Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Three Things I Really Like About Getting Older

Eubie Blake was not only an American composer, lyricist and one of our greatest jazz musicians, he was also witty and wise who left behind some of my favorite quotes about life and aging. 

“If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.” Eubie Blake (1887-1983)

By and large, we are taking better care of ourselves these days as we age, but there’s no getting around the fact that whether I make peace with it, fight it tooth and nail or do something in between, I am getting older and I haven’t yet decided how I feel about it.  “Well, little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Wasn’t it just yesterday I was holding Mme Mère’s hand and looking up at some tall adult asking me that question?  I’m still working on that one. 

In fact, I still consider myself a work in progress, inching my way towards being the best I can be.  As I said, I haven’t yet decided how I feel about the aging process, but I have decided that there are certain aspects of getting older that I really like. 

Here are three things I really like about getting older.

1.   I’m Not Afraid of Making Mistakes

I’ve definitely made my share of them in my life and, unlike Edith Piaf, I DO regret some of them.  With all due respect to La Môme (“the little sparrow”) and her famous anthem “je ne regrette rien,” we all make mistakes, and I don’t believe anyone can truly have a regret-free past, no matter what they say or sing about.    

But, I have certainly lost my fear of making mistakes.  Maybe it’s because I know myself better and what I’m capable of.  Or, maybe it’s because I’ve lost my fear of failure and looking foolish. 

I remember reading recently in a French magazine about the differences between men and women in the workplace (can’t remember the name of the mag or the article – sorry, having a senior moment).  The author wrote that if you ask a male employee if he can do something, he automatically says “yes,” whether he can actually do it or not, whereas the female employee will hesitate as she thinks about all the possible ramifications (“What if I say I can and I can’t?  What if I make a mistake?”).  That was my younger self; my older self says, “Say yes and figure out the details as you go along.”  And, guess what!??  It works!

Two years ago, The Board of Directors of the development where I live asked if I would create a Newsletter for the residents.  I pretty much had carte blanche to do what I wanted.  The young me would have hesitated (“What if I say ‘yes’ and then can’t deliver?  What if they don’t like it?  What if no one reads it?”), but the older me simply said, “Yes, I’d be delighted.  I’ll have some ideas for you by tomorrow.” 

I came up with a catchy name, created a great Header, started collecting pictures, interviewed residents and started writing.  Basically, I figured out the details as I went along.  The quarterly Newsletter has become quite popular among the residents.  As a result, I was elected to the Board this spring and the President created an entirely new position for me – Director of Communications.  All because I said “Yes.”

2.   I Have a Clear Mind

I won’t pretend that I don’t occasionally forget names or where I was going with a story and have to rely on my listeners to get me back on track.  My friend Earline calls that taking a little detour because we get where we’re going in the end.  And I won’t tell you I’ve never walked into a room and forgotten what I came in for (How many times does that make today?  I forget.). 

No, what I mean by a clear mind is that I have cleaned out all the cobwebs of unresolved issues, unfulfilled dreams and unrealistic expectations.  It’s amazing how much room you have left for what’s really important and essential, and then there’s all that room for the creative you to run around in. 

3.   I Don’t Have to Shave my Legs as Often

I once asked Mme Mère if there was anything she liked about getting older and without missing a beat she replied, “I don’t have to shave my legs anymore.” 

I’m already down to once a week.  Woo Hoo!!


  1. I really do love what you posted here, not only that fine man Eubie's quote but your entire blog about things you can like about getting older! You know, I have a few similar. That was fun and makes one want to expand on the topic. xx

    1. Dear Katie Isabella,

      Please feel free to expand away. This is by no means a definitive list. Like my life, the list is a "work in progress."

      Always love it when you leave your paw print on my post.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Here's another to add to the list...
    I don't care what others think... about me or just about anything. Not needing anyone's approval but your own is LIBERATING!
    As I see it the list can go on and on with all the comments your about to get, but because your not an ingénue, you can handle it!

    1. Dearest Linda,

      Love your addition (two thumbs up). This list is by no means definitive but, like me, a work in progress.

      And, yes, I think I can handle it, too. I'm not new to the game. Always wonderful to hear from you.

      xo, M-T
      P.S.: Looking forward to our collaboration.

