“Losing” my Mother’s Piano and Feeling Free by Marj Signer


Marj’s life has taken her from Chicago’s middle class suburbs to life in an Indian ashram to another life in Washington DC.  Along the way, she has been a newspaper journalist, a wife and mother, and a relentless advocate for women’s rights. In retirement, both her garden and her commitment to political change are thriving. 


In my 20s and early 30s, I was sometimes reckless, making snap decisions and failing to value my achievements and relationships, let alone any material possessions. As I’ve aged, I’ve realized what I’ve lost and I’ve clung tenaciously to the status quo – jobs, homes, relationships long over – not wanting to risk losing anything else of great value, preferring the known to the unknown.

But clinging to a 500-pound apartment-size baby grand piano was something else again. It had been my mother’s and, after she died in 1987, I moved it cross-country and then to two more houses. It’s not as though I played it. I hadn’t for a long while. At least six keys stuck and, according to a veteran piano technician, it would cost more to repair it than it was worth.

Why cling to what was in essence a 500-pound tschotske? In our neighborhood on the north side of Chicago in the 1950s, playing the piano was a sign you had a certain status. Plus, even more symbol-laden, my mother had played the piano as a young woman – going so far as winning a competition and actually playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on stage! The Great Depression interfered with her plans to try to go even further in the performance arts and ultimately she worked at the family hotel, married, and played the piano for relaxation.

So giving up the piano would have been a betrayal of my mother and my heritage, and I resisted until two weeks ago. What happened? I “lost” my job of 14 years (it had been “restructured”) and suddenly I was retired. Life looked different. I had lost something – a job – that I had clung to long after it had lost its value – and I survived. So I took the plunge – posted an ad on Craigslist and within 6 days it was gone. And I’m surviving that, too.

I’m agonizing over whether to get another piano – smaller, much less grand. Would I do it because I wanted to play again, because I found playing enjoyable, or because I was still tethered to my mother’s self-identity as a pianist and don’t want to disappoint or betray her further? I don’t know yet what I’ll do. For now, I feel free. I’m proud of myself for acting and I’m enjoying a piano-free space that is filled with houseplants.

MYOB (Mind Your Own Brain) by Laurie Mirkin


Laurie’s life has involved a lot of reinvention.  Now, at age 60 plus, she has done it again. New location. New job. New relationship. New healthy lifestyle. She has embraced chaos, change, growth, and grey hair with equal abandon.  The only thing that Laurie will never reinvent is her sense of humor. Thank goodness for that.

Perhaps I’m a little overly-concerned with the condition of my brain, but it’s scary to think that you could be entering full dementia and even your best friend might not tell you.  Ask me the words to all the songs in the 60’s and 70’s and who played what instrument in what band and I would be the music version of Jeopardy’s Grand Champion, but please don’t ask me what I ate for breakfast because I can’t remember.  And I don’t feel like digging in the trash, thanks.

It seems irresponsible to do nothing and not worry about whether you’re taking the right supplements, doing all those clever puzzles that Dr. Daniel Amen sells as part of his brain longevity infomercial on PBS, or reading enough material to keep neuroplasisity occurring ini your brain. I speak to my friend Liz every day.  I report to her what’s going on, fill her in on anything controversial, and every single time we speak she says “you already told me that twice.”  Then I start getting paranoid that I’m really losing it.  And then there are the “talks” I have periodically with my significant other.  Or are they lectures? (and should I be taking notes?)

I learned a long time ago to rely on my very vivid imagination to temporarily escape from a situation where you’re losing valuable time, merely having to say, “yes”, “no”, shake your head,  or say “of course, honey, you’re 100% correct.”  During such lectures I prefer to exercise my brain by formulating mental grocery lists or figuring out whose birthday it is and remembering to buy a card.  If the lecture lasts longer than usual I continue on in my list-making to what’s on TV that night and what I’m making for dinner.  Works real well for me, and my man doesn’t know the difference.

The fantasy part of your brain and the need to utilize it for a healthy “escape” is certainly of extreme importance in surviving day-to-day in this very challenging and complicated world. I strongly encourage you to develop your imagination for many reasons.  For those of you who are reading junkies, ( you read cereal boxes, milk cartons, the classifieds, and of course, books of all sorts, in person or on your Kindle or tablet), what could be worse than being caught waiting in a long line somewhere, or at the airport, without ANYTHING to read?  It’s an UNBEARABLE thought and I’ve let it happen too many times.  You have to immediately turn to Plan B, which is, daydreaming, meditating, fantasizing or contemplating.  Take your pick, as they all work once you get in the groove.

There are times like these, when you have nothing to amuse yourself with except your smart phone that you can keep your brain well-oiled and functioning at full tilt by entertaining fantasies, and I don’t necessarily mean sexual fantasies.  My favorite fantasy is about winning the Power Ball Lottery and the far-away places in the world where I would buy alternate residences. Part of that fantasy is having an expensive automobile for each day of the week and for every mood.  I was even thinking about getting a Harley but the fact that I can’t lift 75lbs put that idea out of the realm of probability.  The world is your oyster when you’re using your imagination.  It’s not that I don’t think sexual fantasies are healthy, but at this point in my 55+ years, I’m much more oriented toward material dreams.

Now I’m not saying you should be a legend in your own mind, but the meditating and day-dreaming opens you up to a new world of endless possibilities.  I had three goals I wanted to accomplish in life and so far I haven’t committed to any of them and the clock is really ticking away.  I wanted to learn to play the violin, ride a horse really well, and speak fluent Italian.  Those pesky fantasies are really goals, unattained, and only serve to remind me that I am the Mistress of Procrastination.  Yet they have provided me with many good fantasies.

My point in all this is that you can buy a truckload of ginkgo biloba,  take a daily maximum dose of Omega-3’s , imbibe microalgae in large doses, and take L-glutamine till the cows come home but if you’re not challenging your brain in any other way,  just open your window and throw all those pills out.  You’re better off doing crossword puzzles, word finders and reading books on subjects that interest you.  Don’t warm the bench, get out there and be a player.

I was invited to a neighbor’s get-together recently and it was my opportunity to meet my neighbors and basically “interview” them.  I mean, how else are you going to know if he/she might be an interesting friend to have without asking questions?  The woman sitting next to me has the house across the street from mine.  I never see her outside the house or even driving away in her SUV.  So I asked her if she’d like to get together sometime soon.  She said “Sure.  What would we do?”  I asked her about going to the beach and just walking and talking.  “Oh, I don’t walk”.  “Do you like going to the movies?” I asked.  “No, I never go to the movies.”  This “interview” was becoming quite challenging. “Do you read?”  “Not really”. “Watch TV?” No, I don’t enjoy TV.”  All the time she was talking she was dragging off a cigarette and lighting one off the other. I backed away very quietly and in a state of disbelief.  I could only imagine her sitting alone in her house, chain-smoking and talking to her dog.  I looked over at her and was wondering if one could see “brain rot” in another person’s head, but I thought to myself, mind your own brain.

It boils down to “use it or lose it”, which is an expression I’ve always disliked, but there is much truth in it.  I think we need to be less interested in all the various ways of getting the maximum benefit from exercise equipment and electronic devices and make mental notes, or better yet,  journal your thoughts.  Some day when you are in desperate need of something familiar and organic to read, those journals will bring back powerful memories that generate activity in your brain, warm your heart and provide a wealth of beautiful thoughts to keep your mind busy.

The Invisible Woman by Jean Calomeni


Jean Calomeni is that rare person who speaks as beautifully though her art as through her words. Her words, http://snoringdogstudio.wordpress.com, and her watercolors and illustrations, www.snoringdogstudio.com, are as personal, as authentic and as evocative as the piece you are about to read.



Not a mother, not a grandmother, not a wife, not young, not in a relationship. Nots—lots of nots.

Since I entered my fifties, the nots seem to be gathering like dust motes in the corners of my life. When I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s, I could lay claim to so many things that I WAS. I, like others my age, owned significant attributes: an employee with the promise of promotion, a woman standing in the queue for marriage and children, an age paid attention to, a body that the fashion industry was still selling clothes to, a music industry that still wanted my ears.

For those of us older women who aren’t married, who don’t have children, who aren’t in relationships—who DON’T want to be in a relationship—finding common ground with other women our age is difficult. We’re an odd species of human. We pray that when we enter our name into a raffle, we don’t win the overnight stay for two at the resort. We wish that others would stop asking us if we have children. At least that’s how I feel most of the time.

In my early and mid-fifties, I tried the dating thing again. I tried on the notion of being in a relationship. After a series of abysmal failures at it, I gave up. Men in their early and mid-fifties continued to search for the one, albeit one who is 20 to 30 years younger. Silly fools.

How do you say that being older, single and unattached is a welcome life choice without appearing to others as some kind of freak? A great deal of the time, I do feel like a freak. If you can put yourself into a category or group, people are less likely to notice how different you are. I’m still looking for my group of women, who believe as Katherine Hepburn did, that “women should always have their own address.”

A very odd thing happened at some time in my late fifties. I stopped knowing what I looked like. Now, I no longer have an image that readily comes to mind of my appearance. When you’re a member of some pairing or group—a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a significant other—your identity, physical and otherwise, is relayed to you through the eyes and words of your loved ones. You are given some of your self through them. Frankly, when women like me enter their later years, people just stop taking photos of us. Or, there’s simply no one around to capture our moments.

I discovered my Mac’s Photobooth app the other day. Imagine my fright when, sitting at my computer, I was suddenly staring into my face on the monitor. That’s what I look like? Wow. Note to self: Do not use that app early in the morning.

I feel invisible now, more and more as the years go by. Things happen that I interpret as evidence of my disappearing act. At work, I’m considered to be in the shadow of my career, waiting to retire. When people gather, they talk about their children, their grandchildren, their husbands, their relationships. I can offer up nothing. If I talk about my two Boston Terriers, instead, that only makes me look like an old woman with dogs. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have photos of dogs pasted throughout my cubicle. And I talk about them frequently. And, the other day, I wore a t-shirt to work with the image of a Boston Terrier on it. Fortunately, I can still lord it over that other group, “Women with Cats.”

My past appears to be slipping into some forgotten land. With no one around to remind me of it, do I have to keep re-inventing myself? Do I have to remind people, that I was, and still am, relevant?

So. Here it is. I have to find a place that pulls me out of the shadows, that brings some form back to the outline that I am now. I suspect that place can be found somewhere in my head. I’ll need a flashlight and some snacks, but I’ll get there.


Guerrilla Aging: An Interview With Betty Londergan

In 2010, at an age and in economic circumstances that could have easily resulted in Betty’s dabbling in some kind of volunteer work, hanging out at the country club and/or watching her mani/pedi dry, she chose another path.  That path led her to create What Gives 365, giving away $100/day for 365 to worthy people and organizations, and to write a blog about it, www.whatgives365.wordpress.com.  When that year ended, Betty dreamed up another blogging venture for herself and became the volunteer Global Blogging Ambassador for Heifer International, traveling around the world and writing about the projects Heifer creates in developing countries on her current blog www.heifer12x12.wordpress.com.  In addition to her heartfelt writing, she takes spectacular photos.
Did you always believe you could change the world or was this a belief you developed later in life?
I actually don’t believe that I can or am changing the world — but I do believe that we are each called to do whatever we can and use whatever gifts we possess to “win some small victory for humanity” as Horace Greeley put it. My mother was always a total, unrelenting optimist with unquenchable hope in the goodness of people so I think that probably rubbed off on me. I  believe that we are all interconnected and that we share common ground (it’s called Earth) … so anything I can do to help make that more of a reality in people’s consciousness, I’m SO there. (But the first four decades of my life, I was totally focused on myself, my horrible romantic choices, my brilliant career, and my own navel. Just saying ….)
How did What Gives 365 come about?
My daughter had just gone off to college and I suddenly had a lot more real estate in my brain & heart to think about bigger issues … and one night after I saw “Julie & Julia” I was musing about what I’d write about if I blogged every day and it just popped into my head — I think I’ll give away money to people doing good things in the world! And that turned out to be a very popular endeavor.
Why 365 charities, as opposed to one or several large donations to a handful of charities?

I really wanted to explore and shine a light on all kinds of different people and organizations who were letting love loose in the world, as I like to put it. I have a lot of different interests myself and I thought it would be cool to explore all the ways in which people are doing good — in the environment, the arts, social ventures, science, poverty, hunger, the aging, wildlife, health, microfinance, politics, education — those were all things that moved me, that I wanted to write about & give to.

In retrospect, which charities have meant the most to you?  Why?

I think I probably remember the personal stories the most .. and I did try to find people and organizations that you probably hadn’t heard of — both because I wanted it to be a process of discovery every day for my readers, and because with a big organization it’s not that noteworthy that you are giving to others — that is your mission. But I loved the people who just gave out of their hearts and out of a personal belief (like this one young girl who was a dancer and decided on her own to teach young girls at the Boys & Girls Club three times a week — and then she started a donation service to collect dancing clothes & shoes for her students, since that stuff is pretty expensive, and then she created a big dance recital for the girls at her ritzy private school and got a bus to take them & made them a really nice dinner before & invited all their parents to come watch them … It was such a little thing in the scheme of things but SO touching to me — and when I donated my $100 to her, she was ecstatic because as she put it, “That pretty much covers my annual budget!”  I felt like giving her a thousand … seriously!)

You didn’t seem to take a breath when 365 ended.  Instead, you launched right into Heifer.  Did you at least go shopping in between projects or get a facial? Something?  Anything?

Oh no — I took a whole year off! When 365 ended on January 1, 2011, I was pretty exhausted because it was an insane amount of work and just never let up. BUT .. having spent a whole year on the third floor of my house at my computer, I really wanted to go out and see some of the stuff I’d written about … I really wanted to SEE the developing countries and projects … so I thought and thought about how I might do that, and in July, it just suddenly occurred to me that going around the world visiting an organization’s projects and blogging about it would be a pretty awesome marketing idea (and since I spent 25 years in advertising, I understand the power of that). So I pitched the idea to Heifer and they loved it and green-lighted it!

Why Heifer International?
I had always really admired Heifer a LOT and written about them for 365 — but the truth is, I knew the CEO of Heifer – he was a friend of ours and had just gotten the job and since I knew it would have to be a top-down initiative, I screwed up my courage to play the friend card and pitched him the idea. And luckily, he loved it.
How did travelling around the world for Heifer change your life? 

It made me realize how incredibly blessed we are in this country (most of us — but certainly not all!) with our abundance. It also made me realize what we’ve given up to have our material wealth and technological advances (our family connections, our connection to the animals who sustain us and the earth which feeds us, and in many cases the simple joy of living) … and I saw that manifested in every single country I visited. As my daughter put it in Rwanda, “Mom, these people seem a lot happier than we Americans do.” I became a huge advocate of Heifer’s programs and methodology … obviously … and I also felt that getting to learn about and visit and meet the people of so many countries…specifically in places where no tourist ever goes… was the gift of a lifetime. If I thought my body could handle it, I’d love nothing more than to go back and check in on all the people I met in five years’ time and see what has become of them. I think that would be totally amazing!

And how did you manage to still look so fabulous, even in the middle of nowhere, without a blow dryer or the ability to wear great heels?

Renee, you seriously need to get your eyes checked! I went to the Goodwill in November 2011 and bought $75 worth of khaki capris, little blouses and a couple of t-shirts and that was my wardrobe for the year. (I’m a real cheap skate but I think all that stuff at REI, etc. is totally overpriced unless you’re a serious outdoorsperson which I am not.) If you look at the photos, I am pretty much wearing the same outfit (well, it all looks identical) in every shot — and my only vanity was always taking the jewelry I love (earrings and necklaces and bracelets)… and of course, lipstick. If I look good in any of the photos, I honestly believe that it was just pure happiness that you’re seeing & not my face. I was really full of joy being there.

Which Heifer projects had the greatest impact on you?
I was really shocked and profoundly moved by my visit to Northern Cameroon because it exemplifies the struggle of the people living in the Sahel all across Africa, as their water dries up and climate change brings less and less rain. It is so desperate, and of course you think — why are these people living here?? — but then you realize they have nowhere else to go, the government has no land to give them, and you just end up frantically worrying that they will simply perish. Heifer has drilled a bore hole there which eases the 10 km WALK the people make several times a day (with 20 liters of water on their heads) but it’s still just incredible to me that in 2012 we allow people to live like this. It’s unconscionable. I also expected to dislike Haiti because the problems there seem so overwhelming, but I absolutely LOVED it.
And then Romania & Armenia were so unexpectedly beautiful and captivating — honestly? there was not one country I didn’t fall in love with, and Heifer’s work in each of them is so unique and crafted to meet their needs, it’s quite impressive.
How did blogging add to your experience of both What Gives365 and Heifer12x12?  Aside from me, do you now have a gaggle of groupies?
Blogging was the focus of both experiences — it’s completely how I expressed what I had seen and done with 12 x12, and how I introduced the projects I was donating to in What Gives. I had never even read a blog before I started my What Gives project, so there was definitely a learning curve, but what I found was this thriving, cooperative, mutually supportive community that completely engaged me — and I feel as if I’ve made so many connections with people that I really cherish now (specially YOU, Renee!!!) even if I’ve never met them. It will be really hard to give up blogging at this point — you just get totally wired into the world of sharing your thoughts & feelings about stuff.
Talk about your husband and children.  It probably wouldn’t have been possible to do what you did on either project  without their support, right?
Boy, that is for SURE, Renee — and I’m really glad you asked that question! My husband Larry is a college president and so he’s a pretty busy guy, but still, to have me be away 1/3 to 1/2 the year — and then when I’m home be totally consumed with writing and putting my blogs together — it was a lot to ask of anybody. He also totally supported me giving away (my personal) money in 2010 .. which was pretty great because I actually used to earn a decent amount of money and stopped doing that. And he never once complained that I wasn’t earning anything this year — in fact, he was pretty jazzed because I totally stopped shopping — had no time and no inclination after seeing so much poverty, I guess. As for my daughter, she is 21 and in college so she’s been proud of me for doing this work, I think, as are my 3 stepchildren (and if you know anything about stepchildren, you know that it’s almost impossible to impress them with any of your good points — ever!) But I never would have traveled or left while the kids were at home.
Has your relationship with your family changed as a result of having committed yourself to these projects?
Yes, to an extent. I’ve always been pretty independent, so these projects that mean so much and demand so much of me are a godsend, really. I’ve always worked and having an identity which is separate from my husband’s is really important to me, but I also felt that being away was both difficult and good — I definitely appreciate my husband and his support more than ever — and I felt like taking my daughter to Rwanda with me was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was so impressed with how she handled the whole thing and the openness she brought to the experience, and I think it meant a lot to her to see me doing something that meant so much to me & to see my energy being directed at something besides her! ( :
What’s next for Betty?
I have no idea, really. I want to relax and come down from this wild experience of the last year, to have time to process it and figure out what I am meant to do next — and I totally trust that it will come to me in the same way. At least I hope it will!!
Do you consider yourself a powerful, visionary woman or do you say “Aw shucks” when someone tells you that you are?
Aw shucks, Renee — I don’t know what else to say. I do feel that I have been extraordinarily blessed and that with great privilege comes great responsibility — and I’ve tried to live up to that responsibility by giving something back and encouraging others to give, too … because I deeply believe it’s what we’re called to do. Also, my parents both felt really strongly that pride was a cardinal sin so I think I’m pretty hard-wired to deflect praise.
What would you say to other women who tell you that their circumstances are preventing them from living their vision?
I always like to remind younger women who feel like they should be  doing more that there is a time and place for everything, and women’s  great gift is that they can recreate themselves according to the  chapters of their life. That has been totally true in my life, but it can be hard to trust that if you feel buried in domesticity.
Also, if you don’t have the means to give money or things, you can always give your time and energy to others — if that is your vision — and that is often the most beautiful gift of all.
I think one of the things that I’ve experienced in my travels this year is that the sacred is not found in the heavens but in our everyday existence — and this is something I believe people in developing countries understand far more keenly than we do — and what makes them happier. They are not looking for big, jaw-dropping, success-driven moments — they are finding happiness, peace and joy in a good crop of lettuce, a new lamb, their sweet children, or clean water. And they are grateful. That was such an eye-opener for me … how grateful these people were for the simplest things.
And so, that’s kind of my vision going forward, to learn how to be like that.

Seeing Mah, by Natosha Safo


Tosha is as beautiful as her name.  Her intellect rivals her height. She gives back more than what has already been taken from her in her thirty-six years of life. She sees people, really sees them.  It is a rare gift. 


(For reasons that are none of your GD business) I don’t really cry that much anymore.

Well, I was just at the pharmacy and there was an elderly woman in line, her cane in her shopping cart, leaning on the cart for balance. When she walked up she looked at me, smiled brightly and said, “Hello! How are you today?”

Yes, I love old people, but something about her … I just wanted to call her “Mah” or “Moomah” like I called my mom, Johnnie. I guess she kinda looks like what I imagine Johnnie would look like if she hadn’t died so young.

She gets to the counter finally and while she’s talking to the cashier I determine she has diabetes and maybe Parkinson’s? I can’t take my eyes off of her. After collecting the scripts she was picking up she pulls three or four empty prescriptions out of her bag and asks the cashier if she can fill them yet or is it too early. The cream in the tube, she explains, is for her feet and the tube is so small it doesn’t last very long, is it too early to refill that one?

Then … she bends down, lower than she is already stooped, and wipes tears that escape from her eyes. Oh god. Seriously, the tears come rushing down my own face! I’m thinking, what the hell am I going to do if the answer is no?! I will absolutely LOSE MY SHIT up here in this Walgreen’s pharmacy!

Thankfully the cashier leans over and quickly says, “Its alright, yes, you can get this one refilled now.” I quickly dig in my bag for a Kleenex and wipe the tears off of my face before “Mah” turns around and sees me. I still watch her though. The cashier rings up all of her purchases and “Mah” needs $0.93 more. She reaches into her bag, pulls out a Ziplock full of change and with a shaky hand passes it to the cashier to count out.

I jump up while the cashier’s back is turned and offer a single dollar, tell her to keep her change, I know what its like when you have to dig into the coin bag. Go ahead and hold on to that for when you might need it next. She looks up at me and is genuinely surprised and taken aback. I put my hand on her back and say, Merry Christmas before I sit back down in the waiting area. She wishes me the same and gathers her purchases and goes on her way.

I hold it together long enough to pay for my stuff, follow her in the parking lot sneakily to make sure she isn’t mugged or anything, see that she is safely in the car with whoever was driving her, and then cry the whole drive home.

And I’m still crying.

Paying Homage to the Grown Up Brain, by Lynne Spreen

sad little girl

Lynne is the author of Dakota Blues, a novel about a woman’s midlife journey, reinvention, and finding one’s power in the second half of life. Her blog is  AnyShinyThing.com , and you will thank me for leading you to it. Everything Lynne writes makes me wonder why I didn’t think of writing exactly the same thing.  Maybe it’s because Lynne has that magical ability to get to the heart of what is important and to explain it in a way that enhances all of our lives. I am honored that Lynne is the first guest blogger on Guerrilla Aging:Navigating the Third Half of Life.


 I began with the best of intentions.

When Renee invited me to blog about Guerrilla Aging, I figured it would be a snap, since I’m all about reclaiming our voice, power, and independence in what she brilliantly calls the third half of life. I live GA, because I refuse to play.

So many things I might write about.

I could tell you about the roots of my rebellion: a brutal childhood that made me crave my own job, car, and life. I was an early fan of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, not for the loony libertarianism, but for the concept of the sanction of the victim. The lesson of the story, as I understood it, was that you always have the power to step out of the game, to walk away and create your own rules. The only crime is to remain in place, accepting unearned punishment. As a desperately unhappy teen, I read this book a dozen times, and Rand’s message sank in. Now at almost sixty years of age, I will not wail and gnash my teeth about sagging skin and aching joints. I struggle every day to rise above it, to live beyond it, because I will not be a victim.

