Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five Decades

I had hoped to hit 50 and be one of those vibrant self-confident women who, while she has had her share of struggles throughout her life has, if not overcome them, been able to maintain a sunny disposition and inherent belief in a positive outcome. Oh, and be wise and kind as well. Hello, have I met myself in the last 50 years? I wasn’t that way at 20, 30 or 40. I have more the stoic, dear-God-please-let-it-get-better personality. I hear that it’s the journey not the destination but I’m ready for the gift shop and swimming pool.

But in an attempt to fake my way into a serene and well balanced persona I’m going to share a few of the things I have learned in the last little while. I cannot begin to call it wisdom because much of it I continued to disbelieve and/or repeat until trained psychiatric professionals intervened.

Let the fun begin!


For my 6th birthday I was given my first real non-baby doll. Her name was Francie and I believe she was Barbie’s cousin. As this was the pre consumption-run-amuck era I was only given one additional outfit. That night I dreamt that I was at another birthday party for me and the Francie outfits were mounded high on the floor and even included accessories like purses and gloves. I gathered as much swag into my arms as I could in the belief that if I held on until I woke up I would get to keep it all. It’s all been downhill since then.

Smoking is bad. Smoking the butt of a cigarette found in the driveway of weird neighborhood lady is worse. OR you could say this is good because I never experimented with cigarettes again.

Black licorice and orange juice do not go together.

Getting the flu and throwing up in your hair will not exempt you from church. God doesn’t care about vomit-caked hair (artfully hidden beneath a fake fur Eskimo hat)- it’s about being there.

If you insist on sneaking around after you’re supposed to be in bed and the babysitter is a vampire movie fan then you have no one to blame but yourself when you need to sleep with a sheet up around your head (no exposed neck ever!) until you leave for college.

It's called a Quad Party and this is as sober as I ever got.


NEVER ever ever kick your little brother between the legs, no matter how mean he is being. NEVER. No further explanation given but I get it now.

Try to be nice to your mother. She’s trying awfully hard to be nice to you and you are one big bitch.

I could do a novella on the ‘teaching moments’ of alcohol abuse but I’ll stick with two. 1. Tang and vodka are not a screwdriver. 2. When you are so badly hung-over that your skin hurts do not slake your raging thirst with cranberry juice.

Take care of your skin. No matter how drunk you are wash all make-up off before falling into bed/onto floor. Baby oil is not a sunscreen. Use it or be prepared for the consequences (think any picture of Donatella Versace taken in the last decade).

Scheduling your classes so as not to miss General Hospital is not the best use of your academic years.

Date a lot in college. Lots. Not hook-up but you will never again have the chance be surrounded such a large diverse population of the male gender- go arty, goth, jock, brainiac. Just don’t get serious and forget about yourself. These are boys not men and won’t reach maturity for another decade.

I was working every trend out there- swatch watch, Ray-bans,  men's boxers, bowling shirt, red scrunchy socks, and Converse canvas hightops. yeah, baby! Oh, and I'm pretty sure there was a scrunchy in my hair.


Skincare tip #2: Your ring finger is the weakest finger on your hand. Use it, not your pinky, to apply creams or makeup under your eyes. In the next decade it will matter.

Just because you can party hard and still get to work doesn’t mean you should. Throwing up in the ladies room while a client waits is not good business.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Your 20s are for chaos and experimentation. You’re still growing so stay open to new experiences in your personal and professional life. Don’t live at home- seriously, don’t.

Hold onto whatever professional dreams you have but know that now is the time to pay your dues. If it’s legal and your boss wants it done, do it. You are NOT entitled to a job- just long hours, low pay, and abuse within legal limits.

In love

The baby fat is gone, the hormones regulated, and you’ve stopped partying so much. You look amazing with clear happy skin, healthy hair, and a great smile. You’re probably in better shape than you’ve ever been so SMILE. Wear that bikini and short skirt. Not at the same time.

Wear high heels.

If marriage is still your goal but hasn’t happened, it might be a good idea to review your must-have list. If it begins with references to any celebrity you’re probably on the wrong track.

Sleep. Get it while you can. Get a glorious 8 hours uninterrupted whenever possible because the days are coming when it will disappear like your college waist size.
Time to acknowledge you will end up like your mother. It may not be literal but you will either say or do something that will be the proverbial 2x4 in the face. For me, I have her eyes, her tendency towards drama, her anxiety, her expressive gestures. I also have her long slim legs, love of reading, and sense of humor. Find the best and be grateful.

