Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Older And Wiser

Until recently I felt like a 20 year old. Then along came 40. Now I feel like I'm sliding into "growing up", which I honestly thought was never going to come. Actually, 39 was a pretty good warm up period for this big transition.

There are a lot of benefits to this milestone, so I don't want to scare anyone who isn't there yet. It's not like you wake up, almost forty, and things start falling off or breaking. It's more like a trade. And it's pretty even. This isn't an all-star quarterback for three nearly-shitty ones. Terry Bradshaw caliber benefits traded for Joe Montana caliber benefits. Both have pluses but they aren't the same.

For instance, my eyes started crapping out on me around 38. I was already blind as a bat without contacts, but suddenly this "dry eye" thing starting attacking my eyes and I had to get glasses with a stronger prescription. Dry eye? I blink! Wtf??? No explanation. It just happened and I'm not pleased.

My gums started receding. WHAAAATTT?? Bad, bad, bad. My mom spent a fortune for these teeth to be aligned so perfectly that every dentist I've been to exclaims, "Wow. Your teeth are gorgeous. Did you have braces??? Who did this?" Ive had dentists call other people in to oogle my chompers. Suddenly, I'm being told "You brush too much. You need an electric toothbrush to keep you from being so vigorous." I brush too much??? And too vigorously??? Years and years of "you need to brush and floss!!" and suddenly I hit a point where I needed to cut back. No one saw it coming? Forty hit and my gums decided they were going to rebel.

My boobs....well, I'm not going to go there. If you have them, you know what happens, especially after having kids. It's not nice. I wore bras to bed as a young person to try and maintain their youthfulness. Suddenly, they betray me. The back pain for 24 years wasn't enough abuse, breasteses?

My knees crack when I walk up the stairs. My skin has age spots. My hair is blah. Etc. etc. etc. etc. UGH.

What did I gain, you ask?
I'VE GAINED SOME SMARTS SINCE THESE DAYS!
(Little ole me.... when life was good and worry-free)
I learned that drama is bad and now I work on avoiding it and the people who create it. All of that stress thru my teens and 20's could've been avoided if I was able to determine what as drama and what was a real problem. Now I see younger people wrapped up in it and I smile and shake my head just like people did to me. 'Youre wasting time, you poor fool,' I think.

Speaking of wasting time, I appreciate it so much more now. I get more done in an hour now than I did in ten hours in my 20s. I know that a lot of that awareness was brought on by parenthood, but I see young mothers who are almost at a geezer level of efficiency, but not quite as good at budgeting their time. When you're young you think you have forever to get things done. When you're 40 you hear about people just a few years older than you dying from unexpected stuff, and then you think 'treat every day like its your last!' Time is cherished stuff.

Sensible shoes. The first time a podiatrist told me I needed to wear sensible shoes, I wanted to die. I love shoes. I have a shoe wall that my husband built to accommodate my shoes and display them so I can appreciate them all at once. Sensible ones were the kiss of fashion death when I was younger. Now I look like everyone else my age and we all don't give a shit what's on each others' feet unless they are super pretty shoes. Now we appreciate the foot apparel of our peers rather than critique it.

Money smarts come with age. Some people only get so far, but I think we all improve to a point. The crap I wasted money on twenty, fifteen or ten years ago makes me so angry. My parents taught us financial responsibility, yet I still had moments of stupidity. For instance......people don't need enough shoes to fill a wall when they are struggling to pay bills (yes, I self criticized there). Hence, why I haven't bought unnecessary shoes in years. (sob! tissue please!) Also, if you don't have the same amount of money saved In the bank that you just spent on your vacation YOU SHOULDN'T BE GOING ON THAT VACATION. And if that car payment seems stressful, you're buying the wrong car. It goes on and on.  Confucius say 'Live within your means and find serenity.'

(Side note: your parents aren't a bank or a hotel. You should only be living with them or borrowing money from them if you are down on your luck or saving for something like a house or education. And if you have a fancy car, expensive wardrobe and money to go out more than once a week, consider yourself a drain on your parents!!!  And p.s., your friends and family ARE talking about you behind your back.)

Therapy is smart.  If you aren't happy and don't know how to get there, you need therapy. We thought we knew everything before 30. Turns out we actually know nothing and its all guess work. If you've been guessing poorly about how to find happiness, you're probably miserable. Howard Stern is worth hundreds of millions and he sees a therapist multiple times a week for guidance. Therapy isn't "only for life losers". You're only a loser if you need help and still don't ask.

Last, but not least, and definitely not the end, is REALITY. This is my favorite learning lesson. As a child and teenager some things happened.  It's called life.  Some of it was surely good and maybe some of it was horrible. However, as we enter our twenties, we try to make sense of the things that happened and why we are the person we are becoming.

Here's the exciting part!

It's totally skewed. Along the way, most of us made unhappy things seem worse to explain or excuse our behavior. EVERYONE did it!!  It happens partially because you're trying to cope with your mental shit, and partially a result of ...... don't get mad...... I did it too.....immaturity and self-aggrandizing (click on that last word if you don't know it and you'll get the definition). I wish someone had told me I was doing this back then. I kept diaries and and they helped me remember what REALLY happened. Even if what I wrote wasn't an accurate account of what happened, it helped me SEE the truth later. I will encourage Allie to do keep journals for this reason alone. The benefits are huge between encouraging creativity and providing yourself with a reference of life events. You can be honest with yourself later if you can't quite do it then.

By the way, I owe the Vicki History Reference Materials (a/k/a the piles of journals) and my love of writing about stuff to my Mom. Even when I think I stink at it, she always finds some way to make me feel confident about what I've done and what I might be able to do. I can dig a hole, life can shove me in it, and everything will feel hopeless.....but my mom is always hanging over the edge with a rope yelling, "Grab on, my beloved child! I love you, I believe in you and you're valuable!..... And seeing you in this predicament, I'm quite sure now that it was the whole pie I ate one night when I was pregnant with you that has made you the crazy nut that you are!"

She has become aware, and now I am too, that I'm a complete wackadoodle because of her pie portion problem when I was a mere fetus. The learning lessons and moments of self realization never end, do they?