I’ve already lost count.

Let’s talk about ageism today though.

Age has been on my mind a lot because I am getting old. Actually, I am old. And people are not keen on allowing me to claim my rightful age.

52 is not my favorite age. Currently or ever, I suspect. Not because it’s old, but because I am fully aware of the limitations that time and society have placed upon it and me.

33 was my favorite age physically. I was peak me from a purely superficial standpoint and from a strength, agility and endurance one as well.

And though 52 is long past peak body, it’s just coming into peak me in terms of awareness, knowledge, ability to leverage my experiences and education. It’s emotionally my steadiest era to date.

I’d be thrilled to have my 33-year-old knees back, but little else about that year or that decade entice me to wistful nostalgia. It’s only in recent years that I’ve truly come into my own.

That’s why ageist attitudes and the idea that youth should be an ideal worthy of a pedestal irks me.

While I wouldn’t argue that some of us don’t age like fine wine, never lose the training wheels or come to a greater understanding of what life is really about – our place and purpose, I think there is more to be said for old age than youth. IF you can let go of the idea that you are not your body.

What freaks people out about aging boils down to a weird attachments to and hang-ups about our physical selves that leads us to believe that is all that we are. Just a meat sack to be maintained according to societies ever-changing requirements.

If we didn’t have such a damaged relationship with our bodies, we’d probably feel better, or at least be neutral, about the fact that it changes over time. We are not children forever. We are not teens forever (though it feels like it at the time). We are not young adults or middle-aged adults for very long.

But we are old – most of us – for nearly, as or longer than we are all of the aforementioned.

At some point as we approach 50, it’s like a switch is flipped, and we are no longer young or youngish. No one mistakes us for a demographic we’ve clearly passed through. We are told we “look good for our age”, which may or may not be true, but  it’s not something young or middle-aged people are told. It’s reserved for the old.

At 52, I am old.

And I have earned it, dammit!

I will not be patronized by people who can’t or won’t come to terms with their own aged selves.

I will not long for anything in the past (except my knees – really miss the happy days of bouncy knees).

I will not be told I am “only as old as I feel” or “just a baby”.

I am not interested in propping up other people’s denial when they wail “but if you are old, what does that make me?”

Older. That’s what it makes you. Older. Deal with it.

Or better yet. Revel in it! Celebrate it! Be fucking amazed at what a warrior you are. How wise. How experienced. How zen.

Oh, I am aware that in a world where supple, tight and smooth is idealized that soft as leather and lined skin draped over bumps and bruises is not celebrated. That’s evident every time an actor “of a certain age” appears on a screen sporting an iron pressed look. One that is frozen in a parody of the young person they no longer are.

It’s hard to reconcile for many.

It just makes me sigh and worry for humanity’s future.

I resent that I am forced to deal with ageism. That there is maintenance beyond just what is sensible and healthy. And that somehow my aging without regard to arbitrary rules concerning appropriate dress, hairstyle and habits is somehow impacting negatively on anyone. Whether I know them or just happen to pass through the same space here or there, my existence is not harming anyone’s life. It’s just their unrealistic body ideals that are offended and frankly, that’s not my problem.

Ageism is as made up as any other ism. Invented only for nefarious or selfish reasons. To oppress, suppress, discriminate and divide. And like all other isms, we can choose to participate or not.

I choose not to.


kosmic blogging in samsara

Image by ~C4Chaos via Flickr

I should be writing today. I told someone – okay, my editor – that I would. But I am not. I am dorking around while I have three stories waiting on me for the paid gig, but inspiration and desire to write eludes me.

So what do I do when I should be writing but I find it task-like and unappealing?

I spam my own Facebook feed with nonsense.

This is not productive and only serves to remind me that other people are more clever than I am … and have more work ethic. And are more mentally disturbed.

What happened to my work ethic?

Oh, right, I never really had any personally. It was just pragmatism disguised as productiveness.The curse of those born in the shadow of the Valley of the Boomers. We work hard when necessary but we prefer coasting. Just look at President Obama if you don’t believe me.

I was talking about my contribution to the household finances the other day with Jade, the owner of the yoga studio where I teach, I mentioned that Rob smiles fondly at me when I talk about my paycheck. That smile reserved for cute children and pets.

“Awwww … she’s so sweet when she thinks she’s contributing.”

Because monetarily, I am not so much.

My heavy lifting is kind of just that as I make the trains run like the house’s wife should – efficiently and looking quite fetching as I do so.

And it’s not as if my husband doesn’t give due credit or is anything other than appreciative. He just thinks my fixation on my money-making endeavors – the blog stuff in particular – is not worth my worry.