Still a few years off from the big 5-0 but not many


Gracefully concede the stiletto to your younger self. A kitten heel is still sexy and wedge heels are in and provide a bit of stability.

Words like digestion and fiber are going to enter your vocabulary. Resistance is futile.

With age comes wisdom. This is not just something crones tell each other to feel better. You will find you understand so much more than you ever used to. Not ALL but more.

You’ll need reading glasses. You will go to bed reading the fine print of a medicine bottle and wake up unable to see the alarm clock. You can get angry or go for the cutest sassiest pair of reading glasses out there and own it.

Your metabolism will stop. NOT slow but stop. If you’ve been a sylph your whole life, prone to ordering pizza at 9:30 and laughing, “Oh, I can eat anything, I have a fast metabolism” you will now be paid back by every chubby girl who hated you in college. This occurs at 45. You’ll look at a donut and feel your waistband tighten. Either you start reading Michael Pollen and learn healthy eating or put Jenny Craig on speed dial.


tweedlibrarian said...

So true and so wise! Stoicism is not such a bad trait to have. And folks who are too sunny are just annnoying.

Tang and vodka - disgusting. I can't believe I used to drink that stuff, either. And I agree about Donatella Versace - at some point, the sun is no longer one's friend. And the slowing of one's metabolism...sigh.

I love the baby pic!

Kathy G said...

SO funny. SO true!

Mila said...

You're gorgeous and brilliant.

Great insights. But you know, even if your younger self can travel through time and space, and read this, she won't listen.

How many persons told me these very same things, still I went and did the very thing they warned me about? Good thing "Your 20s are for chaos and experimentation" because screwing up my your 20's? Check.

Abby said...

First of all, Tang should not be consumed by humans. Period. I think Vodka would be the only thing to actually make it digestible.

Second, this is an epic post, and I wish I had read some of these things myself in the 10-30 year range. Then again, hindsight is 20/20 before you get too old and your eyes start to go.

You are a wise, wonderful woman and I hope you enjoyed not only your birthday, but also every day to come.

Niki Hudson said...

Wise and wonderful! Cheers to you and your fabulous life - and to many more happy lessons to be learned! Happy birthday :)

Maxabella said...

Amazing advice, Catherine. The best coming in your first paragraph - self-acceptance is true wisdom, don't you think?

Happy birthday. Lady, you've come so far and done so well. x

Catherine said...

Thank you everyone! I have to say it was one of my best birthdays ever. And you're all kind to appreciate my 'advice' most of it I'm still learning.

Seana Smith said...

Hello via Maxabella, lovely to meet you. At 47, I'm hurtling towards 50 and it is not too bad. So relate to what you write, ESP 40-50... esp metabolism changes!

Kathleen Basi said...

Happy birthday! This is a fun post for someone smack in the middle (37 this week). I have always been philosophical about the aging process but I have to say I'm unpleasantly surprised by how many things are already popping up in my mid-30s: gray hairs, aching and swelling fingers, etc. Easy to be philosophical when you're still a teenager, I guess. :/ I probably sound like an idiot talking about this at all. LOL

Privet and Holly said...

Loved hitching
this ride with
you. I'm there
next year....and
grateful for it.
There have been
many who had to
disembark at a
younger age than
50, God bless them.
I am choosing to
embrace it all for
xx Suzanne

therhythmmethod said...

Hilarious and wise! I can see myself in there. I totally lived at home during my 20s. I was planning to make up for it in my 30s, but I'm wondering if I should just accept that I have hermit tendencies and be done with it.
Love the distinction between boys and men. So true.
LOVE this post. Happy birthday! xx

asampler said...

I turned 49 a couple of weeks, so very Happy Birthday to you too!I'm pretty sure I was more anxious about turning 40 than I am about turning 50. In fact I skipped 39 altogether and just thought of myself as 40 for a whole year so I was used to it. Maybe I'm clinging to 49 as a denial of turning 50!

Diminishing Lucy said...

Happy birthdday!

A wise a funny post - thank you.

I hear you on the metabolism slow down - I am fighting that one myself.

And the par-tay-ing? I hear you.

Thank you for taking part in the Weekend Rewind!

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