Curiosity, Generosity, A Tear or Two – Achieving Midlife Goals

Here’s something that is hazy in my future plan that needs to be much, much clearer: the status of the book I haven’t written.

Here’s something that was crystal clear when I was talking about that stalled dream when talking with Caytha Jentis and Artist Thornton about disrupting myths about aging (for example: at a certain age you shouldn’t bother trying to write a book): the way they vigorously shook their heads in disagreement that it is too late. (See for yourself at the 0:22 mark in this video.)

Besides the incredible bond the three of us developed over a few emails/Facebook messages/test videos and the actual video here, I gained several takeaways that apply both to my book-writing goal and to this stage of my life in general.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the qualities Caytha mentioned during our talk. She’s right. I’m sure that’s one of the factors that led her to produce movies and create The Other F Word (check it out on The Girlfriend!).

One of the mental barriers I have had (ridiculous as it is) to writing this book is this: I envision it as an Unbroken-type book: meticulously researched yet beautifully told. I doubt my research skills (but feel I could take a crack at the beautiful telling part….). My internal dialogue has been for years “but you can’t do it like Laura Hillenbrand.”

A bit of reading led me to find out that (voila!) Laura Hillenbrand has succeeded wildly as a writer by being curious, even though her health limitations made it difficult to do field study of her topics. A Flavorwire article about her approach, How ‘Unbroken’s’ Laura Hillenbrand Writes Her Epic Nonfiction, says this:

What you need is endless curiosity…

Rejection is Inevitable, But How Crazy is it When We Reject Ourselves?

Caytha has experienced her share of rejection in the challenging world of production. Artist is making a go of it in a competitive New York restaurant scene with his place, SpaHa Soul. Neither industry is exactly gentle on dreamers.

“If you don’t try, you already have rejection,” said Caytha (i.e., what do you have to lose from trying?). That led me to say “you’re essentially rejecting yourself.” I’ve done my share of that and I don’t recommend it, people.

Cry, then move on

One of my favorite parts of our conversation was the segment about overcoming obstacles. When I asked Caytha about that, I expected her to say something along the lines of “I overcame them because I’m a badass!” yet her first response was “I cry.”

I can’t say I cry over rejection but I do something equally destructive and insidious: tell myself “of course you didn’t [insert goal here] because clearly the other people who do that are better. Really, why did you even try?”

However, beyond the crying is the boxing match. You heard me right: the boxing match.

via GIPHY

Embrace rejection and look at it as a boxing match, Caytha said: go the full round. Not every idea is to be executed — that’s valid. I had a business plan and had to be crafty and find ways to make things happen. Once I went to midlife bloggers, figured out there was an audience, learned how to engage them and tapped into the power of working together as entrepreneurs, it’s like we become part of a larger thing — squaring not doubling – it’s how we become strong and viable.

Be generous

This is my personal soapbox and I will espouse this viewpoint/approach, always (even though I execute it imperfectly). During our discussion on Facebook live, we talked about how we tend to be more generous by this stage in our lives; we have figured out that is where the true power lies.

I will admit this is a struggle for me, because my competitive nature is always right under the surface, sometimes undetectable, and the insecurities that plague many of us lead me to worry about losing out on many opportunities, employment-wise and life-wise, I know that ultimately lifting others up always lifts us up too.

(The Facebook Live I share above is a perfect example of that. I sought out many other people in the process of looking for someone to participate in a FB live about midlife and busting myths. I specifically wanted to make sure LGBT issues were addressed. While I certainly accept the fact that some people just didn’t get back to me at all — we are all bombarded with “opportunities” and can’t do everything, I am giddy with happiness that Caytha and Artist said yes, even though it was a little crazy figure out how to get three people on a FB live at once (thank you, BeLive.tv, for making it happen). These are the people I was meant to do this with, and their generosity of spirit showed throughout the whole thing.)

