Better & Bolder, the Blog

Three thoughts in the 3 days before I turn 50


One.

I went on a diet. I didn’t want to turn 50 with all my winter weight. I’m vain; what can I say? I stopped eating all my energy bars and raw agave-sweetened energy bars. Lo and behold, the first day I had a headache. You know the one, the sugar-withdrawal headache. Ooops, guess that’s where my winter weight gain was. Good to know. I also stopped chewing gum, and that was the toughest. I want something in my mouth and I want sweet stuff a lot. It’s a compulsion, and I don’t like feeling compelled. I want to choose, not just react. I ate really well, avoided gum, avoided my energy bars, lost the extra five pounds I’d put on, made it about three weeks, and then I got PMS and said, oh, heck no, I’m having some chocolate. 

Diets are no good for me, though. I check the scale too often. I feel a bit afraid -- am I gaining? losing? Is this too much? too little? I drive myself crazy. 

Here’s what’s better: I like to eat when I’m hungry and stop before I’m full. I like to eat a little bit of sweet and not go crazy on it. Being on this diet showed me that I was overdoing the chocolate and the energy bars. I want to be careful with that, for sure, and I also want to devote my energy to eating in a way that nurtures me rather than devoting my energy to caring about calories. I don’t want to say no to chocolate because of the calories. I want to say no when I’m eating it compulsively instead of with pleasure. I want to say no when my body has had enough. I want to say no without any worry or shame or guilt propelling me, just love and respect. 

I’m not there yet. I’m a bit closer than before though and, you know what? Way way closer than I was a decade ago. The changes in my ability to feed myself well and enjoy what I eat more is a lifetime away from how I used to cope. That’s a win.


Two.

I cry at everything. All the time, I cry. I do not mean this idly. I mean, once a day, at least, tears fall from my eyes. I hear something on the news. I read a particularly moving story in a magazine. I listen to a song. I think about my kids. Whoops, there it is, tears falling from my eyes.


My children are amazed. My husband is understanding. I mostly hide it. I mostly don’t mind it. Of all the symptoms we might have in the transition to menopause, crying is the sweetest.


When my ankle, achilles tendon, and plantar fascia were in pain, I went to see the acupuncturist. She said plantar fasciitis is common in women in perimenopause. That’s fascinating. So I took off my shoes to heal my ankles and feet, and, whoops, changed my life.  Yesterday I went for a walk on the bosque with my husband. I walked slowly, and at one point took off my sandals and walked bare in the sand by the river. For long stretches, I didn’t say anything. I noticed the plants and the sudden change of light in the sky as the sun dipped. Years ago, he thought pregnancy might slow me down. As if. It’s this thing here, the ride to menopause, taking off my shoes to run and to walk, this that’s slowing me down in all the right ways. I walk too slowly now and others have to wait for me when we’re out in the bosque together. That’s okay. 


Three.

For the past few years, I’ve wanted more magic in my life, yet I’m afraid of magic. 

I went again to acupuncture last week because I don’t sleep well. Of all the symptoms in the transition to menopause, I like this one least. I’m getting five to seven hours of sleep and I want a full eight. I told the acupuncturist that along with sleep, I’d love it if we could help out my poor right heel. I’m still slamming it into the ground when I run. 

All the books on barefoot running say, oh, don’t worry. You won’t slam your feet into the ground anymore because if you do, it hurts, so you stop. Excuse me, writers of these books, have you not met humans before? We have a stunning capacity to hurt ourselves or ignore our pain. 

It’s not for a lack of attention or trying, though, and I have made some progress in the past week, mostly by running faster so my feet spend less time on the ground. I'm also focusing on the back of my leg and letting it release. On this day, though, I went out too early, around 7 am, and it was 40 degrees. I went out in my running sandals and thought I was doing a quick 3 miles. The loop I chose, though, turned out to be five miles, and by the time I was home, my feet were numb. Though I ran faster, my form must still have suffered. My heel was throbbing. 

The acupuncturist placed three needles in my left hand and asked if my heel still hurt. It kind of did, so she added three more needles. My left hand began to throb while my right heel began to hurt less. At the end of the session, my heel felt great. I thought, okay, I know there’s a science here, but it feels like magic

When I say I want more magic in my life, I mean first, I want to notice magic more. 

How Good This Can Get


My upcoming life changes -- my daughter is now an adult! I'm turning 50, and I'm selling the studio -- have hurtled me into forward thinking.  My 40s were so rich. I started living the life I've wanted to have. I've learned what I need to do to make myself happy. I've learned how to feed myself. I've learned how to parent. I've learned how to grow my business.

