and check it out.” I stayed for a month and absolutely loved California. And, it’s full of opportunities…opportunities to go to the beach on any given day…ya know. I live by the water, I love the water. Umm, just being able to visualize things and have them come true is like a breath of fresh air, but just to be open to that and just to accept not being tight and held to certain…not being a victim.
I’m not a ridged person…and yet, I’ll have the couch in the same place for 20 years. But then yesterday I came home and my husband said, “Look at the shed.” And there were all these boxes outside. I just love that kind of thing, getting rid of stuff, taking it to the Goodwill. I love that. It’s like a weight lifted…so little things like that that other people do to improve the appearance of my surroundings – I absolutely love.
The biggest challenge I had to face was when I met my husband. I was used to being alone and being independent, it was a challenge to be accountable to someone else, realizing that someone else now was concerned about where I was and what I was feeling at every moment of my life. I would love to experience what it is like to not have to worry about money and financial aspects of life. I have had to struggle in one way or another throughout my life, putting myself through college because I wanted to choose my own path, living through tough financial times when I am the sole person providing for my family.
I also want to TRAVEL. I married a “home body” who loves his house and loves being home, I too love being home but I grew up traveling yearly from state to state and love to meet new people, see new cultures, eat new foods, see new bodies of water, etc, etc, etc. I have dreams in my sleep that involve travel. Just last night I was in Boston, MA, I have never been to Boston, but feel now I have traveled there. I also have had a dream where I was in Russia and could not speak the language and embraced that challenge and loved the dizzying feeling of feeling out of sorts. Top on my list is traveling to Italy, my family roots are there and since I have a strong sense of intuition, I know that I would “feel” my previous family’s presence if I visited the spots they want me to go to!
© 2011 The Terrain Project.