May 7, 2013 by Vicki
Boudicabooks talks about life for Canadian women in reality and fiction. I have created “Slices of Life” to turn the spot light onto other Canadian Women who face a variety different issues and problems. Today, we have Kate’s post on her experience of turning 60 and how that led her to challenge her own assumptions about age.
I turned 60 years old this past December. I have to admit it was not a happy day. It truly seemed to me that now I was actually, if not old, on the downhill slope.
We are indoctrinated with the idea that youth is beautiful, youth is desirable. The media has started slowly to showcase older women in viable, strong roles in movies and in advertising. But, for me, this change came too late. I am still shocked when I see actresses from my youth who are now old. They were so beautiful and seemed capable of anything. I recently saw
Geraldine Chaplin in a movie. She played Zhivago’s wife many years ago. She was lovely. In this movie, her role in the credits was ‘the old woman,’ and there was nothing lovely about her. But that was her appearance. She, as the character, was very kind and nurturing to a young boy who desperately needed exactly that at that moment. She saw that he needed her and gave him what he needed. That was lovely.
So… I did some serious thinking.
To reach 60 years of age has been a lifelong evolution. To cast off ideals, priorities and traditions I absorbed through osmosis from my family of origin, the media and society has been extremely difficult. To be my self, I had to erase all of that and create my own ideals and priorities. People are very resistant to change, especially in others. Now that I am 60, I am closer to knowing who I am right now and who I want to be. This gives me the determination and the ability to ignore criticism, judgement and attempts at control. I am working at casting off superficiality and artifice, to be completely honest in everything. To be completely honest is contra to old ideas of femininity. But now that I am older, I do not care. I am me.
I realized that for most of my life I have taken care of people, friends and family. I always have thought that I NEEDED someone to take care of me. Now that I have raised my daughter and no longer have my parents, I am the only one I have to tend. That has been a learning experience.
The idea of a solitary life had always terrified me. But through circumstances beyond my control, I am living a solitary life. That has also been a learning experience. I have learned that I do enjoy my own company. I do enjoy quiet, peaceful evenings with just my dog, Annie. I have learned that I can handle a crisis on my own.
Books have been my constant companion since I was a child. But now, I am reading for me. I read a lot of psychological, spiritual literature. I also read a lot woman authors, particularly Canadian women. I have read everything written by Margaret Laurence, Anita Shreve, Carol Shields and most of Margaret Atwood’s and Alice Munro’s works. I am not averse to picking up a romance, but I consider it ‘brain candy’. When my mind feels stuffed, I relax with something silly. I would not have done that ten years ago, too afraid of criticism for wasting my time and brain space.
I love music. For many reasons, however, I cannot listen to the music I grew up with and have loved forever. My plan to grow will include different types of music. I miss music and need it in my life.
I no longer consider this a downhill slope. I will continual to evolve and grow until I depart this mortal coil.
- Truth and Love in Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners (boudicabooks.org)
- May Madness Action Plan (boudicabooks.org)
- Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman (boudicabooks.org)