Tag Archives: Midlife

Making Peace with My Belly

This topic holds so much meat—no, not my belly, but my relationship with same. I’m 52 and, like most menopausal women, my belly is swelly. My body has taking on the shape of a kidney bean as my belly reaches ever more insistently for the wall in front of me. When I catch sight of my reflection in lax moments, my belly looks like one of those fruitful domes you see on medieval Madonnas—not the look I’m aiming for.

And yet, when I look around me, I see round bellies on almost all the older women. Being a regular gym-goer, I see lots of naked mature ladies, and most are thicker in the middle than the younger women are; even those over-50s who have excellent muscle tone and trim, firm behinds are a bit thick in the middle. (And those few older women who’ve maintained a slim waist show the effect of gravity in other areas—no one escapes unscathed.) This fullness in the middle seems to be the shape we take on as we age. So why do we beat ourselves up about it?

Perhaps because it’s not sexy. Says who? Well, scientific studies that tell us the exact waist-to-hip ratio that stirs men’s loins, no matter how old they may be. According to a 2001 study, men in Western countries prefer women with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7. (Mine is 0.5229, for the record.)

More magazine, which has lots of good content that I enjoy, relentlessly pushes the idea that we older women must fight against the appearance of age with all means necessary: needles, scalpels, burning chemical peels, rigid diets, punishing work-out routines. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the embracing of our sexy, wise womanhood? After all, the swelling belly of middle age is usually accompanied by swelling boobs as well.

But just try to find a pair of pants cut for a kidney-bean-shaped, middle-aged figure like mine. You will, in the granny department: baggy stretch pants of double-knit with gathered elastic waistbands. Ugh! Just putting a pair on ages you a whole generation.  And what do More mag and her sisters advocate? Spanx! Squish your guts with uncomfortable, confining girdles. Way to accept your body and age gracefully. You go, girls!

So—each morning I search my closet for something that doesn’t pinch and doesn’t make me look like I’m smuggling a watermelon under my shirt. Self-acceptance, good humor, and self-loathing duke it out in front of the mirror every day. My inner drill sergeant plans out my day: exercise routine, diet meals, no alcohol, early to bed, early to rise for more exercise, etc. “Eins, Zwei, Drei! Und vee iss marchink now!”

The endless battle between the pleasures of the flesh and the pleasure of having less flesh—when does self-denial cease to be worth it? I guess if I do plenty of exercise and choose my clothing carefully, I can be a lush, slightly tummified middle-aged mama. That’s a good goal: accept my basic shape, do my best to stay trim and fit with exercise that’s fun, and enjoy life, because life’s too short for dinners of plain broiled fish and steamed vegetables. I want a saucy, delicious life.

And please don’t send me advice on how to banish midlife belly fat. I got it—eat less, move more. Or guzzle apple-cider vinegar. Or avoid white foods.

Here’s the thing: I’m looking for the balance point—that magical place of peace, serenity, and acceptance, of knowing that I’m taking good care of my body, and being at peace with a rounder-than-I’d-like belly. I love to exercise; I also love good food, I love good wine, and I’m not willing to live like a Puritan in order to have a flat belly. In fact, I’m pretty sure that nothing will ever flatten this belly completely. Life is about pleasure, and I want the pleasure of enjoying my life and—is it possible?—loving my round belly. You too, perhaps? If so, please share your thoughts on living the good life with a thick middle.

Singh, Devendra; Young, Robert K. (2001-06-27). “Body Weight, Waist-to-Hip Ratio, Breasts, and    Hips: Role in Judgments of Female Attractiveness and Desirability for Relationships”  Ethology and Sociobiology 16 (6): 483–507.

Wonder Woman Versus the Sproing!

wonder-woman-clipart

Sproing! It happens to every athlete, young and old – but I’ve never been much of an athlete, and up until now I’ve been feeling pretty smug. Seated on the mat, folded over at the hips like a closed book, I had succeeded in comfortably resting my forehead on my knee during my post-workout stretch. I’d done this several times now, a happy result of my seven-month steady gym habit. Look at me! I’m Wonder Woman – defying the limits of middle age. Watch me fly! Watch me – OW!

