Story: “An Awakening”
When I was diagnosed with Breast cancer a few years back, I reacted like most who receive a cancer diagnose, first thing came to mind was a “death sentence”. I found out later that it was truly “an awakening” for me; even after being diagnosed with colon cancer a few years later. I began questioning God, why would you do this to me? What had I done so bad in life to have this thrown upon me? But instead of bemoaning my fate, I decided to look for the positive side of it. There has to be a reason for it all.
I also realized that I was about to face a new beginning, new hope, do and see more with a whole new prospective on life. When I think of the “gift of life” that was given to me, I know that I will develop and gain strength from all my experiences. Not saying, and nor would I ever say that cancer was a gift, surviving it, receiving a second change at life, is the gift. Even with the complications I now have to live with, I still feel truly blessed. For a while, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked after my surgery and the pain I had to endure each day, but I decided to snap out of it. I thought about the individuals that are no longer among us. I also realized that there will always be someone worse off than I am. I reminded myself, that I “still have my life” and who am I to complain.
One day I experienced something of a miracle and felt the compulsion to write it down. I turn that experience into a poem and I called it “Peace”. Writing has become therapy for me. I took that poem, along with many others I had composed during my breast cancer period and placed them into book form. I was blessed enough to have that book published. I’m hoping that anyone who has the opportunity to read my poems, get out of them, what I placed in all of them. I wish to make a positive impact on someone who’s ill or otherwise, where they could develop the strength to embrace life in a whole new way. I never anticipated becoming a writer, I just became one. I truly believe when you survive a horrific tragedy or a horrible disease as cancer, it’s for a reason, “you have a purpose”, and that’s what I’m all about now, inspiration. And through and with it all, I still feel and look fabulous, even over the age of 60 yrs. Yes, I know that I still look and feel good a lot of the times. Looking good and feeling good about yourself, helps a lot, even when your body is saying something else, dishing out pain on the inside and out.
I would have never become a writer, producing inspirational poems and stories, if I had not gone through all that I did. I’m a true example that you can survive cancer not once, but twice, providing you
catch it in time, have faith and allow that faith to direct your path. I’m not saying all will be easy, I won’t say everyone will survive it, even while holding on to their faith. But as you embark on such a journey, fight with all your might and believe, that no matter what, God is with you every step of the way!
2x Cancer Survivor/Author
It is early Sunday morning, 6 a.m. (oh how I wish I could sleep in on a weekend, but my body clock wakes me up the same time every day. I have never used an alarm clock in my life, snooze button…what’s that?) As I sit with a cup of green tea with freshly squeezed lemon (the new/old idea to keep me healthy and lose weight “quicker”. Have you watched Downton Abbey? Those English people have been doing this for century’s…nothing new about it.) I wonder how other 60-year-old women are handling life. I wake up every morning, stretch myself out of bed into a yoga pose balancing on one leg, look at myself in the mirror, and say…I’ve GOT to lose this belly fat!!! I’ll start today!! Luckily, I do not have an ache or a pain in my body, and I think…I should get on that treadmill this morning….I’ll have time later. I don’t think my treadmill has 50 miles on it and I bought it 10 years ago…..but I will use it….when I’m ready. And the fact is I really do love to exercise, walk and lift weights, even run a little….when I’m ready. GOD when am I going to be READY!!! The last 10 years have slipped by so fast, and I worry that the next will go by in a blink of an eye, and I will be 70 thinking these same things.
I Googled “blog for women over 60” and found “Fabulous over 60, the place where smart, sassy, sophisticated women can laugh, share and grow.” PERFECT, just what I was looking for. I was so engrossed in the blog, my tea got cold, and had to go zap it. The blog is written by Cathy Green and Patty Webber. (I now consider them and the followers of their blog to be my new best friends). Thank you Cathy and Patty. I look forward to reading and contributing stories of my own to your blog in hopes that someone else will connect their life story to mine and other “over 60 women”.
