Getting old, as Bette Davis once said, is not for sissies.
Luckily we don’t have to do it alone–or in secret anymore. And now a funny, warm author from Connecticut, Cindy Eastman, has written and published a book–Flipflops After50–which can make you feel a lot less alone about the process.
Here is an excerpt from her newly published, fabulous book:
Excerpt from Flip-Flops After 50: And Other Thoughts On Aging
I Remembered to Write Down by Cindy Eastman
The Year of Living 50-ishly
In 2008, I joined such illustrious company as Holly Hunter, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Pfeiffer, LEGO, AARP, Alpha-Bits, the Rolodex, and Jif peanut butter. How? We all turned 50.
Turning 50 is no big deal, if you’re, say, the Interstate Highway System, which turned 50 in 2006. In fact, you should be 50 if you’re the Interstate Highway System—it gives you a certain air of respectability and responsibility. But when you’re a woman who still feels like she’s, oh, in her late thirties, it can be a little more frightening. Not scary frightening (as in not one but two terms of George Bush), just slightly frightening (as in where the hell is the how-to guide for turning 50?).
For me, approaching 50 was just plain mind-boggling. In the preceding months as I wrote journal entries and notes to myself regarding my upcoming birthday (“For my 50th birthday,” or “Can I find a new job at 50?”), I would stop and look at what I’d written, and it felt as if I was lying about my age, but in the reverse. How could I possibly be this old?
AARP knew I was turning 50 practically before I did. They started the campaign to get me into their little cult about six months earlier, sending me an application for membership and a subscription to their magazine. I guess they wanted to be sure I remembered to join. So I did. Why not? Who doesn’t want to be a member of an organization whose cover girl is Caroline Kennedy? Or whose cover boy is Kevin Costner? I’m game—count me in.
It’s not that I wasn’t ready to be 50, but not for any other reason than that it just didn’t seem right. I don’t mind aging. I don’t look or feel old. One of my vain little secrets is that I absolutely love it when I tell people how old my oldest child is and they say, “What?! You don’t look like you have a child that old!” or when the guy at the Starbucks says, “She’s your mom? I thought you were sisters!” when I stop in for coffee with Annie. (I’m sure Annie loves that one as much as I do.)
For the most part, I was okay with the whole thing. But there are intrinsic elements to turning 50 that have to be addressed. It is certainly a time for reflection and stock-taking. Reflection is okay: I feel lucky that I am in good health, that I’m living my life in a way I can be proud of, and that I have raised amazing children. I am married to a good man who also raised a wonderful daughter, and who lives his life in a mindful and generous way. My parents are healthy, and so are my brother and sister, and we all enjoy a fairly sane and loving familial relationship. My friends are few, but they’re steadfast and fun, and I can call any one of them in a pinch. (Like if I’m freaking out about turning 50. Which I’m not.) And there’s the above-mentioned looking good for my age—which doesn’t hurt. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but who couldn’t?
It’s the other thing, the stock-taking part, that I’m having the teeniest bit of trouble with. The part where I look back on my life and check and see if I’ve gotten most of the things done that I’ve always wanted to do. The answer is no. And when you’re 50 and the answer is no, a new timeframe is suddenly in place. I only have so many years left to travel to Greece, Italy, and Australia, or to drive an RV across the United States. I only have so much time to live in New York City or start my own business. But the biggest thing—the thing I imposed my own time limit on, was becoming a Writer and Getting Published. I set a deadline of age 50 to get published and, I didn’t meet my goal. But don’t fret. I’m not leaving things at a potentially depressing point. If life is all about the journey rather than the destination, then at this point I’m just getting more information about the remaining trip. Turning 50 is like stopping at a travel center to check the map and maybe get a cup of coffee. Maybe even some presents.
While we’re on the topic, I think you should be able to register for gifts at Bed Bath & Beyond or Target or Best Buy for your 50th birthday. Registering for gifts is the most decadent, self indulgent, brilliant idea ever devised—so why it is limited to the newly engaged? It’s beyond me why all those little scanner guns are reserved for brides- and grooms-to-be when the real buying power is with the Baby Boomers. Seriously, think about it. Registering for gifts for a 50th birthday party is the best idea since Diet Rite Cola (the first diet soda, also 50).
You’re welcome, fellow Boomers.
Cindy will be making several local appearances to talk about her book. Here are some upcoming events:
The New Britain Museum of American Art – CAPA Author’s Event on April 26, 2014.
Mark Twain House -3rd Annual Writer’s Weekend – CAPA Author’s Event April 27, 2014
Byrds Books Bethel, Conn. – Talk and Signing – May 2, 2014
Find & Follow Cindy Online:
Flip-Flops After 50 Blog: http://flipflops50.blogspot.com/