Back to Laura Hillenbrand

I’m glad I found the article I referenced above, which links to a longer New York Times Magazine piece. Reading about Laura Hillenbrand helps me realize that there is no “one perfect way” to write a book. When her illness forced her to stay home almost exclusively, she had items brought to her so she could understand them (such as World War II bombing artifacts).

I love the idea in the Flavorwire article that Hillenbrand “excels in a particular sort of intimacy, and that intimacy drags you into the story.” It’s certainly one of the many qualities that led me to love Seabiscuit and (primarily) Unbroken — which tied in my love of the running community and Louis Zamperini’s heroic story as well as the World War II theme.

She wrote her book. Her way. With intensive effort and creative workarounds. Maybe this is possible for me also.

Keep Dreams Alive

Throughout my post and Facebook Live about Disrupting Myths, I’ve used the “keep dreams alive” idea consistently but there’s something about it that never sat perfectly with me. For me, it’s not that the dreams need to be kept alive (because they just won’t die….) but that I need to give my dream (the book) structure and priority.

Although I went to great pains in my last blog post on this topic to convince myself that I don’t have to be Laura Hillenbrand to do this (that, in fact, the more important thing is to be *me* with my passion about Camp Gordon Johnston), I was struck by this comment by Jonathan Karp, who bought the rights to Seabiscuit for $100,000 when he was with Random House (extreme diversion to a barely related side note here — I spent a few years as a freelance proofreader for Ballantine Books, which was the Random House paperback imprint at the time).

Anyway, Karp said this: “I keep waiting for somebody to do what Laura did.”

Although doing “what Laura did” needs to be done with my individual touch, maybe once the haze clears, it’ll be me.

Achieving midlife goals

I linked this post to the Kat Bouska site for the prompt “write a blog post based on the word ‘hazy.'”

Achieving midlife goals

The Facebook Live that led to the video I embedded here was done in conjunction with Women Online and AARP. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Keeping Dreams Alive

I only know of one way to physically become younger. Sorry to break it to you all, but it’s pretty complicated, involves significant risk, entails a significant selection process, and only happens to people named Scott Kelly.

Scott Kelly is an American astronaut who started his 11-month stint on the International Space Station in 2015 as an individual six minutes younger than his twin brother. He came back six minutes and 13 milliseconds younger because, as Kelly explains, “my telomeres, basically these things at the end of our chromosomes that shorten with stress and age, actually ended up longer than Mark’s.”

Mark and Scott Kelly
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Becoming younger isn’t an option, so am I going to keep feeling young?

Participants in a British study reported a self-perceived age of 56.8 years even though their chronological age was 65.8 years. The same study found that participants who felt between 8 and 13 years older than their chronological ages had an 18-25% greater risk of death over the study periods.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to let small ideas erode our sense of wellbeing nudge that perceived age upwards. The thing is, some of these small ideas that grow into large threats are not even true! They are myths, and they deserve to be busted.

Here are a few examples, courtesy of the bloggers participating in the #DisruptAging campaign:

Bren Herrera, reminding us it’s never too late to do what we’re missioned for.

Lisa Leslie-Williams, the Domestic Life Stylist, who shared that your best health doesn’t have to be behind you.

Laura Funk of We Got the Funk and her take down of common misperceptions about early menopause, such as it must mean a woman is aging more rapidly.

What if you have a big (really big!) dream? Is it too late?

Many of you who know me or have read the blog know that I want to write a book about Camp Gordon Johnston. I’ll admit to the voices in my head nibbling away at my confidence about that (they mainly say “you’re no Laura Hillenbrand” (I love her writing and research)) while I know that the world doesn’t need another Laura Hillenbrand. The world (and the legacy of Camp Gordon Johnston) needs me (okay that sounds egotistical — but my point is other people besides Laura Hillenbrand can do this story justice. She should be my model, not my barrier.

Join me for a myth-busting Facebook Live!

Thursday, July 26, at noon ET, I’m going to be chatting with two people who are making their dreams happen. They can encourage all of us. My friend Caytha created the awesome series The Other F Word, which was just picked up by The Gilfriend. And Artist Thornton has opened his own restaurant. In “world’s colliding” moment, here’s a scene from Caytha’s show in which you can meet Artist at his restaurant, SpaHa Soul.