Now I get to learn all that in a 2.0 version. Feeding and moving myself in my 50s is going to be different than it has been. Parenting adults is different. My business will need to grow in new ways. I've spent some time being terrified and I've spent some time sobbing with grief and loss. Now it's time for me to open my arms wide and step in.

Being hopeful is a choice. I could choose to entertain my fears, and I've been doing some of that, which, in small doses, can help to motivate and problem-solve. I don't want to live in those fears, though. I don't want to focus on all the things that could go wrong or get worse. They might! and I'll have to rise up and deal as that happens. In the absence of that reality, when nothing bad has happened yet, I can afford to be as positive and hopeful as I wish. 

It's time for a new dream board for me. It's time for me to dare to imagine how much better and yummier and richer and fulfilling my life can become. I imagine me loving more and being more at ease. I imagine more pleasure and more vibrant health. I imagine a stronger business, which is why I renamed my website www.betterandbolder.com (you can still reach it through the old name,www.bethoneall.com). I'll be including a reviews section soon and I want to pull in readers from outside our community so more people learn about Nia and about how to live our best, healthiest lives. 

Just so you know, hell, yeah, I'm scared. I'm scared of getting older. I'm scared of daring to dream and maybe not succeeding. I'm scared to say aloud that I dare to dream bigger and here are my dreams. Those fears, though, are just fears and gosh, nobody cares if I announce that, oh, I don't know, I'm going to paint my hair purple and then a week later I say, nah, not gonna do it. I can totally commit and go for it and if it doesn't work out, that's okay. I can totally commit and go for it with the next thing. I feel vulnerable and exposed. I'm willing to do that to get to the next place, wherever that may be, and I'm inviting you to come along for the ride. Let's go see how good this can get. 

This day, home, with my family


6d548f723950c2f84b32a2fbb52f2da8

April 13. Three weeks until 50.  The boys have been outside making benches for my party. I was pulling weeds. Siobhan painted an old screen door to use as a prop. I’m starting to feel excited. I am feeling loved and blessed to have my family create this celebration with me. 


I am heading into 50 with some fussing and kicking and screaming. And crying. Driving into work on Friday, I was crying, then sobbing, with grief and loss. This past decade has been transformative, powerful, precious. Growing up with my kids together with my husband has been the best kind of wonderful -- passionate, fun, connected. Some people look back fondly on when their kids were young. I love these teen years. 


Soon, they’re gone. That’s something to celebrate, too, and I’m feeling the loss. I’m bereft. There are other losses, too, including the loss of who and how I’ve been for years. It’s been rich and vibrant, and some of that shifts and sags, kind of like my belly and breasts after too long in gravity. Take away some of my estrogen, and the last of the plumpness goes, so there’s more sag, less muscle, less youth -- let’s be real. It doesn’t mean I can’t be strong; I am. It doesn’t mean I can’t be fit; I am. What I can’t be is any less than the age I am. That’s okay. That’s good. It just takes some getting used to. It just takes some sobbing on the way to work. Sobbing for the loss of my own youth, for the loss of the years I’ve had here with the four of us -- mom, dad, daughter, son -- and Lola, of course. 


I sense coming up that I can evolve or fade away. Better and bolder is a choice. There are days I think, no way, it’s simply not getting any better than it’s been: it has been so good. I’m told the 50s are great. Friends are delighted to be in their 60s. I’m guessing the transition is more difficult than the arrival. I’m guessing it’s a new kind of yummy. Still, it’s hard to imagine what could be as good as today. 

Game On

fierce close up

In The Nia Technique book, Debbie Rosas describes the Athletic workout. She says, “The practice is over and the game has begun. You know your body and can demand more from it.” She writes, “Athletic Nia is more challenging. Athletic Nia stresses more demanding boundaries, challenging your balance, strength, flexibility, and endurance.”

This is what 50 feels like to me. Game on. 

Those first 50 years, there’s so much building going on, and so many mistakes being made. There’s growing up and moving out.  For me there was partnering, unpartnering, partnering again, then parenting, all the while growing a few careers. Building, building, building. Along the way, I had to learn not just about my body, though that’s been big, but also my spirt, my emotions, my ways of thinking and learning. 

I make some of the same mistakes, and I get on track more quickly again. It’s easier to say I’m sorry and admit when I’m wrong, and it’s a tiny bit easier to forgive myself. I avoid a few mistakes that I had to make a whole bunch of times. 

I also enjoy my life more. The simple things get even better. The sound of someone else in our home -- I love that! just hearing those other wonderful people who love me and are loved by me, doing their own thing, here. 

So some of the fuss of the first 50 years is done. I’ve built. It’s a steady base. It’s a great place from which to explore a bit. What else do I want to be doing with my life? Maybe I want to be doing a little less of everything for a while. Maybe I want to build something else. 

