I’ve never been a risk taker, don’t gamble — but I do see life as an adventure, rarely afraid to test the water, curious to see what happens . . . whether it’s going up to a guy sitting solo at a bar to ask him to join our table or take a pole dancing class . . . why not? But living life on the back end of menopause is “challenging.” Opting to age gracefully and not give in to hormone replacements, I’m so aware of my brain slowdown… of being “a tick behind.” A woman I met this morning told me about her recent attempt to play doubles tennis, “my brain ran over to get the ball, but my feet just didn’t follow . . . I’d be great at triples, if they’d just let us play triples!” – I soooo get that!
When I boarded that flight to New Orleans a few years ago, I knew I was going because I wanted to connect with those women, not because I wanted to see the show we were heading down there to see. Producing was my third career and although the first two were extraordinarily successful, I just don’t have the energy level now to do what I’d done before. I needed to find a smarter way to get the job done and I figured four heads together were definitely going to be better than whatever brain cells I had left after decades of diet soda.
So I’m finding myself these days not taking on the world single handedly but stepping back, writing notes to jog my short-term memory, drinking eight glasses of water a day to keep my internal system functioning, hoping anti-wrinkle cream will soften my laugh lines — and noticing when Paley, who still has that tremendous drive, wants to move from a part-time job to a full-time executive position – or when JB, who’s still managing a working mom schedule, is starting to get overwhelmed with details – or Karen has to tell Tool Man to skip a few nights mid-week so she can get work done undistracted. And Emma, who travels back and forth to Florida to regularly visit her aging parents while balancing a full time job and taking any classes she can find in commercial producing, spends a few nights a week at home, relax
I fondly remember my glory days when my brain was free to load-in, when I had my support system in place: full time live-in help who grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned and did the wash… when I could drop off film to be developed (and picked up by same live-in help) and call my travel agent to make plane reservations. Now I try to laugh when I run out of milk, leave the house without my wallet and have to go back for it, have to run through the letters of the alphabet to remember the name of someone who’s face I can clearly see… or I call Karen and we giggle together. I make a point of celebrating the small victories: fitting in to the same shoe size, resetting the TV remote or making a gourmet meal for one.
When we four gals reconnected post New Orleans trip – hosted by JB in her gorgeous-upper-east-side-full-service-doorman-corner apartment-on-a-high-floor-with-great-city-views — we declared ourselves a sisterhood, ordered low fat takeout and talked about the projects we each had in various stages of development. By the end of the evening, we had three projects we wanted to do together. One was through a grant from Emma’s non-profit, about women; another from an introduction Paley had to the author of a book about men –and the third, a new musical, from JB’s amazing connection to the top of the theatrical totem pole. We struck gold.We older gals may be losing our minds in our oncoming ‘golden years’ but we’re learning to laugh at our foibles and forgive ourselves for walking instead of jogging, biking in lieu of tennis. … It’s okay to find new ways to get the job done even if we have to reach out to others to fill in the gaps. We’re living the real meaning of life – surviving the death of a parent, taking time to listen, being present, blending our lives and applying Band-Aides as needed. We seem to be naturally moving to a place where the value of each thing we do is as important as the whole thing we get in the end, when seeing a smile on the face of a friend is so much more rewarding than winning the point.
Note to self: Give up the tennis shoes!