Supposedly there's a statistic floating out there that says people rank speaking in public as more scary than death. Mary walks into the room to confront some younger demons. Uh, oh. What a responsibility to be seen as A Role Model.
Nobody's Role Model
DOES SHE LOOK 50?
Have you ever been told you were a role model? It is very disturbing. Recently I was asked to speak to a small group of women in their early thirties. My subject was “Planning for Aging.” My audience is usally much older. I felt a little uncomfortable among these Junior League types.
My note cards contained all the pertinent information. I covered diet, exercise, financial planning, keeping a network of friends for spiritual support and the importance of new experiences.
My speech was positive and enthusiastic. What I did not realize was this; I could be setting myself up as a role model. Yikkkeesss!
The dynamics of the talk seemed to change when I opened the floor to questions.
Yes? You in the yellow jacket. “How have you managed to age so well?”
What was that nervous laugh. Oh, it was me.
You see sometimes I forget I am 50 going on 51. Sometimes I think it was only a few years ago I was going to Janis Joplin concerts and drinking Southern Comfort right along with her. Besides I am not that old! How old is old?
Have I done a good job planning for my older years? No, I have not. I live life on the fly. I am not a planner by nature, I am a writer married to an artist! I am an Aquarius. My mother should have named me Spontaneity.
My ears then heard my mouth say, “Well I have tried to eat well and watch my weight. I do some light weight training and walk on a treadmill. I get regular checkups. I see my Gyn every 6 months, my dentist every 6 months, my Internist once a year and I have my eyes checked yearly.”
I saw smiles and heads nod. It occurred to me I have just lied to 30 women. Well, not completely lied.
Oh, wait. Yes, I lied.
Next? “What advice can you give to women beginning to experience the early signs of menopause?”
What I wanted to tell them was this; I am here to tell you where to get good information, I am the messenger not the message.
"Well, menopause should be seen as a rite of passage for women, just as the beginning of menses. This change is natural and should not be seen as a catastrophic loss. Celebrate the change as you would the changing of seasons. Many options are available to the menopausal woman, talk with your doctor, educate yourself."
The dialogue continued in my head. You have no idea! Wait until you get the first hot flash and you stand in front of the sales clerk with sweat dripping from your upper lip!
Oh, yeh, remember when you did everything you could to treat your oily skin. Guess what, you can not buy enough moisturizer after you go through the pause.
My doctor said Hormone Replacement Therapy and I jumped. It stopped the sweating and flashing. It made me a nicer person, because I did not have the mood swings that drove my husband from the house screaming and cursing.
“What do think about Social Security and financial planning, is it too early to start?”
Now I thought, I know this one. "It is never to early to start looking at the amount of money you will need to retire and live as you live now. This is not taking into account unforeseen illnesses, or disabilities. Ladies, watch your money. Get your own credit, learn about 401 K’s and annuities. Don’t let your husband pull that “don’t worry your pretty little head about it, I am handling it.”
Laughter was beginning to punctuate my very practical dialogue. Okay Mary, who are you kidding. Tell ‘em.
Ladies, I am here to tell you what has worked for those who believe they have a satisfying old age. Surveys have proved that these ideas work. I have met many people who will tell you just that. Also, you must have a positive mental outlook. This much I have learned from my Seniors group.
To tell you the truth I am no role model for aging. I love pizza. Pizza in turn sticks to my thighs and my arteries. Exercise? I walk from the refrigerator to the computer, with a detour to the bathroom.
The only weight I have lifted lately is that 20 pound turkey I cooked for my really old cat. I have arthritis in my hips.
I can’t see to tweeze my eyebrows or paint my fingernails without my bifocals. I am moving onto large print books.
My husband is retired and we are what I like to call the “Genteel Poor.” I can no longer buy Liz Claiborne. You know the saying “I have been rich and I have been poor and rich is better.” The more money I had, the less creative I was. But that’s me.