If I write and get paid – awesome, and if I slack, well, then I do. It’s not like the compensation is commensurate with the effort. And that’s the problem. I put in time for a token and though I am not creating a Huffpo empire for someone exactly, I am not creating much for myself either. I am an Internet content serf.

So, I vacillate. One month, I pour it on and the next? Meh.

I was asked recently when I was going to open my own yoga studio.

“No plans for that,” I said. I’d just spent a week holding down the fort for Jade while she was on her yoga cruise, and there is no glamour in running a studio – though the studio itself is glamorous  and I always get a little thrill when I open and close up. It has, frankly, a feeling of purpose that regurgitating news sans personal commentary doesn’t.

But I am not sure I am up to run a business on my own though it would be sort of awesome.

Or I could just go back to fiction writing and pretend that people read my blog.

Poised. I am in a constant state of poised. Where is the tipping point? Poised seems frozen and first runner-up.

If only patience was one of my virtues but then I would probably be a famous blogger if that were the case.

In my attempts to be a better member of my writing group, I attended the informal meeting last evening. After Dad died, I ducked group meetings and activities for a while because I found it hard to concentrate on my own writing, forget about anyone else’s and I was tired and often didn’t feel like making the drive in. But I am a board member, and I made a commitment that I need to honor. And it’s somewhat social and I miss that a little.

But I didn’t get a blog post done for this morning as I got home late. We had several members read longer pieces and there was the usual backseat writing afterwards. I read, but it was something I’d already let Rob see and comment on. The story has focus and I just smile and nod. I am not spun around by others’ suggestions or criticisms unless I am reading something that is still embryonic. A writer should never do that. I have learned.

Couple of things:

Facebook will assimilate us all. They are google-like in their Borg-ish determination to own us and every inch of our lives that we foolishly upload or link. Don’t expect them to give up too meekly either. They are in desperate financial straits.

Why would anyone upgrade Windows after this?

Don’t forget to check me out at 50 something. Almost no one reads me there and the whole thing is feeling less shiny that it did in the past, but I will soldier on. In as manly a manner as is possible for a woman.

Off to yoga myself and then an afternoon of mutant dogs.

I answered the phone yesterday and when the young woman asked for Robert I was fairly certain I was dealing with a telemarketer.

“He’s not available. Can I take a message?”

“Well is this Shelley?”

Now I am certain she’s a telemarketer.

“Shelley died.”

“Oh, I am so sorry. Perhaps you could help? I am calling on behalf of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party.”

I refrained from asking her why that nob thinks the party is his alone and interrupt with,

“I’m an American. I don’t vote here.”

“Oh, I am terribly sorry. Have a good evening.”

It wasn’t quite three in the afternoon, so she must have been out East and I wondered if she knew something I didn’t, but a quick scan of the headlines at MSNBC revealed that the U.S. hadn’t completed its slow implosion, nor had the solar winds ripped away the atmosphere hovering above it so it was indeed still there.

An interesting punctuation mark at the end of my work day. I’d just gotten back from town where I set up my own checking account to deal with business expenses and hopefully payment someday soon. I felt like a 50’s sitcom wife, setting up her little hobby business. Except I am my business and I am not a hobby. It was odd, however, because I have had my own banking accounts since I was 15 or 16 years old and I still have accounts back in the old country.

Reminded me a bit of getting the credit account at the furniture store a few weeks ago, stepping back and seeing how different I am. I had refused to merge my accounts with my late husband’s because I was so worried about losing my identity to that of Mrs. My mother had beat it into our heads as young women that we should never be without money or credit in our names alone.  It was too dangerous in a world where women are still not quite equal.

With the continuing collapse of the financial world, I should be more militant but I have a feeling that in the end, things like credit histories and the like aren’t going to matter all that much.  I hope I am being too much of a pessimist, but American currency seems a dubious bet right now and joint or separate – it’s all the same, heading toward worthless.

On a brighter note, I will hit 70,000 words today or tomorrow and be done by Christmas. That is two weeks later than my original goal but I got tangled up a bit on my timeline and needed to go back and read some email and the like for clarification.

I was reminded by a woman in my Fort writing group about the Writer in Residence at the U of A only being available to critique manuscripts until the beginning of April, so I will have to get on reading and revision quickly in the New Year. Can’t let a free service like her go to waste.

Rob is chomping at the bit to read. Usually I let him read and edit things as I work, but I have been selfish with the memoir. I did read him a bit the other night and he liked it. Good sign.

My thwarted columnist ambitions are still on the hunt for other opportunities. I hesitate to seek out another blog contributer position because even with the exposure, it’s still working for free. I am keeping my eyes open. At this point anything I find is at least good practice. I plan to sign up for a course or two via Writer Mama. Perhaps define my area of expertise and work on short creative non-fiction?  Still deciding.  Kind of like the business cards.  I think I need one but haven’t decided on the wording or look. I am a WIP just like my memoir it seems.