But I felt better after two weeks of avoiding the lower-back press machine and extreme forward bends, so I tried a “beginners’” yoga class – and forgot, once again, that I am not Wonder Woman. A few days later I found myself in the emergency room, paralyzed with agonizing back spasms. Have you had these? If not, I pray that you never do. It goes like this: your lower back seizes your entire body and mind, as if you’ve just been grabbed down there with a giant staple remover. You know, that metal claw-like thing in your desk drawer? It grabs you with a sharp pain that takes your breath away and hisses into your ear, “Don’t. Move.” But you have to move, right? You have to summon help somehow. So you try a tiny step, only to be clamped again in a vice of blinding pain. Ladies, it’s not unlike strong labor pains, but centered in your lower back. And deep breaths don’t help – in fact, it’s hard to breathe. After two fuzzy days on Vicodin and muscle relaxers, I had to figure out how to fix this.

One of the things I’d been looking forward to doing in retirement was getting into really good shape. Oh, I wasn’t a complete slug during my working years; I’d hit the gym once or twice a week and take long walks when weather permitted, but it was always difficult to force myself to exercise after a long day of teaching high school and then coaching after-school activities. And to those chirpy morning types who tell me to get up an hour early to exercise, to them I say – well, I can’t use such language here. As it was, I had to get up at 5:30 A.M. in order to have time for breakfast, perform my ablutions, prepare my lunch, and gather my work things, including workout clothes. And I hated that alarm clock with a passion; every day I cursed that nasty, insistent beep, beep, beep that wrenched me from my dreams and into another cold, dark morning. One of the most delightful aspects of retirement is the ability to get out of bed when I’m damned good and ready.

But I digress. Now I’m free to fit in exercise more frequently, at a civilized hour, and I have been doing so. I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights, and we read how important it is for older women to perform resistance exercise in order to stave off the otherwise inevitable wasting of muscle tissue that comes with age, and the ensuing bone brittleness. According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, a physician and expert in women’s fitness, women lose about ½ pound of muscle per year after age 40 if they do not engage in regular resistance training. (I recommend her book Body for Life for Women, in which she presents a do-able, gimmick-free fitness program that includes weight training.) Less muscle mass equals a slower metabolism equals a plump, sluggish body and less joie de vivre. And how much fun is it to look in the mirror and see toned, firm arms and shoulders after 50!

Our local YMCA is a wonderful place to exercise. Unlike many commercial gyms, it’s truly a community center, and the clientele ranges from tiny children (in the pool – so cute!) to very old folks maintaining their strength, balance, and flexibility. I feel very comfortable and welcome there. Spin class is very challenging, and I merrily ignore the urgings of the younger instructors to crank it up to gear 15. I challenge myself, keep an eye on my heart monitor, and enjoy the group energy and the great music. Zumba class is an absolute hoot! I love a dance-y workout, and have zero interest in any fitness class that resembles combat – but hey, chacun a son gout. About 60 of us shake it twice a week, led by two young instructors through a series of heart-pumping hip-hop and Latin dance moves. I’m inspired by a woman I see at every class who’s 80 if she’s a day, and who does all the moves – modifying for her range of motion, of course. She’s having so much fun!

A problem with the fitness industry is that most instructors are young and very fit (of course!), and they lack experience in modifying workouts for older exercisers, for larger exercisers, or for people who have limitations due to injuries. “Of course everyone can bend like this,” they say. “Just try a little harder!” Our Y is blessed with some excellent older instructors who never neglect to mention modifications. But the computer is another matter.

Why, oh why, did I listen to that computer? The program is called ActivTrax, and it spits out a weight-training workout, based upon an initial strength test. Well, this computer was impressed with my progress, and told me to set the lower-back press for 110 pounds. And I listened – what kind of fool am I? I’d also been doing some very challenging (for me) ab exercises, heaving myself up on a slant board, waving my legs in the air like semaphore flags, and other foolishness. I’ve since read that an imbalance in the abdominal and back muscles can result from these very-targeted exercises, which can lead to lower-back pain. It’s better for people with back problems to train the whole core with exercises like planks, rather than to zero in on upper abs, lower abs, etc. Now I know.