Join us Thursday; we’d love to hear what myths you’re trying to bust and support each other as we knock them down (or get started at least!).

Keeping dreams alive

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

The Other F Word: A Show For Those of Us Who “Filled Out All the Forms”

I am famous among my friends for not having binge-watched anything. When we finally got a Netflix-enabled tv in our bedroom, I started Orange is the New Black (and made it through two episodes).

The Other F Word is the exception, though! I watched all of Season 1 (read my blog here) and — today– fit all of Season 2 into one afternoon! Woo hoo!

Before my observations, here’s the trailer so you get a sense of who we are talking about:

What Is The Other F Word?

This is a series that extends beyond young people and caricatures to represent life for people whose age corresponds to “the other ‘F’ word” – forties, fifties, etc.

It’s a little hard to talk in detail about the six episodes without inadvertently giving away spoilers, so I decided to share ten aspects of the series that stood out to me. I hope they encourage you to watch too!

The Music

I loved the music! I especially was besotted quickly by “It’s Just Me” by James Madx. (Listen here.) Here are the lyrics that especially spoke to me:

“Open your heart  …. and let me start to be a part of your story.”

So many of us in mid-life are seeing our stories re-written, either by fate or by choice. This song spoke to that, in my perception.

Being the Mom Who Filled Out All the Forms

It’s not a spoiler to say that one character, Amy, finds herself at a loss after both children have moved out (oh, and her husband chose to manifest his mid-life crisis by spontaneously deciding to quit his job and go to humanitarian work overseas for a year.)

“I filled out so many forms,” she says.

Me too, sister, me too.What to do now that there are less forms to complete and there’s still more life to live?

Dealing With Elderly Parents

One character (Orly) is having to cope with her parent’s obvious decline (long distance). Yep, been there done that (the decline part, not so much the long distance part).

Big big big props to The Other F Word for including the dilemmas we face when our parents age.

*** AND (oh my gosh) …. Holly Cate, who plays Orly, was Janice on As the World Turns, which my mom (and then I) watched for decades. Thanks for mentioning that, IMDb! ***

Dealing with Kids’ Crises

College-age daughter with a crisis? Check! College-age daughter who is over said crisis by the next conversation (after hours of mom futilely texting to see if she’s okay)? Check. Check. Check.

Most parents who have ever raised a college-aged child can relate to the realistic scenarios depicted in this show.

Passion Parties

I have never been to a “Passion Party” but this one looked fun!

The Gynecologist

This is such a micro thing but my goodness, Orly’s gynecologist has amazing delts!

(She also assumes Orly needs a perimenopause box …. you really need to watch all the episodes to see what the doctor can give her that will better suit her situation.)

BC/AD

These are character David’s way to characterize life milestones: “Before Children” and “After Divorce.”

Sounds typical for midlife.

About our intimacy choices:

You know, my life experience is pretty vanilla in some ways about the choices I have made. Still, I loved this line and understood (intellectually at least, LOL), the conundrum:

Since sex got easier, love got harder to find.

You know a show is a little edgy if you have to look at least one thing up in the Urban Dictionary!

Again, maybe this hearkens back to my vanilla life (but remember I had some pretty racy conversations as a counselor on the Florida AIDS Hotline back in the day).

There was one term in the six episodes I had to look up in the Urban Dictionary.

(Find out what term it was by clicking here. Did you already know what this meant? Be honest!).

When is it the wrong time to reinvent yourself?

One of the parents (at least) is a *bit* overbearing (think Tiger Mom). When her daughter starts to waver regarding her desire to keep doing crew (the activity that is ostensibly going to fund her college education), mom nearly goes off the deep end. What does she say?

“It’s way too late to reinvent yourself.”

The hilarity of saying this to a teenager is not lost on me. BUT, I spent my share of time being an overbearing gym mom with visions of college scholarships dancing in my head. I can see saying something so outlandish (or I could see pre-perspective crazed gym mom Paula saying it).

