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Self-Worth: The Biggest Mid-life Myth Debunked in Under 10 Minutes

beautiful busyI have thick thighs and thin patience…

What I’m finding particularly interesting at this middle-age-stage of femininity is how we continue to be coerced into believing that women exist in a big vat of lack.

It’s wearing my patience thin.

As a child, I was born into a generation who taught little girls to be quiet, and for-God’s-sake-don’t-pull-at-your-leotards-like-that.  As a teen, I was fed a diet of magazines with super-thin-models and how-to-keep-a-man-satisfied headlines.

In my twenties and thirties, it was about having it all; relationships, career, children, bff-friendships over expensive, boozy, brunches, and more diets and fitness routines. Raise your hand if you don’t have time to do your hair after a lunch-hour work out.

Now I’m in my forties, and the thing to be doing is redefining yourself.  It all sounds great; it’s a powerful message to send that in our 40’s we have so much lost potential. Fuck off with that already. Quit telling us that more is better. This is a myth perpetuating a generation of women who feel not good enough. 

sewing bookQuit telling us that existing in this world as a female requires more.  All  while men are getting cozy in their careers, maxing out their earning potential (still on average  13.3% more than a woman’s), and being patted on the back about their wonderful achievements.

Women are being fed a big ol’spoonful of ‘you-can-do-better’.

We are in crisis because we’re being told we should be more.

We are in crisis because we bear the responsibility of reproduction after spending our most fertile years striving for a career.  We have fewer economic opportunities, and the social expectation of being caregivers to parents and children while working at often more than one job to try to ensure we can retire before we die of exhaustion.  A male’s shrivelling manhood is being exalted while we’re being told we’re not good enough. No wonder our vaginas dry out and shrivel up.

If you’re strong enough to be a woman, you’re strong enough to no.

‘No’, will immediately toss you into the pile of ‘nasty’ women who quietly, but powerfully carry on as they damn well please.  Everyone with any honesty will tell you that women over 40 lose a significant amount of social currency. While men start getting rejected from potential employment in their late 50’s, women experience it a decade earlier. Saying no to unreasonable demands and less than you’re worth claims power.  It claims the respect you deserve for doing most of the emotional work within the household, for getting up and going to your job every day so you can put food on the table, even though it’s not sexy and even claims some time to rest.

The myth tells us all that we must be working at something else in order to justify a ‘no’. You do not. You just have to do you. And you is likely exhausted.

We’re enough as we are. We do not need to strip our souls bare and redefine ourselves. We do not need to buy into this myth just because the privileged class thinks it’s cool to be in crisis.

In my world, it’s cool to be cool. It’s cool to be ok with being all that you are.

You lack nothing. Be proud of who you are.

 

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Good-Bye Mr. Grey

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”
~ Lau Tzu ~

Yes, I’ve read it. Yes, it’s everything that mommy porn ever pretended to offer and more.

But I’ve been there, done that, had my very own Mr. Grey.

I didn’t realize at the time how totally screwed up some women are to want that kind of thing. The 24/7 control part, not the red-hot sex part. I get that. 

I mean my Mr. Grey  was just another guy in a long string of unique lovers, a string long and fascinating enough to wrap around a Christmas tree and inspire girl’s night stories for generations.

Ah, to be young again. Le sigh…..

An older, wiser, and experienced single gal-pal of mine once responded to my latest single-vacation-booking with, ” Good girl. Go make your memories. It won’t be long, and that’s all you’ll have.”

At the time I heard those words as a call for pity. A signal to plan another of our night’s out downtown, dolled up, pushed up, puckered up and ready for action.

But it wasn’t that at all. It was a rare statement of meaty truth. There was nothing grey about it. She knew something that I did not. She was well on the other side of 40  while I was still  in my early thirties.

Within a few years,  my taste for fast times and fast men would dry up. Soon, I would long for the sizzle of slow burning romance and to wake up in the arms of a man who loved me. That was a far cry from wanting, more than anything after a night out, to wake up blissfully satisfied, and even more blissfully – alone.

I used to proudly boast, “My kind of guy has the good sense to get up and leave,” and, “I’m not the kind of girl who stays for breakfast.”

I take you back to my days with my Mr. Grey. They were stretched out over years, trying to get to know a man who did not want to be known. Agonizing and thrilling all at once, this relationship had me hooked like the slow burn of alcohol, and the deep breaths of inhaling from a burning cigarette. Just the thought of spending a night with this man of many talents would have me glowing for days.

We were not exclusive. We both had other relationships. I couldn’t bring myself to commit to a man with so many unknowns. I didn’t care enough to play his game, but I was entertained enough to accept an invitation almost always, whenever one was offered.

And I learned. Boy oh boy did I learn. The difference between a well-educated lover and an amateur. The difference between a player and man who wore his heart on his sleeve. The limits to which I would go when it came to pleasing a man both in the bedroom and out.

I learned that there’s a reason I love men, the way their bodies move against my own, and the way that they make my own body hum. The way they look when they shave in the morning, all sweet and cuddly looking from sleep, but masculine at the same time. 