My wonderful GP doctor, her physician’s assistant, and my equally wonderful physical therapist have taught me a great deal about how to exercise my abs without straining my back. My GP, who is young, slim and fit, also has back problems and will not even do any sort of forward-bending stretches of the type I was abusing when the sproing hit me. Well then! Obviously, I have a lot to learn about a subject, weight training, that I thought I was already pretty well-informed about. And I must face the fact that, at my age, I must take a more cautious approach to exercise. Not that I plan to “slow down,” nor do I plan to restrict myself to swimming – which is what so many advise old folks to do. No, you’ll find me in weight room again, but I’ll be planning my own workouts, rather than following the dictates of a computer program. And I’ll be listening much more carefully to my body.

But I would like a pair of those WW red boots!

In search of Je ne sais quoi

 

Nancy, France, spring 2014

Nancy, France, spring 2014

I’m on a French kick. Lately, I’ve been muttering to myself in French – perhaps because my efforts at learning Spanish are kicking up the French-language debris that lines the foreign-language portion of my brain. And I’ve been looking in my closet and dreaming of simple, elegant, chic ensembles. I yearn for a smaller, well-organized wardrobe based on classic, good-quality pieces like a tailored jacket, a cashmere sweater, a crisp white blouse, ankle-length jeans, ballerina flats, and the all-important LBD. Of course, I’ve seen few Tacomans who dress like that, but so what? Isn’t retirement all about going my own way and discovering my own preferences? I already own enough scarves to bedeck a city block of Parisiennes, and a genuine beret Basque. The classic, slim silhouette of a French femme d’un certain age – that’s what I need to feel bien dans ma peau – at ease, confident, and full of joie de vivre. (See? What did I tell you? French phrases littering the place like autumn leaves.)

This yearning for all things French is largely due to homesickness – not only for Europe, but for who I once was – Madame S., prof de français. Even after I changed jobs and ceased teaching French, I continued to live near France (in western Germany) and travelled there frequently. I’ve been sorting through some photos this week, which is a much more time-consuming process on the computer than it used to be when we just printed up our snapshots and put them into an album – or into a shoe box with the promise that one day we’d put them into an album. In any case, I keep running across shots of the Loire valley, of châteaux I’ve visited there, of my daughter and me in Paris during her senior year of high school, of a long-ago me shepherding students through Paris, or Strasbourg, or Verdun, or even Hagenau, a cute little town in Lorraine that was an easy day’s outing from our school in northern Bavaria. And I found dozens of photos of my mom, daughter, husband and me in Colmar, one of the most beautiful towns in Alsace – crisscrossed with canals, the half-timbered houses with drunkenly-sloped tiled roofs, and windows bedecked with explosions of geraniums – so lovely, so comfortable, so far away.

Colmar, summer of 2012.

Colmar, summer of 2012.

But part of this French kick is also a reaction against the sloppy aesthetic of so many women my age. OK – at the family literacy program where I’ve been volunteering, some of the instructors dress up for work in proper dresses or nice slacks and blouses. Aha – my use of the word “proper” is a clue – my inner snob is pushing back against the laissez-faire approach to personal grooming that reigns here in my new home. I yearn to find a sidewalk café where I can sip espresso and read or write or contemplate deep, philosophical questions while watching interesting people stroll by. I want to be called Madame by a black and white-clad waiter with a cool attitude – instead of being chirped at by a cheerleader type: “Hi there! How are you today? Are you having a fantastic day? What can I get started for you? An Americano? Perfect!”

No honey, it’s not perfect. Perfect would be a place where I could sit comfortably and the waitress would come to me, take my order in modulated tones, and not insist on chirping at me until the coffee is ready. I loathe, despise and abominate chirpiness. And I’m not a cranky pants most of the time – really, I’m not. I find people fascinating – all sorts of people, but I just want a peaceful pause in my day to sip my caffeine and read a bit, or perhaps just stare out the window and watch the passers-by, as they do in France. Sigh.

Loire Valley, Spring 2014

Loire Valley, Spring 2014

A few days ago, I was in a restaurant with my husband. At the next table were a gaggle of women about my age – 50s, some perhaps in their 40s. They were drinking wine and laughing –well, braying and cackling – very loudly. Perhaps they were having a girls’ night out, having a few (loud!) laughs after work. But I got the strong feeling that they were all single – perhaps divorced? They were all well-groomed and dressed in work outfits – expensive-looking, snug pants with dressy blouses. Each one had obviously colored, streaked and styled hair – rather stiff, and plenty of makeup. Each one looked a bit anxious, checking out the room – for possible dates? For the impression she was making? Even though they were having (loud!) fun, they didn’t look at ease, confident, comfortable. They were a bit on edge, checking out the room for the impression they were making.