From Deby H. – Paths and Potholes
This path to our small market. We love to use it, first it’s a short cut, but it’s jungle, it’s green and a little spooky at night, even with a small flashlight. Well, maybe it’s just me. But there are lots of vines and trees above, could have a snake in the trees or vines. Right? One of my favorite paths is the one from our beach to the other beach. You have to go up and over a hill. At the top of the path I always look at both sides. You can see both beaches at the same time and there is always a cooler breeze, just a bit at the top. I think this is where I will have Chuck build our next home. At the top with the breeze. Oh it’s not for sale. Ok Ok.
Our regular morning walk, has just a slight problem. Which side of the path should we take? Really it boils down to, is the left side more muddy than the right. Because I have slipped there way more than once. Hey I don’t want to break a hip.
There are a few rules of mud (never thought I would be such a good reader of mud, but I am) one is Never look up while walking. Oh no. If you see a monkey or a beautiful bird. Stop. Then look up, or you will slip and fall, like me. Hey, paths this time of year are very muddy. Yes I have learned all this the hard way. Also try not to walk on small rolling rocks, or leaves that look wet. Yes, I slipped on them once to.
You can’t really miss a pothole. Some are as large as a VW. One time Chuck and I were driving someplace and Chuck almost hit a pig. The pig popped up at the last second and we just missed him. Pig in a Pothole. That just might be the name of my next pork recipe.
Sue (my sister) and I were walking one morning and I slipped in a pothole up to my chin. Almost got the muddy water in my month, because I was laughing so hard.
What are your walks through life like?
From Deby H.
I’m jumping in. I’m not your mother’s blogger, oh wait I am. So I thought at 62 I know a little about cooking and baking. I am ready to share my sweet life here in the jungle of Costa Rica. My home away from home. My outside cooking area, eating area, living area. The “rancho” as it’s called here in Costa Rica. I live here with my surfer husband of 42 years and I cook quite often. I am just trying to do something different, helps the ol brain. I think. So now I am cookinginthejungle.com
From Sue – Dating After 60
One of the unexpected joys of being divorced at age 50 was learning the exhilaration of living independently and singly, after having been married essentially from age 20 to 50 (switch of husbands after 7 years, with only a brief interlude between). My subsequent long-term serious relationship a few years later had such a satisfying arc (committed but independent, even living in separate cities for part of it, with no assumption ever that it would “progress” to marriage, until it ended amicably and lovingly by mutual agreement) that I assumed it would be my last.
Don’t say to an independently single woman: “You’re so pretty, intelligent, and nice, I just don’t understand why you haven’t found somebody.” Whether she feels the same way or is happily independent, she doesn’t need you to characterize her as somehow less for her aloneness.
A friend who was dating after having waited a decorous interval after being widowed showed me an email from one of the men she was seeing and said “What do you think this means?” I said “It means that we’re not in junior high and we don’t have to do this anymore. If you’re having to ask that, he’s not worth it.” I hope I didn’t say that aloud, but I certainly thought it. I often painstakingly explained to my pedicurist that no, I had not met anyone, wasn’t trying to meet someone, and in fact had no interest in it. Nor did I.
Christmas dinner — a friend has a large gathering at which it is understood that you may invite anyone who may need a warm and comfortable place to go on Christmas. A young couple brought someone I assumed was his or her father, and toward the end of the evening we began talking. Suddenly (when he gave me his business card) I realized with horror that he was interested in me, so I quickly excused myself to refill my drink and joined another conversational group. I tossed aside his business card, laughing at his request to email him with my information. However, the next morning he had found me on Facebook and sent me a message.
I had a blessed week off between Christmas and New Year’s and wanted no complications, including having to know what day of the week it was or even shower if I didn’t feel like it. So I held him at arm’s length till I went back to work in January. At that time I thought he might be interesting to investigate, and invited him to an event at work. However, he was leaving for a month on business. Knowing that his work took him out of town made him infinitely more appealing to me. When he got back to Tucson I suggested we get coffee and get acquainted.
Turns out the business trip was an anomaly, as was his subsequent impassioned interest in me. Or actually the intensity building to an unsustainable level turns out to have been a relationship pattern for him. I thought I was being wary and sensible, holding him at arm’s length and moving cautiously, but when I review the timing of the gelato date a couple of days later and the moonlight walk a couple of days after that I realize how quickly we progressed (at his instigation) to passion, intimacy, the “L” word, forming an intention for our relationship, having our intention blessed by a priest, and speaking about the future as though there would always be one. Early on I pointed out and we discussed how I had been perfectly fine before we met and was wary of allowing someone else the power to affect my happiness, and with his reassurances I challenged myself to open my heart, because becoming vulnerable is essential to true intimacy.
