Sunday, November 9, 2008

The view from 50

For days, weeks, even months I've been anticipating with cautious optimism, the impending date of my 50th birthday. I anticipated that I might feel any number of emotions as this day capped a year of life-changing events including my new status as an empty-nester, my mom's passing, and new responsibilities at work.

As I sit here pondering the significance of this new milestone, I think of the opportunities ahead of me, and I feel very grateful for life at 50. I consider the opportunities that were not available for my own mother at the same age; and I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.

I look with admiration at women who also hit this milestone this year: Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellen DeGenerous, Oprah, Madonna & Sharon Stone. And then there's Diane Keaton, who at 57, produced her seventh movie and played the heartthrob of 39-year-old Hollywood heartthrob Keanu Reeves in Something's Gotta Give. Christie Brinkley at 60, who when advertising the Total Gym looks better than most women I know half her age. And Susan Sarandon, who at 61, is still the American prototype for the sexy older woman, a title she earned in her 40s.

Several years ago, Frank Kaiser wrote a wonderful essay in praise of older women. To all women 40 and beyond...and to the men who appreciate them, this is worth the read:

In Praise Of Older Women

As I grow in age, I value women who are over 50 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

An over 50 woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.

If an over 50 woman doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And it`s usually something more interesting.

An over 50 woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants, and from whom. Few women past the age of 50 give a darn what you might think about her or what she`s doing.

An over 50 woman usually has had her fill of "meaningful relationships" and commitment." The last thing she wants in her life is another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover.

Over 50 women are dignified. They seldom have screaming matches with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won`t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Over 50 women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it`s like to be unappreciated.

An over 50 woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. A woman over 50 woman couldn't care less if you`re attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won`t betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an over 50 woman...They always know.

An over 50 woman looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women.

Over 50 women are forthright and honest. They`ll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don`t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Ladies, we praise over 50 women for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 50+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. ~Frank Kaiser

I am thankful and optimistic about the days and years to come. Turning 50 scared me at first, but it sure is better than the alternative!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Precious Time

If you're like me, you often complain about not having enough hours in a day. So in this hectic, time-starved world world we live in, today should have felt like a real gift; because today we turned our clocks back and miraculously picked up one extra hour.

How did you spend your time?

Perhaps you slept in a little longer, or did a few more things around the house. Or, maybe you forgot about the time change until you saw your cell or computer clock an hour off.

As for me...I found myself thinking about the Tim McGraw song "Live Like You Were Dying". It's the story of a man in his early 40's who found out he had just a short time to live. There's one line in that song that really affects me: "I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays and talking 'bout the options and talking 'bout sweet time."

Although I loved, lived with and walked alongside a man who heard those words when he asked "how long do you think I have, doctor?" I can't begin to know or understand what it must feel like to know your time is limited. I only know how I felt, and knew I could never fully empathize, although I wanted to.

God, I tried to.

What I do know is that the problems we had that seemed insurmountable just hours before we heard those words were forgotten. They melted away. The days, weeks and months that followed had me noticing everything about time. And every detail in the world around me...imagining how he was looking at the colors of the trees, the smell of the flowers and the smiles of his children.

The clock was ticking. Time became precious in so many ways...and it became our enemy in so many others. When we had to "fall back" that year, I recall listening to people complain about losing an hour of sleep. I thought of him losing an hour of living. And me losing an hour of him. Even an hour became so precious.

Thinking of it makes me not want to take anything for granted. It makes me want to remember that pain, if only because in doing so I can appreciate the now. What I have. The people in my life that I love. My girls. My friends. My family. My co-workers.

There's a little boy in Barberton fighting for his life right now. Strangers, friends, neighbors and an entire community are trying to offer Josh Metzger and his family emotional, financial and prayerful support. That is, of course, a wonderful thing. We can do what we can do...but what no one can give him is more time.

All we can do even if for a day or so, even for an hour or so, is slow down, look around and appreciate time with the people who are important to us. Live every hour to the fullest. Be a Tigger and not an Eeyore. And try, as the song says "to live like you were dying." Because life really is so short. And time really is so precious.

Even an hour.

Note: Josh Metzger has an inoperable-fast growing brain tumor. You can make a donation to the Josh Metzger fund at any Fifth Third bank in the Akron area to help the family defray medical costs.