There’s a sexiness to the French woman that comes from being comfortable, from a firm sense of who she is. She knows herself, and dresses to please; a Frenchwoman always aims to seduire (to charm, to please) – not just men, but all the people with whom she comes into contact. But she has a basic confidence that this table of attractive-but-trying-too-hard American women obviously lacked. And that confidence is sexy.  Even – or especially – older French women, les femmes d’un certain âge, project this sexy, effortless (or seemingly so) confidence, and that’s what I’m aiming for – even here in my new home. Vive l’esprit français – even in Tacoma!

Shopping in the Galeries LaFayette, Paris, 2011.

Shopping in the Galeries LaFayette, Paris, 2011.

Here’s a list of books that I’ve enjoyed on French style and the French lifestyle, just in case you’re feeling a bit Frenchie yourself:

  • Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, with Sophie Gachet. Such lovely photos! A quick read for a rainy day, with excellent recommendations for a simple, classy French wardrobe, styling tricks, grooming advice, and pages of Ines’s tips for your next visit to Paris – good fodder for daydreaming.
  • Chic and Slim; Chic and Slim Encore; Chic and Slim Techniques by Anne Barone. Thess slim volumes by a Texan show how French techniques can be applied to the U.S. lifestyle with splendid results. Oh, and she has another book out: Chic and Slim Toujours, which contains advice for aging gracefully à la française. I must buy this! Check out her blog at annebarone.com.
  • French Style by Veronique Vienne. Another slim volume with lovely vintage photos and philosophical inspiration.
  • All of Mireille Guiliano’s books: French Women Don’t Get Fat; French Women for All Seasons; and I’m currently reading French Women Don’t Get Facelifts. Her voice is delightful, and her advice practical and oh-so-applicable. Guiliano lives part-time in the U.S., so she knows the cultural and practical barriers to applying French techniques and attitudes here.
  • Fatale: How French Women Do It by Eduth Kunz. Her chapter “Of a Certain Age” is particularly inspiring.
  • French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, by Jamie Cat Callan. Erica Jong called this book “Adorable!” – and so do I. She analyzes that supreme confidence – not arrogance, just self-knowledge and self-acceptance – that makes French women so alluring.
  • All You Need to Be Impossibly French, by Helena Frith Powell, an Englishwoman who makes very perspicacious comparisons between the attitudes and practices of her countrywomen and les françaises. Sharp, funny, realistic.
  • French Toast, by Harriet Welty Rochefort. An American marries into a French family and learns volumes about the puzzling, wise, mysterious ways of the French. Very funny, full of illustrative anecdotes.
  • Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, by Debra Ollivier. A well-rounded look at the attitudes and lifestyle of French women, with many fascinating historical vignettes.

And of course, this list doesn’t even begin to touch on the many French cookbooks that have inspired me, nor on the many delightful works of fiction about U.S. or English women who made the transplant to l’hexagone. Hmm – perhaps my next novel should be about a middle-aged woman in the U.S. who decides to polish up her lackluster lifestyle by living like a Frenchwoman? That could be très amusant.

 

On Free Thinkers and Trends

Trends are designed to make us buy shit. Not literally shit – that’s never been trendy, because there’s plenty of it around. You don’t even have to go to the store to get some (literal) shit – it’s available right there in your home. Or at least on the sidewalk in front of your home. Thanks, neighbor dogs! And cats. And raccoons. No, trendy items are only trendy if they require effort and expense to attain.

I once loved magazines – loved, loved, loved magazines, with their bright, shiny pictures; with their neat little packages of information and inspiration; with their message of eternally-springing hope. I’m speaking of women’s magazines here, the kind with a fashion focus – not, say, Ms. But the raison d’être of a magazine is to get you to buy shit – clothing, “beauty” products, purses, toilet bowl cleaner, fitness gadgets, what have you. And how do the marketers do that, dear reader? You know the answer as well as I – by making you believe that your life is somehow lacking, and that your life will be so much better if you buy this particular shit.  But you’re not – lacking, that is. And your life will not improve if you have in your house any particular consumer item that is advertised in those magazines.