  3. Marie-Thérèse,

    I like all 3 of what you said. I will add one more: I don't mind being at home on a Saturday night. I remember the decades I felt like I had to go out and do something, any something, rather then sit home on a Saturday night.
    That is not true anymore. Nowadays, I'm very content at home on a Saturday night, as opposed to, attending events I don't actually enjoy.

    1. Well said, Debra. I feel exactly the same about not going anywhere I really don't want to go or being somewhere I really don't want to be.

      One other thing I've noticed as I've gotten older is that I've come to enjoy my own company. Maybe I should add that to the list.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    That is exactly my approach. I just wrote to someone this week, if you have laid in bed being almost completely paralyzed and have been studying the hospital ceiling for 4 days, the list of important things in life has been reshaped.
    One of my favorite French words has become; 'Nonchalant' - why worry about way too many details?
    Yes, it creates a bigger freedom and more laughter.

    1. Dearest Mariette,

      So well put! I have had one life-threatening hospitalization and an early-stage cancer surgery that was successful. Believe me, when you're lying there wondering about the outcome, it really puts life into very sharp perspective. What you come away with is enormous gratitude for the little things in life, which mean more than the big events that come and go.

      You can't get through life without gratitude and a sense of humor.

      Grosses bises,

  5. Love the post M-T. I can add another one or two to the list - I no longer put up with toxic people or tolerate fools in my life. I would rather be alone. As for my younger self - I just wish I had the courage to take chances. I missed so many opportunities out of fear.
    I think you should write these up as a list i.e. "10 Commandments of Women of a Certain Age". :)

    1. I love, love, love your additions to the list. I had a feeling that if I got the ball rolling there would be so many brilliant female brains to pick it up and run with it.

      I also love the idea of the "10 Commandments of Women of a Certain Age". Thou shalt....and thou shalt not.... Is that too didactic? I think not.

      Always enjoy it when you stop by and take the time to leave a comment.

      xoxo, M-T

    2. To eb: 💕and I totally agree with M.T. for such a handbook of 10 Commandments...

  6. Love having not to shave my legs. At least not often. I just had a big birthday, and I've been thinking about it often. How do I feel about this? What does it mean? I certainly don't feel even close to how old I used to think this was. But lots of things lose their importance (what will people think?) while other things gain more importance (kindness, generosity, laughter). You're right, it's a process. xo Deborah

    1. Ooooh, those BIG birthdays. They can really make you wince; however, you know what they say....if you want to look young, hang around w/old people. Frankly, I have always loved "old" people and am rapidly becoming one myself. They're the best teachers.

      Enjoy the process. xoxo, M-T

  7. After two serious illnesses, I gave a lot of thought to what really matters. Most importantly, I am grateful for being in good health now. I learned the hard way that there are friends in good & bad times - close friends. There are friends only in good times - social friends. And there are friends who where really never friends.

    I also stopped being a people-pleaser (well, mostly). The need to totally fill up my calendar has stopped. I don't need to be busy all the time. I can now say no easily without giving a long explanation & not feel guilty doing so. I don't put off things I want to do because life can change in a nano-second.

    I now value having experiences over having things.

    1. Dear Rosie, there's nothing like a near-death experience to make you face life with a new purpose. You've made so many great points. I keep my old agendas for quite a few years. When I read some of the older ones, I'm exhausted looking at everything I did. These days my calendar definitely has gaps -- blessed gaps -- that I have come to value and enjoy.

      As to collecting experiences over things, I was that way even as a young person, and now, after having had to clean out the apartment of my deceased brother and the house of Mme Mère, I realize that all those things were just that, things that no longer have a place in our lives, but the memories and the experiences we shared will always have a place in my heart.

      As always, thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  8. It was a pleasure to stop by. I knew you had lost your Mme. Mere but didn't realize your lost your brother. So sorry. I have had to clean out a few apartments and homes of beloved family members. Kept only a very few things, including some very old photos which I treasure.

    Best, Rosie

    1. Yes, my darling younger brother, Paul, also an opera singer, passed away very suddenly at the age of 31. He had just come off stage and collapsed in the wings. They were unable to save him. That was 20 years ago and I still can't believe he is gone. He was my soul mate and always will be.

      Some day I'll write about him. He was an extraordinary person.

      Warm regards,

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