Those of us in our forties and fifties though? I vote for as much reinvention as we see fit!

Is there an “F” word for reinvention?

How about FUNDAMENTAL? Fundamental to this time in our lives, fundamental to our souls, and, occasionally, downright FUN!

Want to find out for yourself?

Click here to watch!!

Midlife Reinvention

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

A Series for Women Like Me: The Other F Word

Midlife Women

This post is sponsored by “The Other F Word.” All opinions are my own.

It’s official. I have now watched my first Amazon Streaming series. It’s a running joke among my friends, and documented in my Spin Sucks inquisition, that I am a streaming video late adopter. Very late. But there’s hope, and in this case hope begins with an “F word.”

The Other F Word

I was recently introduced to The Other F Word, a comedic coming-of-age series about four women friends who deal with the highs and lows of mid-life as they reinvent themselves now that their kids are grown. In this case, the other F word(s) are “Forty” and “Fifty.”

Midlife Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be

One sentiment throughout this series is one I keep thinking about as I forge ahead into my 50s: this isn’t exactly what I thought life would be at this point. Not that I’m not grateful, but reality has a way of throwing curveballs at you. The women of The Other F Word get their own curveballs, including:

  • A husband who dies at his wife’s skydiving 50th birthday party
  • A husband who says “you may need to get a REAL job now, and I don’t mean Pampered Chef”
  • A husband who suddenly decides to leave his job (and his country) to do Peace Corps-type work abroad for a year

This Series is Relatable

The entertainment industry’s track record on diversity has not been stellar (click here for an example about lack of diversity in television). Creator Caytha Jentis started down the path to bringing The Other F Word to life when she asked, “why are there no tv shows about us?” She’s right! (Hear more from Caytha in this Writer/Director statement.)

I love how the character Amy has actual laugh lines on her face. As a fellow midlifer, I see beauty in those laugh lines, not lack of attractiveness. She’s like me: imperfect but trying to figure life out.

I love how the characters’ children act like the college-age children I know. They love sentimental actions (like Amy cooking her special chicken parm for her son and his roommate). They ask for money. They have jobs we don’t understand (social solutionist anyone?). The version of their relationship truth they tell about their love lives is, um, “sanitized” for parental ears.

I’m not sure the college age children would have a clue what goes on with mom (and dad) when the chicken parm congeals and the “bills” to pay the rent that came to fast are spent. Watch Episode 8 where Amy, Orly, Trish, and Diane play “never have I ever” and you’ll see what I mean!

The Other F Word Trailer from The Other F Word on Vimeo.

This series is real …. about the emotions we feel and the consequences we face in our forties and fifties. Marry your college boyfriend and stay home with the kids? Your monogamous faithfulness and dedication may leave you lonely and unprepared for the request “well show me your CV if you need help finding a job.” Choose to get involved with a much-younger man in a relationship “with a shelf life” and you may find yourself without a suitable “plus one” at a theatre industry function. These women laugh, drink, nurture, write, create, earn, cry, take risks, have sex, and through it all manage to face their fears and have fun.

Find The Other F Word For Yourself!

You can watch all eight episodes on Amazon by clicking this link.

Visit the website of The Other F Word by clicking here:

Find The Other F Word on Facebook here.

Tweet With The Other F Word’s team on Twitter here.

What Is YOUR Midlife F Word?

Forties.

Fifties.

Is there an “F” word you would associate with your life currently?

This series combines “fun” and “fear” (as in, overcoming it), “friendship,” and “fur” (there’s a dog, Max …. he’s really cute and plays a pivotal role!).

For me, the “F” word of my fifties may in fact be “fragmented” – as a wife, mom, friend, worker, volunteer, and caregiver for my father in law, it rarely feels like I have it all together. Thanks, The Other F Word, for four new relatable friends!

Midlife Women

Trish is mirroring her daughter’s coursework to “help” her. My kids don’t need to get any ideas from this!

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.