So yeah – lately, the shine has worn off magazines, as far as I’m concerned. I’m just having a hard time seeing past the ads, despite the sometimes-good writing that I find buried between the ads. Have you ever tried this? Take a magazine – whichever type you choose. Flip through it, and tear out any page that has nothing but advertising on both sides. Make a note of how much slimmer your magazine now is.

And blogs! Some of my formerly favorite blogs, sort of online magazines, have morphed into vehicles for selling shit. Writers whose points of view I once looked forward to reading are now more focused on convincing me to buy this blouse, that moisturizer, and that other mascara. Jeesh! If I wanted that, I’d buy a magazine.

Here’s where I lose credibility with some of my younger readers: I do not care what the latest fashion trends are. The beauty of reaching my advanced age, 52, is that I feel just fine about choosing clothing that covers my nakedness, is comfortable, and suits my own ideas about what looks good on me. Are those snazzy-to-me shoes “so last year”? Who cares! Does this hat remind you of your grandmother? That’s your problem! Do the cool kids not approve of my simple, practical purse? Tough shit, cool kids! Who asked you anyway? I use a purse to haul around things that I want to have with me when I’m away from home, not to impress the cool kids.

And really, that speaks to my personal philosophy: You should do the things you do in life because they please you and express your inner essence – not because they might impress someone. It’s a key distinction. I taught high school until recently, and every day I would pass in the hallways clumps of black-clad “emo” types whose carefully chosen outfits carefully toed the emo party line. They made a big point of being “different,” but all in the same way. As I passed, they’d get louder so as to attract attention. They were trying very hard for a negative reaction – from teachers, from parents, from peers. I see people like this on the streets of Tacoma, in their oh-so-similar hipster outfits with the baggy gray beanies, and they’re mostly out of high school, yet many of them are still angling for the disapproval of passers-by like me. I find that sad. Why should you care about what sort of reaction you can draw from perfect strangers? Do you really need me, a middle-aged person, to validate what a badass you are?

Then there was S-, a student in my classes the last few years before I retired. She wore the oddest, coolest outfits, which she often designed herself out of scraps of cloth, old garments, and funky items cobbled into accessories. But she did this to please herself, and for that reason, I was always delighted to notice and to compliment her wardrobe choices. S- enjoyed what she wore, whether others approved or not; she was expressing herself.

I want to dress like that too, now that I no longer have to meet someone’s expectations for what’s appropriate. Not that I want to wear silver lame skirts and tiaras, like S- did, but it’s wonderful to be able to please myself, sartorially. And it’s such a relief to realize that, no matter what event comes my way, I already have something appropriate in my closet. I don’t need any new clothes! Take that, advertisers.

And that goes for electronics – so I’ll say no thanks to an expensive smart phone. I have a computer at home, and I don’t care to snap photos of myself in various locations throughout the day and post them for all and sundry to admire. You like your smart phone? Good for you – enjoy! You think that I’m hopelessly uncool because I don’t have one? Who cares! That also goes for social media. I enjoy Facebook, especially the goofy videos that my friends and “friends” post – that porcupine eating a pumpkin – too cute! And I like to read what distant friends are up to. But I’ve heard that the cool kids have left Facebook behind in favor of Instagram, Twitter, and God knows what else. Who cares! Not I.

I was noodling around on the internet, looking for others’ interesting thoughts on being a free thinker who doesn’t unquestioningly follow fashion, technological, and/or social trends. Most of what I found related to the Free-Thinker Movement – apparently devoted to freedom from religious dogma and clerical control, with past ties to the anarchist movement of the 19th century.  I’m greatly simplifying here, but – in any case – this was not at all what I was looking for. How disappointing! Where were the articles, essays and websites devoted to thinking for oneself in daily life? I did, however, find this good bit from Urban Dictionary website (always a fun read):

Free Thinker

A philosophical viewpoint that opinions or beliefs of reality should be based on science,       logic and reason. Ideas should not be derived from religion, authority, governments or         dogmas.

A free thinker should not reject nor accept any proposed truths of organized religion,           established norms, media, etc. They should determine if the belief is valid based on their     own knowledge, intuition, research and reason. Just because other people believe in it,         doesn’t mean it’s right! Use your own judgment and think critically!

by Autumn’s Modesty, September 19, 2009

Thank you, Autumn! I’ll bet she doesn’t waste much time reading fashion magazines or trolling the mall for external validation. So – here’s to free thinkers. I shall do my very best to be one.

