Things I learned while I wasn’t looking

(A short word from the birthday girl — that would be me)

terrie 44

That’s not my age, but it’s close enough. 🙂 (Photo by D)

This birthday post was supposed to be published last Thursday, but I was off doing other things, so I’m publishing it today. Here are some things that I’ve learned/am still learning: I’ve learned to chill out. I can still get preoccupied about my looks, weight, whether people like me or not, but most of the time, I have grown comfortable with myself. Too much drama in life can be tiring. It’s great to be able to sit and read a book, but it’s also great to do something you haven’t done before instead of just reading about it. Pushing boundaries doesn’t stop when you become older. In fact, it becomes imperative because there are no more excuses. Just get on with it already. Your first grade teacher was right: It pays to read the instructions first and follow them. But sometimes, you need to know when to disregard the instruction book and just go by gut feel. Bravery means taking the first step. It always helps to talk it out. Always be polite. A smile always works wonders; but so does a raised eyebrow. Know when to keep your mouth shut but know when to speak up. Always be there for the people you care about and never take them for granted. I also thought I’d borrow from Amy Poehler in her book, Yes Please. She expressed it better than I could, anyway:

“Getting older makes you somewhat invisible. This can be somewhat exciting. Now that you are better at observing a situation, you can use your sharpened skills to scan a room and navigate it before anyone notices that you are there. This can lead to you finding a comfortable couch at a party, or to the realization that you are at a terrible party and need to leave immediately. Knowing when to edit is a great aspect of getting older, and since you are invisible, no one will ever notice that you are gone. Not getting immediate attention means you can decide how and when you want people to look at you. Remember all those goofy comedies in the eighties where men became invisible and hung out in women’s locker rooms? Remember how the men got to watch the pretty girls take showers and snap each other with towels? You can do this, but in a different way. You can witness young people embarrassing themselves and get a thrill that it’s not you. You can watch them throw around their “always” and “never” and “I’m the kind of person who’s” and delight in the fact that you are past that point in your life. Feeling invisible means you can float. You can decide to travel without permission. You know secrets and hear opinions that weren’t meant for you to hear. Plus, It’s easier to steal things.

“Getting older also helps you develop X-ray vision. The strange thing is that the moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more. You get better at understanding what people mean and how it can be different from what they say. Finally, the phrase, ‘actions speak louder than words’ starts to make sense. You can read people’s energies better and this hopefully means you get stuck talking to less duds. You may also start to seek out duds, as some kind of weird emotional exercise to test your boundaries. You use the word ‘boundaries.’ You can witness bad behavior and watch it like you would someone else’s child having a tantrum. Gone are the days (hopefully) when you take everything personally and internalize people’s behavior. You get better at knowing what you want and need. You can tell what kind of underwear people are wearing. “…The friends you meet over forty are really juicy. They are highly emulsified and full of flavor. Now that you are starting to have a sense of who you are, you know better what kind of friend you want and need. My peers are crushing it right now and it’s totally amazing and energizing to watch. I have made friends with older women whom I have admired for years who let me learn from their experience. I drink from their life well. They tell me about hormones and vacation spots and neck cream. I am interested in the people who swim in the deep end. I want to have conversations about real things with people who have experienced real things. I’m tired of talking about movies and gossiping about friends. Life is crunchy and complicated and all the more delicious.

“Now that I’m older, I am rounder and softer, which isn’t always a bad thing. I remember fewer names so I try to focus on someone’s eyes instead. Sex is better and I’m better at it. I don’t miss the frustration of youth, the anticipation of love and pain, the paralysis of choices still ahead. the pressure of ‘What are you going to do?’ makes everyone feel like they haven’t done anything yet. Young people can remind us to take chances and be angry and stop our patterns. Old people can remind us to laugh more and get focused and make friends with our patterns. Young and old need to relax in the moment and live where they are. Be Here Now, like the great book says.

“I have work to do. I remain suspicious of men and women who don’t want to work with their peers, comedy writers who only hire newbies, and people who only date someone younger or of lower status. Don’t you want the tree you love or work with to have a similar number of rings? Sometimes I get scared that I have missed out or checked out. Occasionally I don’t recognize myself in the store window. When this happens, I try to speak to myself from the future. This is possible since time travel is real and I have the proof… Here’s what my ninety-year old self tells me.

  • Get to the point, please.

  • Talk slower and louder.

  • You look great and you are beautiful.

  • Can you walk? Stop complaining.

  • Stopcomplainingstopcomplainingstopcomplaining.

  • Stop whining about getting old. It’s a privilege. A lot of people who are dead wish they were still alive.

  • Ignore what other people think. Most people aren’t even paying attention to you.

  • Find a nice boy who is nice to you.

  • Isn’t dancing fun?

  • Let’s not talk about people dying.

  • Don’t go too long without talking to your family.

  • Forgive your parents for what they never gave you.

  • Eat some nice soup and you will feel better. Or take a walk.

  • Relax and let her win. Who cares?

  • Whocareswhocareswhocareswhocareswhocares.

  • Make “No” a complete sentence.

  • Kiss every baby and pet every dog.

  • Walk slowly and lie down when you’re tired.

  • What’s next?

  • That next-door neighbor is too loud; that’s it, I’m calling the cops.

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My name is Terrie. I write for a living and blog for pleasure. Some days, I get up in the morning and know precisely what kind of day it is. At other times, I get knocked over for a loop. People seem to like confiding in me. When I was younger, I thought I knew everything and can tell you what you need to do if you ask me. Now that I'm older, I realize I don't know anything. That's been my motivation for the blog and for writing. To figure out the unknown and unknowable.

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