Tossing Out Control!!!

DSC00706Yes, the time has come and not too soon. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be controlling.……if you know me, you know. Having some saying in what is going on around me is important to me. Well, at least it was until recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have not achieved this tossing yet, but I am listening. I still have to bite my tongue sometimes when I think I know best and should enlighten my family, friends, even strangers. A very annoying practice indeed……

In our quest to control, we lose sight of the fact of people’s reaction to our interference. All we see is that we know the answer, we know best, we can help if only people listen. A control freak just doesn’t see beyond his/her nose. Consequently, we seem out of touch. Still, we are so caught up in our own world, we fail to understand what is going on. Being in control is too much of a high!!!

For me, coming to the decision to toss out control, was gradual. I kept feeling that my comments and suggestions were not longer accepted of sought or even listened to!!! Comments from family and friends, nicely phrased and generally gently delivered, were becoming more common. There was no mistaking the obvious: I was overstepping into their lives. More importantly, I could be undermining their self-confidence. What a discovery……and why did it take so long?

IMG_1088Now, when it came to just everyone else, I was doing the same. If I heard a comment, if I read an opinion…….I was ready to put out my take on the situation. It was something I did without thinking and I was not always gentle about it. Of course, it is human to have opinions, it is alright to have different opinions or solutions to a given problem, but we must never assume ours is better or right or more important.

This takes me to another subject: being right. I remember arguments that were so unnecessary, so unimportant. The need to be right, to correct what we see as mistakes could be very powerful…….and irrelevant. Even if our solution or opinion could save the world, there would still be others out there who would disagree. So tossing out control, should go hand in hand with tossing out being right!!

In the end, what has fueled the need to toss out control and listen to a new way has been the fact that when we try to control everything, we enjoy nothing. We get caught up in our own world, we don’t listen to others, we can become isolated from our family and friends even if we see them everyday. Besides, there is much to enjoy and much to share.

This will be a challenge, no doubts about it. Something I have done for years and felt I was right in doing so needs to change. The time has come to accept others know what they are doing, their opinions might be right or wrong, but it’s not of my business. Everyone has to live their lives as they see fit and no amount of interfering will change that fact.

As with everything I am tossing in my life, I need to balance it with listening to a new idea, a new way and a new perspective. This time I am listening to others, paying attention to what they say and mean. This give and take has served me well so far as I continue to learn and to grow. In the end, it all will be for the best!!!

 

P.S. I used to buy orchid plants in bloom. So I needed new ones all the time, now I care for them and they keep blooming. Thought I share…….there is a lesson here too!!

Letting Go of Perfect

Women are perfectionists, or so I have been told. I know I tend to be. Unfortunately, this is a difficult trait to have. Still, women insist on having things just so. There is an innate desire in women to have everything perfect, and perfect doesn’t exist.

I have learned that wanting to be perfect can bring us down and make us unhappy….without reason!! We want to have perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect body, perfect relationships and perfect life. A tall order indeed and I will attempt to tackle this unrealistic wish.

In our youth, when we were so clever and thought we could change everything, we relish the fact that we looked good….at least some of us did!! We were admired, we made men turn their heads to look at us, we thought we were so hot…..at least some of us did!! The thought that changes will come hardly ever entered our thoughts, did it? Well, we should have paid attention.

When Time moved on and left its marks on us: wrinkles, grey hair, sagging skin, some of us couldn’t grasp the onslaught. It was too much and we were not ready. Never mind the emotional and mental upheaval. Other events like divorce, losing a spouse and starting over alone, becoming an empty-nester, being made redundant, retirement, came as well seemingly at once. We were overwhelmed and rightly so. What to do? How to overcome these changes?

Suddenly, we had to let go of perfect. Easier said than done and a lot of us tried to hold on…..at any cost. There were creams and surgery, untold hours at the gym, diets, supplements, fillers and Botox. Nothing was left to chance for many of us. Of course nothing can stop Time, its course is steady. Others looked for different solutions and found that Life can be so liberating once perfect is out of the way.

It wasn’t easy. Journalist Vivian Gornick, said: “Tomorrow is here. Now I am accountable. Now I must do it. More important will I?” Indeed, will I do what I know is necessary to live my life to its fullest? Accepting what we cannot change is hard, but it’s the only way forward. So some of us, just breathed deeply, looked ahead and tried to walk though this new stage. After all, the alternative was worse. This doesn’t mean we let ourselves go. We just decided we would not go to extremes.

As others before me, I decided to age gracefully, to accept that Time will win regardless of what I do to stop it. Do not get me wrong, I intent to do this with a plan. My first step was to Toss aside all my preconceived ideas about aging. Before you say anything, I want to say it was not easy and definitely not pleasant at the beginning. We live in a society that worships youth. There are few examples of fabulous women of a certain age out there. This is because the media doesn’t really pay attention to them!!! Think Helen Mirren, Christine Lagarde….I am sure you can come up with many more. Older men, however, are everywhere and are called things like statesman and other exalted names.

Here are some of the things I have been Listening to in the last year or so:

I have accepted that this time in my life is mine, it’s for me to be ME. This is very important. Women tend to have time for everyone in their lives. They play every role and most of us do it without complain. It is time to do for us. I allow myself to take ME time when I need it and strive not to explain.

I have listened to myself and realized that it is alright to be assertive. This can be a real struggle, but it’s so satisfying. As I have said before, say NO when you mean NO and YES only when you really want to. To quote journalist Katherine Weissman: “Over the years I have learned to assert my rights, own my successes, get angry and not apologize so damned often”……a lesson all women should learn!!

I have decided to truly like myself as I am aging. Looking in the mirror is painful for many older women. Accepting who we have become is the only way to live at peace with ourselves. No amount of wishes will stop the changes we are experiencing……but there are ways to make the best of them. Really, there are!!! Embrace yourself, feel beautiful in your own right, be happy and this will show in the way you look, the way you carry yourself and the way you live your life. “Make an asset of your flaws. Wear feathered hats and high heels shoes. Affect an English accent. Carry a falcon on your wrist.” Tina Howe, playwright. Isn’t this a marvelous quote?

Of course, I also have let my hair go grey and I am loving every minute of this journey. Today, my daughter told me I look and act so much happier now. Since I changed my look, she says, I am a different person. Love it!!!

Finally, hats off to the women that have always coped beautifully with the changes age brings. They accept and get ahead without much bother. I admire them!! Now, if like me, you are not one of them…….please try some of these ideas.

P.S. The quotes on this post come for a most wonderful book I just discovered:

In the Fullness of Time by Emily W. Upham and Linda Gravenson

It is an anthology of essays by 32 women about life and aging. Do yourself a favor and get it!!

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