Monday, September 21, 2009

Born An Old Lady

"She was born an old lady and is working her way backwards." That's what my ballet teacher told my mother, about me, when I was ten years old. I had no idea what she meant at the time and I thought long and hard about it before I decided it probably wasn't a compliment.

Miss Erin, the ballet teacher, was elegant and grand and the most beautiful dancer I'd ever seen. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. But she called me an "old lady" and she wasn't implying I was mature for my age.

After a few weeks of worrying about being a "geezer", I finally broke down and approached my mother on the meaning of the comment. Mom smiled and turned it into sweetness and nice and explained that Miss Erin thought I was a "very serious dancer". In actuality, I was a very intense kid and Miss Erin was calling me a stick in the mud.

Over the next couple of years, I made it a point to lighten up around the dance studio and especially Miss Erin. But truth be told, I was a stiff, kinda boring and an extremely serious little girl. I don't think Miss Erin noticed my new found light-heartedness but eventually I out grew it.

I think.

No, I was never a true "party girl" or the life of any party for that matter, but once I stopped studying ballet, when I was 18 years old, and started listening to rock and roll and then disco, life got more fun. In my 20s I started becoming more adventurous, saw a bit of the world and, dare I say, became slightly "hip", in a Granny kind of way.

I've thought about the "old lady backwards" comment many times over the years, especially on my 40th and 50th birthdays. The older I get, the more I like the sound of it, not that I'd ever want to be Benjamin Buttons. But, best case scenario, I figure at my current age of 51 1/2, I should be about 35 years old today if I'm going backwards. And I like the sound of that.

Thirty-five was a great age-- Actually all of my 30s were mostly good and it was an exciting time in my personal and professional life. If I had the opportunity to "get stuck in a decade" it would definitely be my 30s.

Today, news reports often talk about people living well into their 100s. Although that has appeal to many, it does not float my boat. Unless I could go back and stretch my younger years to last longer, I have no desire to spend MORE time in my "golden years". I know my health and my body and I know it's not going to be a walk in the park. Simply put, I will not be one of those 80 is the new 70s kind of gals. I'll be more like "80 is the new older than Moses" women.

Yes, life should get easier as we age because we learn from our past mistakes. Yes, yes, yes, blah, blah, blah. I get the aging gracefully concept. But what doesn't appeal to me is more years of my body breaking down, my mind fraying, my finances diminishing because I'm living longer, and the likes.

Sure I take good care of myself and do the best I can medically, but as one doctor so *ahem* eloquently put it recently, "as you age, your body begins to wear out and yours is". He was, in fact, bracing me for the possibility of a pacemaker, hip replacement, cataracts and the likes in my future-- my near future.

So much for working my way backwards, huh? Somewhere along the way I hit the "fast forward" button by mistake. Damn!

I've long since given up my little girl dream of being a prima ballerina/tap dancing teacher/fashion designer. Heck, I've given up my dream of being tall too-- A good thing since I've shrunk a full inch. But lately I've dwelled on the "old lady working her way backwards" comment that was made more than 40 years ago and I'm thinking now might be the time to finally embrace those words and start dreaming again.

Sure, my aching 50-something body is what it is, but if joints need replaced-- then thank gawd they're available! If my eyes need bifocals, at least they aren't Coke-bottle thick and come in designer frames. And, I dodged a pacemaker once before so maybe if the need comes around again, it'll be simpler than an oil change at Jiffy Lube.

No, I'm not knee-deep in a medical crisis, it's one of "those days" and this is a pep talk for myself. Sometimes a girl just needs one-- or a kick in the pants, take your pick, but today I'm going with the pep talk. Being 50-something, and the aging process often feels like a full time job. Today, this working girl is going to start thinking like a 35 year old and hope my aches and pains get the message.

How old you you feel today?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit: © Maceo -


  1. i dont know why its one of those days when you listen to such people...born old and Dr. body wearing out. ah, live like its your 30s just keep a big bottle of tylenol. lol. hope you have a great day tomorrow. its a new day, and according to this you are one day younger. smiles.

  2. I have learned that dreams keep you young. Learning to dream again however, is a challenge.

  3. Getting older and less firm (in all senses...) worries me a bit, but I am more worried about what happens after that. Living into my 100s sounds pretty good to me...

  4. The thing is that chronic aches and pains really take a toll on a person.

  5. At 65, I'm realizing that I'm certainly getting up there in years. But I refuse to let it get me down!

  6. I will be 58 in a couple of weeks, and the only time I realize how old I am is when the age of my kids comes up. They are 26, 29 and 35. That is hard for me to accept because I feel like that 30 something girl. I have my health issues like a lot of people, but I stay on top of things and do my best to take care of myself.

