10.11.13 Numbers Game

Ls 790 xxx
photos by michael mundy
A lot of things converged recently to inspire this post. My friend and colleague Justine Clay, a coach for creative professionals, was kind enough to feature me in her new blog series about people over fifty. I also read this article in the Times. Then I discovered this amazing project. And I had lunch with Kristin Perers, creator of this wonderful blog. I think no matter what your age, you spend some time and energy dealing with the cultural, physical and emotional repercussions of what that number signifies. Little kids are anxious for the freedom and autonomy that comes with age. Teens grapple with raging hormones and those "awkward" years. The twenties are about experimentation. In our thirties we feel pressure to settle and achieve. (Of course this is all gross generalization, but work with me.) Then things get a bit nebulous. If you have a partner, kids and a career, your forties and fifties must be about that, right? But what if you don't? And what about your sixties, seventies and eighties? Your nineties? (Too optimistic?) Who even talks about those decades? In the culture at large, there is so little conversation about what it means to be vital and creative and truly alive all the way to the end. So much of the focus, especially for women, is on how good we can look for our age. What about our accomplishments, our creativity, our grace, our strength, our sensuality, our talent, our humor?
Things 790 xxx
some of my favorite things
I'm not saying that I'm not prey to this thinking. I spend way too much time plotting about how to get back into my size 6 clothes. But just take a look at Kristin's blog to remind yourself of the myriad wonderful ways that women's beauty evolves. It's nourished by what goes on inside us and that is greatly informed by how we think of ourselves and how we connect with the world. "Use it or lose it" is a rather bullying concept as it relates to muscle mass (albeit true), but I like it better when it's applied to all the insecurity and self-doubt of our younger selves. Let's allow those to atrophy, shall we? Let's live in a world of our own creation, surrounded by all the people and things that support and inspire us.

This goes back to the original tenets of Glutton for Life: Inhabit a space that inspires you and brings you joy. Cover new ground, both real and metaphorical. (You can find the rest here.)
Porch 790 xxx
one of my inspiring spaces
Look around and find women ahead of you in years to inspire you, women who will never be "washed up." (A phrase someone who wrote me recently used to express how she felt about getting on in age in our youth culture.) Women like Alice Munro, who just won the Nobel Prize in fiction. Judy Blankenship, who has built an extraordinary life that straddles two entirely different cultures; read her blog and her book. Jane Fonda, whose latest book candidly explores the Third Act and its potential to bring us greater "wisdom, authenticity and wholeness." Patti Smith, whose art continues to evolve, to great acclaim. Janet Yellen, who will be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve (though that may say more about Obama, really). They're out there, and how they look is an insignificant part of the real story.
Writing 790 xxx
one of my creative spaces
As we age, we gain more insight into ourselves and into the world and, ideally, more time to explore both. All the research indicates that it gets better, for men and women both. Over our pasta-and-wine-infused lunch at Il Buco, Kristin told me how she has given up New Years resolutions in favor of choosing a "theme" to explore throughout the year. Doesn't that sound like fun?! This could involve research, travel, education, experimentation—there are all sorts of avenues for delving into a subject or arena that has long intrigued you. A few suggestions to get the ball rolling: Botany. Friendship. Creativity. Spirituality. Chocolate. (Just remember it has to be a subject deep enough to keep you enthralled all year long.) I am very resistant to resolutions as I feel they set us up to fail, so I am relishing selecting my theme for 2014. It feels a bit personal and I might not divulge any more, though if you show me yours, I may show you mine.

Worried about finding the time? Of late I've given some deep thought to this and I realize that all those expressions—making time, finding time—they really miss the poimt. Time is finite, there's only what there is. What we make are choices. Let this be the moment to prioritize yourself. Your joy, your desire, your curiosity, your passion, your evolution.