I have some sadness with turning 50. I feel a bit over-and-done. This next generation, so beautiful and ripe, will be heading out of my house soon. Women around me are marrying, making babies, starting their own journeys through the 30s and 40s. I’m cheering them on, offering support, and they’re doing all the work. So, I feel a bit Over. 

The other sadness is out and out grief. I have so loved being mom to teens. I like the way our house feels with teens hanging out. I like my body, and it’s going to go through its most radical transformation since puberty. I’ll move from being a fertile woman to being a woman past her prime. That’s true. I am past a certain prime. I’m pretty sure I’m coming into a whole other prime, and I can’t see it yet. It’s unknown. Just as my kids will head out of my house into their unknown, I’ll be heading into my own unknown. 

I also have some fears, too, of the unknown. Worse is the fear of how aging can take our health. Good food and good sleep and good movement are essential to good health, and then, well, shit happens. Disease and injury, breakdown, accidents from which it’s harder to recover. I’m not exactly frail, yet this body has nearly 18,250 days on it. Parts wear out. 

I’ve been reflecting a bit on my losses and fears at the same time as I’ve been opening up to the possibilities that, truly, this is going to get even better and yes, I can grow even bolder. My hope is that the day I turn 50, I say, “Okay! What’s next? Bring it on!” I may just say, “whew, okay, let’s rest here for a bit. Let’s just not do a thing but be right here.” I want to feel powerful and beautiful and loving and loved -- don’t we all?  I want to feel that all as a 50 year old, too, not beautiful like my 20 year old self or powerful like my 30 year old self. I want this power, this beauty, this potential, this self. 

How good can I get? Let’s go find out. 

Exhaustion


Exhaustion is an interesting state, a blessed state. All the walls come down. I walk up and greet my biggest grief, which are the ways I have failed others. 


I recognize the times I could not give enough or was mean. I mourn. 


Being tired like this is a spiritual necessity. I can’t think straight. I have little emotional resilience. I cannot distract myself with work. I want to sleep and cannot sleep. The only restoration is in giving up. 


This is my edge, the place I go for growth. When I need to connect most deeply and completely, I come to the edge. It is not intentional, or planned, or at least, not by my conscious will. 


This week, I took away the foods that fuel my go, go, go. I took away the foods I eat compulsively, foods I eat at first with great pleasure, and then with terrible regularity, and then with compulsion and finally, rarely with pleasure. They have become a habit, an echo of an old desire. 


In eating them, my feelings calm. I don’t know how much is the food itself (maybe half) and how much the ritual. I know that I stop listening to my body. When my body says, stop, we’re full, I keep eating. When my body says, no, I don’t really want that, I keep eating. Before I even ask what my body wants, I’m eating. 


Though I’m calmer, it’s not a steady, sure hum. It’s more like a layer on top, something masking the underlying turmoil.  I have fuel to keep working, which, like the calm, sometimes is quite helpful. I’m thankful for this gift from this food. Yet it also drains my energy. I think about this food; I plan for it. I am distracted by it. I eat and realize I’ve stopped being hungry. I won’t allow myself that uncomfortable feeling. I feel disauthentic. 


It robs my energy in other ways. My vitality wanes. I gain weight, and this is the next drain: oh, how I hate the extra weight. I feel silly and ashamed of myself. Am I not commanded to love my body, in sickness and in health, five pounds less or five pounds more? I fail. 


It’s not that I don’t love my body. Yes, I do. I just want it to be different than it is right now. I am disappointed. I am less than delighted. I am missing a sliver of joy. That hearty, healthy, lusty, earthy pleasure in being an animal is dimmed a bit. 


This perhaps is natural and periodic. In winter, I live in my winter body. As I emerge into spring, I remember my summer body and I want her back. I want also the lust and the joy. I want the confidence and daring that comes from being clear that I do all I can to nurture my body, to fuel myself well, to rest well, to move well. 


So. I took away the foods that fuel instead my chronic habits of not paying good attention. I took away the foods that calm me and help me sleep at night. 


This isn’t permanent. This is the edge. I’ll settle in, I hope fairly soon, and I’ll be able to sleep again. But, not yet. Not until I’ve gotten to the place where all my defenses have dropped. I am too tired to grasp. I am too tired to hope or expect or plan. I am too tired to desire. I thin out and become wide open, waiting, waiting, waiting, until I am ready.


This is my 30 days to 50. This is how I enter the next decade. By going to the edge so I can grieve. By grieving so I can let go. By letting go so I can step in with wonder and a sense of possibility. I meant it when I said I’m going better and bolder. This is how it starts.