“How Did it Get So Late So Soon?”

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Dear Reader:

By happenstance I came across this little “ditty” by Dr. Seuss while surfing the internet yesterday and immediately I put on the brakes. It spoke to me quite loudly.

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I feel like I am just settling into my last birthday with five months in and seven more to come until I need think about another benchmark. (After a certain age…I think all birthdays turn into benchmarks which say: “I’m still alive!”)

This “train” of thought pulled into the railroad station named for a book about just this subject…growing older with more humor. The station is named:

Shine-On_cover

This New York seller/ best author self-proclaims the mystery and power of getting more awesome. It’s like Cook has read all our minds concerning self-doubts on aging, disconnecting between who we feel we are and who we see instead in our reflections. Most importantly the author retains her sense of humor throughout.

Here are some sample observations/excerpts from the book. Can anyone relate?

“Flipping the Switch”

The thing about life is that it sneaks up on you.

Especially if you’re as good at denial as I am.

So there I was, reinvention to the left of me, reinvention to the right of me. Reinvention is the story of my own life. It’s my passion, my life’s work. I wrote my first novel in my minivan at 45. At 50, I walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the movie adaptation of my most well known book, Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.

I’d gone on to write thirteen novels, turned Must Love Dogs into a series. Reinvented my publishing career and become a New York Times bestselling author under my own steam. I’d even written my first nonfiction book, Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way), to share everything I’d learned on my own reinvention journey that might help other women in theirs.

I was strong. I was invincible. I was—.

Getting older by the nanosecond.

As Dr. Seuss said, “How did it get so late so soon?”

A milestone birthday is on my horizon and I’m not sure what to make of it. How to deal with it, or even if I want to. What it means. What it could mean.

Further complicating things, if I’m really honest with myself I don’t like how I’m feeling physically, not to mention what I see when I forget to look away and accidentally catch myself in the mirror. And given the way the years are flying by, the startling disconnect between who I am on the inside and the stranger I see reflected back at me doesn’t seem likely to get better.

And, oh, those existential questions. Who am I? What am I here for? What do I want my life to be? What do I want to look like? (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t quite existential.) Wouldn’t you think we could ask and answer these big questions once, or even twice, in our lifetime and then shift into cruise control?

I’m old enough to know the signs: It’s time to get my act together.

Again.

As I ponder some more, I realize that what I really, really want to do is figure out how to grow awesome instead of old. How to shine on, and hopefully on and on and on. And because the comment I hear most often from my readers is, hands down, OMG, you’re writing my life, I figure that if I’m struggling with all this stuff, I’m not alone.

So let’s do this. Let’s figure it out together.

Defining Midlife

Just so you know, my definition of midlife is anytime from 40’s-on-the-horizon until we die. I have absolutely no intention of ever calling myself part of whatever the next category is. Upper middle age? Lower old age? Endlife?

So for the purposes of this book….our stage in life will be called…”Forty to Forever” Stage.

……………………….

We only have to go in a book store and walk to the Self-Help section to realize that we, Americans, apparently need a lot of help to get through life… Help on relationships, aging, raising children, buying a house, maintaining a home, grooming pets, eating right, drinking right, taking a vacation,  yoga and meditation., etc…you name it….someone has “freely” given their advice about it.

So this “Forty to Forever” gal just wants to look as good as humanly possible given the genes God gave me for as long as I can. (In other words I don’t want to scare myself each morning when looking up from brushing my teeth.)

The most important thing to me at this age, personally, is staying independent. I love my house, my garden, my friends, my lifestyle and my greatest fear is losing this wonderful stage in life that I feel I worked so hard for all my life.

As much as I love socializing and being with friends….I need my solitary time too… to walk, talk, garden, read, and muse about life. Being a senior “groupie” doesn’t appeal to me at all….but never say never…I also understand now that the key factor to independence in life is good health. God, thank you for giving this precious, priceless gift back to me for as long as my life-line is meant to be.

So until tomorrow… my new mantra is “Growing older is mandatory; growing up is optional.”  I’m off on a new adventure today with three wonderful friends to explore new things….my favorite slice of life!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

img_0762*Johnny, Jackson said to tell you that you can also find a happy place in forty large trash bags that she now calls home. Jackson and her son, Matthew, have been going through their home… saving what can be saved….everything is in forty bags.

The items inside each bag  have brought back happy memories of the history of their home and the large role it has played in their lives. It was their “anchor” for many decades.

 Yes, you can find a happy place in your “home” even if “home” is forty trash bags. *Jackson, this gives new meaning to the expression “Forty to Forever.

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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