The Musings of a Late-Blooming Rose

Last night’s dream left me with clammy, sweat-soaked sheets and a heavy ball of nausea in my gut.  I was chained to a mule train, but we weren’t mules – we were matrons. An endless train of lumpy women with bowed backs, flabby butts, and thick ankles, we shuffled forward along a narrow dusty path, hauling heavy loads on our backs. We were so many that our plodding had worn a rut deep into the earth, and walls of gray clay rose on either side, hemming us in.  It was cool and damp down in there, but up above the sun shone. I paused to look up, but the women behind me jostled me back into line.

“Keep going.”

“We’ve got work to do.”

“Gotta pick the kids up from soccer practice.”

“PTA tonight.”

“Repairman’s coming at five.”

“Get back into line, sister.”

“Whatta ya think you are, special?”

And so I fell into line, too tired to look up at the sun, too weighted down with backpacks, diaper bags, and – Oh dear God, a mini-van !

Well, the mini-van’s been gone for a while now, replaced with a sleek VW station wagon, and …wait a minute, hold the phone! Can a station wagon be sleek? See, I thought I was making a more stylish choice, but it seems I’m back on the chain gang, shuffling through the dust. And here’s the thing: I only had one child, and now she’s off at college. So why is it so hard to shake off this mommy self-image? Why is it so hard to make choices in car, clothes, comportment, activities that reflect the fascinating, mature, worldly woman I really am? Is it, perhaps, that this fascinating woman got trampled in the dust of that endless train of trudging matrons?

You know how sometimes you wake up mid-dream, vivid images still spinning around your befuddled head, frustrated because you want to finish the scenario, bring the story to a close? And, once in a great while, you’re able to go back to sleep, rejoin the dream, bring it to a satisfying conclusion. Here’s how I’d end this one:

I glance up once more at the tantalizing sunshine high above me. The unthinking, unfeeling women behind me give me a shove, this time to the side, out of the line of trudging drudges.

“Get out of the way, dreamer.”

“Yeah, you’re holding up the line. Move it.”

And, befuddled, I set down my load. From high above me, I hear a musical sound – was that laughter? I look up and see faces looking down at me. Merry faces, laughing eyes, and a pointing hand.

“Looks like they lost one.”

“Hey, you down there. Want to come up?”

I glance around, feeling a little panicked.

“Can I do that?”

“Sure you can! Come on!”

And a hand reaches down toward me, then another. Someone dangles a long, sparkling scarf. I reach up, but those helping hands are just out of reach; the end of the scarf tickles my fingertips. Well then, there’s nothing for it but to climb. I dig my fingertips into the cool clay of the canyon walls and find that I can grip, can lift myself inch by inch above the plodders, closer and closer to the sunlight. Words of encouragement rain down from above.

“Look, she’s climbing! You can do it! Come on!”

I slip once, nearly falling back into the abyss, but I haul myself up, exhausted, to the lip of the canyon, where soft, strong hands reach down to grasp me. Hands with sparkly rings, brilliantly polished nails, dangly-bangly bracelets that tinkle. And up, up, up they pull me until I’m rolling onto the soft, springy grass. I blink into the sunlight and see myself surrounded by women – lovely, colorful, fascinating women – and all of them smiling at me.

“We’ve been expecting you. Come on – let’s have some fun.” And off they go, dancing, strolling, swaying, striding across the lawn, toward what seems to be a party, a wild, outdoor festival.

Now that’s where I want to wake up.

And, in fact, I am waking up. And, upon further reflection on this dream, I realize that the women trudging in their rut all looked an awful lot like me. You see, there isn’t any one particular person who encouraged me to be a mommy drudge, a drone, a drab, duty-bound automaton – not friends, not my child, not even my ex-spouse. (Well, he didn’t exactly encourage me to shine, but still…)

And there’s no one who’s going to lift me up to the next phase of my life, not even my dear friends, nor my amazing boyfriend. I have to make that climb on my own. But I’ll bet I’ll have lots of company on the way – other women my age who are waking up from a dream to find that the sunshine’s just out of reach – but reachable. Let’s climb up out of our rut together, toward the sunshine. I want to see what that party is, just over the horizon. I’ll bet there are lots of fascinating, fabulous women over there, and I’m going to be one of them. How about you?