When I turned fifty, a scant 2 months ago, I realized I wanted to start measuring my life in decades, not years. I didn’t need the usual birthday resolution, “Before I turn 51, I want to have…” I wanted the new-decade resolution, “When I turn 60 I want to have accomplished…” Obviously, as I get older time goes by so damn fast that 10 years is the equivalent of 1 year.
Also, 50 feels kind of non-negotiable. I can’t really say, “50 is the new 40” with any semblance of authority. Indeed, when I do launch that sentence to see how it flies, I am met with looks of pity and understanding.
Okay, so what do I want to do in my 50’s?
1. I want to learn a f*cking language, pardon my language. I know a few things; I am proud of the fact that I can say in Spanish, “If you’re going to do something bad… invite me!” But, I must admit, whenever I pull this stunner out, Spanish people look at me blankly. So, maybe I don’t know how to say that after all.
I am also proud of the sentence my mother taught me in German, “My eyelashes are covered in snowflakes.” I keep planning trips to Berlin in December to wow the locals.
But other than those two doubtful phrases, I am going to go to my grave only knowing how to say, “How are you?” and “Please shut the door,” in a smattering of popular languages. This is a ridiculous state of affairs.
2. I want to learn to dance. Not like Fred and Ginger, but cool jazz and hip hop, a Dancing With The Stars kind of dance.
I have even considered going on DWTS, just so I am forced to learn. But my goal is to keep my humiliation as private as possible; like the time I tucked the back of my skirt into my pantyhose (without any underwear on) and walked up 8th avenue – my ass on display – like some mugger’s face all squished up.
3. I want to do enough Kegel exercises to stop peeing in my pants when I sneeze or cough.
It would be great to be able to pass the jump rope test: I want to get through “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack” with my girls, and not have to change my pants. Of course in 10 years my girls won’t want to jump rope, but maybe one of them will have a ridiculously early teen pregnancy, and I can jump rope with my grandchild with confidence.
4. I want to be organized.
I want my linen closet to have sheet sets and not jumbles.
I want to carry around emergency cash in a secret place in my wallet, and car. AND when I use that secret cash I want to replace it.
I want to stash water in my car in non-plastic bottles so I can hydrate at will and not get cancer.
I want my filing cabinets to be so well organized that I don’t need a glass of wine when I think about opening them.
I want to have 2 toiletries bags that are ready to go at a moment’s notice, one for carry-on and one for checked baggage.
5. I want to want to forgive. I know it’s bad for me, but my ability to hold a grudge is Serbian. Right now I don’t want to forgive. I like holding onto grievances. I take them out and polish them and hone them to a shiny brightness. I lick my grudges like lollipops, even though intellectually I know they are rotting my teeth. So, by the time I am 60 I want to want to forgive.
6. Now this one is hard to measure: I want to be less afraid. Why don’t I put it in the positive? ie, “I want to be braver?” – Because I am brave. If the definition of brave is being scared of something and doing it anyway; based on my constant state of terror, I am a fucking lion.
If I listened to my fear, I would just take to my bed for the rest of my life, as my great Aunt Valle did after she turned 65. Maybe I need a fear-o-meter, or an inflatable cuff that my GP attaches to my upper arm, and gives a fear-pressure reading. On my 60th birthday hopefully I will have graduated from “scared shitless/nervous wreck” to “slightly anxious/floating heebee jeebees.”
As I look over my … “lofty goals,” it occurs to me that these are not only my 10 year resolutions but also my 10 minute resolutions. Truly, I can begin all these in the next ten minutes. I assume you don’t want to know that I am doing Kegel exercises while I write this (but I am). Right now I can sign up for a dance class, put my Spanish C.D.s in the car, and think of organizing as a process not an arrival. I can take the next 3 minutes to unseat one of my precious grudges a little and send kindness instead of anger. And whenever I am frightened (all the time) replace it with trust.
Okay, let’s revisit this when I am 60, but in the meantime I have a few questions for you.
1. Has anyone done enough Kegels to jump rope fearlessly?
2. Has anyone taken up dance at 50 or above, and could you give me some tips.
3. What have you done, to fear less? I am so afraid your answer is going to be meditation and then I am going to have to start!