Don’t say to someone in the midst of a blooming relationship: “congratulations” “it’s great to see you so happy.” To me “so happy” implied that I wasn’t happy before the relationship, and being congratulated made me wince.
As the months passed I gradually adjusted and accommodated. I cleared out space for him (OK, one-third of one closet for his things, but also living room space for a music stand and guitar and speakers and a computer hooked to the stereo, and garage space so he could park inside), learned to eat more vegetarian things, and adjusted my preferred dinnertime earlier to suit his nutritional needs. I learned to wait in the car till he came around to open my door, to be OK with his bringing lunch to me at work each week on one of our non-get-together days, and to accept his need to fix things, such as the toilet handle that sticks if you don’t jiggle it just right or my sadness after having put my sister on the plane after a good visit, seeing them as demonstrations of how much he was “into” me rather than his need to control. I didn’t accommodate everything — I winced at the way he banged around dishes, so made the policy that we each do the cleanup at our own house, and I refused to add in eating a hearty breakfast on work days just because he does and wanted me to. Probably the most difficult adjustment was the amount of time taken up. I learned to fit in “my” things during our non-get-together days, and continued to make plans with other friends, although as time went on I found myself reveling in having 24 hours to myself on “my” days.
Don’t say to someone in the midst of a blooming relationship: “is that a special ring I see on your left hand?” Even people in happy long-term relationships resent being asked when they are going to get married, and it’s possible you’re asking someone who’s just been broken up with, as happened to me.
So it ended. He ended it, without mutual discussion or exploration of solutions to his concerns. His job situation changed, becoming much busier, which completely overwhelmed him. I had been looking forward to it because I foresaw much less time spent together, but of course I didn’t foresee a complete break. Had I expressed sooner my preference for less togetherness, would it have changed the outcome? Probably not, because ultimately I think it was because of his need for control.
Don’t say to someone recently broken up with: “you don’t want him if he doesn’t want you.” That’s true, but at that moment his not wanting you is what is so painful.
It’s devastating to be broken up with. Yearned-for time and space for myself was different when I had that time because there wasn’t someone in the world thinking I’m wonderful and wanting to be with me. Instead of stretching ahead enticingly empty, the days loomed long and lonely. The first Friday after the breakup (one of my weekend days) was my first glimmer of feeling better, when I realized toward the end of the afternoon that I didn’t have to rush around finishing up everything that I had wanted to get done. The second glimmer was when a friend from California left after a visit and I felt relieved to have my house back to myself. The third was doing a 5-hour road trip to visit a friend and enjoying my complete freedom to choose my route, my snacks, and even which CDs to bring.
I started by ditching things that reminded me of him — either getting rid of them, such as the goat butter and the organic vegetable broth, or desensitizing myself to them by reframing them, such as continuing to eat more grains and roasted vegetables but with the vegetables I prefer. I reclaimed territory, going to the gelato place with other friends and carrying up the Communion elements by myself at church. I parked in the middle of the garage again, and one night I suddenly remembered that before him I used to sleep spread-eagled kitty-corner across the bed. I had the locks rekeyed. It seemed like overkill, and I did it mostly as a symbolic gesture, but then I remembered that I’d trusted him with something much more precious than my worldly goods and he’d failed me. I wish that it were so easy to rekey one’s heart.
Don’t say to someone recently broken up with: “what an a**hole.” It’s much too facile and simplistic for someone who is trying to come to terms with the complexities of an ended relationship.
I’ve progressed to the point that I can see the many ways in which he was unsuitable for me. However, I am still sad. I apologized to the priest who had blessed us for having misled him, and he justified our asking for his blessing on the basis of the hope of a new relationship and helped pinpoint for me that my grief is about the end of hope. My prayer is that eventually I will gain the perspective to see good as well as bad from this time, but right now I feel that it is a span of months I would rather not have experienced.
