Monday, January 14, 2013


Back in the late 1950s when TV was still black and white, one of my favorite daytime programs was called "Queen for a Day."  The show opened with emcee Jack Bailey calling out to a mainly female audience,  Would YOU like to be QUEEN for a day, and contestants would come on stage one by one to tell their heartfelt stories.  The applause meter would determine whose tale was most worthy, and the winner would have her day of glory and perhaps take home the latest model washing machine or a brand new convertible, if she was lucky.  

Well, I definitely don't want a convertible,  but I do want to be Queen for a Day because January 15th is my 69th birthday.   When someone asks my age one year from now, I'm going to have to say the "S word" and that scares me.   People say your age is just a number or it's how you feel inside that counts.   While  I know this is all true, it's still unbelievable to me that next year  I will be categorized as elderly in my medical record, which means I shouldn't be surprised if my doctor suggests playing mind-related games to fight brain drain and aging.  

Moving into a new decade enables one to look back and reflect and look forward and dream.  In 1965,  when I turned 21,  I thought the world was my oyster.  After all I had everything I ever wanted.  I was a new bride and content doing what I was doing, which was becoming an expert at hitching my wagon to my husband's star and thinking dependency was love.  

Turning 30 was another milestone, an age when younger people said you couldn't be trusted.  My birthday party invitations had a pencil drawing of a tombstone with my name on it, beckoning my friends to come and morn the passing of my lost youth.    In my mid thirties, I joined a women's group. Gloria Steinem had just published Ms. Magazine and feminism was a new word in our vocabulary.  Activists were burning their bras,  and being a part of a women's group seemed like the trendy thing to do.    At our first meeting I said,  "I don't need to be here because I have a husband to confide in."   Years later some of those same good friends told me how insecure that cocky statement made me sound.  A couple of years after that, an enlightened friend introduced me to EST, and I impulsively signed up for the mind-bending seminar, much to my husband's objections and hurtful words.  After two intense weekends, I started growing mentally.  I began to shift my state of mind and think about how I fit into the world.  I began to realize  I was putting up with life rather than living it.   A new person began to evolve, slowly but surely.   As critical as some people still seem to be of EST founder Werner Erhard,  I never thought of him as a fruit loop.  The EST training was not about not being able to go to the bathroom.    It was about personal growth and taking responsibility for yourself.   Afterwards, I bought self-help books written by gurus, psychiatrists, and highly evolved leaders.  Once a week for almost a year,  I met with a small group and discussed the meaning of life through a book we read entitled A Course in Miracles.     People, like my then-husband, began to notice I was making changes in my life, having my own opinions, for example.  I wanted my own credit card.   Instead of running for exercise like my husband and his friends, I found my own sport in lap swimming, made new friends of my own and didn't mind that sometimes my skin smelled like chlorine.  

In my 4th decade I felt like a real adult for the first time.    My marriage of 20 years ended just six months before my 40th birthday.   I tossed out the self-help books and began living my life  rather than just reading about how to do it.    I legally gave up the married name I thought sounded pretty and took back the beautiful name I was born with.   I had a new boyfriend who helped me believe in myself.  Others saw qualities in me that I didn't know were there,  and my career moved in the right direction.   I got married for a second time to a man who respected me and opened  a personal brokerage account at Charles Schwab.
Danskin Triathlon

Writing fifty on a passport application was hard to swallow,  but that's the year I started riding a bike.  I also completed a triathlon with a time I wouldn't brag about, but was something I could be proud of.    After nine years,  the second marriage ended abruptly and was not of my doing, but it was ok because I knew I could make being single again work out for me, and it did. 

 Turning sixty wasn't so scary.  In 2004 I was (and still am) in the most honest relationship of my life,  retired from many years of working,  the healthiest and skinniest I'd been in a long time, and financially independent, which was important to me.  Since then I've added a bunch of countries to my long list of places to visit, but I'm not as skinny as I used to be.  Over the last few years I've learned that a balanced life is about prioritizing and keeping perspective.  Not about how much you weigh.   

In 2013 I intend to laugh a lot, tell my friends and family how much I love them, ride my bike regularly,  hike some, swim a little,  swear as much as I want to,  try and be more patient, read good books, write daily,  cook and eat healthy,  drink less, and most important, snuggle often with my husband.  

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