    Do I like getting older? Hell no. I am a control freak and aging is one of those things I have no control over.

    I did some reading this year and the two books that set me straight are by Eckhart Tolle. He taught me to live in the "now". I don't worry about the past because there is nothing I can do about it and I don't stress about the future because I really can't control it.

    So, I live for the moment and my life has never been better. I am happier and more content than I've ever been in my life. I am so at peace that sometimes it scares me.

    The birthdays will come and they will go and I will happily take as many as I can get!

  7. LOL, I was always the one who partied and the one who was in most trouble. I lived life to the fullest at a young age.. and ow that I'm in my 40's I feel it. and BOY do I ever!

  8. I've never had a problem with the aging process unless you count a brief moment at 26 when I thought I was *old*.
    The only thing bothering me is that I'm not in the best shape possible but that is being worked on.
    Hopefully I'll be better at 50 than I've ever been in my life.
    That's the goal anyway.

    No matter how challenging somedays can be I'll always prefer being above the dirt.

  9. Everybody has an opinion, don't they? In the beginning, you're too serious. In the middle, you're no spring chicken. You've got a lot of years ahead and I hope you enjoy every one of them. Great post.

  10. I kinda feel the same way about living to 100. More years to have a body barely working, to see loved ones go, to scrape by on the $. Dont get me wrong, I love life, but that is just a long time.

    I'm a young mom and in my latest couple of weeks with way too much on my plate trying to do activities for all the kids. Meaning I'm tired ALOT. Meaning I feel old.

  11. I hear you about the getting old thing. I wake up every morning really stiff. I hobble from the bed, to the bathroom and wiggle each toe until it no longer aches. I feel so much more tired after a long day than I used to. I want to embrace it but at times, I want to slow it down too.

  12. Honestly, I feel my age and my wisdom. I would never want to re-live my 20's or 30's. I feel better than I ever have and I can't wait to be my "old" self. I've always been told that I was an old soul. I'm feeling it these days and it's not that I feel old, I just feel wise. Maybe because I've had so many mountains to move? I don't know. You are probably and old soul too and that's all she meant when she said that.

    Hugs and love,

  13. I have always had an Old Soul. I have always been able to relate and respect my elders. I am 57 but feel lively, confident and young at heart. I even get second looks from the youngsters out there!! Crazy, I say!!!

    Have you tried glucosamine chondrotin? Probably mangled the spelling but it has helped my aches vanish..... xoxo

  14. Joanna getting lder can be hard, but to me it really beats the alternative. I have a chronic illness and at 40 fetl like 80, but slowly I am feeling more and more my age, old age worries me and finances, but I love my age now, as I have learned alot. I just wished I partied more when I was younger, keep yourself well my friend.

  15. That comment is precious - you know I think she really did see you as a wise little girl...and yes darlin you REALLY are 35...

  16. amaen!
    p.s. i´ve always thought that you have the spirit of a 30 year old... hugs!

  17. I enjoyed reading your post. But hey, I wouldn't want to live my years over again. I'm too busy living the new ones. I'm 61 and the only real worry I have is that I am just starting off on new directions and I might run out of time to get everything done. But I'll give it my best shot...And no health worries at this stage....

  18. NOW, you're talking! 35 sounds just about gorgeous to me. I've been 36 for years and years (and years and years and...) It's all in the mind, honey! ;)

  19. As I was reading, I was formulating a pep talk (on auto-pilot) and then I came to your own pep talk for yourself. That right there is further evidence that you're the complete package.

    I retired at an early age because of physical challenges. My body is 75 on its best day, in its 90's on most. I get it. I do.

    That being said, I wouldn't turn back the clock even as much as to yesterday - for any amount of money. And I sure as hell don't want to live to be 100! :)

  20. My mother is 73 and just called me yesterday to complain that her hairdresser had "made her look old". I guess you're as old as you feel!

    I feel old today. But maybe tomorrow I won't. That's how it goes, no?

  21. I'm 55 and some days I feel every year of it and sometimes I feel like in my 40s. I'm grateful to be healthy.

  22. I have a 97 yr old grandmother. She says it sucks, not because being 97 is sucky, but because everyone she has ever known is dead, and it's lonely. I've always thought I'd want to live to 100, but after talking to her, I'm not so sure.