By the way, a few things I've been meaning to share with you:

Movies & TV: The East, co-written by and starring the bright and compelling Brit Marling; Orange is the New Black, on Netflix—the credits alone (accompanied by Regina Spektor's theme song) are worth a watch; United States of Tara, also on Netflix (Toni Collette is amazing!); two dark and affecting UK mini-series, Broadchurch and Southcliffe.

Books: The Dog Stars by adventure writer Peter Heller; the inspiring and beautiful book version of the blog 66 Square Feet; Wild, a bestseller in the confessional vein that I actually really liked. Speaking of which, has anyone read Elizabeth Gilbert's latest novel, The Signature of All Things? It sounds promising. Not to mention Dave Eggers' new one, The Circle (though if you haven't read What Is the What you might want to start there.) And here's Eater's list of drool-worthy English-language cookbooks debuting this fall.

Podcasts: Alex Baldwin's addictive Here's the Thing; what I'm calling Fresh Air Light, The Dinner Party Download; as always, the cozy and informative Splendid Table; and the McSweeney's-esque The Organist

Have a beautiful weekend! xo



Bravo! I will be 50 next spring and in recent years finding myself enamored of women older than me who have become so polished and comfortable by being themselves....inspiring!
Diane Lindsay on October 11, 2013 at 8:55 am —
Welcome to 50 (almost), Diane!
laura on October 11, 2013 at 9:32 am —
I would add only this -- make, and keep, friends of all ages, not just your children, and your children's friends, by the way. Talk to them, learn from them, live and laugh with them. Wonderful post -- and perfect timing! Thanks many times over.
Carol on October 11, 2013 at 9:01 am —
Sage words, Carol!
laura on October 11, 2013 at 9:32 am —
A few years over 50, with a full-time job, two books in the works, a couple of grown kids, a fledging blog - this spoke volumes to me: "Worried about finding the time? Of late I've given some deep thought to this and I realize that all those expressions—making time, finding time—they really miss the poimt. Time is finite, there's only what there is. What we make are choices. Let this be the moment to prioritize yourself. Your joy, your desire, your curiosity, your passion, your evolution." Thank you, Laura - like age, Glutton For Life just keeps getting better.
Ronnie on October 11, 2013 at 9:26 am —
Thanks, Ronnie, that means a lot to me.
laura on October 11, 2013 at 9:33 am —
Wonderful post and I always love falling down the rabbit hole of your curated links. At 53 I am very interested in the decades to come and wondering how I can possibly afford to live to 90 with dignity. Most of my friends are older and role models abound but the worries seem the same; how to stay vital, healthy and positive? The last one being the most challenging for me these days. PS: I just finished reading the book Orange is the New Black and found it compassionate and eye-opening on the plight of women in the US prison system, very different from the series but just as good.
Suzinn on October 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm —
Having trouble finding optimism? That can be tough. If I can stop regretting the past and worrying about the future—in other words, focus on the moment—it becomes easier. xo
laura on October 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm —
Thank you...counting down the days...can't believe it's actually happening. I consider this post my first (and maybe most meaningful) gift as I start a new decade. xo
Vennie on October 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm —
Oh, there will be other gifts!
laura on October 12, 2013 at 8:51 am —
Wonderful and rich post, and so very insightful. Thank you for your wisdom and guidance.
Margie on October 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm —
Just feeling my way as I go, Margie...xo
laura on October 12, 2013 at 8:51 am —
This was so wonderful to read, as well as to take in..you are so amazing!!!!!! Great Post!!
Phyllis on October 12, 2013 at 8:35 am —
I really appreciate your support, Phyllis!
laura on October 12, 2013 at 8:52 am —
Hi Laura. Funny that this is the post today, having just had my hair highlighted (with Bryan!) to "hide" the enthusiastically emerging grays. Ah, how we look "for our age" indeed. LOVE this post. xoxo
Robin on October 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm —
Ha! Happy to know you are still out there, Robinowitz! xo
laura on October 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm —