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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

Month

December 2014

The New You

You can be anything you want to be. These must have been words I heard often growing up because, back then, the possibilities seemed endless. And it still comes as a shock that physically I can’t do anything I want. I have to remind myself that I can’t compete on The Amazing Race or be America’s Next Top Model. Not only is America not ready for lots of 45-year-old exposed flesh, but I’m thinking I might have a little trouble with the catwalk. Fortunately, I settled on writing. It’s one of the few things I can actually still do with any measure of competence. Some people might call that lucky. I call it meant to be.

So, once again the new year is upon us. As many of you know, I love this holiday. I have my list of resolutions ready to go well before the first champagne bottle pops. And I’m not talking about some last minute thing. These resolutions aren’t done mentally as the ball begins to drop. They are carefully considered, written-down plans for the future me. A new me. Me, only better.

Sure, a lot of resolutions have been listed a time or two before. There are the usual about eating right and exercising. I really do want to meditate daily. (And no, the ten minutes spent zoning out on the couch thinking, “I really should get up” don’t count.) Plus, there’s weight to lose. Gee, where have you heard that before?

But hey! At least I’m putting it out there! I’m making myself accountable to my blog readers. I mean, how many times can I write about losing weight before someone comments, “Oh for chrissakes, just do it already!” I mean, enough is enough. It’s embarrassing.

This year, I’m finally taking my writing teacher’s advice and checking out future me.org . It’s right up my alley. Want to be held accountable more often than once a year? Write yourself any number of letters that you’ll never see again until the date you’ve chosen. These letters are great reminders of the things you wanted for yourself back when you were feeling motivated at the beginning of the year, i.e. now. Plus, as I’ve preached before — there is power in writing these things down. Really. Don’t knock it until you try it. One of my planned letters, due to come back to me in February, will simply say, Are you writing every day? Because I really should be. And meditating. And exercising. And eating right. I realize that’s an awful lot of shoulds. I should probably work on that, too.

The point is, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. And don’t worry if your list looks like mine, with lots of repeats. I’m all about the try try again, clean slates and do-overs. I think that’s why the holiday appeals to me so much. Besides, even if you don’t get it right the first time, you really will make progress. Take my sweet tooth, for example. I’ve fallen off the wagon plenty of times, but this year I dusted myself off and climbed back on a lot quicker. I was just sick of eating holiday junk. I usually give myself until the beginning of January. But look, it’s December 28th and I’m writing this with carrots and hummus at my desk. Progress. Celebrate the small victories. Maybe in a few more years, I’ll be one of those people that sneak kale chips into the movie theater instead of buying overpriced, greasy snacks. For now at least, I order my popcorn without the butter. I’m getting there.

As you’re thinking about the new you, remember — some old dreams are better left unvisited. Or revisited for amusement’s sake only. But some could be important. Particularly, if they keep coming back up. Is there something you wanted to be that you’re not? Is there some way you can incorporate this into the current version of yourself? It doesn’t have to be huge, just some small way. And you know, it’s okay if you don’t succeed on the first go around. After all, you’re a work in progress.

Why are the 80s so much fun to poke fun of?
Why are the 80s so much fun to poke fun of?

 

 

 

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Sprouting Wings

b3“What the hell is that?” I said to no one in particular. This was last summer, and though I had been swimming that day with my mom, she’d gone inside. I returned to the pool after visiting the kitchen, reached across my face for the doorknob and was struck dumb by the offending sight. When you’re in a wheelchair, you’re in the unique position to notice these things. I had just discovered my bat wings.

These droopy bits  of arm flesh begin to drip off most women of a certain age and I was proving to be no exception. They were baby bat wings to be sure, new in their formation, but bat wings nonetheless.

When my mother came outside to join me, I was still there, poking at the doughy tissue with my finger and waving my arm about to see if it would jiggle. I held my arm up to my mother to demand an explanation. “What the hell?” I repeated.

My mother shrugged. “It just seems to happen.”

This response wasn’t even remotely reassuring. I’m reminded of the line from the movie, This is 40, where the old woman, by way of a birthday greeting says, “One day you’ll blink, and you’ll be ninety.” Is this how it happens? Signs of age just magically appear?

“At least it’s not too late for you. There’s still time,” my mom said, unwrapping her towel to display herself in nothing but her undies. This was clearly a woman for whom time had run out. She didn’t trouble herself with tricep exercises. But there was still hope for me. I put down the box of cookies I had brought out with me.

Mom had long ago dispensed with the formality and hassle of a bathing suit top. One of the last times she wore a top in the pool at all, she had come to me for help. I had turned her on to one of those comfortable, over-the-head, pull on bras with no wires or clasps. A perfect swim top. I started swimming in one of these bras and my underwear when I realized how much time could be saved by simply stripping down and getting in. I didn’t realize how much flexibility and dexterity were also required to get into one — until she came to me, bare-chested, raised arms encased like sausage in the fabric. “Can you pull this damn thing down?” she asked, giving me her back, her voice muffled by the material that covered her head like a ski mask. The sight was a cross between a bungled burglary and a striptease gone wrong.

Now she just runs around our very private backyard like some kind of ancient tribeswoman of the bush. Only instead of a basket on her head, she wears a wide-brimmed straw gardener’s hat with a drawstring cord fastened under her chin. I live in fear the actual gardener or pool guy will stop by unannounced and find us in these varied stages of undress, but Mom says I worry too much.

And before any of you start feeling defensive on behalf of my poor, written-about mother, please know she has a sense of humor as self-deprecating as mine. We don’t mind making fun of ourselves for the sake of a good laugh. Well, I guess I’m the only one making fun. But I’m exercising my first-amendment rights. I’m against censorship.

Needless to say, age and aging have been foremost on my mind as I approach my 45th birthday. And you’ll be happy to know I’ve decided to make the best of it. After all, I know people that would love to be 45 again. And you know what they say, you’re as young as you’ll ever be and what’s the alternative? When I’m 70, I’ll look back longingly and lovingly at this 45-year-old’s body and these miniature bat wings.

I’m especially pleased about all the new material. Aging is like having a lifetime supply of funny things to write about, a humorist writer’s gold mine. I’m thinking Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck. I don’t feel bad about my neck yet, so just think what I have to look forward to!

And I can already sense it happening, this coming into my own. As you get older, you really do care less what people think and more about feeling comfortable in your own skin. My guess is you won’t want to be poolside when I’m 60 and Mom’s almost 90. We figure we’ll both be cantankerous and wearing mismatched socks. And I’m excited about all the elastic waistbands. I think middle age is the time to really think about what makes you happy. And you know what? You should be doing whatever it is that makes you happy. It’s good for the world. So yes, some parts of me are getting softer. But along with my bat wings I’m also sprouting wings of authenticity. Aging may be like going back to caterpillars on the outside, but we become butterflies again on the inside.b2

 

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