  23. Well, as for me... I'm all for you hanging around for fifty more years please. Bad joints, replacements, pacemakers aside.

    But if it all gets too much, I hear Dr Kervorkian has underlings!

    Love you Joanna. Your post is brilliance!

  24. I don´t want to get to be 100 either! Please no!
    Great post Joanna! That cheered me up to. Because even if I´m not 50, I somehow feel all those aches and pains too.
    But I have made a new resolve, to enjoy myself as long as I can and do more of things I want to do, not what I think a "50 year old" should do!

  25. My mother was 36 when I turned
    16. I remember her saying "I still feel young on the inside." She was only 36. Now I know she was still young and now I am the one that still feels young on the inside. I figure all we need is a little bondo, an oil change, rotate our tires and we are all set to go another 20,000 miles.

  26. Wonderful post, Joanna! You can really tell the youngens' reading the comments, can't you. Those of us who don't live with the chronic pain will never get what you face every day. I just had my 57th and am very blessed with good health.

    I'm thinkin' as I read...hummmm...replacements of various kinds...eyes (forget the bottle lenses hon, they plant the lens in your eye giving most 20/20) You'll be the new bionic Joanna! Dream on girl, keep dreamin' your dreams!

    Know you are in my prayers and you have a super support system here. Have a super day!!!

  27. I am more than ten years older than you, and I know what you mean about the aches and pains. A couple years ago my eyes changed and I tried bifocals. Now I use them to watch movies. Not for reading. So I don't need the bifocals. Things are trial and error at this age. When you think of what your ballet teacher said of you so long ago, warm up to it, and think of it as an endearment, that she was wise enough to see you as an old soul. She may have actually been in awe of you, your substance.

  28. Love that born an old lady,... I feel the same way, I just don't get younger I get older, dang it!

    Hugs to you have a wonderful week filled with blessings that enlighten your heart!

  29. Well good for you with the positive thinking. I fear that if I gave myself that proverbial kick in the pants, I'd dislocate my hip. ;)

  30. I too was born old, but man did I enjoy my 30's and look forward to hitting my stride in the next decade.
    Here's to your hipness, Joanna!

  31. Once again, I am struck that you and I really are twins separated at birth.

    The very, very same for me. VERY.

    And, all I can say is that some of us have to grow into our skins and some of us come to have our spirits polished more than formed.

    You're here for a polish my dear...and as to living well into chronological old age? Well, all the chronic issues you've been managing will make you the master and you will help the rest of us find our way through the land mines.

    Someone always has to lead the way with love and compassion. I can't think of anyone more like that than you.

  32. I wish it was all a mind set just tell your body your 35 and believe it. Kinda like I lie about being 40 unfortunately my body and gray hair is fooling no one!

  33. That last line reminded me of a bad joke:
    I woke up this morning feeling like a 20 year old but couldn't find one.
    I agree about not wanting to live pass the normal non-painful daily life. You want to enjoy everyday a little bit at least. Some have a very heightened fear of death.

    Nobody leaves here alive so make the most of it and get with the program.

  34. About 42.
    My Brownie troop sang Happy Birthday to me yestterday ( a few days early) and they all stopped at 42 to see if I would stop them. They were laughing so hard by the time they got to 47 when I stopped them. It was funny. One dear child said she really thinks I am 42. Bless her 8 year old heart.

  35. Go get 'em, Joanna! No point borrowing trouble, might as well enjoy today and worry about tomorrow...tomorrow!

  36. As Alix said your post is brilliance. The only decade in my life I hated and I mean really hated was my 40's - all that was so wrong and ironically so right with me happened in my 40's. I am now entrenched in my 50's and a few chronic problems popped up (gee thanks body).

    Thanks for this lovely post. Joanna you are a treasure.

  37. What a well written post. I half laughed and half cried at the bittersweetness of your comments. You are a delightful lady and I think you are working your way backwards in spirit and personality. A young, playful, thankful and joyous heart will keep you going for a very long time!

  38. About family ages me more each day!

  39. I'm feeling pretty old today...I'll feel younger in the morning though. It's a time thing with me... ;O)

  40. I'm enjoying my 2nd childhood...except on the really stressful days when someone expects me to act like a grown-up. LOL!

  41. As said by many-a great post. I don't know exactly how I would feel if a doctor felt the need to prepare me for that menu of procedures, but I am grateful that we have them available to us. 100 years ago, or less, nearly everyone my age was toothless.

