Reluctant Sunshine Girls

I spent a recent Saturday with my dear old friend Susie talking about life and our futures — the whole “where to next” conversation so typical of FabulousOver60s.

Bill and I are recent downsizers: we went from two houses to one in the beautiful desert of Arizona as home base. Susie and her husband are also joining us – in downsizing that is, with home base in Florida.

We feel blessed to have great places to be when it gets cold and dreary – can’t beat winter in a sunshine state. But we are reluctant to lose our roots and time in the northeast where we both grew up. While not miserable (no fabulous women are miserable – we correct that state of affairs pronto) we want it all – our sunshine homes but also more time in the places more historical and varied with a change of seasons and not just “fun in the sun”.

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Seems Susie and I are in the swim – we both live in states that have the oldest populations of over 65s – yes, Florida and Arizona. But being part of the trend doesn’t seem to make us less likely to think about old-fashioned Christmas’s in NY or CT or Denver. Nor are we believers in the “dry heat myth of Arizona” or the “just a little humidity myth of summers in Florida”. Too much of anything (except shoes) is always a bad thing. Our husbands disagree – both want to spend more time in the sun and resist any talk of a second permanent apartment/condo where we grew up.

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I wonder how many other FabulousOver60s are reluctant sunshine girls – loving the privilege of avoiding the winter but wistful for more energy from the big city. Or seeing the leaves change and getting started again on a project just like we did when younger?

Am finding that there is no more a perfect retirement/semi-retirement lifestyle than there was a perfect lifestyle in one’s 30s or 40s. We were a generation of woman who wanted it all. Many of us had a solid version of that juggling careers, family responsibilities, travel and an occasional sun baked vacation. It makes me a little sad to read how much things have NOT changed in workplace where the wars still wage on gender equality and work/life balance. There are new voices of course – but on-going issues.

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Perhaps what we can model to younger women is a better range of options as we age; and changing multiple times, not just getting “set” and keeping that one lifestyle and approach. As Sheryl Sandberg recently said in an interview: “No one can have it all”. We were wrong to think we could and now we are equally wrong if we think we can have a perfectly ordered, balanced older life – with just the perfect amounts of work (paid and unpaid), fun, sun, our roots and traveling. It is always all about price isn’t it?

I have always believed life is like a garden – tons of gorgeous flowers to pick and hold close. But every flower has a price tag – from orchids to daisies – we make choices. And those choices lead to leaving things behind, doing less of some wonderful options, and accepting the downside to any great choice. No matter how much you love and honor your partner – if you never have a day dreaming of their demise I don’t believe you.

We can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan – and never let him forget he’s a man.

It wasn’t true then – it isn’t true now. Relax and have fun, love your choices and be open to change. That is the best thing to model to our younger friends and children – no matter where you live, or what you do. Encourage them to accept and enjoy NOT having it all – instead loving the best parts of what they have chosen – just like us FabulousOver60s do. Or at least try to.

Patty