Or we could celebrate as I share with you all the cool stuff I’ve been learning lately about the aging brain and its emerging strengths, based on the great book “Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain,” by Barbara Strauch, Science Editor for the NY Times. For one example, people in the third half tend to be more optimistic and happy. They have a greater ability to regulate their amygdala, the emotion-generator of the brain, and they do this across the board even though it takes more effort and energy.

Or you could celebrate the fact that sometime in middle-age, the brain gears up, not down. It begins to reach across the corpus callosum to the opposite hemisphere, thus using both sides of the brain for problem-solving. This ability adds a layer of depth and nuance to our reasoning that one researcher says, “approaches the level of art.” Yep, that’s us. Totally bitchen.

Or I could give you dozens of reasons to feel powerful enough that your Homeland Security Alert System goes to RED when you see yet another damn article on the Huffington Post about certain celebrities caught looking – holy hell! – old. And once you do feel powerful, you’ll begin to scoff and click away from these articles instead of looking for reassurance in the deterioration of another woman’s face.

But I won’t talk about any of that, because none of it seems important right now. A few days ago, twenty children died in a classroom in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty kids who will never have the luxury of wondering if they should update their hairstyle or get a little work done, or if the culture perceives them as invisible.

Last week, Renee said, “My vision for this blog is to have a format for women in the third half of life to speak about what is real.”

This week, I say to you with all the pieces of my broken heart, your LIFE is real. Go live it.


Guerrilla Aging: Navigating the Third Half of Life

If the title confuses you, you are in the right place.  We are women navigating a part of life that hasn’t been navigated before.  Often, we do so in secret.  While the media focuses on the  younger, the firmer, the more camera-ready, we “women of a certain age” age behind the scenes, beneath the radar.  We often have only our peer group for guidance.  Hence, guerrilla aging.  Aging for the subversive.

If you are making the astute observation that there is no such thing as a third half of anything, let me assure you that we are in it.  We are in the place that doesn’t exist, or at least, hasn’t existed before.  Either we can’t be our mothers’ generation or we choose not to be.  We are literally making it up as we go along.  The possibilities are not only endless, they are scary and exhilarating and confusing and energizing.

We might be the first generation of women in our families who went to college.  Or maybe the first generation to work outside the home.  Or to divorce.  Or to choose not to marry.  Or to travel.  Or to marry outside of our religion.  Or to live without the benefit of marriage. Or to toss our aprons away with our bras. Or to do any number of things that broke ground and possibly broke our parent’s hearts. Or, at the very least, mystified them. And all the while we were doing these things, we were expected to stay the course, to conform, to go along, to be what our mothers and grandmothers had been.

I’m not going to turn this into a book.  I already know what it takes to write and to market a book successfully. I’ve done it twice.  It’s hard work.  I’m choosing not to do it a third time.  So you can call this my unbook.  My two books spoke to women over the age of 50.  I have since moved on, into my sixties.  Some of the issues are the same, others different.  More women my age are retired. More have experienced the death of loved ones.  More have dealt with personal illness.  More have become grandparents.  The list goes on and on.

My vision for this blog is to have a format for women in the third half of life to speak about what is real.  About sexuality or the lack thereof.  About loneliness, whether we are single or not.  About learning to respect who we are, in spite of a media that doesn’t.  About loss, and about accepting loss when it seems the only thing that isn’t being lost is our weight.  About gratitude. About the endless things that our mothers didn’t experience, our doctors don’t know/care about, our partners and/or children don’t want to hear.  And ultimately, about the sheer joy of having discovered who and what we are, in a way that is hard-won and new and brings endless possibility to our lives.

It is said that transformation isn’t about anything changing.  It’s about seeing our world through new eyes. If this is so, then we have been given new eyes. We only have to use them.

This blog isn’t intended to be a solo endeavor. I’ll be having guest bloggers, women I admire who don’t believe in bullshit.  I’ll be interviewing some women and asking the tough questions.  I’ll be writing some pieces myself.  And if you enjoy this blog and would like to write something for it or to be interviewed, let me know.  I’ll even consider you if you are a-woman-of-a-certain-age-in-training. Or a man.   I can be reached at lifeintheboomerlane@gmail.com.

I invite you to subscribe.  Join me.  Join us.  Speak.