Don’t say to someone recently broken up with: “let me tell you about my dysfunctional sex life.” Actually it’s hard to imagine anytime that it would be OK to say that, and especially not to someone who is grieving the loss of a relationship.
At the moment here’s what I’ve managed to scrape together some gratitude for. The thought of physical intimacy at 62 was intimidating to me because of course I don’t look the way I did when I was young and taut and physically fit. It turns out that probably the other person is in the same boat. In addition, the other person also probably has to get up more than once in the night, develops gas after eating, or other complications of intimacy.
The other thing is that when dating after 60 you have the freedom to accept more kinds of people. You’re not looking for a good father necessarily, and not even for a good provider if you’re financially comfortable. Unless you’re planning on cohabiting you don’t even need to have the same personal habits. And at this age we all have previous relationships and other baggage. The challenge is to discern which red flags are of concern, and I don’t know how you do that.
And most important, what about next time? I want to be wary but not shrill, and not punish a new person for what the last person did. How do I protect myself yet still allow myself to be the giving, open, loving person that I am?
Don’t say to someone broken up with: “I’m sure you’ll find someone else.” Just don’t.
Welcome to Reality!
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Deeanne Colwell. I have just retired from an incredible job. Yes, for 30 years I was a pilot at a major United States airline. My dream shot that came true after giving up a career in medicine to pursue my life’s passion. Although we are a minority in the aviation community, I never felt as though I was a role model, a trail blazer or any other feel good term. I was a woman airline captain just doing what I loved.
Due to federal mandates I had to retire at age 65, give all this up. It wasn’t the money or any prestige, it was my passion. After the retirement process I thought to myself, time for a new adventure, a new challenge, a new life. But every time I thought of returning to graduate school or becoming a bartender my love of aviation would keep creeping into my thoughts.
I am saying, ok girl, if you cannot fly go teach, you just might have something to offer to the aviation community. What the heck, you might even inspire another woman to take on this challenge. OK, let’s not push it yet.
As luck would have it, I found an international flight training company that trained corporate pilots from all over the world to fly. I applied and was given an interview. My first thought was I have nothing to wear to an interview – I went out to an upscale women’s shop, bought a nice suit and now I am ready.
I go to the interview, was greeted very professionally by the staff, this was so comforting to me since I had not been to an interview since the mid-80’s. All was well until the interview room started filling with men. Men asking me very mundane questions, actually they were very easy to answer. Then the subtle attacks and flanking maneuvers began. I began to see where this was going. I was asked very condescending questions, questions that a student pilot could answer. It was almost like they were saying to me, “OK sweetie why are you really here?” But what they didn’t realize is I love a challenge, I love a confrontation. I held my ground. Finally one man asked me, what do you really have to bring to this organization? I looked at him square and said, EXPERIENCE.
The interview ended very cordially, with the standard “we have many other candidates to go, we’ll be in touch”.
After leaving, on my drive home, many thoughts were going through me. Thoughts like where did I go wrong, could it have gone better. Then I said to myself, woman you did great, if they don’t hire you it’s their loss.
The reality of all this hit me after 30 years, the reality of the “glass ceiling”. The reality of this still “macho” business. I’ve been sheltered all these years and the “glass ceiling” was just a term for me. What this interview has awakened me to do is to become active in being a role model, a motivator for some young girl who wants what I had, to even become a fighter pilot or maybe an astronaut.
I suppose we all owe something to someone, some time. Dee.
I hate bras.
Let me get that out of the way first thing.
The first thing I do every day when I get home is take my bra off.
When I was in fifth grade, I was tall and very thin. Although I had already become a woman, I had no signs of physical maturity. All the places that would eventually become hairy were still smooth and my chest looked the same as it did when I was six.
Classmates were blossoming and budding, adding a rounded shape to our tailored shirtwaist uniforms. My uniform hung straight down from my wide shoulders to my small waist. No protrusions whatsoever.
Helen was in the same shape. We decided we’d do something about it, even if we got busted.
One Saturday, Helen and I walked from her house to a small shop specializing in clothes for young girls. We casually wandered through the dresses, blouses, sweaters, not wanting to seem too obvious in our mission. Slowly, indifferently, we made our way to the area where the bras were. We looked at them for a minute or two before actually touching one. Our eyes fell on what was called a “training bra.” Perfect. That’s just what we needed. Something to bring the reluctant dark pink circles on our chest to life. A bra to train our breasts how to behave. Now we’re talking.