BabyD’s Christmas concert was last evening. They call it “Christmas” here. None of that “winter holiday” stuff. Typical elementary performance. Mercifully short. I am a terrible person who really would prefer not to watch other people’s children sing badly, so I was fine with the abbreviated length.

Last day of freedom for me today, so Rob and I are eating in town. Our usual sub joint.

It’s cold. An old high school friend’s FaceBook update indicated that a woman knows it’s cold when she has cl*tcicles hanging from her lady cave*. It’s not that cold.  But the hairs in my nose freeze or thaw depending on the direction of the air flow and fingers are sandpaper from dishwashing these days. -31C yesterday morning and worse is to come for the new year.

And that’s the week, dear readers. Do stop by Monday. I’m having a book giveaway! Joshua Henkin will personally autograph and send a copy of his novel, Matrimony, to one of you – wherever you are in the world – and all you have to do is drop by and comment.

*I am paraphrasing somewhat. Disturbing vision though, eh?

Since I have been posting updates the last few weeks, I decided to again, but mainly because I am a little wrung out creatively speaking. I have written about four pieces over at 50 something Moms and adding pages to the memoir plus written the Christmas letter, a snarky little ditty that says nothing people who truly know us don’t already know and yet manages to remind others they could be keeping in better touch if they tried harder.

I am swamped with “to do’s” and find this amazing because I wasn’t this busy when I was gainfully employed. I have the Strathcona Writers website to try and log on to and update (not to mention create a blog and a Facebook group for) and the Fort writing group anthology is just taking off and is much more work than any of us thought it would be. And isn’t that usually the case?

My brother has been in touch several times this week too. There are things to worry about but not in print. Suffice to say, he is a long way from okay, but not in any danger that anyone in the family is aware of at this point.

Yesterday was my birthday. BabyD gave me a book called The Art of Column Writing that a writing friend and fellow blogger recommended. She is one who thinks I have the makings of a good columnist, one of my goals in the first quarter of the new year.

Yes, my year is now divided into frames of time as though I were a corporation. I am getting ready to map out the coming weeks and even meeting with someone at the bank on Monday to set up a “business account” because even though I have no inflow, I have expenses and, I think, a good business woman keeps those things separate from the household accounts for tax purposes – right?

Like a business card. I have gotten it into my head I need one. Now I just have to figure out what it should look like and say.

Rob gave me a digital voice recorder for my birthday. Instead of stopping in my tracks to pull out my notebook and a  pen (provided I can find them in my stuffed little purse – there is something else I need to “update”), I can whip out my recorder (yeah, definitely gonna need a new purse) and talk to myself. That will provide the locals something to give me “the look” about.

I got “the look” today from the spin instructor at the gym while I was snapping photos of the equipment for a piece I am going to write for 50something Moms.

“What are you doing?”

“Taking pictures for a column I am writing for a blog.”

And then comes the look. The one reserved for those of us who are a little bit off.

Tonight the Christmas Train is stopping here in Jo’berg. Country singers, sleigh rides and a bonfire with eats.

Later tonight the temps plummet and the weekend highs will be in the minus 20 c and colder range with minus 31c by Monday morning. Not cold enough for BabyD to need to be driven to school. Buses will run until minus 40. School, by the way, is never called off. Canadians are incredibly sensible about travel and road conditions. If they feel the roads are too bad to drive, they simply don’t. They don’t go to work. They don’t take their kids to school. There don’t seem to be repercussions for this because everyone from high up to lowest on the pole are of the same mind on the matter.

I am taking the elevation of my age by another year in stride. A thorough assessment reveals that I am not too fat, the skin under my chin is soft but not waddly and the white in my hair can still be camouflaged with minimal intervention. I do have crows feet. I am wearing progressive lens. But overall I appear to be maintaining.

Another of my pieces at 50 Something Moms will go into syndication the week of December 1st. I am pretty thrilled and slightly impressed with myself though goodness knows why. It’s not like anyone is paying me money and isn’t that how we are ultimately measured? 

Well, maybe not. I would like the opportunity to measure myself monetarily just a bit though where this whole writer gig thing is concerned. I keep hoping someone with the authority to say “Hey, come and write for us” will read me during one of these syndication opportunities because I haven’t any idea who to go to on my own – and believe me I would as I have no shame – or where there is a market for the kind of writer I am, at least on the Internet.

Writing is like real estate. It’s location and a bit of timing and a whole lot of salesmanship.

You can find my next syndicated piece here and my last offering here, if you haven’t caught it already. Let me know what you think!