"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.
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