Friday, June 24, 2011

Birthday Musings At 60

Today Is My Birthday!

Today I turn 60 years old and life is grand!  My 30’s and 40’s were full of change, and my 50’s was a period of settling in and reaching the point where I’m currently at.  I am a retired teacher, but really, I rarely use the word “retired” because it has connotations that don’t describe me at all.  Basically I quit teaching, but receive an income.  YIPPEE!  I’m lucky in that I had a career, which I adored, and loved going to work almost every day for 23 years.  But now I have the beauty of time to reinvent and explore at this most awesome period of my life.  When asked, “So what have you been doing since you’re not teaching any longer?” I have had a hard time answering.  But the true answer for me is simply, “I’m doing life.”  I see myself now as an artist, crafter, reader, gardener, yogi, and friend.  I have a gorgeous extended family, which includes my handsome and talented husband, two grown and amazing step children, their wonderful spouses, and two unbelievably smart and adorable grandchildren, whom I LOVE.

Appearance, Food, and Health

With age have come the inevitable changes in appearance and health.  Also, unfortunately, there are some new and very annoying aches here and there.  The following is a bit about how I deal with all of this agey stuff.
A nice decision for me, and please don’t take this as frivolous, was letting my dyed hair grow in grey, white, and silver in my late 40’s.  Oh my….. So liberating!  I wear it long, and basically have very little upkeep.   I believe less is definitely better!  All the makeup I use anymore is lipstick and brow pencil (where did the eyebrows go?).   My clothes are simple, but I like to dress arty and fun.  Most days you’ll find me in jeans or skirt, top, and some dangley earrings.  I believe that staying in shape is extremely important, now more than ever.  I don’t worry about the extra 5 to 10 lbs put on over the past 20 years, just as long as I stay toned and look nice in my jeans.  Most every day I walk in the morning with my husband and practice yoga for about an hour in the evening.  I plan to start swimming a few days a week for extra cardio, which is fun for me because swimming was the only sport I excelled in as a child.  I miss it and want swimming to be a regular part of my life again.  As for food, when I’m eating in a good restaurant…. I eat the bread, have the dessert, and enjoy the wine.  I NEVER apologize for eating.  By apologize, I don't justify eating good food.  I hear, and have said statements such as, "I'm eating this because I didn't eat any lunch, I don't usually eat like this", etc.  We've been so conditioned all our lives about how we look, and feeling guilt towards food.  I see it as a form of insanity that's been subtly, and not so subtly imposed upon women.  During my younger years I felt empowered by being very thin.  I'm sooooo done with all that! 
I do indulge by having one glass of a nice red wine, and a Dove’s dark chocolate every evening.  I see it as medicinal…… I try to eat natural and healthy…. We keep our dinners very simple; fish, fruit, and salad.  I love making soups, salads, and quiche.  There is a small suburban farm across the road, so this time of year dinner usually depends on what’s for sale in their little farm shed.  A common summer dinner at my house may include fresh green beans (lightly cooked) tossed with new potatoes, garden chives, bacon, and topped with some fresh rosemary from my herb garden.  Also, anything that includes home grown Missouri tomatoes.  I do crave, and have, fried chicken and the weekly pizza.  Never any soda!! (well..... there is the "not so occasional" trip to Starbucks)

My Valuable Time
I’m very protective of my time, and try and use it wisely.  I had been substitute teaching some since my “retirement”, but now I feel that that part of my life is finished.  I need this time to explore, create, and engage.  I’m thinking a nice little part-time job may be, at some point, in my future….. but not quite yet.
I am learning to give myself permission to do what I want, and I’m sure you understand, that can be difficult for women.  By “what I want” I mean I may take an afternoon in my studio, put on a movie, and rug hook.  Maybe instead, I’ll work on pastels, or a new rug pattern.  I may spend time sitting on the screened porch reading the current book choice for the book club I’ve joined.  Of course, there’s always time for lunch out with friends, and the occasional flea market fix.  I believe housework is a bit over rated………..
I’m currently involved in two different art groups.  One is with my drawing and painting friends, and the other is with rug hooking pals.  We’re getting ready to explore where rug hooking can take us artistically.  Very exciting!  I’m a strong believer in collective group energy.  So much of art is done alone.  A group gets me out there and in touch with like-minded artistic souls.  I also get to meet new friends through book and art groups. 
Home and Stuff
Our house is very old.  It was built in 1929, and is rock with a red metal roof.  We love it, and I can't imagine living anywhere else.  Our home sits on an acre and a half of woods.  We're visited daily by various wildlife that, most amazingly, thrive in the city.

I’m trying to clean out and do with less.  I no longer need/nor want many new clothes and other "stuff".  My house is an eclectic mix of finds, art, and those special pieces that have always been with me.  Most of which I can’t let go.  But….there’s always room for more art and homemade goodness from friends!
Emotional Journey
I’ve been letting go of past hang-ups, resentments, jealousies, and anger that held me hostage.  No time for that any longer.  Getting rid of those pesky uncomfortable feelings gives me so much more room to breath!

Of course, not everything in my life is easy and fun-filled.  I have two immediate family members who are extremely ill, and other problems that can be quite worrisome and draining for me.  More reasons why it’s so important to stay healthy and have my own private time to use as I please.
If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you know I don’t usually share much personal information about myself.  As my 60th year approached, I've felt extremely reflective.  I decided to get these thoughts down and out there to share with you.  Thanks for any time you may have taken to read all or part of my musings at 60.  Maybe it will bring some of you "youngsters" out there relief that 60 is not so bad, and can be really quite wonderful.  I hope and plan on an awesome seventh decade!
p.s.  No, I’m not blogging on my birthday.  I put this piece together over the past week or so.  On the 24th my computer will be silenced.  I plan on spending the day with family and friends, some cupcakes, music, and wine out in the gardens.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wildlife About!

Our day lilies are in abundance this year.  I don't remember ever buying a single one, I think we brought what we had from the old house eight years ago.  Since then, my hubby has moved them from place to place about the yard.  Here's some shots of the orange explosion.

We are so happy to welcome the return of the yellow crested night herons.  They fly here every spring from somewhere way, way south (perhaps even as far away as Central America).  A few always nest somewhere close by in our trees or our neighbors.  We live by a creek, and they like to munch on the crawdads they find there.  They also roam around the yard and pull up worms just like robins do.

My husband took all of the above photos from our deck a couple of weeks ago.  Whenever I see them parading around the yard, I feel like the "lady of the manor" with the fowl strutting about.

I had quite the surprise the other day when heading out to the screened porch to shake out a rug.  There was a 5' black snake stretched out inside the porch.  It apparently crawled in underneath the door.  My little cat, Willow, was on the porch hiding beneath a chair..... and that's the first time I've ever seen her look really scared!  The snake seemed disturbed by my presence, and headed back out underneath the door the way it had arrived.  Below are some photos of it's departure.

Snakes don't scare me much.  Seeing large black snakes about our property is a normal spring and summer experience.  But it's just the way they sort of show up unannounced out of nowhere that's a bit unnerving.  I couldn't get Willow back out onto the porch for a week!!

I am still hooking, knitting, and drawing..... but everything is in a state of flux.  I'm knitting some pretty fall colored socks, and my "fawncho".  Hopefully, I'll have some shots of those to share later.  I'm leaving here in just a bit for an art class, and I'm doing a pastel of a heron (how appropriate...).  Very excited about this one!

Hope you're enjoying spring and finding time to garden, create, read, and dream.......

Saturday, June 4, 2011