I learned that they’re all lying bastards, and all someone’s precious sons. I learned their needs are not so different from my own, and perhaps that’s why I have been hesitant to really commit, and ready to commit all at the very same time.

Learning about men meant learning about myself. I learned that I was tired of being with a man who craved attention. Made himself, however successful and affluent, look like an ass while trying too hard to maintain an air of mystery.

I learned that the most manly of men are the ones who can laugh with me, argue intelligently, admit fear,let me lay them out utterly and completely in the bedroom, and then return the favour another night.

My memories are fodder for many laughs, and for sharing my hard won wisdom with other women.

Christian Grey may have a helicopter, unending sexual appetite and stamina, but he lacks authenticity, and authenticity  my little pink beasts, is raw and powerful and sexy.

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Turn out the Lights and Be Beautiful

An 1889 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting of ...
An 1889 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting of a woman applying cosmetics to her face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, dressed in spandex capris and an oversized orange “VOLUNTEER” T-shirt, I bumped into an acquaintance of mine.  I was gob-smacked when she said, “Wow! You look terrific. It’s like you’re ten years younger!” I was taken aback. I’d been up since 6am, and out in the sun all day encouraging 160KM GranFondo cyclists  just after the 100km mark. I even went so far as to massage one rider’s cramping gams.

My eye make-up had settled into the laugh lines around my eyes, and I’d skipped my foundation and rouge altogether. We remarked it was likely dumping the 170 lbs of baggage of my last relationship, laughed, and carried on our way to sit next to a team of very handsome, very lithe and muscular cyclists. Seeing as her compliment gave me a confidence boost, I wiggled in between two of the cutest, and started a very engaging conversation about the ’cause’ we were there to support. I certainly wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, and I lingered, enjoying the conversation and the view.

You see, Sundays are usually my newspaper days, but this weekend was different. Saturday my volunteer duties were pretty light.   That meant that I had time to read the newspaper. On a Saturday. Imagine that.   The Globe is my weekend paramour. So much my sweetheart, that if I were a man, she would definitely be my Saturday night girl.  I would buy her sparkling jewels and make love to her into the wee hours of the morning….

Alas, the Globe is simply a newsrag, so there is no lovemaking. I settled in on my little patio with the Arts section and a nice glass of a new Scottish Ginger Beer that’s struck my fancy of late.  An article about the new Sarah Polley film, “Take This Waltz” caught my eye. A large photo of starlet Michelle Williams centred the article.  It was a well written piece in which Williams waxes philosophical about the deeper meaning of her acting, discussing how romantic love has replaced spiritual love in our life and times. But let’s not discuss that. I’m sure my wee little double x chromosome brain would become overwhelmed, and I would succumb to a case of the vapours.

In “Take This Waltz”, Williams’s character Margot is a woman, “…in the midst of realizing that the person she once was is not the person she wants to be.” No kidding. Really? Don’t we all arrive at that barren crossroads at least once or twice in our adult lives? I know I’ve arrived at the corner of  Where-the-heck-am-I and How-on-earth-did-I-get-Here, at least twice.

Isn’t it just when we realize we are alone at this crossroads, that we have a feeling of both physical and emotional nakedness? Don’t we feel vulnerable, a bit shabby, and insecure? Say yes ladies. You know it, and the big bad consumer munching wolf knows it, hence, the Style section of the newspaper.

I almost choked on my Crabbies reading about  Lise Watier’s nod to the boomer generation who may be needing some extra ‘illumination’ at this crossroads.  They are marketing (very brilliantly I might add) nail polish and lip gloss complete with built-in lighting.   Playing right into the hands of all of the women out there who, despite being, “…in the midst of realizing that the person she once was is not the person she wants to be” still want to hussy up the gifts that the good lord gave them and be perceived as a woman who is exactly who she wants to be.

I can’t waggle my finger and look over the top of my glasses at women who want to look their best. After all, I rarely leave the house without make-up, and my wild hair is often the worst part of my day. I like to go out feeling confident too, but being confident, truly confident, is tangled up pretty tightly with  being happy.

So, today when my gal-pal gave me that compliment, it wasn’t because my hair was freshly salon coiffed, or I was sporting a coveted logo. I believe my joie de vivre morphed into something that has become part of my physicality. Simply put, when she saw me today,I was happy.   

This morning I left my house at 6:45am, and arrived home finally just after 8:30pm. Laundry on, my teenager scrubbing the dust of practice off, and lunches yet to be packed, I scrambled into my running gear and did a quick 5km. Nazareth came on, reminding me of my university days when my roommate used to get up early and drive me to the varsity gym to do my daily circuit workouts. A picture of me from our last Christmas together as roommates flashed through my mind; long, strong legs in a pair of shorts and my hair wrapped in a towel in front of our Christmas tree striking a silly pose. I looked young, healthy, strong and beautiful. I was all of those things then, but I didn’t feel them. 

Time works a strange magic though. Although my legs are still strong, they’re not as shapely as they once were. My face has filled out, as has every other part of my body. My skin isn’t as radiant, but I feel, at this age more strong and more beautiful than I did  16 years ago.  Still, my friend’s  compliment today perked me up. Just think, today I didn’t even need to use my emergency make-up lighting.