We did have one problem. We only had enough money for one bra and there were two of us. But we didn’t see that as a problem. Helen would wear it for one week and I would wear it for the next week. It might take a little longer to train our buds to blossom, but we had time. A deal was struck and a bra was bought.
And it worked! By the end of fifth grade, little bumps were forming.
Then the unspeakable happened. My mother wanted to take me shopping for bras. As she said, “To cover your little marbles.” Oh God, spare me. What could be more embarrassing? Marbles, Mom? Of all the words to choose…geez.
Off we went to Robinson’s department store in Pasadena. After a tête-à-tête with the sales lady, a sampling of bras appeared in a dressing room. I tried them on. Guess which one fit? The training bra. My marbles needed more training. Fine by me, just get me out of there.
By fifteen, my tatas did grow and I was able to fill an A cup and the top of a tiny bikini.
By twenty, I was a long-haired, tie-dyed hippie. I abandoned wearing a bra. I didn’t burn them, just shoved them to the back of my top dresser drawer.
It wasn’t until I became pregnant that bras re-entered the picture. These were not training bras or petite A cup lingerie items with delicate pink flowers. These were honking garments complete with three rows of hooks in the back, inch-wide straps and drop down front doors. I don’t remember if those bras had cups sizes. Let’s just size I was now wearing size huge.
As I grew older, bras came and went in my life. As I aged, my body went from lithe to luscious, or more accurately, post-menopausal fat.
My boobs grew with me. These days, at 65, I go to the gym three times a week and horseback ride twice a week. I need a bra. But finding one with straps that don’t end up three inches off my shoulders in five minutes or squeeze my chest with military-grade wire is impossible.
So, Ladies, let me hear from you. Do you have THE bra that meets the above demands? I need your support.
Born in 1951, I was the “baby” with a sister a little over one year older than me. Our Mom was homemaker through our grade school years. She did everything! Mom was a great cook, sewed our clothes and knitted our sweaters. Dad was always working – two jobs for lots of years. I think he worked two jobs because my mother always wanted more. She was also very controlled with her emotions and I never remember any hugs. She created an atmosphere of needing to be “perfect” – and my sister and I were constantly trying to figure out what perfect meant. My high school years were all about wanting to go to medical school. The teachers advised me that it would be too difficult, since I was a female going into a “male” career. So, even though I was a top student, my gender took away from the fact that I was intelligent? Since neither of my parents were college grads, it was a lofty goal for us to go on to college – and that also created the need for more money! I eventually went on to college, only to drop out after almost 3 years to get married. I had been a pre-med student but couldn’t focus enough on studies to get those A grades. After 6 years of marriage, no children and moving away from home, I opted for divorce because I found out I wanted more too. I was working and finding out that I could succeed in the workplace, so I found a desire for more education and success. Too many years later, after being single and supporting myself – always a constant struggle to earn enough to live in Boston – I again wanted to complete a college degree. Working full time and taking classes was a full plate – and I saw other women who were trying to do the same, AND had children to take care of and support!!! Yikes!!!!!! I had it easy compared to that. I continued to work in the insurance industry, and continued to take courses here and there without gaining much at the time. I had some educated and supportive women around me and that certainly gave me motivation to keep going even when I would go through times of feeling stuck in a life of not accomplishing something that was right for me. I finally found the place to complete a degree – and decided I wanted two degrees. I completed a biology and a chemistry major; found my “old” desire to do something to contribute to medical science and had an opportunity to do an internship in a research laboratory. From there, graduating at age 50, I found joy in working with people I had many things in common with. I had married again, to the person that I could actually envision spending the rest of my life with. It has much to do with the reality that he is a person who believes in doing what you enjoy – and the definition of what I enjoy is my own. I now find that I have ambition to continue to work as long as I am able and not just when I meet retirement age according to the Social Security rules. I am challenged with my work and do research that is what I believe I am meant to be doing. And, by the way, we women are highly capable of excelling in math and science! Please stop the educators from talking about women having difficulty with these subject – it just sets up the concept of failure.