  42. Me too! I mean, about aging backwards. When I was in Jr. High or high school, my older brother told me I acted like a 40-year old. Now I'm very very close to that age, and feel less constricted by "rules" than I did then. You're right about the 30s: still years of possibilities, young enough to completely change direction without too much trauma, yet old enough not to sweat the small stuff.

    Now that my brother's in his 40s, I think I'll tell him he's acting like a 15-year old.

  43. My heart and head are so into the 30's I forget about my age until I see an aging gal in the window! I keep truck'in (oops showing my age) and trying my darnest to keep postivie in the health issues, but somedays instead of a full plate I would like a full glass and it isn't water! xoxo

  44. You have such a wonderful way of looking at things, life in particular.

  45. I'm always a little surprised that the image of myself in the mirror doesn't match the image of myself in my mind. I'm 41, but I always picture myself the way I looked in my 20's. I hate getting older, but like my husband says, it beats the alternative!

  46. I bet I'm feeling older than you today. Usually I feel like I'm 19, but I'm still recovering (slowly) from the flu, so today I'm 75.
    All of these fluids is making my hair and skin really nice though. How's that for positive thinking?

  47. It is true, our body does age, however our spirit is ageless. You can't do much about the aging form, however you can choose not to allow an "old lady" to move in!

  48. I love you just the way you are, Joanna. I don't want to live forever, either. Let the younger generations have their time on earth without too many old codgers spoiling all their fun. Give me a death needle rather than put me in a nursing home where some poor nurse must clean up all my dribble or laugh at my nether regions. This post is a reminder that adults should be careful what they say about a child in front of that child. Children are not dumb little idiots, they have feelings and are smarter than the average adult like this toffee nosed ballet teacher was at that moment speaking to your mother. I love you, you rock and are cool, hip and groovy and everything that I would be if I had to be someone else. Broken down bits and all.

  49. My husband had his hip replaced 5 years ago, at age 42, and he thinks it was the best thing for him. Aging sucks (that's what I think) and what sucks even more is realising it. It does have a lot to do with how we see things, and yet...

    I don't want to live to be 100 either, another 40 years max!

  50. Whatever you choose to believe is then true to you...

    Elderly people aren't necessarily unwell and not all youth are kicking up their heels.

    'We do not stop playing because we grow old,
    We grow old because we stop play."

    george bernard shaw

    x Ribbon :)

  51. Ah yes...'crumbling body syndrome' is something of which I am only too aware. Strangely enough, I determined that as I hit my 50th birthday I would lop *off* a year from my age for every year that passed. (I'm currently 48 you know). ;) This is 99% a joke, but there is an element in there that
    (a) the world is ageist and
    (b) maybe it makes me feel better on the bad days, when I'm hobbling around like a 90-year-old biddy.

    Isn't it strange how the things people say to us can stick? When I left primary school a teacher wrote in my 'autograph book': 'Be good sweet maid, and let who will be clever'. For years I thought: 'What did she mean by that? Was she saying I was pretty dumb and that maybe I shouldn't harbour big ideas?' It was only when I read the whole quote that I realised, of course, that she was only being nice!

  52. I so loved this comment, 'became slightly "hip", in a Granny kind of way.' I think the ballet teacher meant you are an old soul. Some children's expressions indicate that they seem to know a great deal about life well beyond theri young years. So I think it was a big compliment and seems to fit you so.

    Well the aging process, its inevitable but look at it like this when you get a few replacement parts it affects your age. See if your new hip is 1 and your pacemaker is 2 and your age is 51 well you have to average it all out. So, you will end up being 35 anyway and you can say it without fibbing. By the way in regards to cataracts, I went with someone recently to get theirs 'done'. What shocked me was all the young people getting operations. I mean young guys in their 20s etc.

    I too do not want to live forever and ever. And I wont. I have led a too cushy life. But I agree my 30s were the bomb for me too and I think I am still in my 30s at times. Besides there will always be someone older and younger than us. In between is pretty good for me.

    My daughter was telling me about this couple she met on the weekend who were 85 and 78 and who were on holiday in Australia form the UK. They had already been to NZ and Bali. They drink about four gins a day, go to the gym several times a week and never stop doing things. Jordan said the woman never had a wrinkle (no sun in the UK). Jordan had to explain to them that she couldnt take them clubbing with her because anyone over 40 here is tucked up on bed on a Saturday night (my daughters words...). They were a bit put out. They usually go to the pub with their friends at home listening to music until 3am in the morning. So some of us are not just thinking we are 30 but living as if we are, lol!


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